What we learned from SEC games in Week 2 - FOX Carolina 21

What we learned from SEC games in Week 2

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Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier avoids the rush in the first half against Mississippi State. (Source: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University) Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier avoids the rush in the first half against Mississippi State. (Source: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University)

(RNN) - Conference play opened in full force.

Below is the weekly list of what we learned from watching SEC games in Week 2.

1. Arkansas is in some serious trouble. The last thing the Razorbacks needed, in what was supposed to be an easy tune-up before opening SEC play, was a loss. Well, which loss do we start with?

First, there was the game, which Arkansas lost 34-31 in overtime. But even bigger than that, there was Tyler Wilson, who never came out of the locker room after halftime. Wilson was described as having an injury "above the shoulders." If you can decipher what that means, please clue the rest of the world in on it. Early reports suggested that it is a concussion, but then it was reported he had a broken collarbone and would be out for about a month. But neither of those reports seems to be very reliable.

Depending on how long Wilson is out, Arkansas could be on the front end of a long spiral into oblivion. That's a doomsday scenario and is a bit overstated, but is by no means implausible. What was, however, was Louisiana-Monroe stunning the No. 8 team at home.

But it happened. Wilson is listed as day-today, but keep an eye on his status. Arkansas will have the benefit of being able to prepare to play without him this week if needed, but they have the misfortune of facing the nation's No. 1 team in Alabama.

Wilson threw for 196 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, and Arkansas looked poised for the easy win it had expected. That all changed when freshman Brandon Allen took over. Allen threw for just 85 yards and Arkansas was unable to get its running game going.

Look for the Razorbacks to struggle due to Wilson's injury. And to add insult on top of that injury, Arkansas fell out of the Associated Press top 25 - the second largest drop in the poll's history behind only Michigan in 2007, when it lost to Appalachian State and fell from No. 5 to unranked.

2. Mississippi State is dangerous. The Bulldogs thoroughly dismantled Auburn in a 28-10 win, especially in the second half. Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen picked up his first win over an SEC West team other than in-state rival Ole Miss.

Quarterback Tyler Russell was especially brilliant, throwing for 222 yards and three touchdowns against an Auburn defense that could not get in sync or make tackles. Auburn's offense couldn't do anything, either (more on this later).

With the manner in which the win came, Alabama, Arkansas, LSU, Texas A&M and those Rebels are all on notice. A win over Mississippi State will not come easily. For that matter, Kentucky and Tennessee better be careful, too. Mississippi State gets what should be two easy nonconference wins before facing those two teams from the east.

Should the Bulldogs sweep those games, they'll get another nonconference game before finishing the season with their five remaining SEC West opponents. That's a daunting way to close the season, but Mississippi State could be 7-0 entering that stretch.

3. College Station is home to the most awesome pregame in the SEC. Imagine what 82,000 people singing and swaying in unison sounds like. Think it won't be as cool as it sounds? It is.

The Aggie faithful had Kyle Field rocking before kickoff for their welcome into the SEC. It was all singing and celebration and waving the white towel. That hoopla fired up the 12th Man, which in turn fired up the Aggies and helped them get out to a 17-7 lead with a couple minutes before halftime.

That "Aggie Spirit" will be needed as A&M gets ready to run the gauntlet of a season that no longer has an off week after the opener against Louisiana Tech was delayed. A&M gets probably the most favorable slate of any SEC West team, because none of the powerhouse programs come back-to-back. But as this week's 20-17 loss to Florida showed, it will take all four quarters for the Aggies to survive in their new home.

4. Auburn has a quarterback controversy, and it was acquired by not even playing a second QB.

Yes, Kiehl Frazier was that bad against Mississippi State. Frazier went deep into the game with negative passing yards and for a while had more interceptions than completions in the 28-10 loss. He threw three interceptions and fumbled twice.

Frazier was named as the Tigers' starting quarterback in August. It won't take much in the next couple of weeks for Auburn to rethink that choice. Auburn plays Louisiana-Monroe next week, and as Arkansas learned, that can be a dangerous team.

After that, the Tigers face LSU and Arkansas. All three games are at home and it won't take much struggling for the call for a change to get too loud to ignore.

Tigers fans will not have any patience for a team two years removed from a national championship starting 0-3 in the SEC and struggling just to stay in the bowl picture. Auburn may have to pull an upset over a highly ranked team just to be eligible.

That is if they can get past Louisiana-Monroe. Fresh off their upset of Arkansas, the Warhawks get a crack at an Auburn team that is even more ripe for the picking. The only thing better than pulling off one upset is pulling off two.

5. South Carolina is in danger of having a quarterback controversy. Connor Shaw threw for 67 yards and ran for 92 more against Vanderbilt to open the season, but he suffered a shoulder injury. Dylan Thompson stepped in against East Carolina and threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns.

East Carolina is not as good of an opponent as Vanderbilt, but if Shaw struggles coming back from that injury, Thompson will look better and better with each play. That's not fair to Shaw. He's a different type of quarterback, and his speed gives his game an extra dimension that Thompson's lacks.

That being said, when the Gamecocks face Missouri in two weeks, the "eyeball test" will be the only thing that matters. South Carolina will follow that game up with Kentucky, Georgia, LSU and Florida.

If there is any doubt who is the better quarterback – and Steve Spurrier is no stranger to that question since coming to South Carolina – those games will bring it out.

6. Don't let Johnny Manziel run. Florida did this in the first half against Texas A&M and the Aggie quarterback led his offense to the end zone with little resistance. In the second half, he was boxed in behind the line and A&M was shut out.

Manziel is a good quarterback, but it was just his first start for the Aggies. He's young and will make mistakes, but those mistakes don't come when he's running. When he was able to escape the pocket and scramble for yards, everything A&M did on offense turned to gold. When he was held behind the line and forced to throw, the offense could do nothing.

Manziel threw for 173 yards, and was A&M's leading rusher with 60 yards and a touchdown. That touchdown came early in the second quarter and gave the Aggies a lead they held until the fourth. Florida played ball control with a defense that made several adjustments at halftime and methodically reclaimed that lead and the win.

Said another way, Florida introduced Texas A&M to what it will see from SEC opponents each week. In the Big 12, the game would have turned into a shootout. In the SEC, defense ruled the day.

7. Tennessee will have the opportunity to make a statement next week. Florida should be in pretty good spirits for its trip to Knoxville next week where it will get a shot at Tennessee, a team that has been running on all cylinders but hasn't been tested.

Tyler Bray followed up his 333-yard performance against North Carolina State with a 310-yard, four-touchdown game against Georgia State. Georgia State is not an opponent that should make that number appear surprising, but it does indicate that Tennessee's offense has something going.

Bray is better and more experienced than Manziel, and Florida will have a tougher time containing the Vols' attack. Tennessee has several receivers who will test the merits of Florida's at-times shaky defense. For a team looking for a sign that a return to prominence is on the way, there would be no better statement than a win over Florida.

8. If Missouri's offense gets going, it will be tough to stop. Georgia almost found out about this. James Franklin and his corps of receivers had plenty of opportunities for big plays, but couldn't convert them.

A pass was dropped in the end zone right before halftime that would have given Missouri good momentum – and a greater than one-point lead – entering the locker room. Franklin also threw a poor pass late in the fourth quarter that was intercepted and allowed Georgia to take control of the game. Later he fumbled just to make sure the outcome would not be in doubt.

There were flashes of brilliance, but if you aren't sharp on every play against SEC defenses, you will not be successful. Franklin threw for 269 yards and two touchdowns and found eight receivers in the game.

The lasting image of Franklin, though, will be the easy toss over the middle that went right into the hands of Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones. Georgia took a 14-point lead and Franklin responded by fumbling and letting the Bulldogs take a 21-point lead, their ultimate margin of a victory – 41-20.

Top recruit Dorial Green-Beckham was a nonfactor, so getting him involved will be important.

9. Georgia did what Georgia does. Georgia had the talent to take control of the game and put it away early, but the Bulldogs didn't start making plays until Missouri started making plays. As long as Georgia allows its opponents to stay around late in games, an unlikely upset is always a possibility. The 'Dogs were still without four starters on defense, but how big of an impact that has made is yet to be seen.

Georgia has always let its opponents stick around longer than they should. It's one of the reasons why no one ever really knows how good Georgia is, and it's one of the reasons Mark Richt is on and off the hot seat four or five times a year.

It usually seems to work out in the Bulldogs' favor, but that can't last forever. Missouri could have easily pulled ahead if one or two plays had gone a different way, and could have easily won the game in the fourth quarter before committing two turnovers.

In many ways, Georgia won the same way Florida did. In a close game, the Bulldogs let the defense do the work and used its offense to take advantage of the opportunities it was presented. But it shouldn't have taken that long. Aaron Murray threw for 242 yards and three touchdowns, but Georgia struggled to get its running game moving.

The Bulldogs played just good enough to get the job done. While that's all they need to do, waiting until late to make a move for the lead could end up costing them down the road.

10. Expansion was a good idea. The SEC was the first conference to expand to 12 teams. It was ridiculed at the time, but now everyone wants to do it. Now the conference has become the first to grow to 14, and the first week of games involving those new teams was an exciting one.

Both games involving "newbies" Texas A&M and Missouri went deep into the fourth quarter with the winner undetermined. Both teams were involved in a defensive slugfest despite their fast-paced offensive philosophy.

Both teams also showed they have the football acumen to compete in the conference, though winning in it will be more difficult. The two new teams were brought in more to increase the SEC's TV visibility than to create a competitive advantage or increase the conference quality.

But both A&M and Missouri showed they are comfortable in their home and both were given a little obligatory rookie hazing by the conference's old guard.

Welcome to the SEC. It was the first day of school and your lunch money got taken from you. Now, go about your business and don't do anything to call attention to yourself. Prove your worth and your time will come.

Copyright 2012 Raycom New Network. All rights reserved.

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