Three touchdowns from Jones, Manziel highlight opening week - FOX Carolina 21

Three touchdowns from Jones, Manziel highlight SEC's opening week

Posted: Updated:
Auburn's Corey Grant gave what Auburn fans hope is a sign of things to come with a 146-yard outing against Washington State. (Source: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University) Auburn's Corey Grant gave what Auburn fans hope is a sign of things to come with a 146-yard outing against Washington State. (Source: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University)

(RNN) – Here's a weekly look at five of the SEC's top performers in Week 1 and who to watch in Week 2.

Week 1 top performers:

1. Christion Jones, WR, Alabama – Alabama scored five touchdowns in a 35-10 win over Virginia Tech and Jones was responsible for three of them.

He put the Crimson Tide (1-0) on top 7-0 with a 72-yard punt return two minutes into the game, added a 94-yard kickoff return in the third quarter and provided Alabama's biggest offensive play of the game with a 38-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter.

Jones' game is a clear indication of the Tide's depth. Amari Cooper, DeAndrew White and Kevin Norwood are listed as the Tide's top receivers on the official depth chart, but Jones has been a reliable, if not frequent, option in the past. He had 27 catches for 368 yards and four touchdowns last season, in addition to his role as the primary kick returner.

2. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M – He only played half the game, but Manziel still threw three touchdowns and provided enough highlight reel footage to satisfy the Aggie faithful.

Manziel only attempted eight passes, but he completed six and ran for 19 yards. It wasn't the type of performance he became famous for last season on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy, but A&M (1-0) didn't need much from him in its 52-31 win over Rice. It was still enough, however, to show Manziel is capable of picking up where he left off.

His return to the field also provided his detractors with more ammunition after he drew a penalty following an exchange with Rice defenders and feigned signing an autograph in an apparent attempt to mock the offseason controversy that caused him to be suspended for the first half.

3. Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt – Matthews is the undisputed star of the Commodores (0-1, 0-1) and will likely have to put up big numbers to keep Vanderbilt in the win column, even though his 178-yard performance wasn't enough in a 39-35 Thursday night loss to Ole Miss.

Matthews caught 10 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown. He was also the target on Vanderbilt's most dramatic play of the game, a clutch reception on fourth and 18 in the fourth quarter on a drive where the Commodores took a lead.

That catch came only a couple of plays after Matthews had gone to the sideline after a hard tackle caused him to vomit on the field.

4. Corey Grant, RB, Auburn – In a game that can only be seen as a sign of good things to come, Auburn (1-0) rushed for 295 yards in its 31-24 win over Washington State, and Grant provided nearly half of those yards.

Two players had more carries than Grant, but he made the most of his nine touches, rushing for 146 yards and a touchdown. His 75-yard touchdown scamper in the second quarter was enough to make him the Tigers' leading rusher on its own.

Grant's TD run was all speed. He took a handoff around the left end and sprinted up the sideline without being touched on a play that gave Auburn a lead it wouldn't lose.

5. Jeff Scott, RB, Ole Miss – No one had a bigger play at a bigger moment than Scott, who had a 75-yard touchdown run with just over a minute to play in the Rebels' 39-35 win over Vanderbilt.

Scott's touchdown capped his 138-yard performance and put the exclamation point on the first game of the 2013 season – a game that may prove to be one of the season's best.

Vanderbilt had just scored to take the lead and Scott responded on the second play of the ensuing drive, running down the left sideline and cutting back to the middle of the field to put the Rebels (1-0, 1-0) back on top for good.

Who to watch in Week 2:

1. Mack Brown, RB, Florida – Florida plays a rare tough nonconference road game this week against Miami. Brown led the way against Toledo last week with 112 yards and two touchdowns, and he will need a similar performance to give Florida's offense the punch it needs to take down the Hurricanes (1-0).

Saying Florida's offense is run-heavy is an understatement. The Gators (1-0) aren't just a run-first team, they're a run-second team as well. Brown filled the gap left by Mike Gillislee's departure, taking the ball on 25 of Florida's 48 rushing plays.

Toledo was not a particularly tough opponent, but if Brown can keep the Gators' offense on pace against Miami, it would be a sign that Florida's offense is in good hands.

2. Todd Gurley , RB, Georgia – Gurley would not be out of place in the top performers section after his 154-yard, two-touchdown game in Georgia's 38-35 loss to Clemson, but Georgia's game against another team from South Carolina this week is all the more important because of that loss.

The Bulldogs have national championship aspirations this season and a 0-2 start to the season would be a devastating blow to those hopes. Balance will be important for the Bulldogs against South Carolina in the only Week 2 game featuring two SEC teams.

3. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina – Questions of conditioning and focus were brought up about Clowney well before the Gamecocks' 27-10 win over North Carolina. It didn't cause much a problem in that game, but against Georgia's high-powered offense, Clowney will need to be at the top of his game on every play.

South Carolina (1-0) will need to keep the game low-scoring to have its best chance against the Bulldogs (0-1), and Clowney will be the most important player in making sure that happens. Clowney can affect plays in the running game and provide a formidable pass rush to disrupt Georgia's timing and force quarterback Aaron Murray into making quick decisions.

If he is able to disrupt Georgia's offense, the Gamecocks have a good chance to get a fourth consecutive win over the Bulldogs.

4. Jonathan Williams, RB, Arkansas – Arkansas doesn't face a difficult opponent for a few weeks, but there are already positive signs for the future from new coach Bret Bielema's team.

Arkansas (1-0) was in desperate need of offensive balance last season, and never got a running game going at any point in the season. Two 100-yard rushers in the Razorbacks' first game have shown that problem may be solved.

Williams had 151 yards and a touchdown to go with Alex Collins' 131 yards in a 34-14 win over Louisiana-Lafayette. Arkansas plays Samford this week, so any performance should be taken with a grain of salt, but it is the kind of game where players can solidify roles and help establish their presence in the game plan moving forward.

5. Rajion Neal, RB, Tennessee – If last week's 45-0 win over Austin Peay is any indication – and there's a good chance it isn't – Neal is the happiest man in Knoxville. The reason for that is a shift from the pass-happy Volunteer offenses of yesteryear to a more run-focused approach.

Neal was overshadowed by Tennessee's passing game last season and rarely had a chance to break out, but against the Governors, he carried the ball 16 times for 141 yards and a touchdown while leading a rushing attack that gained 315 yards compared to just 132 yards through the air.

If that type of balance continues under new coach Butch Jones, Neal and the Volunteers (1-0) may be able to fare better against Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama than in recent years.

Copyright 2013 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow
Fox Carolina
Powered by WorldNow CNN
All content © 2014, WHNS; Greenville, SC. (A Meredith Corporation Station) and WorldNow. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.