Teams going in opposite directions.
See also the SEC West first quarter report.
Well, let's see. The Gators won their first two SEC games on the road, which is always a good thing when you can get it. After entering the season with a quarterback controversy, Jeff Driskel has taken firm control of the position and is getting better each week. Players who did little in the past due to lack of opportunity (Mike Gillislee) or just not playing well (Frankie Hammond, Jr.) are making big plays on offense. The defense is also getting better over time, particularly with its second half dominance. The optimist's case for the Gators in 2012 has been playing itself out so far.
Yes, the Bulldogs do get a riser score despite coming in as the favorite and remaining so today. Most importantly, they answered the question of whether Isaiah Crowell could be replaced with an emphatic "yes". Freshmen Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall has been spectacular so far, Gurley in particular. His lowest yards per carry rate for any game is 6.5 against Missouri, and he already has a kickoff return for a touchdown on the young season. Running back was the one glaring question mark for the team, but it doesn't look like one anymore. Plus after a slow start, UGA dispatched Missouri with a late surge to take its first SEC game with a measure of authority. It's all been good so far.
The Gamecocks are 3-0, which is certainly better than the alternatives, but it's been a messy road to get there. The win over Vanderbilt in Week 1 was about as ugly as they come. There could be a legit quarterback controversy brewing with Connor Shaw's health issues and Dylan Thompson's good play. Then again Thompson's best work has come against cupcakes, while he didn't look too good against Vandy. Nothing ever seems that it comes easy for this program, and the 2012 season has been no exception so far. They're not a faller with the clean record so far, but they're not a riser either.
Mizzou has done everything right so far. They demolished their cupcake, they hung in there (or better) against Georgia for three quarters, and they gave the conference a win over the Pac-12 by beating Arizona State (with the backup quarterback, no less). Faurot Field has been packed, which is more than can be said for several other league venues, and the atmosphere for the UGA game was positively electric. A win over the Bulldogs would have definitely given them a rising grade, and a win over South Carolina would do that if we did a First Third Report. For now, they've been what we thought they were.
A 1-2 start feels disappointing after last year's 3-0 beginning, but that's entirely an artifact of the schedule. The team easily could have won the opener against South Carolina, and losing on the road to what looks like a pretty good Northwestern team is no shame to this squad. A bowl is still perfectly attainable against what's left on the slate, and that is ultimately the focus of the season. If the Commodores keep their heads up through the upcoming rough stretch, they can still finish where they want to.
Expectations for the Vols seemed to ramp up as the offseason went along. They started off as a sure bounce back team, and by August, they were everyone's trendy SEC East sleeper pick. I really am not sure if this team truly deserves this faller's grade given the total body of work, but does anyone still think about the opening win over NC State anymore? The disastrous second half against Florida seems to have drowned all else out. It was so bad, Tyler Bray didn't even bother to watch the film. The offense completely melted down, the defense allowed big play after big play, and it all unfolded in front of the first home sellout in four years. UT flat-out failed its first major test of the season.
Everyone knew to get ready for a modest season from this Wildcats team, but losing to Western Kentucky is worse than certainly I thought would happen, at least. The team was also barely competitive against Louisville, which is a good team but isn't up there with the best of the SEC. The team is first in the conference in passing yards per game so far, but teams that fall behind tend to throw it a lot. This is not an encouraging start to the year.