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SEC Football Week 1: Everybody Gets a Turn! (or a Collection of Thoughts on the SEC's Games)

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Made sure to hit Vandy first, so I wouldn't forget about anyone!

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Dammit, I keep forgetting about Vanderbilt. I've seen a lot of headlines on how the SEC was almost perfect last week, only to on several occasions find myself asking who was the "almost," only to remember that Vanderbilt did in fact play last week, on Thursday, and lost to Western Kentucky. The loss wasn't embarrassing or anything—WKU's been fielding solid outfits for some time now—but for a team like Vandy, actually no, for the Vanderbilt team period, it needs every possible win it can get for bowl eligibility. On Thursday it let one slip through its—actually, through Nathan Marcus's—hands. (Marcus, late in the game, dropped a would-be touchdown that would've erased any need for Vandy's even later, ill-fated, two-point conversion. Sure, they could've still lost it in OT, and also, yes, six wins doesn't seem plausible regardless of a win last week or not, but still.) Anyway, to the Commodores' credit, they don't look to be as unsightly as they were last year, so a big congrats to them for seemingly improving in the offseason. Not that they need my permission or anything, but I look forward to seeing Vandy maybe push a conference foe or two well into the second-half of a game. And maybe next year they can go bowling, wouldn't that be something!

You played better than I thought you'd play, Alabama and Florida. Hell, I didn't know what to expect from either of these two heading into the season, and also hell, I'm still not sure how Florida will ultimately fare long-term. But whatever expectations I failed to have were exceeded by both teams on Saturday. Particularly big, bad, ‘Bama, who I all but dismissed—as foolish a thing as I've ever done—as a playoff-contender prior to the season. No, Alabama is still doing fine no matter who plays quarterback for it, which may be a rather moot controversy in hindsight, seeing as how all the quarterback really needs to do is hand off the ball to Derrick Henry or Kenyan Drake and roll out of the way.

Jesting aside, though Saban-era quarterbacks need be no more than effective managers (a good, if not preferred style of player whose title catches a bad rap), one, or at least I, was inclined to wonder if ‘Bama had even one of those on its roster prior to the season—the seeming notion that every ‘Bama quarterback could start, and so late into the summer, was a red flag of sorts. But Jake Coker and Cooper Bateman both looked more than serviceable on Saturday, and the assortment of wide outs (whose collective gridiron bent presented yet another pre-season concern) appear to be not sucky!

Alabama's defense was never in question, so let's harp on Florida, who on Saturday fielded a team that, for the first time since the late aughts, had what appeared to be a real plan offensively—particularly in the passing game. Of course, the plan was buttressed by a couple of things, namely player execution and improved play at the skill positions and tight end especially. If you've watched a Florida game in the past two seasons, then you possibly at some point wondered if the Gators possessed any tight ends. They did! But boy were they shitty; an embarrassment to the sport, really. Florida's current crop is inarguably, even after one game against a lowly opponent, the best set of Florida-fielded TE's in quite some time: C'yontai Lewis, Jake McGee, Deandre Goolsby. Obviously the tight ends can't do it by themselves, and they had a little help: Will Grier and Treon Harris both had the look of quarterbacks who can be serviceable if not rather decent during conference play, as did UF's receiving core. The O-line remains a question mark until league play begins, but even against a patsy, UF's offense appears to be much improved from a year, two years, five years ago.

Was I wrong about you, Jeremy Johnson? Welp, it took all of one game for Auburn's Jeremy Johnson to undo all the Heisman-hype that I started, all by myself, this summer. Johnson was clearly pressing in his official debut, throwing three picks, with another one or two that shoulda happened, too. It's only one game, so Johnson has at least two more weeks before I can officially call him a bust (yes, declaring a bust requires an official three-week waiting period), but both he, and Auburn for that matter, will probably be fine. Louisville was always going to be a tough out; getting a dubbya was all that mattered. Those jumping off the Tigers' bandwagon, after many anointed them the SEC favorite over the summer, need to chill.

Oh, so I was the only one impressed with Ole Miss? UT Martin sucks, at least compared to most power-five programs, but Ole Miss looked good on Saturday. I haven't seen too many people talk about this, but I'm going to change that here. The Rebs were impressive! Robert Nkemdiche on offense is a treat that I and everybody deserve to see on weekly basis. Chad Kelly looks well talented enough to distribute to Laquon Treadwell and Evan Engram, consistently. I just hope the Laremy Tunsil sitch is resolved soon.

Thumbs up to Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Miss. State and Georgia, for doing pretty much what they were expected to. Congrats.

South Carolina, you entertained me thoroughly. I was wrong about A&M-ASU being the SEC's most compelling contest last week. Nope, that distinction retroactively goes to Carolina South, who beat Carolina North in an ugly, but still somehow fun, game. UNC isn't exactly the class of the ACC, and the Tar Heels, it can be argued, gave the game away, but credit to the Gamecocks for hanging tough, especially on defense. There may be some upsets sprung by Spurrier's bunch yet.

Damn LSU, did you even show up on Saturday? Ha-ha, jokes. I don't think the lack of a first game will be quite as detrimental to LSU's fortunes against Mississippi State as some are making it out to be, although it will probably take the Tigers a couple of quarters, or three, before they get in the swing of things on Saturday. Bottom-line, teams open against conference foes all the time, and, like most other games, the best team usually wins. If LSU loses on Saturday it won't be because it didn't get some reps in against McNeese State; it'll be because Mississippi State was better.

Oh, hey Kentucky, congrats on the win! Looking forward to your game this weekend. Underrated matchup if you ask me.

I will not name A&M the outright SEC favorite. I will not name A&M the outright SEC favorite. I will not name A&M the outright SEC favorite. I will not name A&M the outright SEC favorite. I will not name A&M the outright SEC favorite.

Superlatives! Christian Kirk impressed me more than any other player this week, including his freak show teammate, Myles what's-his-face. Kirk's a star now. Not a star-in-the-making, an outright star. As for coaches, John Chavis did his job better, arguably, than anyone else in the country this week: congrats to you, Chief. The best unit of the week, unsurprisingly, was A&M's defensive line, so good job there. And that's all I got for now.