Monday Morning QB Column: SEC West, SEC Least

Taking a look back at a crazy week of football in the Southeastern Conference.

Looking Back At Thursday Night

After having a few days to digest what I saw on Thursday night, I still believe it was a good win for the Auburn Tigers against a very solid Kansas State team. Going on the road and winning big games isn’t easy, just ask Oregon. The Ducks got all they wanted at Washington State and barely stayed unbeaten with the help of a break on an officiating call.

No question the Tigers need to take some serious strides forward as a team, particularly on offense. Even though many of the same names are back from last season this is a different team, and that means finding out what formations and combinations fit them the best. I believe one of those adjustments is going to be throwing the ball more and earlier. Turning loose Nick Marshall, Duke Williams, Sammie Coates and the rest of the guys on first down more often will not only give them chances for big plays, but also loosen run defenses that are sure to continue to sell out to stop the ground attack for the Tigers.

A Contender And A Pretender?

Coming into the season, LSU was probably the most difficult SEC team to get a read on because of all the losses on both sides of the ball the last few years in Baton Rouge. Even though they have recruited exceptionally well, sooner or later you’re going to pay for losing underclassmen in droves. Saturday night was one of those times for Les Miles’ club as a veteran Mississippi State team took the Tigers to the woodshed in Death Valley.

Even though LSU tried to make a game of it late, Dak Prescott and the Bulldogs dominated much of the night and set themselves up for a chance to make a serious run in the SEC West. I’m not ready to give up on LSU just yet because in two weeks we will could a much different team at Jordan-Hare Stadium. I’m also not ready to crown Mississippi State just yet either. Pulling off a huge win is one thing, but sustaining that against a schedule that still has Texas A&M, Auburn, Arkansas, Alabama and Ole Miss is easier said than done.

Still Not Ready For Prime Time

It was supposed to be the chance for Will Muschamp and the Florida Gators to show that 2013 was a fluke and that injuries were to blame for all the problems in Gainesville. If Saturday was any indication, not only does Florida still have offensive concerns, but the defense is a problem as well.

Alabama pounded the Gators into submission with Amari Cooper running through the secondary like the first guy out to practice. That’s not something you normally see out of a Muschamp defense and is cause for alarm for the Gators. With a trip to Tennessee up next before back-to-back home games against LSU and Missouri, Florida could turn things around in a hurry, but that all depends on first finding a way to beat anyone of substance.

SEC Least

It’s hard to imagine a tougher weekend for the eastern division of the Southeastern Conference with defending champion Missouri losing to Indiana to go along with Florida’s dreadful performance against Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Throw in South Carolina’s struggles on the road at lowly Vanderbilt and it was a day to forget for much of the division. Georgia’s rout of Troy showed the Bulldogs can run away from a mismatched opponent, but there are still more questions than answers on that side of the SEC so far in 2014. A few will get answered this weekend when Tennessee travels to face Georgia with Missouri on the road at South Carolina.

The Week Ahead

We will get a good feel for what the Pac-12 is all about this week, and it starts early. Thursday night features one of the top showdowns of the year in the league when UCLA travels to Arizona State. Both are undefeated and have shown glimpses of having what it takes to make a strong run this season. With Utah and Oregon coming up the next two weeks for the Bruins, a win could set up a huge opportunity for Jim Mora, Jr. and his team on the national stage. The same is true for the Sun Devils with USC and Stanford coming up on the schedule.

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