What To Make Of The SEC East, As Conference Play Begins

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It didn’t take long for quarterback problems to start popping up across the conference this past Saturday, especially for a few teams in the East. No, I am not talking about the situation at Georgia, where Stetson Bennett IV got the nod over Carson Beck. The Dawgs will be just fine, just as long as JT Daniels can get healthy. I am talking about the quarterback situation in Gainesville and Knoxville, where the coaches were hoping to avoid one.

The Gators have been waiting on this moment, just as much as Emory Jones has. He was finally getting his chance to lead this Florida football team, just as Dan Mullen drew it up. But there seems to be a problem in the quarterback room, and his name is Anthony Richardson. Standing at 6-4 and weighing 240 pounds, the redshirt freshman is the fastest guy on the field when he’s playing, and his arm looks like Joe Milton’s, but with accuracy. The way Richardson glides down the field, missing defenders while looking for the end zone, is a sight to see. Now, this isn’t to say that Emory Jones doesn’t possess the talent, but it looks like this offense could be more proficient with Richardson running it. Jones is also 31-49, with two touchdowns and four interceptions through two games, which isn’t exactly setting the world on fire. Dan Mullen enters the week staring down a battle with Alabama, so it would make sense to unleash “AR-15” on the Tide and see what you get out of it. However, Mullen insists he’ll use two QBs for now. We’ll see.

As for the other team dealing with a quarterback problem, look no further than Knoxville. In what has become a yearly tradition, the Vols are still trying to figure out which QB gives them the best opportunity to win. We witnessed the same problems on Saturday that hurt them in the opener, as Joe Milton continued to overthrow receivers, often standing flat-footed in the pocket. Yes, Milton showed off his wheels on the 54-yard run that put the Vols inside the 5-yard line during the 1st half. But you have to go back to the 1st quarter to see the continued problems that this coaching staff is dealing with. Milton overthrew six receivers and had a hard time seeing teammates run freely down the field.

So when Milton was knocked out of the game, it was time to see what Hendon Hooker brings to the table in live game action. For a few plays, Tennessee fans must’ve felt like they were watching Josh Dobbs run the ball again, as Hooker evaded tacklers and extended plays. Yes, he had two turnovers, but his pocket presence when leading his team to two touchdowns shouldn’t be lost on the staff. If not for Hooker, this team wouldn’t have had an opportunity to tie the game with under six minutes to play. Look, it’s not really a secret that the quarterback position has been dysfunctional for a number of years now. So what’s a few more games, if they can get it right?

Trey’s Take

As Kentucky and Missouri kicked off on Saturday night, it felt like we were watching two teams that could cause some problems in the East Division this season. The Wildcats have this huge chip on their shoulder, looking to prove some of the doubters wrong. Now, if they can get the Wan’Dale Robinson who showed up on Saturday every game, then this Wildcats team should create plenty of opportunities for wins this season. Don’t forget Chris Rodriguez, who rushed for over 200 yards and four touchdowns. If Will Levis can control this offense, the Cats might have a shot at making things interesting for the second spot in the division.

I think Eli Drinkwitz summed it up best for Missouri fans during his postgame press conference:

“Nobody needs to panic and hop on Twitter or go crazy. Relax, it’s Week 2 on the road in a night SEC football game.”

I couldn’t agree more, as I watched Connor Bazelak battle though the pain and put Missouri in contention to tie it up late. This offense will be hard to keep up with for some teams, but the Tigers will need to shore up a few things along the defensive line before getting back into conference play.

And lastly, congrats to Vanderbilt. Just one week after the embarrassing loss to ETSU, the Dores went on the road to Colorado State and somehow escaped with the win, nailing a field goal as time expired. It’s a long season and maybe they can build off this win, but where was this team against ETSU? Guess we’ll find out what Clark Lea can come up with over the next few weeks.

We’ve got a huge week ahead in the SEC, as Alabama plays Florida and Auburn travels to Happy Valley, along with a few other key matchups. So, get yourself through the next five days and get ready for another weekend of madness. Which is just how we like it.

Written by Trey Wallace

Trey Wallace is the host of The Trey Wallace Podcast that focuses on a mixture of sports, culture, entertainment along with his perspective on everything from College Football to the College World Series.

Wallace has been covering college sports for 15 years, starting off while attending the University of South Alabama. He’s broken some of the biggest college stories including the Florida football “Credit Card Scandal” along with the firing of Jim McElwin and Kevin Sumlin. Wallace also broke one of the biggest stories in college football in 2020 around the NCAA investigation into recruiting violations against Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt.

Wallace also appears on radio across seven different states breaking down that latest news in college sports.

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