Around the SEC East: Thank God for South Carolina and Florida

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 10: Aaron Murray #11 of the Georgia Bulldogs attempts to kiss congratulates Stephen Garcia #5 of the South Carolina Gamecocks at Sanford Stadium on September 10, 2011 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

South Carolina 2-0 (1-0)
The Gamecocks survived a tough game against Georgia 45-42 on Saturday to move to 2-0 on the year and in the process, picking up a needed conference win. With the victory, USC is positioning themselves for another trip to Atlanta. Defensive end Melvin Ingram (6-1, 276) scored on a fumble-return for a touchdown, caused by Jadaveon Clowney’s forced fumble on Aaron Murray. Ingram also scored on a 68 yard fake punt run. The USC offensive line continues to improve as Marcus Lattimore racked up 176 yards rushing (he has over 370 in two efforts against UGA). The Gamecocks looked a bit vulnerable to Murray’s arm, giving up nearly 250 yards of offense through the air. They won’t have to worry about that this week though, as they take on Navy and its flex-bone offense, centered around options, counters and misdirection runs. USC takes on the Midshipmen at 5:00 on ESPN2.

Florida 2-0
The Gators seem to be regaining some of their offensive swagger after falling off a bit in 2010, albeit against UAB and FAU. UF has averaged over 40 points and 470ish yards of offense per contest. Chris Rainey has been stalking some big numbers on offense (see what I did there?) and proving a nice fit in UF’s new pro-style offense. The biggest issue that has plagued the Gators so far, and especially last season, was red-zone efficiency. UF had to settle for 5 FGs against UAB on drives that should have ended with touchdowns. Florida takes on Tennessee at 2:30 on CBS in a game that will serve as a good measuring stick for the SEC east.

Tennessee 2-0
UT is off to a 2-0 start with the help of Tyler Bray, who threw for 405 yards against Cincinnati last weekend after the Vols downed Montana in week 1. As UT enters SEC play, the biggest concern will be depth. After serious attrition (the likes of which even Houston Nutt couldn't measure up to), Tennessee couldn't’t even fill out all of its scholarships with just 76 players on the roster. Depth could be a concern for a team later in the season that is fielding mostly sophomores and freshman entering SEC play. How well Bray is able to perform with a young offensive line against UF could go a long way in determining what impact the Vols will have on the SEC East race this season. As of now, I’m hesitant to say they’re a contender at all as USC and UF look to be the teams to beat in the East. Saturday’s CBS afternoon match up will be a good game to watch for both teams.

Vanderbilt 2-0
Vanderbilt is undefeated after multiple games for the second time since kids thought wooden desks would protect them from atomic explosions. My God, it scares the hell out of me that they will be favored in Saturday’s contest against the Rebels. I’m not going to dwell on this too much as we’ve had a good dose of Vandy over the past week. Warren Norman is in the same boat as Brandon Bolden, so I don’t know what to expect from either of them. Vandy had to sneak by Elon and downed Connecticut in week 2. We all know what Vandy will bring to the table, so let’s not kid ourselves. There’s nothing I can write that’s going to be more insightful than what’s already been provided. Vandy takes on Ole Miss at 11:21 or whatever fucking time Verne Lundquist decides he’s ready to get this shit over with.

Kentucky 2-0
The Wildcats take arguably the least-impressive undefeated record in the country into the Bluegrass state battle with Charlie Strong’s Louisville squad. The Wildcats struggled to fend off Western Kentucky in week one and needed to overcome a 10 point deficit to Central Michigan. CMU actually had a 13-6 lead at the half, but gave up two third-quarter touchdowns and a fourth quarter run in the loss. By halftime, CMU had outgained Kentucky 227-94. When you struggle to find a bright spot in a win, you know it was ugly. However, UK’s Josh Clemons is starting to make his mark as their go-to-guy, which Kentucky is in desparate need of (a la Derrick Locke, Randall Cobb etc). UK takes on Louisville at 6:00 on ESPNU.

Georgia 0-2 (0-1)
Have you ever ridden in a car that you’re not familiar with on a hot day and accidentally cut the seat warmer on? Mark Richt can’t find the button to cut it off as UGA suffered a 3-point loss to USC and, according to Chris Low’s logic, ended their hopes at making it to Atlanta this year. There was some good that came out of the USC loss though. Heralded freshman tailback Isaiah Crowell made an impression in his first start at tailback, rushing for 118 yards on 16 carries. UGA’s offense clearly isn’t the problem aside from turnovers (they actually outgained USC 436-395). However, two fumbles and an interception are awfully hard to overcome against any SEC foe…even Vanderbilt. Fortunately, UGA finds some reprieve this week as the real Dawgs take on Coastal Carolina at 11:00 a.m. on a channel available to ESPN Gameplan subscribers.

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