Five Questions Facing the SEC, Week 1

Vanderbilt Commodores cornerback Steven Clarke (12) is tackled by South Carolina Gamecocks strong safety Kadetrix Marcus (25) and linebacker Damarion Jeffery (33) during the first half at Vanderbilt Stadium. (Don McPeak-US PRESSWIRE)

SEC season has officially kicked off. South Carolina was stretched to the ropes last night, but the ‘Ol Ball Coach was able to escape Nashville, and a well-coached, fiesty Vandy team. Following are handful of questions facing SEC teams as we head into the first weekend of play.

1. Can Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson pull off the upset?

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson is a menace. His dual-threat ability, as both a passer and a runner, is exceptional. Robinson had over 2,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing last season. However, he is running into a juggernaut of a team in Alabama.

[Related: SEC Football Hype Video: I Wish I Was in Dixie]

Alabama is the defending National Champion and even though they have lost talent on both sides of the ball, the Crimson Tide should be as dangerous as ever.  If Robinson is to pull of the upset, he has to show improvement as a passer. Last season he threw 20 touchdowns, but he also accounted for 15 interceptions. Alabama’s secondary is talented, but inexperienced, and could be exploited.

2. Can Auburn’s defense contain the explosive offense of Clemson?

The loss of Cam Newton to the NFL following the 2010 season hurt the Auburn offense and further exposed the Tigers’ defense in 2011. The defense was one of the worst last season and must improve to stop a Clemson offense that includes quarterback Tajh Boyd, halfback Andre Ellington and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Clemson might have one of the best offenses in the country. If Auburn is to win this game, they must find a way to slow down the Tigers’ attack.

3. How will the Tennessee Volunteers offense look after the transfer of wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers?

Coming into this season it looked like Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray would have two targets in the passing game. Well, that number has suddenly decreased to one, as Rogers, the leading returning SEC receiver, transfered to Tennessee Tech following a suspension due to a positive drug test. Wide-out Justin Hunter will have to emerge as Bray’s go-to guy if the Vols want save head coach Derek Dooley’s job. However, Hunter will be defended by perhaps the best cornerback in the country in NC State’s David Amerson this week, who had 13 interceptions last season.

4. Who will be the starting quarterback for the Florida Gators?

After releasing the depth chart on Monday, coach Will Muschamp announced the decision to play both quarterbacks on Saturday against Bowling Green. Muschamp hasn’t decided who will start the game, but has made it known that one of the quarterbacks will play in the 1st quarter and the other will play in the 2nd quarter. After half time, they will evaluate and make a decision. It is possible that Gator fans will know who the starting quarterback is between Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel by half time. One thing is clear, Tyler Murphy will not be the starter, which should ease the mind of many restless Gator fans.

5. Is South Carolina the best team in the SEC East?

SEC East foes Georgia and South Carolina come into the 2012 season ranked No. 6 and No. 9, respectively. The two are favored to compete for the SEC East crown, while the Florida Gators are a sleeper under second year head coach Will Muschamp. The Gamecocks escaped an underrated, well-coached Vandy team Thursday night to begin the 2012 season. I wouldn’t put much weight in this contest, however. It was wet, Connor Shaw was beaten up the entire game, and Vandy was seeking their first home victory over a top 10 team at home since the 1970’s. SEC fans will have a good idea on which team is going to take command of the conference race after South Carolina and Georgia face off on October 6.

More SEC >>  Top 10 SEC Story Lines for 2012 College Football Season