<
>

Roundtable: Biggest September surprise in the SEC

The 2016 college football season is nearly a month old, and every SEC team already has four games in the books. Quite a bit has transpired, some of it expected, some of it downright surprising.

We asked each of our SEC reporters to name their biggest surprise of the season's opening month. Here's what they said:

Edward Aschoff: I almost went with LSU firing Les Miles because I didn’t think LSU would look this bad heading into October, but I'm going with Missouri quarterback Drew Lock. It's night and day with this kid, and it's a great new day for Lock. The Tigers actually have an offense, and Lock is the reason for it. Through four games, Lock leads the SEC with 1,508 passing yards and 14 touchdowns, while averaging an SEC-high 377 yards per game. He's also thrown just three interceptions. Josh Heupel's hurry-up offense is working wonders for Lock, but I never would have thought he'd do this well this early in Year 2 with a new coach and system.

David Ching: Nick Saban continues to surprise me with what he's willing to do offensively at Alabama. In this case, I'm specifically talking about his going with true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts. We all heard reports about Hurts practicing well in the spring and preseason, and I was fully convinced that he would someday become an exceptional quarterback for the Crimson Tide. But I also expected Saban to play things conservatively at the position and stick with a guy who had been around longer. He proved me wrong, and it looks like it was a good decision. Hurts has been outstanding thus far, ranking seventh in the SEC in total offense with 244.5 yards per game.

Sam Khan Jr.: There have been quite a few surprises so far, but I am going with LSU firing Les Miles. Coming into the season, I figured if that was going to happen, it wouldn't be until after the Tigers lost to Alabama again or were out of the SEC West race late in the season. I was optimistic about this LSU team and picked the Tigers to win the SEC in the preseason, so I definitely didn't foresee them losing to Wisconsin and Auburn in the first month of the season.

Greg Ostendorf: It's hard to call it a surprise because there were a number of people, me included, who picked Texas A&M as a possible sleeper this year. But boy, have they looked good through the first month. I know, I know. We've seen this charade before. The Aggies always start fast before falling apart down the stretch. There's just something about this team that feels different, though. The defense has been outstanding. We knew about Myles Garrett and that dominant defensive line, but Justin Evans and Armani Watts have been just as good on the back end. And so far, Trevor Knight has been the perfect match for Texas A&M at quarterback. Maybe this is finally the year.

Alex Scarborough: I still have my reservations about Tennessee, but I'm starting to turn the corner. Butch Jones obviously did something right during halftime Saturday to lead to that comeback against Florida. I didn't think the Vols had it in them, but they proved me wrong. Throw in the Virginia Tech and Appalachian State games, and we're suddenly looking at a team that's overcome the fourth-quarter woes that troubled Tennessee last year. It's not always pretty, but maybe the Vols are ready to take the lead in the East and show that all the hype was for a reason.