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Texas A&M Football

TexAgs All-SEC team of the week: Week One

September 29, 2020
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There were huge statistical accomplishments in the first week of Southeastern Conference football, especially where Mississippi schools were involved.

Mississippi State accrued passing yards in huge numbers. Ole Miss allowed passing yards in huge numbers.

As usual, there were big performances in the running game and on defense.

With help from correspondents Mike Huguenin and college football analyst Cole Cubelic, here’s a look at TexAgs’ All-SEC team for the first week of the season:

Offense

Quarterback: K.J. Costello (Mississippi State)

Who needs spring practice or a “regular” run-up to the season? In his first game for Mike Leach, Costello – a grad transfer from Stanford – was 36-of-60 for 623 yards and five touchdowns in Mississippi State’s upset of LSU. Costello grew up in the Los Angeles suburbs and first attended college in the San Francisco Bay Area, so you know there was some culture shock when he got to Starkville. But, man, he sure looks to have adapted seamlessly to the “Air Raid” offense.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Najee Harris and the Tide face Texas A&M in Week Two.

Running Back: Najee Harris (Alabama) and Kylin Hill (Mississippi State)

There were just 14 rushing touchdowns in SEC games on Saturday, and Harris had three of them. He rushed 17 times for 98 yards in the Tide’s victory over Missouri. Hill had just 34 yards on seven carries, but he had eight receptions for 158 yards and a score. It appears as if Hill will be a massive weapon in the passing game for Leach.

Wide Receiver: Osirus Mitchell (Mississippi State) and Elijah Moore (Ole Miss)

Mitchell was the Bulldogs’ leading returning receiver, but he had just 29 receptions last season. There was also concern about whether MSU’s pass-catchers could adapt to Leach’s offense. Well, after one game, Mitchell is on pace for a 70-catch, 1,830-yard, 20-touchdown season after he had seven receptions for 183 yards (a whopping 26.1 yards per catch) and two scores in the Bulldogs’ win. As for Moore, the last time we saw him on the field, he was “posing” as a urinating dog after a last-minute touchdown against Mississippi State in last season’s Egg Bowl. In a way, he treated Florida’s secondary like a fire hydrant Saturday, with ten receptions for 227 yards in the Rebels’ 51-35 loss.

Tight End: Kyle Pitts (Florida)

Eight receptions, 170 yards, four touchdowns. Not a bad day’s work for Pitts, who will be a matchup nightmare for every one of the Gators’ opponents.

Offensive Line: Stone Forsythe (Florida), Nick Brahms (Auburn), Brodarious Hamm (Auburn), Alex Leatherwood (Alabama) and Kenyon Green (Texas A&M)

There were a lot of high-level offensive performances in the SEC in Week One, but no team truly ran the ball all that effectively. There also were 39 sacks allowed. Thus, there aren’t five linemen who deserve to be singled out. The group we’re spotlighting here did play well, though. Brahms deserves notice because he was the only guy who started up front for the Tigers on Saturday who played much last season, and he and Hamm did a solid job leading a rebuilt line against a tough UK defensive front. Forsythe, a returning starter at left tackle for Florida, helped pave the way for an offense that put up 642 yards (including a league-leading 196 on the ground). Green was strong in pass protection and getting to the next level run blocking. Leatherwood was Leatherwood.

Defense

Craig Bisacre/Texas A&M Athletics
DeMarvin Leal (8) is the only defensive lineman listed not to record a sack. He did have seven tackles, though.

Defensive Line: Kingsley Enagbare (South Carolina), DeMarvin Leal (Texas A&M), Dayo Odeyingbo (Vanderbilt) and Marquiss Spencer (Mississippi State)

These guys combined for five sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss and 26 tackles. Each had at least two TFL, and all but Leal had at least one sack. Simply, they made big plays up front.

Linebacker: Buddy Johnson (Texas A&M) and Deandre Johnson (Tennessee)

Buddy Johnson had 11 tackles as the Aggies stymied Vandy’s offense. Deandre Johnson did some damage off the edge with 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble.

Defensive Back: Richard LeCounte (Georgia), Martez Manuel (Missouri), Smoke Monday (Auburn), Daniel Wright (Alabama) and Demani Richardson (Texas A&M)

Saturday was not a good day for SEC secondaries; it especially was not a good day for SEC corners, and that is reflected in our pick of four safeties for the week’s top performers. LeCounte got a ton of hype coming into the season, and he had two picks, three tackles and a pass breakup in the Bulldogs’ desultory win over Arkansas. Manuel played well for Mizzou (seven tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss) in a loss to Alabama. Monday had ten tackles as Auburn shut down Kentucky’s offense. Wright – a junior who is the brother of former Florida and NFL safety Major Wright – led the Tide with 11 tackles in his first career start; he played in all 13 games last season but made just eight tackles. Richardson had an interception, deflected another pass into an interception and posted seven tackles.

Specialists

Kicker: Evan McPherson (Florida)

McPherson, a junior, came into the season 34-of-38 in his career but received no preseason notice. That will change. He kicked three field goals in the Gators’ win — including a 55-yarder — as Florida scored on nine of its 11 possessions.

Punter: Max Duffy (Kentucky)

Duffy did get a lot of preseason attention, and he lived up the hype in the opener. He averaged 53 yards on four punts in the loss to Auburn.

Returner: Kenny McIntosh (Georgia)

McIntosh returned two kickoffs against Arkansas, averaging 45.5 yards on his two attempts. He had a 48-yard return in the second quarter and a 43-yard return in the third quarter.

 
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