Photo courtesy of Alabama athletics
One Saturday is in the books for the SEC.
As usual, there were multiple players with huge performances. Some were expected, but others were not.
Here are the top offensive and defensive performers from each team from the SEC West in Week 1.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Offense: QB Bryce Young
Many were expecting Alabama to try to establish the run to take some pressure off quarterback Bryce Young, but that was not the case.
Young was thrown straight into the fire and immediately validated the hype in a 44-13 win over Miami. The former five-star showcased his creativity in the pocket and was on the money almost every time.
27-for-38 passing with 344 yards and four touchdowns is more than enough to earn a helmet sticker. What may be more important to the Crimson Tide might be his lack of bad decisions.
Defense: EDGE Will Anderson
Will Anderson was considered a special talent out of high school, and he continues to back that up.
Following a strong freshman year, Anderson was all over the field in Atlanta. He finished with nine total tackles and a sack.
At the rate this is going, Anderson could put himself in contention to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Offense: QB KJ Jefferson
Jefferson didn’t have the best game in his first career start, but he showed some serious heart in Arkansas’ 38-17 victory over Rice. Through the air, Jefferson finished 12-for-21 with just 121 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Despite the mediocre passing numbers, Jefferson led Arkansas to a big second-half turnaround against Rice — mostly with his legs.
Jefferson recorded nine carries for 89 yards and two touchdowns.
Defense: CB Jalen Catalon
To nobody’s surprise, Catalon was a bonafide playmaker in Week 1. Not only did he finish with six tackles and one for loss, but he came down with two interceptions.
In a sport where turnovers are so critical, guys like Catalon could completely transform the outcome of a game. Without his efforts, things could’ve gotent a lot more interesting for the Razorbacks.
Offense: QB Bo Nix
It was Akron, but Bo Nix looked like a much more polished decision-maker. On top of that, he was efficient by going 20-for-22 through the air with 275 yards and three touchdowns.
Regardless of the number, Nix seemed to sway away from some previous bad habits in the 60-10 victory. He stood tall in the pocket and made the right decision almost every time.
Defense: EDGE TD Moultry
The former five-star has been waiting in the wings for multiple years now. Finally, he gets his breakout performance in his fifth season opener.
Moultry was stout on the edge and was a menace against the Zips. Moultry led the way for Auburn with seven tackles, two for loss and a sack.
Offense: WR Kayshon Boutte
LSU suffered a disappointing upset 38-27 loss to UCLA, but that didn’t stop Boutte from having a huge game.
Boutte finished with 148 yards receiving and three touchdowns on nine receptions. He was the only Tiger to find the end zone.
Defense: CB Eli Ricks
It was a very tough night for LSU on defense. Fans were hoping for more after a disappointing 2020 on that side of the ball.
Ricks came down with an interception, and that was about the only bright spot for LSU. Ricks continues to be a legitimate first-round NFL-caliber performer.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
Offense: RB Jo’Quavious Marks
Marks was all over the field and proved to be one of the most reliable targets for head coach Mike Leach. Marks rushed for 71 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries. A performance like that on the ground is rare to see out of the air raid.
He wasn’t as effective in the passing game with just 27 yards, but he added a touchdown and had an eye-popping nine catches out of the backfield as the Bulldogs rallied for a thrilling 35-34 victory over Louisiana Tech.
Defense: LB Aaron Brule
Brule is expected to be an anchor at linebacker for Mississippi State, and he proved to be just that in Week 1.
Brule finished with seven total tackles, two for loss and sack. He was all over the field in the comeback victory.
Ole Miss Rebels
Offense: WR Dontario Drummond
Ole Miss was clicking on all cylinders in the 43-24 victory over Louisville on Monday, but wide receiver Dontario Drummond might have emerged as Matt Corral’s go-to target.
Drummond caught nine passes for 177 yards and a score. That was good enough for one of the best receiving performances in the league this week.
Drummond will continue to get more opportunities due to the nature of the offense. Thankfully, he has a pretty good signal caller delivering him the ball.
Defense: LB Ashtani Cistrunk
Cistrunk was the top performer for a defense that looked much improved from a year ago. Last year’s Ole Miss defense was one of the worst in the country, but it has gotten off to a good start.
Cistrunk was all over the field for the Rebels. He tallied eight tackles, 2.5 for loss and a half-sack.
Texas A&M Aggies
Offense: RB Devon Achane
It was a rough night for quarterback Haynes King in his debut, but the running game bailed him out in a 41-10 win over Kent State.
Achane is a super versatile and explosive weapon, who finished with 124 yards on 12 carries and two scores. That is good enough for an impressive 10.3 yards per carry. Achane and Isaiah Spiller will form an elite backfield for the Aggies, which will be relied upon heavily in 2021.
Defense: S Leon O’Neal
It is important to get your leaders going early, and Texas A&M did that with Leon O’Neal.
The senior safety came down with two interceptions against Kent State, and took one back 85 yards for a touchdown. Getting points from your defense can make things tough on opponents.