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What we learned from Week 1 in the SEC

Here's what we learned from Saturday's SEC action:

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel celebrates after throwing his first touchdown of the season against Rice. (Thomas Campbell/USA TODAY Sports)
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1. Manziel sends, then gets, message

Johnny Football is back.

The nation's most dynamic player played just a little over a quarter after serving his controversial first-half suspension against Rice, but quarterback Johnny Manziel still managed to fire three touchdown passes in limited action and anger his coach at the same time. Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin removed Manziel for the rest of the fourth quarter after his jawing with two Rice defenders resulted in a 15-yard personal foul.

Sumlin was sending his quarterback a message, to be sure.

But one gets the feeling Manziel long ago heard and heeded his last message from Sumlin.

2. Muschamp lashes out at media

Will Muschamp might have created a season-long storyline regarding his relationship with the media pool covering the Gators on Saturday. He drew his line in the sand with three particular outlets, in no uncertain terms, for erroneous, anonymously-sourced reports that broke news on multiple suspensions for UF's opener against Toledo. Star cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy and a few others were indeed suspended, but Jay-nard Bostwick -- reportedly among those to have sat out -- was not suspended.

3. New 'targeting' rule in effect

We certainly learned that the new "targeting" rule will be a controversial one. Texas A&M cornerback Deshazor Everett was assessed a 15-yard personal foul for "targeting" a defenseless player with a hit above the shoulders. The new penalty for that? If it occurs in the second half as Everett's hit did, the rule calls for ejection from the game plus a one-half suspension for the team's following game. That means Everett will have to wait for the second half of next week's game against Sam Houston State, just as he did against Rice while serving an unrelated first-half suspension. Perhaps he can use the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band as an alarm clock.

TAMU coach Kevin Sumlin objected to the call enough to challenge it officially, but after review, the call stood.

4. Injury woes hit Ole Miss

Ole Miss paid a dear price for its Thursday-night win over Vanderbilt, and learned exactly what that price is on Saturday: An experienced starting offensive lineman out for the season (Aaron Morris), and a starting linebacker out for as much as half the season (Denzel Nkemdiche). Morris tore an ACL, while Nkemdiche tore the meniscus in his knee and required surgery. Nkemdiche figures to miss at least two conference games with the injury, and potentially as many as four.

5. Concern for Mississippi State's offense

The Mississippi State offense needs a lot of work. And it's uncertain whether it will get that work done with or without quarterback Tyler Russell. The Bulldogs faced an Oklahoma State program known to be porous defensively, and couldn't take advantage at all in a 21-3 loss. Any hope for the MSU offense this season will begin with a quick return for Russell, a veteran senior quarterback. But even if Russell returns quickly and with no ill effects from a head injury, one wonders whether the Bulldogs have enough weapons around him. Clearly, 1,000-yard rusher LaDarius Perkins alone won't be enough.

6. Long year in Lexington under way

In Western Kentucky's 35-26 win over Kentucky, the Hilltoppers' short list of NFL draft prospects made a significant impact on the upset win. WKU linebacker Andrew Jackson and versatile running back Antonio Andrews were effective on each side of the ball for one of the most talented teams in the Sun Belt Conference.

Kentucky's top pro prospect, linebacker Avery Williamson, made a game-high 14 tackles with a fumble recovery. New UK coach Mark Stoops may be recruiting extremely well, but he's a year away from enlisting those reinforcements.

Probably a long year in Lexington.

7. Georgia offense has issues if Mitchell's injury serious

If fear about the seriousness of Malcolm Mitchell's right knee injury is warranted, the Georgia Bulldogs' offense has a serious handicap on its hands for the time being, if not the rest of the season.

Mitchell provided the Bulldogs with its most explosive presence at receiver, and his absence will place pressure on Michael Bennett, Chris Conley, and whoever else coach Mark Richt can find to fill Mitchell's void.

8. Smallish RB Josey back in big way

Henry Josey is back. The diminutive, electrifying running back from Missouri has rebounded in fine fashion from the serious knee injury that sidelined him for the entire 2012 season. Josey ran for 113 yards on just 13 carries -- albeit against the outmanned Murray State Racers -- with a touchdown on Saturday.

But for a player whose career appeared threatened at this time a year ago, strength of opponent didn't matter on Saturday.

As a sophomore in 2011, Josey (5-10, 190) tallied the fifth-highest rushing total in school history (1,168 yards) in just 10 games before blowing out his knee against Texas.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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