SEC Preview

By on August 8, 2010

EAST

Florida Gators

Losing a Joe Haden here, and a Maurkice Pouncey there, doesn’t bother a phenomenal program like the Gators, but losing 12 GREAT players surely will temper expectations.  Enter the John Brantley era.  He has the arm and skills to succeed at this level and the next, but can he follow in the shadow of Tim Tebow’s illustrious college career?  Urban Meyer sure thinks so.  As well he should.  Florida is reloading, not rebuilding for another run at the crystal ball.  While Brantley is the key to the O, Ahmad Black is the key to the D.  After losing their leaders in Tebow and Brandon Spikes, Black will have to step up as the veteran in the locker room and on the field.

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Georgia Bulldogs

Mark Richt has had, arguably, some of the most talented teams in the past few years, but has been unable to get those teams to come together.  Last year was no exception.  The defense only forced two fumbles last year. The offensive line was crippled with injury, and as a team, had the 6th most penalties in college football!  This year may not be too different.  They will score, having NFL super-prospect, AJ Green and company, with all the speed at Running Back and Receiver.  If hybrid DE/LB Justin Houston doesn’t have any help, he will be moving on to the NFL after another unsuccessful year for the Bulldogs in the SEC.

Kentucky Wildcats

Randall Cobb is electrifying as a return man, WR, and wildcat extraordinaire.  If the Cats can sort out the QB situation (Hartline, Mossakowski, Newton), this team could put up enough points to hang with the likes of Arkansas.  On the other side of the ball, the defense is speedy but suspect.  They couldn’t get to the quarterback or stop the run, and if you’re looking to exhaust your defense, those are both good ways to do it.  If DE, DeQuin Evans, can cause some havoc, they might not fair too badly in the East.

Vanderbilt Commodores

Run, run, run, run, and run.  Sophomore RBs, Warren Norman and Zac Stacy, make a more than formidable duo in the backfield, and if Aaron’s little brother, Jordan Rodgers, can provide at least a serviceable downfield attack, the Commodores might make some noise.  The problem is, though, party favors don’t make as much noise as fireworks.  Chris Marve is an All-American candidate at MLB… very fun to watch.

Tennessee Volunteers

Old Rocky Top hasn’t had much to sing about recently, their glory days just a distant memory.  New head coach, Derek Dooley, is playing with Lane Kiffin’s boys. (Insert Catholic joke here).  The front seven on defense are the key to the Vols’ success, with arguably the best bookend duo in DEs, Chris Walker and Ben Martin.   The tough schedule doesn’t help their 2010 outlook with road games at LSU, Georgia and South Carolina, and home games against Oregon, Florida, Alabama, and Ole Miss.  It’s going to be a grinder of a season, and I think they should be thankful if they win 7 games.

  South Carolina Gamecocks

I guess the silver lining is that you only have two tough road games, Auburn and Florida.  You still have to host Georgia, Alabama, and Arkansas.  The defense only had six interceptions (only four teams in the FBS picked off fewer), and the offensive line gave up the most sacks in the SEC last season. This team does have a chance to improve on its 7-6 record from last year, especially if 4-star RB recruit, Marcus Lattimore, can contribute right away.  In all reality though, this young team of Gamecocks is still a year away from making waves in this conference. 

 On a side note, the “Redundant Name of the Day” winner is… South Carolina TE, Foxy Foxworth!  Is Foxy really his first name?  Does anyone know someone else with an interestingly redundant name? Email me at: allenisright@yahoo.com

 

 WEST 

Alabama Crimson Tide

The returning National Champs bolster a plethora of talent across the board, hence the expectation that they’ll begin the season the way they ended it… as #1.  They have a long, uphill road ahead of them, though.  They host Penn State, Florida, Ole Miss and Auburn, and travel to Arkansas and LSU. And to make matters a bit more difficult, five of the Tide’s last six opponents have their bye the week before playing Bama.  But having two Heisman trophy candidates at running back (Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson), and “replacing” 9 starters on one of the best defenses in college football with higher quality talent, can help Nick Saban sleep a little easier at night.  The only real questions are whether Dont’a Hightower can step in and be the leader they lost in Rolando McClain? And, will the young DBs be able to grasp Saban’s difficult defensive schemes?  If the answers are yes, then there’s nothing stopping Alabama from playing in Glendale on January 10th.

Arkansas Razorbacks

In Razorbacks’ coach Bobby Petrino’s 3rd year, he has what may be his best chance for a special season.  The schedule is favorable, the offense is dynamic, and the defense is justgood enough to provide the balance a team needs to succeed in the SEC West.  QB Ryan Mallet, is the big time player that could have this team in national title talks.  He could have jumped to the next level and been a top 5 pick, but chose to come back to school to “grow and mature on and off the field.”  Other high-talent skill players, such as TE DJ Williams, WRs Greg Childs and Jairus Wright, and RBs Dennis Johnson and Broderick Green, will have teams struggling to keep up on the scoreboard.  Poor special teams play and secondary miscommunications, and slip-ups kept the ’09 Hogs from reaching their potential. If Petrino has correctly addressed those issues, this team could give Alabama a run for their money in the West.

Mississippi Rebels

This team could easily start the season 5-0 with tune-up games against Jacksonville State, at Tulane, Vanderbilt, Fresno State and Kentucky, and a week off.  Then Mr. Hyde comes out to play… a home game vs. Louisiana, sandwiched between home games vs. Auburn and Mississippi State, and road tilts versus Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, and LSU.  Brutal!!!  But there is hope.  They have the depth at RB to control the game, and a do-it-all guy in WR, Jesse Grandy.  The front seven on defense will establish themselves as one of the best in the conference, led by Lawon Scott at tackle.  Jeremiah Masoli or Nathan Stanley will have to adjust quickly to the SEC grind as the Rebels’ new starting QB, for this team to have success and be playing in a 2011 bowl game.


  Miss. St. Bulldogs

When you compete against Alabama, Auburn, and LSU year in and year out, it’s tough to make a statement, but coach Dan Mullen did just that by making huge strides in several key areas on the offensive side of the ball.   Their weakness is on defense, having given up over 26 ppg.  Only Auburn gave up more in the SEC.  Linebacker, KJ Wright, and DE, Pernell McPhee, need a lot more help to make their senior season magical.

LSU Tigers

Both lines need to improve for the Tigers to keep their rabid fan base happy.  The big boys on offense gave up 37 sacks last year, good for 11thmost in the FBS, and defense only managed 21.  As usual, Les Miles has roped in some great players at the skill positions, especially at WR (Terrence Toliver, Rueben Randall, and Russell Shepard).  Watch out for redshirt freshman RB, Michael Ford. He will be racking up massive amounts of yardage for the next few years.  LSU’s hopes of returning to national title talk, will have to hold off until next year. They have one of the toughest schedules this year, facing Alabama, Ole Miss, and West Virginia at home, and travel to Arkansas, Auburn, and Florida.  Oh yeah, let’s also start the season off against North Carolina, who might have the best defense in the FBS.

Auburn Tigers

The linebacker corps is led by Seniors Josh Bynes and Craig Stevens, and should be complimented nicely by Sophomore, Daren Bates.  And if the secondary can hold its own, Bates won’t have to be dropped back to safety, as he was in 2009.  If the offensive line gels this year and QB Cameron Newton can get the ball to his talented WRs, Auburn could win double digit games.  That’s a lot of if’s, however, and I think the Tigers’ ceiling is eight wins, with a 3rd straight loss to rival, Alabama.

 East Winner: Florida

West Winner: Alabama

SEC Champions: Alabama

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