The SEC has been the dominant conference for close to a decade now, but now they have to pick themselves up a bit after Alabama and Auburn both lost in BCS games last season. Despite major change at the quarterback position throughout the conference, it looks like the SEC will still be strong. With teams like Alabama and Auburn being highly ranked along with Georgia, South Carolina, and LSU, the SEC should be tough to navigate through.
Most Intriguing Team: Florida. The Gators experienced one of their worst seasons ever last year. Vanderbilt beat Florida in Gainesville for the first time since 1945. They lost seven straight games after a 4-1 start, and to top it all off Florida lost at home to GEORGIA SOUTHERN! Coach Will Muschamp is up against it, but with QB Jeff Driskel fully healthy in a new offensive system with a good running game and solid defense, Florida may make some real noise this season.
Most Overrated Team: South Carolina. Steve Spurrier continues to reinvent himself as a coach in Columbia. My worry is the eight starters they must replace on defense and QB Connor Shaw (the winningest QB in school history, by the way). Spurrier has been able to recruit quality defensive players to South Carolina, but that is a lot to replace. The schedule is not overly daunting, but they could be out of the race after week 3 with tough games against Texas A&M, a solid East Carolina team, and Georgia. A fourth straight eleven win season might be a lot to ask for.
Best Offensive Player: Amari Cooper, Alabama. He fell off a bit last season from his freshman year, but his talent can not be denied. The SEC is suffering a bit from lack of weapons at wide reciever coming back, so Cooper becomes the main guy in my opinion. Also, Alabama has a new quarterback, and a new offensive coordinator in Lane Kiffin who has coached a few quality receivers in his day. I have a feeling he will eclipse his freshman numbers of 59 catches and 1,000 yards.
Best Defensive Player: Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss. He is not the most talented players in the conference, but Prewitt has shown to be one of the most versatile and great players in the SEC. Last year he had 71 tackles and six interceptions earning AP and USA Today First-Team honors. Very underrated, but he is getting props from me with all the “hype” going to teammate Robert Nkemdiche.
Coach on the Hot Seat: Will Muschamp, Florida. Quite simply, he MUST win this year. Going 4-8 at Florida is unacceptable, and he knows that. Florida can not afford to lose any more ground in an improving SEC East. He has made some necessary changes this offseason in luring away Kurt Roper from Duke to coordinate an offense that has been putrid during Muschamp’s tenure. If Roper can’t improve this offense, Muschamp will likely be out of a job.
- How does A&M replace Johnny? Kenny Hill is slated to start, but with freshman Kyle Allen lurking, how short of a leesh does Hill have? It may not matter whoever starts, their defense will probably stink so bad they can’t outscore teams.
Alabama: Have they recovered from New Orleans? Oklahoma humbled the Crimson Tide New Year’s night. Coach Saban brought in Lane Kiffin to help the offense. The keys are the quarterback position and the team’s motivation especially on defense .
Can the Mississippi schools take the next step? Ole Miss and Mississippi State both have very talented teams, but is there enough depth on both teams to jump up the SEC West standings?
Does Tennessee get to a bowl game? Butch Jones has recruited extremely well, but when will the talent come around? If healthy, the Vols will get to a low-end bowl game.
Who wins the SEC West? Alabama and Auburn are both extremely talented, LSU is young, the Mississippi schools have momentum. It is going to be fun to watch the division evolve as the season goes forward. The division winner WILL NOT GO UNDEFEATED!
Order of Finish:
West: 1. Alabama 2. Auburn 3. Ole Miss 4. LSU 5. Mississippi St. 6. Texas A&M 7. Arkansas
East: 1. Georgia 2. South Carolina 3. Florida 4. Tennessee 5. Missouri 6. Vanderbilt 7. Kentucky