Sunday, August 19, 2012

OSG Previews the SEC East because we can

Not a ton of things going on...or to do on a pleasant weekend at OSG Global HQ. So we decided "Better late then never" and will give you are 2 1/2 cents on everyone's favorite College Football conference, the SEC.

We'll list the contenders by division, starting with the East...and where we think they'll finish.

SEC East--

1. Georgia 10-2 overall, 5-2 in conference.

Overview: Everyone looks and says "Soft Schedule" and well, they aren't wrong. This however is a very talented, though not very deep team that could be very, very good.

Offense: With Aaron Murray and a deep bunch of Receivers led by Tavarres King, they'll be a tough out for anyone. We'd like them more if they had Malcolm Mitchell the whole season, but they won't. The Running Backs are young, but could be very, very good. Watch out for true freshman Todd Gurley.

The line is a big question, though they are very big and athletic. How they go will determine how this offense goes.

Defense: This should, once the suspension season ends, be one of the best "D's" in the country. They are big, fast and deep everywhere except maybe defensive back where they will not have at least two starters the first couple games.

Jarvis Jones is an All-World Linebacker and John Jenkins and Cornelius Washington are pretty darn good on the line. Shawn Williams and Baccari Rambo are All-American level safeties.

Our thoughts: Anything less then the SEC Championship game for them will be a letdown. And it should be. This is one of the better groups Coach Mark Richt has had in awhile, let's see if they for once can live up to expectations.

2. Florida  9-3 overall, 4-3 in confernce

Overview: Year 2 of Coach Boom and the natives are already restless. The natives have no idea how bare Urban Meyer left the cupboard.

Offense: Jeff Driskell seems to have the QB job...for now. Mike Gillislee gives them the 1st "Power" back they've had in a long time. But who is going to catch it? The O-Line is solid and there is a lot of buzz about new coordinator Brent Pease's offense. Can they deliver?

Defense: Big, strong and pretty deep. This will be the Florida calling card in 2012. Dominique Easley and Shariff Floyd anchor the line, Jon Bostic at Linebacker and Marcus Roberson at Cornerback all have All-American potential.

Our thoughts: They'll be better. Particularly if they can score. The defense is very good, the offense has a ton of questions. Only time will tell if they'll be answered.

3. South Carolina 9-3 overall, 4-3 in conference.

Overview: With the return of Marcus Lattimore and Jadeveon Clowney, they'll be a tough out for anyone. Though we aren't sold on Connor Shaw.

Offense: All things go through the QB. Shaw stepped up last year, but was really inconsistent. He'll have to be really good for the 'Cocks (I said Cock) to be elite. Marcus Lattimore returns with a new knee and a lot to prove. Does he have it in him? Who will step up and replace Alshon Jefferey?

Defense: They lost a lot of guys here. Clowney returns, but all the other headliners graduated. Someone at linebacker and in the defensive backfield will have to step up. We don't see a lot of low scoring games for this team.

Our thoughts: Good, not great. We don't buy these guys as heavily as some others. They'll be able to outscore some people, but we think the biggest loss they had may be former D-Coordinator Ellis Johnson.

4. Missouri 8-4, 3-4 in conference

Overview: They should be a solid addition at least to this division of the SEC. There is some talent here, but there's going to be a learning curve for their new home. No way around it.

Offense: It will all starts with QB James Franklin. As he goes, the team will go and he's pretty solid. A good runner/passer who should fit right in with the big boys of the SEC. Henry Josey and T.J Moe make for some good support.

Defense: That's the question. There is some concern this isn't an elite SEC level defense. We should find out pretty fast. A lot of solid contributors, but no standouts in this unit.

Our thoughts: The Tigers will be competitive in their new home. They aren't far away from elite level, the defense will hold them back. Franklin should be one of the best QB's in the whole conference, at least on paper.

5. Tennessee 6-6, 2-5 in the conference

Overview: This is a make or break season for coach Derek Dooley whether he likes it or not. The natives are VERY restless in Knoxville. And this should be a decent team who may scare some folks, but we don't believe they are quite as good as the teams in front of them.

Offense: Tyler Bray should be healthy. And if he is, the Vols will throw the ball. A lot. There is experience on the offensive line. The skill positions will be tended to by committee which is why we aren't naming many names.

Defense: Defensive End Jacques Smith and LB A.J Johnson will make sure the defense is solid. There is some other talent here, but it's again a mish-mash of guys and the main reason we don't rank them higher.

Our Thoughts: They will be a dangerous out, but there still aren't the horses here to run with the big boys. Bray is excellent, Smith and Johnson are awfully good, the rest...are role players. And that is the difference between this and UT teams from years gone by.

We don't dislike Derrick Dooley, even though this will be an improved team, we're afraid anything less than 8 wins and he won't keep his job.

6. Vanderbilt 6-6. 2-5 in the conference.

Overview: We want to like this team. Really we do. And they are everyone's darlings. Coach James Franklin made a BIG impact with this bunch, within the SEC and especially in the Nashville area. He has them heading in the right direction.

Offense:  Zac Stacy is a very good running back. Jordan Rodgers played well the 2nd half of last season, but is being challenged in camp. That may or may not be good. Wesley Johnson anchors a deep, experienced line. 

Defense: They lost a lot of experience. Depth will be an issue on what is probably the weak link on this team. Walker May is the only headliner here, someone or several someone's are going to have to step up for them to keep pace.

Our Thoughts: The defense is an issue. It's why we don't think they'll make the big leap...this year. The 'Dores are still a program on the rise and for the first time in decades, there is some excitement surrounding them. There are less likely to be issues here as the fanbase traditionally doesn't expect much.

7. Kentucky 4-8, 1-7 in the conference

Overview: Something is missing here and we, nor anyone else can put their fingers on it. They should be better, though playing in the SEC probably doesn't help. Joker Phillips may be in trouble without a winning season too.

Offense: Max Smith was solid the 2nd half of last season, the question is can he continue to improve. WR La'rod King leads a group of solid backs that should contribute. With 3 starters gone on the line however, the question is who will be able to block for these guys?

Defense: Also a lot of holes here. Six to be exact. Donte Rumph and Mister Cobble (yes, that's his name) are the only starters of note to return. There isn't enough depth here to keep these guys competitive for long.

Our Thoughts: It's going to be a long year in Lexington. They aren't horrible, but in the SEC they are. Without much on defense, it doesn't matter what else they do because the offense isn't better than anyone they play.

Division MVP: Aaron Murray, UGA

Best Offensive Player: James Franklin, Missouri

Best Defensive Player: Jarvis Jones, UGA

Best Coach: Steve Spurrier, South Carolina

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