Tuesday, August 21, 2012

OSG Sports previews the SEC West because we did the East too

SEC West

Yes, this is where the power currently sits. The top 3 here more than likely would win the East, but they aren't in the East...so they can't.

1) LSU  12-0, 8-0 in the conference

Overview: This is the best team in the SEC, even without the Honey Badger. And the deepest. They need Zack Mettenberger to be better than Jordan Jefferson was, which shouldn't be difficult. If that happens, nobody will stop them. 

Offense: QB Mettenberger is a classic, drop back thrower. He's not fast, but doesn't have to be. With a 4-deep set of running backs and a slew of receivers, as long as the blocking is good, this will be a much, much better unit than in 2011

Defense: Losing Tyrnann Mathieu will hurt, but it seems like they just keep trotting out amazing athletes to play on defense. And as long as Barkevious Mingo is there to take a bite out of people, the D-Line is going to be really good. 

Our Thoughts: The only potential stumbling block is the Alabama game...and that is going to be played in Death Valley. Probably in Prime Time. They will be, shall we say, motivated for that one. Seriously, unless Mettenberger gets hurt, nobody is beating them this season.

2) Alabama 11-1, 7-1 in conference

Overview: The only challenge will be the nighttime game in Baton Rouge the first weekend of November... the HQ figures that, by the way we've structured things, you can determine who we think will win...

Offense: QB A.J McCarron figures to get better if they can find a wide receiver. Eddy Lacy becomes the man and the line is deep. Really deep and experienced. Don't expect them to get in many shootouts, because while the offense is pretty good, they aren't great.

Defense: Nick Saban's calling card. But they lost 7 starters after the season and need a LOT of guys without experience to step up. There's a lot of youth. But LB Nico Johnson, S Robert Lester and CB Dee Milliner are pretty much it.

Our Thoughts: They'll be very, very good, but the inexperience on defense will hurt them. They should win everything except the LSU game, though they are going to be exposed. We wouldn't be surprised if someone upsets them early.

3) Arkansas 10-2, 6-2 in the conference

Overview: It will be really interesting to see how they handle the transition from Petrino to the slightly less stable John L. Smith. As long as Tyler Wilson and Knile Davis stay healthy though, they have a chance to beat anyone they play.

Offense: QB Wilson is arguably the SEC's best. Assuming he isn't sulking from Petrino's departure, he'll keep them in most games. They do need a WR to step up though, there are no Joe Adams or Greg Childs to rescue them. The running backs and line are solid and will supplement the passing game.

Defense: Well, they lost their 4 best players and their coordinator. But aside from that, well, they aren't the two teams ahead of them. Thankfully they are good enough to outscore most people. Perhaps the two biggest names are Tank Wright and Alonzo Highsmith Jr, both Linebackers.

Our thoughts: They'll be pretty good, and quite honestly should win every game but the LSU and Bama games. Much like Alabama there are a TON of questions on defense. As long as John L. doesn't cost them a game or two with bizarre coaching 101, they'll be fine.

Now, to Group Two... you can, pretty much, put a blanket over the three of these guys... they'll all be in the hunt for other early bowls and should cancel out each other's attempts at getting closer to the top of the division...

4) Auburn 7-5, 4-4 in the conference

Overview: The team has tried to find its identity at quarterback with any of four different guys taking snaps behind center last season. The defense has kept the Tigers in games and kept them out of games. Graduation took out another chunk of the squad that was very young last year...

Offense: Is it Kiehl Frazier, Moseley, or Trotter with some CJ Uzomah thrown in like last year, or will they settle on one guy...??? Whoever it is will have all-world H-Back Phillip Lutzkenkirchen to throw to along with Emory Blake. But losing two seniors on the line doesn't help...

Defense: Only two seniors leave, and most Auburn fans are happy Neiko Thorpe is one of them. The young get a year older, and that's important...

Our Thoughts: They aren't on the "Elite" level the teams ahead of them are.  The offense will have to find its identity and the defense will have to carry the team early on... if it can't, The Chiz will have a long year...

5) Miss State 7-5.4-4 in the conference

Overview: Dan Mullen is getting his stamp put on the Starkville program and his identity is defined by tough defense and an electric offense- we're seeing both now...

Offense: Tyler Russell and Jameon Lewis are the one-two to pay attention to for the Bulldogs and they should put up a lot of numbers... Mullen is confident that this is his deepest backfield since he started at the school...

Defense: Johnathan Banks will be getting a lot of attention in the secondary, and not just for being in the secondary. He'll get a lot of play everywhere Mullen will let him. But, when everyone throws away from him, how will the rest of the guys help out...???

Outlook: The early, soft schedule gets them to a good start (5-2 or 6-1), but it's all downhill from there...

6) Texas A&M 6-6, 2-6 in the conference.

Overview: Gentlemen, we give you...the deep end of the pool. Please commence swimming. We like this program and think Kevin Sumlin is a good coach, but he has some holes to fix.

Offense: A&M fans are going to miss Ryan Tannehill whether they realize it yet or no. Redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel is the starting quarterback... Really...??? Really...??? But he will have O-Lineman Luke Joeckel (a pre-season Outland watch-list nominee) protecting part of his backside.

Defense: Damontre Moore is one of the better players on that side of the ball, but they're moving him to defensive end from linebacker... and interesting transition, for sure...

Outlook: Year One will be an adventure... the HQ thinks the Aggies won't be swimming too well this year, but give them some time.

7) Ole Miss 4-8, 2-6 in the conference

Overview: What happens when you're in a situation that wasn't your doing and you get to try and fix it...??? Just ask Hugh Freeze... that's his new job in Oxford...

Offense: The HQ has seen Freeze ever since his Lambuth days, so we know what he does. He finds the tallest, most athletic guys he can find, outs them on the edge and gets a quarterback who can play out of the shotgun and throw his arm off getting it to the receivers.

A lot of yards, a lot of points, a lot of mistakes...

Defense: The problem with the above category is that you will need guys who can stay out on the field for a long time if football's version of pong has more negative than positive. That will happen here... "too tired" will be a phrase uttered by a lot of pundits in fourth quarters this year...

Outlook: Recruits will fall in love with new head coach Hugh Freeze's offense, but Colonel Reb will have a lot of catching up to do to compete in the conference.

Division MVP: Barkevious Mingo, LSU

Best Offensive Player: Tyler Wilson, Arkansas

Best Defensive Player: Nico Johnson, Alabama

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