SEC East: optimist or pessimist?

Okay, we did the West yesterday.  Now it’s Georgia’s division’s turn.

Florida is the other team which has a whole number win total.  It’s the only SEC team which Football Outsiders probability chart assigned a 50% likelihood to a win total.

Here we go:

FLORIDA:  11 wins

I’m sorry, but you don’t lose the SEC’s player of the decade, someone who was born to run Urban Meyer’s offense, and Charlie Strong without taking a step backwards.  You just don’t.  Add in playing Alabama on the road and I can’t see this team losing only once.  (Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean I can’t see the Gators back in Atlanta, but that’s another story.)

GEORGIA:  8.5 wins

If you’ve read my posts for the past few months, you know my formula for 2010 is something like this:  easier schedule + regression to the mean in turnover margin = more than last year’s win total.

KENTUCKY:  5.5 wins

This team looks like it might be decent on defense, and it has at least two elite players on offense who ought to be touching the ball a lot (Joker Phillips ain’t stupid).  When I look at the schedule, though, it seems to come down to the last game of the season, at Tennessee.  History is against the ‘Cats, but I think Tennessee’s lack of depth lets UK get the job done this year and gets them in a bowl.

SOUTH CAROLINA:  7.5 wins

It’s the schedule that makes me hesitate on this call.  The ‘Cocks will be good enough on defense and I don’t think Garcia is going to be worse than mediocre, no matter how often his coach denigrates him.  But if they don’t beat Georgia in week two and have their usual second half swoon, those last four games are a tough row to hoe (even Troy may be a pain in the ass).  I can’t point to anything specific, but something tells me South Carolina gets its eight.

TENNESSEE:  7.5 wins

Derek Dooley coached his team to a losing record in the WAC last year.  He’s got a team that seriously lacking in talented depth at positions where you can’t survive in the SEC without.  You can make a reasonable argument that Tennessee will struggle to win five games this year, let alone eight.  No way, no how the Vols hit the over here.

VANDERBILT:  2.5 wins

It’s a good thing Robbie Caldwell has a sense of humor.  He’s going to need it.  If there are more than two wins on Vandy’s schedule, I don’t see where.

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38 Comments

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38 responses to “SEC East: optimist or pessimist?

  1. kevin

    Question: Are these win totals based on a total season’s body of work?

    I don’t see the rational for the comments about UF and UGA.

    You have to assume that UF will go to a bowl game, and in all fairness, probably get a shot at the SEC championship game. That’s a 14 game total schedule, 11 wins is entirely possible. However, you comment that you can’t see them only losing one game which would mean you are thinking of just the regular season.

    In UGA’s case, you say that we should have a higher total amount of wins than last season, but last regular season we only had 7, so 8 (the under) would technically be more. Or did you mean total on the year?

    • The numbers are for the regular season.

      I thought I’d posted before that I believe UGA should win nine, maybe ten, regular season games this year.

      • kevin

        Yeah, I had seen that. I was just pointing out that 8 would also be more and still ‘under’ which seemed counter intuitive to the tone of the response.

        Who cares, is it football season yet?

  2. Mike

    I think Florida will surprise most people.

    • MT

      Everyone already has them rather highly ranked even after their personnel losses. How can Florida surprise?

      Will GPOOE get an extra year of eligibility, they develop a real running game that doesn’t include the QB, and Urban doesn’t retire mid-season?

    • Puffdawg

      Surprise in which direction?

    • JaxDawg

      You may mean Brantley surprises. But I don’t see the team overachieving, if that’s what you’re implying.

  3. Mike

    Well, by surprise, I mean be competent on both offense and defense,in spite of the losses

    • Puffdawg

      I doubt most of the country would be surprised to see UF competent on both sides of the ball. Still not following what you are trying to put out there…

    • I think we all agree that Florida is going to be pretty good, so if they “surprise”, I don’t think that’s going to make Florida fans very happy. FWIW, Florida is 2-5 going into the Cocktail Party on my season of NCAA ’11. I have no clue how the computer allowed that to happen.

    • hassan

      What did I miss? I haven’t seen anything out there that says that Florida is going to stink this year.

      The biggest surprise I can envision out of Gainesville this season would if they banned jhorts. Shy of that…I don’t see any UF shockers.

      • Seriously

        Keep the apparel jokes coming. They might help to ease the sting of the upcoming loss in J-ville.

  4. Macallanlover

    “Competent” isn’t the issue at all, with UF’s talent and staff, that is a given. There are two factors that are holding me back from declaring them the likely East champs, or conceding 11 wins as achievable:

    1. Just as there is no way to deny the positive effect the lost players added to Florida’s success the past 2-3 years, it is unrealistic to deny there will be a falloff with their departure. How much is certainly questionable, but you cannot say they will be a lesser group on the field.

    2. On Florida’s schedule, Bama on the road, and improved teams with UGA, SC, and FSU all make the road more difficult I would also say the gap with LSU is tighter in 2010.

    Ten, or nine, wins looks more likely than 11 to me. As the Senator said, no one is ruling out UF making Atlanta so they are getting respect for a team that lost 5-6 key players. I give UGA and UF about a 40% chance at winning the East, with SC, maybe having a 20% shot. Just too early for anyone to be too confident, and injuries could also change the entire picture.

  5. Rocketdawg

    I don’t think anyone is saying Florida is going to stink this year but you don’t lose a first round draft pick at QB, CB, S, OL and not take a step back.
    Look at Georgia last year with Stafford, Moreno, Masseqoui, et al being gone. How does anyone know that Brantley won’t be the second coming of Joe Cox? How can you say that their Defense is going to be better with all the talent that they had leave? If the guys who are still there were better why weren’t they playing last year?
    Florida will still contend for the SEC East and SEC titles and may even run the Dawgs out of the stadium again this year, but there is no way you can say that they will be as good as they were last year.

  6. Basically I agree with Macallanlover & I think the East will be a little better & a little more competitive than what is being predicted now.

  7. JC in Powder Springs

    I know Uf had some highly ranked recruits lately, but I don’t see any returnee stats to back up 11 wins. TT threw a wobbly ball, but it still got to the target about 67% of the time. How is Brantley’s tighter spiral going to be more productive? TT was also the feature back in the O, so somebody has to replace all those yards and first downs, not to mention he was big/mobile enough to avoid drive-killing sacks. Plus, Uf suffered when Harvin and Dan Mullen left – they haven’t been replaced. Opposing defenses see more spred all the time – it’s not the novelty it used to be. Uf’s offense is going to have a tougher time than most people think.

    On Uf defense, Charlie Strong, plus about 6 (multi year) starters, cannot be replaced by redshirts and true frosh. Uf’s D is definitely going to be a downgrade from last year. Uf = 9-3.

    Dawgs take the SEC east in 2010!

  8. Hobnail_Boot

    Florida: 11.
    Georgia: 9 or 10.
    Kentucky: 5.
    SC: 7, maybe 8.
    UT: between 4 and 7.
    Vandy: 1 or 2 (yikes)

  9. Dog in Fla

    96% don’t think Tennessee will get to 7.5 wins, which seems about right.

    66% think Vandy will get to 2.5 wins, which seems to be on the sunnyside of things.

    Tennessee beating the 7.5 and Vandy beating the 2.5 is about as likely as Basil getting elected governor of Tennessee

  10. Reptillicide

    Florida is going to surprise… by losing 4 games. I think everyone has just accepted the general thinking that they will just magically reload, but I don’t understand what reason there is to believe that. Every single one of their notable players left. We’ve all heard the talk about John Brantley, but will he get it done? Who is he going to throw the ball to? They don’t have any receivers that have done anything yet. They don’t have a big tight end like they’ve had the past 4 years. They don’t have any RB’s that have shown they can run between the tackles, and replace that part of the offense that Tebow handled before. Their D-linemen are stout, but where is the pass rush on the edge going to come from? How effective will their defensive game planning be by first year coordinator (or is it co-coordinator?) Teryl Austin going to be? Will the offense continue to be predictable under OC Steve Addazio, who drew the ire of many UF fans last year?

    I see a lot of questions, and the only answer that we seem to get on them is”Florida has a load of talent.” That just doesn’t answer it for me.

    I think they will be very average on offense, and there’s no telling what their D is going to look like without Spikes, Cunningham, Dunlap… and Charlie Strong.

  11. Doug

    I’d like to think UF is due for a fall this year, bit the problem is whom (besides Alabama) do they lose to?

    Tennessee? Nope. LSU? Ordinarily I’d say yeah, maybe, but everything I’ve seen points to the Tigers being mediocre at best this year, perhaps even scrounging for a bowl bid. South Carolina? Not in Gainesville, and definitely not in the last month of the season, when the SC Slide has been at it’s most pronounced. Us? Boy, I’d love for that to happen, but I think we’re a year away from making a serious dent in 3-17 (or whatever it’s up to now).

    I see Florida having a season a lot like last year’s in that it involves a lot of mediocre performances, but few mediocre enough to put them in serious danger of losing. Should I be proven wrong, though, I will sit still for all the gloating y’all care to do (and with a big smile on my face).

  12. Cooper

    My hopes for a team with a new QB, an entirely new defensive staff + scheme and questionable special teams (read kickoff coverage) is not as high as most on this site. I do not like 8.5 as a betting number at all. I think 8 wins is what we see this season as Dawg fans (L’s to SC, Ark, UF, Aub and either UT or GT). I have been searching for positive signs that give me more than 8 wins, but I am simply not finding them anywhere. Will we have less TO’s? Not likely with a redshirt Freshmen. Will we create more TO’s? Possible, but lack of depth tells me no. Will we improve kickoff coverage? This is on that I hope and pray is yes, but the proof is in the puddin”. Until I see marked improvement from a Richt coached team, I see 8 wins as the ceiling.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      I see things exactly opposite to Cooper. Basically the only new guy on offense is the QB and he’s had 2 springs and 2 summer practices. The O team played pretty well the last 5 games (the UK game was a fluke-the Dawgs pushed them around the whole game). If the new QB just doesn’t throw ints the offense will be just fine. The problem last year was really the D, particularly the D backfield. If they play any better at all than they did last season (and they should with the new DC, new DB coach and new scheme), the Dawgs win at least 2 more games, probably more. 8 is the floor from where I sit.

      • Puffdawg

        Also, for frame of reference on Murray, Greene threw less INTs as RFr than Cox threw last year, and I’d say the running game should be more effective this year than in 2001.

        And we can’t do much worse on takeaways.

        As for KO coverage that’s pretty much a shot in the dark, but it sounds like we may take a different approach this year.

        Again, I think we are going to score plenty of points, at least enough points to win the division. Our season will come down to how effective the changes on D will be.

        IMO, we’ll get a hard fought win against SC, and everybody will be raving about Arky after their impressive first two wins. We’ll work them over and then struggle against Miss St. I think we’ll beat UF because we’re due and the timing is right, but I think Aub may beat us for the same reason. Optimistically I think this is a 10-2 team and East champs by tie breaker over UF, but I also think the floor is 8 wins.

        Just my two cents.

        • PuffDawg, I think you’re right on the money with that prediction. Question though:
          Who do you see our other loss coming from? Auburn and….?
          I agree with you about UF. Something just feels good about Jacksonville this year. (Don’t we say that every year though? haha)
          I also agree that we fight and win against SC and Ark. I’m just not quite buying into their hype. I am, however, buying into Auburn. I think they win and don’t allow us to tie up the series.
          Do you expect a fluke loss somewhere in there? (God-Forbid) UK? (even more God-Forbid) GT??
          I suppose with Miss State and all of our other low-mid opponents, you could make a case for a fluke loss… I just can’t decide which one…

          • Puffdawg

            HB,

            Not sure where I see the loss, other than “somewhere.” :) This is a weird schedule in that none of the teams really scare, me, but at the same time there are 6 or 7 games we could potentially lose. If you really pressed me, I’d say Miss St or Kentucky.

    • Doug

      Cooper, I think you’d be a little more optimistic if you dug deeper into just how bad Georgia’s turnover stats were last season. In the research I did for SBN’s Atlanta site on that very subject, I found out two things: Not only did UGA give up more TOs than they had since I was a freshman, they caused fewer TOs than all but a handful of DI-A teams this decade. As in, to get worse at forcing turnovers would require us to sink to the depths of defensive incompetence that even the Dukes and Washington States of the world rarely plumb.

      This is not to be construed as a declaration that we’re going to be transformed back into a juggernaut overnight, but in that category, at least, the stats point to some level of improvement by default.

      • Cooper

        I would like to believe that the 2010 offense will take better care of the ball, but an unproven + young QB scares me. My biggest concern is: How many games will it take this new D scheme and staff to come together? Our D facing a pass heavy squad early is not my idea of a good situation (i.e. SC and Ark). I see a 1-2 start and that spells doom for this squad.

  13. Mr. Georgia Football Returns

    I think you guys are right on the money. If “Errorn Intercepta-Murray” throws less interceptions, then Georgia will do better!

  14. Tennessee beating the 7.5 and Vandy beating the 2.5 is about as likely as Basil getting elected governor of Tennessee

  15. Mayor of Dawgtown

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Senator for this exercise which gives us the chance to see the 2010 football schedules of all the SEC teams at a glance. There are a couple of observations that seem to jump off the page. Look at FLA’s schedule. Only 4 away games and 1 of those (FSU) is in the state of Florida. None are on the other side of the country. Look at Auburn. 4 away games (Miss. St., UK , Ole Miss and Bama). Only 1 tough game and 3 easy ones on the road. Now look at Georgia’s schedule. 5 road games plus the WLOCP. I don’t care what anyone says, that’s an away game, too. That’s 6 road games for the Dawgs. And that is the “easy” UGA schedule. It seems that every year our team starts the season at a disadvantage to our biggest rivals. A pretty good ballplayer once told me that there is a lot of muscle in football, but there are a lot of brains in the game, too. Now that Damon Evans is gone maybe we can get an AD that uses his brain for the benefit of his team instead of to its detriment.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      Oh. one last thing. We on this blog have frequently discussed the anomaly that the WLOCP causes the Dawgs to have only 3 home SEC games every other year. Some argue that, because of CMR’s ability to win away games (not counting the WLOCP), that means nothing negative to the Dawgs in their attempt to win the SEC East, and thus, the SEC Championship. No impediment whatsoever. Until I saw all the schedules together on this post I never realized before that FLA, every other year, only has 3 SEC away games. The league counts the WLOCP as an AWAY game for FLA every other year. Everybody needs to quit focusing only on the GA-FLA game itself and look at the bigger picture, specifically that this arrangement gives the Gators an advantage over everybody in the SEC East, not just UGA.

      • Mike

        So, in addition to getting a week off this year, Florida has an advantage over UGA and the rest of the SEC by playing in Jacksonville?

        shazaaam!

        Pity Florida did not figure out this advantage until about 1984 and then only sporadically until 1990.

        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          What about playing only SEC 3 away games and having 5 SEC home games do you find not to be an advantage over every other team that plays 4 away and 4 at home?