Not your regular SEC preseason predictions

Since I’m already on record as saying that I have no clue what to expect about Georgia’s performance this season, that makes it kind of hard to put together an SEC 2011 season projection as I usually have.

But I’m not giving up here.  Instead, I’m taking a different approach.  Rather than give you my predicted records, I’ll list the schools in the order they finished in the conference last year, look at areas of potential improvement and decline and assess in what direction I expect each to go by comparison to 2010.

In other words, pure seat of the pants BS.

Let’s hope this works.

SEC WEST

AUBURN (14-0, 8-0)

  • Pros:  Continuity on coaching staff; Gus Malzahn; upgraded recruiting
  • Cons:  Ted Roof; loss of best offensive and defensive players in the conference; least experienced team in the SEC; much tougher schedule than 2010’s
  • Outlook:  No way to go but down here.  The question is how much.  If Chizik wins more than eight, he’s doing a helluva job.

ARKANSAS (10-3, 6-2)

  • Pros:  Continuity on coaching staff; Bobby Petrino; maturity on defense; superb receiver corps depth
  • Cons:  Special teams; new quarterback; Knile Davis injury; Alabama and LSU road games
  • Outlook:  They’ll win 10 again, I think, because Tyler Wilson likely works out well.  But the defense being a notch below Alabama’s and LSU’s may mean that’s the ceiling.

LSU (11-2, 6-2)

  • Pros:  Tons of recruiting talent; John Chavis’ defense should rival Saban’s as conference’s best
  • Cons:  Offseason problems; quarterback situation unsettled; tough schedule
  • Outlook:  More than a few pundits have picked the Tigers as their top team in the country, but I’m having a hard time seeing that because of the quarterback situation and the schedule.  Besides, don’t Miles’ teams always lose two games?

ALABAMA (10-3, 5-3)

  • Pros:  Stocked, talent-wise; deep, experienced defense; offensive line; Trent Richardson; coaching staff
  • Cons:  Unsettled at quarterback; uncertain who game-breaking wide receiver is
  • Outlook:  It’s easy to forget the Tide finished fourth in the West last year.  That shouldn’t happen in 2011.  This team appears to have fewer flaws than any other team in the SEC.  ‘Bama will go as far as its offense will take it.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (9-4, 4-4)

  • Pros:  Dan Mullen; decent quality skill position players; schedule has South Carolina, Alabama and LSU at home
  • Cons:  Departure of Manny Diaz; defensive front seven losses; overall talent level not as high as top-tier SEC West squads
  • Outlook:  Mullen did a fantastic job last year squeezing every drop he could out of his team.  Hard to see them equaling last year’s nine wins in 2011.

MISSISSIPPI (4-8, 1-7)

  • Pros:  Experienced backfield and offensive line; return of David Lee as Nutt’s offensive coordinator
  • Cons:  Inexperience at quarterback; secondary; SEC West schedule
  • Outlook:  They won’t be worse than they were last year, but it’s hard to see that they’ll significantly improve, either.

SEC EAST

SOUTH CAROLINA (9-5, 5-3)

  • Pros:  Best offensive duo in the conference in Lattimore and Jeffrey; favorable schedule; Spurrier and Johnson; deep defensive line; weak SEC East; improved recruiting
  • Cons:  special teams; secondary; Stephen Garcia
  • Outlook:  You can tell Spurrier can taste it.  He’s this close – meaning he’s as close as Garcia can take the ‘Cocks.  If Garcia doesn’t implode, South Carolina wins at least 10 games and the East.  (They may also surprise ‘Bama if they meet in the SECCG.)

FLORIDA (8-5, 4-4)

  • Pros:  Phenomenal recruiting; skill position talent; defensive line talent; Weis replacing Addazio
  • Cons:  Coaching staff/scheme overhaul; brutal October schedule; inexperienced secondary; offensive line depth
  • Outlook:  Maybe Muschamp is a coaching genius.  With that schedule, he’d better be.  The scheme change on offense with the attendant personnel mismatches suggests it’s going to be tough for the Gators to improve upon last year’s win totals.

GEORGIA (6-7, 3-5)

  • Pros:  Most favorable schedule in the conference; quarterback; tight end; special teams; second year in 3-4 defense
  • Cons:  offensive line depth; running back depth and inexperience; wide receiver depth; team psyche
  • Outlook:  Sigh.  Before the first two games are played, who the hell knows?

TENNESSEE (6-7, 3-5)

  • Pros:  Good skill position talent; coaching stability
  • Cons:  Inexperience and depth issues on defense; special teams
  • Outlook:  The schedule is slightly kinder this season and it’s got to help that for the first time in a few years the Vols aren’t breaking in a new coaching staff, so you can make a case for seven wins.  But this team isn’t as talented as the top teams in the East (let alone the West).  Any kind of bad luck with injuries and it’s easy to see UT miss out on playing in a bowl.

KENTUCKY (6-7, 2-6)

  • Pros:  schedule; experienced offensive line; Danny Trevathan
  • Cons:  lack of offensive skill position players
  • Outlook:  If UK becomes bowl eligible, it’ll be because of that schedule.  This just isn’t that impressive a team on paper.

VANDERBILT (2-10, 1-7)

  • Pros:  new coaching staff’s energy; some talent on defense; most experienced team in the SEC
  • Cons:  no offensive firepower
  • Outlook:  Vandy has a deep, deep hole to dig out of this season, so deep that they could very well play better and show no improvement from last year’s win totals.  This is more than a one-year reclamation project.
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27 Comments

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27 responses to “Not your regular SEC preseason predictions

  1. uglydawg

    That’s about as precise as possible. Ambiguity is the color of stew at this point. Our “friend” at the AJC predicted Georgia would lose to Tennessee. He goes so far as predict the outcome of every game before one snap is taken! I think “Predictions” is a misnomer…..he should have labeled it “My Personal Dream List”. No ambiguity there, only good old fashioned “foot in your mouth” clearness. Predicting every game…what a s#x* bird.

    • Go Dawgs!

      Doesn’t everyone go through the schedule and try to predict each one? I certainly have… it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on, but I don’t have a problem with someone going through the exercise, especially if they’re going to put it out there so you can make fun of them if they’re wrong.

      For the record, when I went through the season game by game, for some reason, I couldn’t predict a win in Knoxville, either. I don’t know why, it’s certainly not grounded in an analysis of their players or anything. But that game concerns me because of location, and the fact that I didn’t feel like UGA was that much better than UT as I walked out of Sanford Stadium after last year’s game.

      • Bad Marinara

        We will probably lose one we are supposed to, and one we are not supposed to, but we are not losing to Dooley and the remnants of Hurricane Kiffy. Nope.

  2. Marmot

    I’m fine with making Ted Roof a ‘con’, although he was the Van Gorder of half time adjustments and he made Marcus Lattimore look pedestrian…twice. But then making Ellis Johnson a ‘pro’? Wha? I guess I am just thinking about the Auburn and Arkansas games, but I feel confident in saying the game is currently passing him by.

    • Go Dawgs!

      Depends which Auburn game you’re talking about. He made Auburn look fairly pedestrian the first time that they played, in Jordan-Hare.

    • Auburn made everybody look bad last year, so it’s hard to knock EJ for that.

      SC’s weakness on defense is the secondary, but I think that’s because everybody overrates the personnel back there. YMMV, of course.

  3. Will Trane

    Only the “Rebs” had a losing season in the West. And the East…pitiful.

    Do you occasionally hear a whisper like this…just maybe the Dogs and the East do not have the talent and the coaching they once did. If those numbers do not reverse in 2011, I will come to the conclusion it is not a whisper but a fact. Especially for the Dogs.

  4. BCDawg97

    I keep saying to myself that we are going to go 0-2 and see the fan base absolutely explode and then go 10-0 on our way to the East title. It can’t be any worse than anyone else’s prediction can it?

    • Paul

      Jacksonville sure is hot, though…

      • Mike

        ..and it is in Florida. At the Gator Bowl. And UGA has to take a plane. And the socks don’t match. The dog ate the homework. The dry cleaning was not done…it’s not their fault!

        • Puffdawg

          And all our fans are down there for vacation and don’t take the game serious.

        • Newnan Dawg

          I’m pretty sure Paul’s response was supposed to be tongue in cheek, rather than making an excuse. But thanks for trolling anyway!

  5. HLB

    The best schedule and the best QB in the SECEast, pains me to say it, but this UF homer picks you guys to win the division this year. I really think AM is head and shoulders above the rest, including whoever SOS ends up favoring, lol. Good luck against ‘Bama. Actually, good luck against everyone but us.

    I know, jorts, urban cryer, muschamp is a traitor, etc. :)

  6. Pingback: GTP Predictions « Tide Bits

  7. AusDawg85

    If Bama survives the West juggarnaut, no way does USc beat them in the SECCG.

  8. Cojones

    Great way to present the order of teams and not having to rank. Agree with the general assessments; all except Miss St.. They are strong enough to be the fly in everyone’s ointment.

    • I dunno. Last year MSU was negative in net points scored and net yardage gained in conference play. That’s a sign of overachieving, but it’s not sustainable over time. They’ve lost Manny Diaz, their best d-lineman and all three of last year’s starting LBs. And they play in the West.

      Relf came on at season’s end and I like their secondary a lot. But still, it’s going to be tough for them to win nine again, IMO.

      • Cojones

        Their competitiveness. We have never taken them for granted . Their running backs have had us figured out it seemed. Find out later that they are tops in the SEC, but that’s not intended as an excuse. They seem to want to impress to the extreme with us that there are two teams called Bulldog. Since we are better known , they want us to know that they are just as tough. Much like Boise St will be playing us. With a chip on their shoulders.

        I wish to amend my answer as an observation of wariness about the game we play them. Their overall record…..I couldn’t begin to predict.

    • Boise Huevos

      Boise

  9. Brett

    Senator, what’s your prediction for UGA for this year? 11-1, 10-2, 9-3 or worse? And who do you have the losses to?