Facing the music: a look back at my preseason SEC predictions

If you’re going to make predictions, you at least ought to have the willingness to see how they stand up.  With that in mind, it’s time to go back and check out how badly I whiffed on my preseason calls of the SEC programs.  (Schools are listed in the same order as they were in the preseason post, with this year’s regular season won-loss totals.)

SEC WEST

ALABAMA (11-1, 7-1)

  • What I said:  You want to be the one who predicts the Tide doesn’t play in the SECCG?  Be my guest.  I’m having a hard enough time figuring out which regular season game ‘Bama loses.  It won’t be any worse than that.
  • How I did:  Mixed bag – Saban will be watching the championship game like the rest of us, but one loss was the worst I could see for the Tide. No doubt this is a very good team.
  • Grade:  B-

LSU (9-3, 5-3)

  • What I said:  Early CW:  Expect LSU to have a down year because of the departures on defense.  Late CW:  don’t sleep on LSU!  My CW:  LSU does what it tends to do under Miles – lose two regular season games, one in an inexplicable fashion.
  • How I did:  It looks like everybody’s CW was correct this year.
  • Grade:  B+

TEXAS A & M (8-4, 4-4)

  • What I said:  That offense combined with that schedule should make for an easy nine wins at least.  The question is whether TAMU is anything more than the new Arkansas.
  • How I did:  Got the new Arkansas part right; overshot the win total.
  • Grade:  B

MISSISSIPPI STATE (6-6, 3-5)

  • What I said:  MSU could very well turn out to be an example of one of those programs that improves, but doesn’t show it in the won-loss record.  Six or seven wins look about right.
  • How I did:  Okay on the win total, not so sure about how much improvement there was over 2012.  Mullen can coach, but the talent level really isn’t there to excel.
  • Grade:  B+

MISSISSIPPI (7-5, 3-5)

  • What I said:  Should be bowl eligible again.  Opener against Vanderbilt will tell much about how far team’s record can go this season.
  • How I did:  Yup.
  • Grade:  A

ARKANSAS (3-9, 0-8)

  • What I said:  Between the empty personnel cupboard left to Bielema and the tough cross-divisional draws of South Carolina and Florida, this shapes up to be a long season.  I’m having a hard time seeing how the Hogs top last year’s win total.
  • How I did:  Turns out they di’int.  In fact, they couldn’t even meet it.
  • Grade:  A-

AUBURN (11-1, 7-1)

  • What I said:  Last year’s team gave up on Chizik and his staff, so a change is likely for the good.  Reasonable goal should be achieving bowl eligibility.
  • How I did:  Monster whiff here about the level of improvement.  Looking back, I should have given the Tigers more credit for already having the players that fit Gus’ system.  But there’s no way anybody caught sight of that ginormous rabbit’s foot in his back pocket.
  • Grade:  D

SEC EAST

GEORGIA (8-4, 5-3)

  • What I said:  Can the Dawgs get out of September with no more than one loss?  If so, an eleven-win regular season and a return trip to Atlanta is likely.  I’d like to say that’s what will happen, but I wonder if special teams cost Georgia a game it would otherwise win.
  • How I did:  Didn’t foresee the toll injuries would take, of course.  And if anything, I underestimated the level of special teams suckitude.
  • Grade:  C-

FLORIDA (4-8, 3-5)

  • What I said:  IMO, hardest team in the conference to handicap.  Yes, the Gators can win in double digits again. Yes, the Gators could lose four games. Keys will be keeping Driskel and the running backs healthy and maintaining something close to last year’s impressive turnover margin.
  • How I did:  Sure, I knew the Gators could be bad, but that bad?
  • Grade:  C

SOUTH CAROLINA (10-2, 6-2)

  • What I said:  They get the leg up on surviving a loss in the game against Georgia this year.  Best thing the ‘Cocks have going for them is that they won’t see another conference team after Georgia that can challenge their secondary.  SC won’t do worse than ten wins in the regular season.
  • How I did:  Nailed the bitch.
  • Grade:  A

VANDERBILT (8-4, 4-4)

  • What I said:  The schedule is tougher, so the Commodores won’t win nine games this year, but they should be bowl eligible for the third year in a row.  Ole Miss game will give an indication of win ceiling.
  • How I did:  Caught a couple of breaks playing Georgia and Florida when they did, but there’s no denying this team was a little better than I anticipated.  Another solid coaching job from Franklin.
  • Grade:  B-

MISSOURI (11-1, 7-1)

  • What I said: Injuries decimated this team last season.  Missouri is in better shape going into 2013.  Between the OOC slate to start the season and Kentucky, there are five likely wins on the schedule.  That leaves three games – Vandy, Tennessee and Ole Miss – to decide the Tigers’ bowl eligibility fate.  Assuming Mizzou can dodge the injury bug that was so devastating last year, a seven-win season feels about right.
  • How I did:  No way I saw the quality of Missouri’s season coming.  If I had a vote for conference coach of the year, Pinkel would get it.
  • Grade:  D-

TENNESSEE (5-7, 2-6)

  • What I said:  This will make the third straight year UT implements a new defensive scheme.  And even though the Vols finish with their usual soft landing in November, you wonder how much gas they’ll have left in the tank after getting running that mid-season gauntlet.  Bowl eligibility is about as much as you can expect.
  • How I did:  Easy peasy.
  • Grade:  A-

KENTUCKY (2-10, 0-8)

  • What I said:  What I wrote last year about the Wildcats – “Remember that Seinfeld episode when Elaine is horrified by the realization that she’s turned into George?  Well, Kentucky has turned into Vanderbilt.  It’s hard to see where the ‘Cats get a conference win, or beat Louisville.  Three wins, tops.” – hasn’t changed.  UK has the worst personnel in the conference and that isn’t something you fix overnight.
  • How I did:  The easiest prediction combined with the least surprising results.
  • Grade:  A

Am I being too kind on myself?  You tell me.

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35 Comments

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35 responses to “Facing the music: a look back at my preseason SEC predictions

  1. Bogey Dawg

    Pretty good projected, much better than for pay guys do. Auburn and Mizzou were the big surprises this year, even their fan bases were surprised.

  2. charlottedawg

    Auburn should be a 9-3 team. I can be tolerate Florida I can stand Alabama. I will never be ok with the crap from 2010 and a long time culture of cheating that is the plains. Go Missouri.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      +1. If UGA DBs don’t play dropsy at the end and the Bama kicker gets a good hit on the ball Auburn is 9-3 right there. Plus all the other lucky wins (see Mississippi State, etc.). The WarTigers should be about 8-4 or 7-5. I hope Mizzou……well, you know…..

  3. Skeptic Dawg

    Very solid job all the around. The biggest surprise regarding the Dawgs this year was their O-line, specifically the inconsistent play at the 2 tackle spots. Who knew that Gates, Theus and Houston would take so many vacation days and not even show up. Yes, injuries threw a curve at this team without question. And the defense showed little improvement over the course of the season, with the exception of the D line. With quality coaching, 10-2, possibly 11-1, was well within reach for this team. Going forward, I will expect 3 losses per year from Richt and Co.

    • Paradawg

      Yes, the season could have ended 11-1, but it also could have been 6-6. This was a team whose hallmarks were providing an exciting finish nearly every week, and hardly ever being able to put anyone, even the cupcakes, down for the count.

    • AlphaDawg

      At the beginning of the season I thought we were a 3 loss team. Then September happened, and I thought 11 wins and a return trip to the Dome was a damn near gimme. Then October happened. Just Damn. The injuries and lack of improvement on D were killers. I still cannot believe we lost 2 winnable games to backup QB’s and then the fluke play. Just Damn!

    • NoAxeToGrind

      Three losses in a “good” year.

    • No apologist here but look at the facts:
      1) Toughest schedule in the country bar none – the rise of Mizzou and the Barn more than offset the Gainesville dumpster fire. Add a trip to Clemson on the season’s 1st weekend to it.
      2) Injuries beyond belief on both sides of the ball – Tray Matthews never was full speed. JHC got hurt in the Vandy game when he was playing well. Everyone knows the offensive injuries, and then to lose a 5th year starting QB in his last home game. UF collapsed under the weight of injury.
      3) 3 point loss at Clemson – lost our best WR at the time to a freak injury on the 1st play of the season and Gurley played about 1/2 the game. It’s hard to blame the coach for a poor snap on a FG attempt unless it happens at practice and no one notices.
      4) 15 point loss at home to Mizzou – I was mad about this (-4 TO margin). The week after losing 4 of our best offensive weapons + Gurley out to injury. Mizzou was better than we all thought.
      5) 4 point loss to Vandy – offensive game plan left something to be desired but special teams execution and terrible officiating cost us. This is the head-scratching loss of the year because this game was the one where it looked like the D was going to bail the O out.
      6) 5 point loss to Auburn – this team was flat on its back and rallied only to lose on a fluke. We’ll never know what was really said or happened on the sideline prior to the 4th down play.

      10-2 was the ceiling on this team after the injury bug hit hard in Knoxville.

      • Dog in Fla

        “We’ll never know what was really said or happened on the sideline prior to the 4th down play.”

        It was probably something like:

        “Remember that Seinfeld episode when Elaine is horrified by the realization that she’s turned into George?”

      • Skeptic Dawg

        Very strong assessment. You are 100% correct on your facts. However, when you look deeper into each situation, you will find a truckload of fail behind each game/issue.
        1). The schedule while difficult was extremely front loaded when this squad was healthy. And this team only dropped one of the early season banner games
        2). The injuries were big, but the Dawgs lead in every game that they lost with the exception of Mizzou(?). meaning they were fully capable of winning each game. This is coaching.
        3). The Clemson game was one of many in which the O-line played the role of a turnstile. Gates, Theus, Houston (why he was inserted into the lineup in this game is, and was, beyond me), and Andrews were simply awful. This is where the Dawgs lost this game, with a helping hand from ST’s. Thank you Will Friend. This was a team not prepared for the crowd noise on the road in a hostile environment. Thank you Richt.
        4). This game was lost due to another poor O-line preformance and a defense that was unable to stop a backup QB playing for the 1st time. The world knew that the offense was going to take a step back due to the massive injuries the week prior, yet Grantham failed to properly coach up his side of the ball. And in a reoccurring theme, the offensive tackles failed to show up. This game is placed squarely upon the shoulders of Grantham and Friend. With the score 28-26 Mizzou, the Dawgs had all of the momentum in the world offensively, yet Grantham’s troops could not get a stop when needed.
        5). Vandy…I have made my feeling on this one well known. Coming off of a season ending (no National Title, No SECCG) loss to Mizzou, this team had zero fight once they were down. This team was a rudderless ship that drifted into an L in Nashville. This game should never have been lost. But yet again the defense and ST’s failed the Dawgs. Thank you Richt.
        6). Auburn…do I really need to go into the O-line play (Theus’s quote about coming out surprised at how hard Auburn played) and the awesome coaching job Grantham did here?
        Plain and simple, Richt and his staff failed time and time again to have this team prepared for the challenge that was set before them. Yes, there was plenty of good throughout the season: Murray, Gurley, the WR’s and TE’s, the defensive front just to name a few. But overall, this 8-4 season has been a glaring example of poor coaching and lack of player development.

        • Gee Skeptic sometimes I just don’t know what to make of these posts.
          “Better learn balance. Balance is key. Balance is good, karate good, everything good. Balance is bad, better pack up and go home. Understand?”

          • The hallway of every man’s life is paced with pictures; pictures gay and pictures gloomy, all useful, for if we be wise, we can learn from them a richer and braver way to live.

            • Skeptic Dawg

              Very wise indeed sir. I merely paint a fair and balanced picture. That being said, the pictures that adorn Richt’s hallway of the 2013 season are filled with colors and images of gloom and dispare. These are colors that Richt choose and proudly painted with, no one handed him this particular color scheme.

        • I think that Skeptic has his opinions and seems to stick with them. While I might not agree with all of his post, I do agree that it’s OK to call a spade a spade. No coaching changes after the past few years we’ve had? Color me unimpressed.

        • Skeptic, good stuff as usual (although I don’t necessarily agree with you all the time):
          1) Fair statement on the front end loading of the schedule – The Gurley injury against LSU changed the season when the schedule eased up. We definitely handle UT easily and beat Vandy with TGII3. Missouri would have been a toss-up.
          2) Leading during the game – we led in the 1st half against Clemson but never had separation. We never led against Mizzou but were a dropped 2-point conversion from tying the game. As mentioned, we let Vandy off the mat. This game was the one that made me want to “fire everrbody.” We led Auburn for a minute out of 60. As I mentioned, we’ll never know what was said before the 4th down fluke.
          3) Offensive line development – I agree that the line play has been poor. I give Friend somewhat of a pass this year because he had to build a line last year.

          I’m clearly not in the “Fire CMR or encourage him to retire” boat. He has made a decision that will determine his future with the decision to stand pat with his current staff. My bone to pick with the staff is that they had 9 months to prepare for the personnel losses on defense, the offensive line clearly should not have regressed as they did (agree on Houston), and the special teams is about focus on importance.

          • Skeptic Dawg

            All good points. I am not calling for Richt’s job at this point. No, I learned a few years ago that he will leave on his own accord regardless of the programs performance. We both want the best for the university and the program. Unfortunately, we did not get that this year. And sadly, I do not see it happening in the near future given the lack of changes being made. GATA.

            • I can definitely see your point of view. I thought Richt was going down with the ship in 2009-11. I wish we could have put it all together this year because there’s one guy who truly deserved better, Aaron Murray.

  4. Considering the crazy year that was the 2013 SEC regular season, you did pretty dang well.

  5. Russ

    I agree that Pinkel should be getting some COY love but I think he’ll have to beat Auburn to stop the Malzhan lovefest.

  6. Signal Mtn Dawg

    Enjoyed this article and I think everyone had made similar preseason predictions.

    Auburn catching lightning in a bottle again this year has been just crazy to watch and just proves how unpredictable college football can be.

    MIZ was better than expected and hate it that they lost to USCe as they would be ranked over Ohio State.

    As for UGA, hard to be a championship contender when you suck at 2 of the 3 phases of the game. I can understand the secondary issues and part of the problem was having to play freshman when they were not ready..(thanks to Nick Marshall and the other 2 thieves … one of the others was to be a safety) ..run defense and game adjustments were very good. SPECIAL TEAMS play cost highly contributed in 3 losses……Vanderbilt loss just no excuse. Richt is the Dabo Swinney of the SEC……solid program but his teams just never finish the drill.

  7. Interesting that preseason Pinkel was on the hot-hot seat and some Missouri fans were ready to be done with him. Now he may win the SEC. Injuries sure can put a damper on that won-loss record. How long before that bloom falls off? Someone get Chizik on the phone. Or Coach Sumlin in 2 more years.

    So—- 2012/5-7 Tigers square off against 2012/3-9 Tigers both going 11-1 in 2013. For the SEC championship no less. Missouri in its 2nd year in the SEC. I called it. ;-)
    Never in my wildest dreams.

    • Scorpio Jones, III

      I really did think Mizzou was going to be pretty good…they were pretty young last year (a ray of hope for our D?).

      Both Auburn and Mizzou have offensive lines that perform at a high level, in sync, on the snap of the ball. Mizzou may give up sacks, but man they can blow holes on the running plays.

      The Mizzou o line looks like a bunch of Irish thugs from Southie.

      I have said this before, but part of Mizzou’s image problem in this part of the world is that they don’t recruit much from areas the recruiting geniuses we are regularly exposed to know anything about. (Assuming they know anything about anything anyway.)

      If you watch Auburn’s offensive line play, man are they in sync…

      • “The Mizzou o line looks like a bunch of Irish thugs from Southie.”
        Or Cornbread eatin’ farm boys from Nebraska? I thought we would have the O line whipped into shape by now.

        • Skeptic Dawg

          The fact that the O-line continues to be a major disappointment is beyond puzzling to me. I fail to see what this staff sees during spring and fall that leads them to believe our O-line will be capable of competing throughout an SEC schedule. Here’s to next year I guess.

          • I think they see the O line that started in the shadow of our own goal post against SOS and fought their way up the field and ran out the clock. Or the O line that showed up against the Gators at the end of the 4th quarter when we need to hold on to the ball. Where and why they disappear I haven’t a clue. It’s frustrating. The guys sitting behind me blame Bobo. The guys on the right of me blame Friend. The gal in front says we will never make it with CMR picking the coaching staff. Yes Skeptic TANY! Go Dawgs!

            • +1 – the inconsistent play is what’s maddening about the offensive line – also remember we came off our goal line against Clemson as well with Quayvon on the Senator’s favorite play and then on a dive. After South Carolina, he disappeared. I think I saw his face on a milk carton in the grocery store yesterday.

              • Mayor of Dawgtown

                I thought the O-line play in the second half of the Georgia-Georgia Tech game last week was absolutely great. The blocking on the run from scrimmage where Gurley scored the last TD in OT was phenomenal. I actually replayed that play 10 times and watched the brilliance of the line play. The breakdown in O-line play for UGA this year was pass-blocking. That’s because we have a line full of guards and no real OTs. Get a real LT who can move his feet and the problem is probably solved. One player away. Find the best OT at any JC in the US and get him here post-haste. Nationwide search. Will CMR do it? NOT A CHANCE!!! The problem with the O-line is systemic and it starts at the top.

  8. Gwinnett Dawg

    “Run defense very good” might be a stretch.

  9. Bulldog Joe

    Other than missing out on Nick Marshall’s success, this guy came the closest to calling it during preseason.

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sec/post/_/id/63612/sec-sleepers-to-keep-an-eye-on-in-2013

    • Dog in Fla

      Yes but to his detriment Ed is a Gator. It’s somewhat reminiscent of the time years ago that Andrea Adelson picked us as a pre-season #64.

      • “Also, watch the quarterback spot. James Franklin spent more time banged up than looking like an SEC quarterback. But for the first time since he was a senior in high school his shoulder isn’t in excoriating pain. “Ed
        Excoriating pain? Is this an example of the Dunning-Kruger effect?
        Well, he’s a Southern writer and he’s close, so let’s give him credit (for trying to say “excruciating”).