The real March madness: SEC spring practice questions

Sorry, couldn’t resist the header.

Anyway, there are a couple of good spring practice previews (good because neither makes predictions) out this morning worth a look:  one in the Chattanooga Times Free Press and one at Rivals.com.

From this early vantage point, the SEC looks more wide open than it has for a while.  I think there are a few reasons for that:

  1. The quarterbacks. Jay Greeson notes that “More than half of the league has some sort of questions around the quarterback position, and that figures to be job No. 1 for just about every team in the SEC not named Alabama, Arkansas, LSU and South Carolina.” Well, yeah, but even at those four places it’s not like any school is returning a Heisman Trophy candidate.  When the top returning player at the position, statistically speaking at least, is someone whose coach regrets not being able to yank from a game last season when he played poorly, that doesn’t speak too well of the talent pool.
  2. Losses at the big boys. Yes, I agree that Saban and Meyer are the top coaches in the conferences and their squads have plenty of talent.  But any way you look at it, the Tide has to replace nine starters on defense and has to break in a new place kicker, while Florida has to replace the SEC’s player of the decade, along with a few other kids who are likely to be high picks in the next NFL draft.  I’m not saying it can’t be done, but it won’t be easy, either.  Or at least not as easy as supporters of both programs would have you think.
  3. Righting the ship at LSU and Georgia. There’s no denying the slippage that’s occurred at both schools in the past two seasons.  And in both cases, it’s hard to blame that on a lack of talent.  Is the coaching focus back this year?
  4. The middle tier muddle. It’s hard to say if there’s a school ready to emerge from the middle of the conference pack.  On paper, you can make a case that South Carolina should, but this is South Carolina we’re talking about.  Tennessee looks too talent-deficient to contend.  Auburn’s got some momentum and a soft schedule, but that defense looks a little shaky from here.  Ditto for Arkansas, except you can discard the “a little” qualifier.

And of course, none of this takes in the kids that won’t be suiting up until fall practice (who knows how much impact Marcus Lattimore winds up having this season?).

What you y’all see as the biggest questions in the conference right now?

19 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

19 responses to “The real March madness: SEC spring practice questions

  1. kckd

    I agree with all you said except for the none of them returns a Heisman trophy candidate. Mallet had a better year than Tebow did last year, just not a better team. If Arkansas could get to the SEC championship game, he’d likely be in the hunt.

    Like

    • With the exception of South Carolina’s, Mallett struggled against every good defense he faced last year.

      Don’t get me wrong – he’s a terrific physical talent. But even his coach admits he’s got a ways to go in the decision-making department. And missing spring practice won’t help.

      Like

  2. DavetheDawg

    If Les Miles can figure out the big hand and the little hand, look out!

    Like

  3. JasonC

    I had a problem with this statement in the Rivals piece:
    “but the new starters won’t have dominant running backs behind them to relieve some of the pressure. Outside of Alabama’s Mark Ingram, the SEC’s top returning rushers are Kentucky’s Derrick Locke, Vanderbilt’s Warren Norman and Florida’s Jeffery Demps.”
    We don’t know what King and Ealey will do this year, but they were doing pretty darn good at the end of the season. And since they were splitting carries and both missed time to injuries, they didn’t show up in the top returners in total yards.

    Like

    • JaxDawg

      Probably the same as not recognizing Bama’s Trent Richardson. If Jeff Demps is a RB then I’m an astronaut. He’s never run between the tackles in his life.

      But don’t worry, they’ll be talking about ours boys by year’s end.

      Like

  4. Pumpdawg

    Calling Tim Tebow the SEC’s player of the decade is sacrilege.Sacrilege ,I say !!!

    Like

  5. joeinsavannah

    “is someone whose coach regrets not being able to yank from a game last season when he played poorly, that doesn’t speak too well of the talent pool.”
    Agreed on the sentiment but also believe that Spurrior might pull out Peyton Manning after a couple bad reads if he has a semblance of a competent backup.

    Like

  6. Dboy

    To answer your question senator: defense of UF, ALA, UGA, LSU. The QB situation as
    you mentioned. I agree that UF and ALA will feel the pain of graduating a large number of NFL caliber players. They may be underestimating the difficulty of breaking in that many new players at key positions… Much like UGA fans did last year after losing stafford/ moreno and Co. Remember, some UGA fans thought we had outside national title hopes this time last year. Ingram will soften the blow at ALA as a balk control offense will greatly help a young inexperienced defense.

    Like

  7. Reptillicide

    Still think Mallett is easily the best QB in the conference this year, despite his intermittent struggles last year. He’s this year’s Matt Stafford. May not have the best record, but he’ll be the best talent.

    Like

    • Macallanlover

      Agree, he was the best passer this past season and I wish he had moved on to the NFL. The Senator is right about his difficulties when facing a defense that had a puss rusher in his face, but he was excellent when given time to set his feet. I realize that is a major shortcoming for any passer, and most can throw pretty well in practice when no one is going to hit them, but his passes against UGA were as good as I have seen in over a decade. He not only hit receivers in stride when they were open, the few times we had a DB with good coverage he put the ball in the only place they could have gotten to it. With another year’s experience, I am worried about Arky’s visit unless the 3-4 really gets strong pressure on Mr. Mallet.

      Like

  8. ConnGator

    1) Brantley will have better numbers than Mallett when all is said and done.

    2) Bama’s defensive losses (especially secondary) will cost them two games.

    Like

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      1) Murray will have better numbers than both Brantley and Mallett; and, 2) Bama may lose 2 but Bama will beat FLA in the regular season.

      Like

  9. Hobnail_Boot

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Auburn has a better ’10 than LSU.

    Like

  10. justin p

    Murray > Mallett.

    Like

  11. kckd

    I’ve never seen a college backup replacing a player the status of Tebow hailed as the next greatest thing evah, like John Brantley.

    What that tells me is that gator fans deep down, really think the system makes the QB and Tebow wasn’t that great.

    I think they’re wrong.

    Like

    • Mike

      I think the predictions of a Florida demise without Tebow may be a bit exaggerated.

      Brantley is no Tebow, in the sense that he will not be relied upon to get the first down on 3rd and 2.

      But he is a fine QB.

      Like