Not your regular SEC preseason predictions, 2012 version

I adopted this format last year out of necessity – I simply couldn’t get a handle on Georgia’s prospects, but didn’t want to give up entirely on handicapping the SEC’s 2011 season.  The thing is, it worked out well enough I’ve decided to stick with it.  Here’s how I described it the first time:

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.

In the spirit of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, here I go again.  Besides, Missouri’s and TAMU’s fates are mysteries to me.

SEC WEST

LSU (13-1, 8-0)

  • Pros:  As deep a team as any school in the country; continuity on coaching staff; easier schedule than 2011; special teams
  • Cons:  Loss of best defensive back in the conference; loss of Tyrann Mathieu; questions about passing game and new quarterback
  • Outlook:  Les Miles broke through the two-loss barrier last year.  He looks good for a repeat of that.  Mathieu’s departure will hurt, but not as much as the pundit class would have you believe.  And Mettenberger won’t matter unless he’s a turnover machine.

ALABAMA (12-1, 7-1)

  • Pros:  Offensive line; team depth; Nick Saban; experience at quarterback
  • Cons:  Less experience on defense; loss of Trent Richardson; special teams
  • Outlook:  Neck and neck with LSU.

ARKANSAS (11-2, 6-2)

  • Pros:  Plenty of skill position talent; return of Knile Davis; special teams; Alabama and LSU as home games
  • Cons:  Departure of Bobby Petrino; offseason problems; defense a notch below the elite conference teams
  • Outlook:  I’m bearish.  Petrino meant more to this team than many admit and is almost impossible to replace as a playcaller.  There’s no way this defense is as good as Alabama’s or LSU’s.  The schedule says the Hogs are a lock to win at least eight; the question is whether the ceiling is nine wins or ten.

AUBURN (8-5, 4-4)

  • Pros:  Upgrade at defensive coordinator; defensive line; special teams
  • Cons:  Loss of Malzahn; shaky quarterback situation; loss of Dyer; implementation of new offensive and defensive schemes; Pythagorean expectation
  • Outlook:  Chizik did a decent job last year, all things considered.  But with new coordinators on both sides of the ball, a new quarterback, a power offense that has to find a replacement for its best power running back and a schedule with five of the preseason’s top fourteen teams in the country on it, getting back to eight wins will be a challenge.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (7-6, 2-6)

  • Pros:  Coaching stability; receivers; defensive back seven; soft first-half schedule
  • Cons:  Distraction of NCAA investigation; schedule has Alabama and LSU on the road; offensive line; special teams
  • Outlook:  MSU should do no worse than come out of the gate 6-1.  Then comes a brutal four-game stretch when the Bulldogs are probably looking at going 1-3, and then a finish against Ole Miss.

MISSISSIPPI (2-10, 0-8)

  • Pros:  Special teams
  • Cons:  Inexperience at quarterback; coaching staff change; schedule; talent deficiency
  • Outlook:  If Ole Miss doesn’t win a game before September’s out, it likely won’t win a game all year.

TEXAS A & M (7-6, 4-5 in Big 12)

  • Pros:  Running backs; offensive line; starting wide receivers
  • Cons:  New coaching staff and schemes; new quarterback; defensive line
  • Outlook:  Too many new variables for TAMU to challenge the top teams in the SEC West.  If everything clicks, eight wins is doable.  If not, no bowl game for the Aggies.

SEC EAST

GEORGIA (10-4, 7-1)

  • Pros:  Coaching continuity; favorable schedule; defense; Aaron Murray
  • Cons:  Offensive line; special teams; team depth; early season suspensions
  • Outlook:  If the Dawgs beat Missouri, you can make a reasonable case for an eleven-win season and a return trip to Atlanta.

SOUTH CAROLINA (11-2, 6-2)

  • Pros:  Steve Spurrier; steadily increasing level of talent; defensive line; Marcus Lattimore
  • Cons:  Secondary; less favorable schedule than Georgia’s; special teams; replacing Alshon Jeffrey
  • Outlook:  I have a feeling the ‘Cocks get by Arkansas this year, so the season could come down to how they fare against LSU.  Ten wins look likely.

FLORIDA (7-6, 3-5)

  • Pros:  Defense; special teams; second year for Muschamp; improved schedule from 2011; regression to the mean on turnover margin
  • Cons:  Quarterback; third offensive coordinator in three years; running back depth; team psyche
  • Outlook:  Overall, the trend lines are positive, but it’s hard to get excited about the Gator offense.  Eight or nine wins look about right.

VANDERBILT (6-7, 3-5)

  • Pros:  Respectable defense by SEC standards; coaching; running backs; second year in a row of returning a high number of starters; favorable conference schedule; Pythagorean expectation
  • Cons:  Depth issues in comparison with elite SEC teams; special teams; loss of Casey Hayward
  • Outlook:  You’ve probably heard by now that Vanderbilt has never played in bowl games in two successive seasons.  Can the Commodores do it this year?  It’s going to be a close call.  They won’t sneak up on anybody, but they get a few favors from the schedule (no Alabama, Arkansas or LSU from the West, for example).  And they’re experienced.  Depth is the thing to watch.  A couple of key injuries and Vandy’s season could unravel.

KENTUCKY (5-7, 2-6)

  • Pros:  No Alabama or LSU on schedule
  • Cons:  Passing game; inexperience on defense; offensive line depth
  • Outlook:  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.

TENNESSEE (5-7, 1-7)

  • Pros:  Easier schedule; return of Justin Hunter; most returning starters in the SEC
  • Cons:  Coaching staff turnover; preseason turmoil; running game; depth issues at quarterback, linebacker and secondary; transition to new defensive scheme
  • Outlook:  The schedule alone should make Tennessee bowl eligible.  I can see the Vols winning as many as eight, assuming no more implosions are on the horizon.  You have to wonder how smooth the change to a 3-4 scheme on defense will be, though.

MISSOURI (8-5, 5-4 in the Big 12)

  • Pros:  Coaching stability; passing game; linebacking
  • Cons:  Offensive line depth; running backs depth; schedule; secondary
  • Outlook: I want to say eight wins again for the Tigers, but two things hold me back.  One is depth. Missouri has issues keeping key personnel healthy.  The other is the schedule.  There’s only one FCS school and one mid-major on the OOC slate.  And with three preseason top ten teams there, the margin for error isn’t that great.

58 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

58 responses to “Not your regular SEC preseason predictions, 2012 version

  1. 81Dog

    This is actually like Hollywood: Nobody knows anything.

    Although, between me and Steve Spurrier, we know everything there is to know in the world. Steve knows everything except that he’s an insufferable whining ass, and I know that.

  2. robert

    I’m going to cite my source, but there’s a 100% chance I’m gonna steal that vandy-kentucky-seinfeld joke

  3. AthensHomerDawg

    I see you have Georgia at 10-4 with one conference loss. We lose the conference championship game, bowl game and an out of conference game to get those four losses? Looking at the out of conference schedule are the Jackets going to beat us between the hedges?

    • Rather than give you my predicted records, I’ll list the schools in the order they finished in the conference last year…

    • Puffdawg

      Go back and reread.

    • Cojones

      AHD- WAKE UP!! C’mon, we all stay up late on Sunday some time or the other. C’mon (slap, slap). Wake up. There’s a new Bobo dignity blog that you are missing. And call your son to make sure he got up in time for his law school classes.

    • Dog in Fla

      “Maybe your neuronal connections have lost their snap. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Maybe mine have too.”

      • Cojones

        That ganja will get you every time. And that’s plum nasty bloggin’ back his diag/prognosis. We all are really in a funk while waiting this week, eh? That reminds me. I have to clean my pipe for next weekend.

        • AthensHomerDawg

          Is this tough love? Tough crowd. Man it’s Monday! And I just skimmed and commented and moved on. Don’t blame me … blame the GTD deal I’ve been on. But I’ll bounce back. ;-)

      • AthensHomerDawg

        I told you .. you were quick. Now aim that somewhere else. ;-)

        • Dog in Fla

          This probably won’t make you feel any better, but when I first thought I read it I wondered why Bluto picks us to have the same record as last year. Is he not on the bus? Or are we not going to have a bus this year?

          • AthensHomerDawg

            You’re generous. Thanks I feel better and will slow my roll in the future. Perhaps let it sit in my “inbox” longer!

            • Cojones

              Other confessions are soon to come. The difference in game numbers between LSU and Bama tipped me off (or offed my tip).

              Have 3 cups and go to the Pythagorean formulation. Luck has a verb form for UGA. Snakebit.

  4. Cosmic Dawg

    There is no kool-aid at this party to go with my cupcakes.

    I was told there would be kool-aid.

    • Cosmic Dawg

      Forget it – I did the same thing as AHD. No projected records means everyone gets to make his own kool-aid…

      I used to root for SC when they were not playing us in deference to my F-I-L. Not anymore, I want them to be humbled repeatedly for the next four months.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      With Kool-aid there is no hangover.

  5. Whoever beats Missouri soundly will likely be the popular East team? If UGA likes to get respect by those talking heads they cannot be happy with Vanilla wins. The team needs pounce and humiliate all teams these season. A few point wins against weaker sisters will not do it.

  6. HobnailedBoots

    I think one could make a reasonable case for 12 wins for the Dawgs. They only had 2 losses last year, and one of those losses (Boise State) is replaced by Buffalo on the schedule.

  7. WarD Eagle

    It’s a weird, generally unreadable year. I think UGA, LSU, USC, and SPUAT should be at the top of the league based on what I imagine to be the net amount of available experience.

    Beneath them I see sasnarkrA, Auburn, FU, and some mixture of UT/Mizzou/Aggeez – but any of those teams appear to have enough talent to make a run to the SECCG with the right amount of luck/breaks.

    I’m ready for the weekend.

  8. Mayor of Dawgtown

    UT. No more than 6 wins.

    • The Lone Stranger

      I agree with that, and I’ll go you one further in that Vanderbilt finally gets them this season (for the 3rd time in 30 years), followed by SOD being kicked unceremoniously to the curb.

      • Dog in Fla

        If SOD is spending more time with his family, I’m sure they won’t have any objection if he’s put him with Nutt and Zook for the best Dream Team since Pam Ward and Craig James

  9. JCB

    HA, HA, HA, HA, HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!….wait…..you mean…..oh, you are serious with these predictions? Fantastic stuff.

    (bookmarks to laugh at later in the season).

    • Nothing like the bravery of an anonymous Internet commenter mocking another’s predictions while failing to provide his own…

      BTW, you don’t need to bookmark this post. I’m honest enough to go back and critique my picks after the season.

    • HobnailedBoots

      This has gamecock troll written all over it. You guys talk mad shit and are surprisingly nowhere to be found in December.

      • Annoying Gamecock Fan

        What’s in December?

        • Cojones

          A large bearded guy in a red suit who can enter your home without a search warrant. And can park his conveyance on your roof. I’m gonna paint gore lines on my roof this year and ask the cops to stake it out around midnight.

        • HobnailedBoots

          For Gamecocks? Nothing.

          • Cock of the Walk

            Easy, there Hobnail. There’s no evidence that JCB is a Gamecock fan, except within that biomass between your ears.

        • Cock of the Walk

          Psssst …. December is the time UGA lobbies Birmingham for another cupcake schedule (codename: “Favorable”; see above), dontcha know?

          • Annoying Gamecock Fan

            I agree. We need to figure out a way to get Auburn off our schedule like Georgia did. That Ted Roof has our number!

  10. Gatorhater27

    SC has a potential 3game losing streak in their UGA, @LSU, @UF stretch. I would love to see that, plus a couple of losses to Arkansas and Clemson. They need a slap back to reality.

    • Dog in Fla

      Having not had the chance to spend much time around South Carolina fans, I bear them no particular malice except for having a chicken as a mascot. The least they could do is have a genetically modified dog. However, I can easily go along with the idea that OBC needs a big-time slap back to reality.

      • HobnailedBoots

        That’s because you’re in Florida, most likely. They’re terrible. Like UF fans except without the wins to back it up.

        • Dog in Fla

          Now that you explain it that way, I can easily go along with the idea that South Carolina fans need a slap back to reality

          • Cojones

            Meh. Let’em sleep. I have some chickens to sell you as surrogates. The fox that’s getting them would appreciate it if they are slapped silly before she comes to get them. While the wife is stressin’, I’m just marking the suckers off on a calendar. She lost Teste, Tos and Tyrone, 3 roosters that were flockin’mates that followed Chanty and his 8-hen harem around with their tongues hanging out. She even lost her favorite little rooster she insisted on naming herself. The wife was beside herself when the fox got Boner.

            We are pleased (well, I am) to help the red fox wildlife establish themselves again and by the look of her tits, she has some good pups. Was going to name her Maureen, but settled on Sybil. Sounds like good Irish names for redheads. In return the fox helps me with my problem of cleaning chicken shit off my shoes after I walk the dogs.

            If you want any game chickens, let me know ahead of time. They follow the Amnesian around when she is walking in the yard. They even fly up to take food out of her hand. Sad to see them disappear.

            • Cojones….get u a Jack Russell. I like wildlife and foxes keep the feral cats in ck. Still nothing gets past a Jack.
              Just sayin’

              • Cojones

                Not even the chickens? I want one.

                Did you see the latest wildlife research they did at Athens with outside cats? Put little tracker cameras on them(remember that these are housecats allowed to roam outside) and found that they not only ate songbirds (12%of their victims), but also lizards, frogs,anoles, snakes and a slew of other things that move. Leave 50% to rot. I was aware of this information presented at Georgia Wildlife Camps as far back as 1954. Feral cats and crows are the worst animals on quail. They will kill and not for food. While our two cats never go outside, they stil have a screened porch to roam and they have succeeded in luring other housecats and ferals near. While my bird pop has been going down, so have the cats diminished.

                Think you are correct that Sybil has been doing us a favor with the cats as well as the chickens. Will wonders never cease?

  11. W Cobb Dawg

    Shouldn’t it be 4th OC in 4 years for fu?

  12. W Cobb Dawg

    I think we win 11+ this year (counting bowl), but we absolutely have to beat scu in order to return to the secc.