Should Georgia be the preseason favorite to win the SEC East?

Athlon thinks so.

Georgia is the early favorite in the SEC East for 2015, but the Bulldogs will be pushed by Florida, Missouri and Tennessee. The Volunteers are a team on the rise under coach Butch Jones, while the Gators have the talent to rebound in coach Jim McElwain’s first year. The Tigers have key personnel losses to address, but coach Gary Pinkel’s team always seems to find the right answers to reload the roster.

Looking down the list of questions for each program, it seems like there are plenty of warts to go around.  And maybe Georgia’s are smaller than everyone else’s.  But that’s just a maybe before spring practice.

It is interesting that the perception of South Carolina has dropped so precipitously in just a year.  But there are good reasons to have doubts about the Gamecocks.

Florida is a mystery to me, as I’ve previously said.  The Gators lack the horses to be élite on offense, but would mere competence on that side of the ball be enough to make them a factor in the division race?

Tennessee has certainly recruited well the last two seasons.  But it’s not as if the Vols are the only SEC East program to do so.

Missouri has lost a lot, true.  But based on their track record of the last two seasons, if the Tigers are healthy, I’m taking them seriously.

Your thoughts?

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47 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football

47 responses to “Should Georgia be the preseason favorite to win the SEC East?

  1. Irwin R. Fletcher

    Tennessee has been “the team on the rise” seemingly for the last decade other than the last year of SOD. No pundit wants to be the one who missed calling out the resurgence.

    They have two solid recruiting classes….just like everyone else in the SEC.

    They have Oklahoma and then a ‘resurgents row’ of Florida and Arky…we’ll see pretty quickly what they are made of(which will have no bearing on UGAs trip to Knoxville if history is any guide).

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  2. peacedogattack

    I wonder if Mizzou is losing enough that they’ll be slightly down, as they build up a couple of classes worth of system guys to go along with the blue chippers they get. Which isn’t to say that they won’t be dangerous.

    Tennessee has lost half of the 4* guys they signed from a couple of classes ago. I think it’s likely that their cumulative recruiting gains are going to get over-stated this off-season. I’m not sure I see Dobbs turning into the star some think he will. I kind of feel like they are right where they have been.

    No idea what to think of Shottenheimer (I’m not as down as Elkon is). Replicating the Mike Bobo truncated offensive attack from last year is easier said than done (even with most of the running back talent returning).

    East feels somewhat open to me, at this way too far out juncture.

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  3. reipar

    I think the schedule will come into play. Mizzou draws Miss St and Arky. We get Bama and the Aubbies.

    My way to early guess is 1) Mizzou, 2) UT, 3) UGA.

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  4. NoAxeToGrind

    We have all heard this before.

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  5. W Cobb Dawg

    It’s between UGA and mizzou. We lost CMB, they lost their DC Steckel.

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    • Mayor

      This^^. Between Mizzou and Georgia, there are the last 4 SEC East titles right there. UT? No way–not enough talent and a dope for a HC. FU? No way–no linemen and a 1st year HC. South Carolina? Again, no way on talent but they do have a HC who is one of the best. I think South Carolina is more of a threat than UT or FU to win the East. But at the end it will be either Mizzou or Georgia. I actually think Mizzou simply because they have won the East the last 2 years.

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  6. charlottedawg

    My prediction:

    Georgia or Missouri win the east continuing the trend of the last 4 years.

    Georgia’s offense takes a step back from explosive to pretty good. Defense takes a big step forward that more than offsets that. We still pull a Georgia and let at least one maybe two games slip away. One of those will NOT be Alabama as the tide steps into a jacked up Sanford stadium and that turns out to be the annual game that we play out of our minds. We’ll have at least one sec east loss and we will or almost will lose to someone we shouldn’t. One of our losses will most likely be soon after we beat Alabama.

    Might get to Atlanta might not, ditto for making the playoff. Final record of 10-2 (6-2).

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    • CannonDawg

      I see it similarly, Charlotte. With decent QB play, we should be the bell cow in the East. With excellent QB play, we could be far more than a division champ. The chief unknown (and it’s a big one) becomes if and when we repeat that dismal pattern you duly noted as “pulling a Georgia” and lose a foot to our own poorly aimed gunshot. If that can change and somehow be managed so as to keep our aim downrange, then the East will be ours. If not us, then I don’t know who else. And I really won’t care by that point.

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  7. ClydeBoogie

    It all begins in the trenches, on offense IF our linemen add a little more brute strength then Chubbatron REALLY runs wild. On defense, if the D-line has a “Boy, imma whip your ass all day” attitude. Then, the stadium really will be rocking and the girders really will be bending.

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  8. Nashville West

    It is starting to look like Gary Pinkel may be the best coach in the SEC, or at least the SEC East. He seems to get more out of less than any other coach in the SEC. He had a good record in the Big-12 and Mizzou doesn’t seem to have lost much in its transition to the SEC, year one notwithstanding.

    We may have a new, dangerous rival (Although the Mizzou fans seem so nice it’s hard to work up any real hate for them).

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    • Irwin R. Fletcher

      Richt is 2-1 against him, right? And they lost to Indiana? Mizzou drawing Arky and TAMU along with the timing of their games with Carolina and UF helped a ton last year.

      Not saying he can’t coach…just tamping down the “other guy is always better” meme that plagued UGA fans.

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  9. Mike Cooley

    Simply amazing to me that Tennessee continues to get the benefit of so many well founded doubts from folks like the one who wrote this for Athlon. It’s Floridaesque.

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  10. How can Missouri always be a contender to win the east? That’s so annoying. Is Gary Penkel really that good of a coach? It is so hard to get those two things together in my mind. Agree that we will beat Alabama and it will the game that we play like our hair is on fire and look like world beaters. As opposed to losing so e game we shouldn’t lose, which, until they show me different, I’m going to be braced for.

    How’s this for the most Georgia thing ever, the offense surprises everyone by being every bit as potent as last year but the defense takes a step back rather than making their assumed improvement. Eh? Eh?

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  11. Gurkha Dawg

    This could be the year. We haven’t had great OL play in a long time. I think we will this year. If we can get through the first half of the year with only one lose, our offense will be hitting on all cylinders and the D will be very solid the second half. At that point the only thing we will have to worry about is OSU in the playoffs. Go Dawgs and I’ll take a double koolaid.

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    • gastr1

      You don’t think our OL was great last year (and probably the year before)? What are they supposed to do to be “great”?

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      • I wasn’t saying our OL play last year was poor at all. It was very good, but could have been more consistent. That’s why I’m excited about this year. With 4 of 5 returning I’m hoping we become a truly elite unit that dominates on a consistent basis.

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        • gastr1

          Ok, then…what does “dominate on a consistent basis” look like? Open up holes for ten-yard runs on every play?

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          • It looks like we make the CFP. If we have great OL line play, that’s where we’ll be.

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            • Joe Schmoe

              You realize that we missed the playoffs this year due to DEFENSIVE line play against UF and GT, right?

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              • You realize football is a team game, you win or lose as a team, right? Just saying a dominate OL makes up for a lot of other weaknesses. A dominate OL can control the ball, let your D rest, wear down an opponent, and generally beat the shit out of the other team. See OSU vs Bama last year.

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  12. Rebar

    Still don’t understand the love for Florida?

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  13. Cosmic Dawg

    They are not going to win the east, but KY will have a couple upsets. As I recall that kid they have under center wants to win.

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  14. JT

    I think we shouldn’t be the favs based on the last two seasons when we were and didn’t. I think the current champ should be favored because they have proven they can overcome a bad loss like the one they suffered at our hands.
    In the end it will be schedule. I think ours sets up favorably.
    We have to go to toothless stadium in Obknoxvile and it will be rocking as the pundits will play this game up as “the game” Mr. High School band member and ugly ernge announces they are back…

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    • Other than since we have a new QB and start the season with two easy games how is our schedule set up favorably? We play bama, ut, and mizzou on back to back to back weeks. We do not get an off week before tech. We play bama and auburn from the west. Almost nothing sets up well for this year.

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      • Mayor

        I gotta disagree Reipar. We get 2 early season tune-up games (La-Monroe and Southern U.) plus Vandy early. We get South Carolina, Bama and Mizzou in Athens. UT is a paper Vol–I’ll believe they’re good when I see it. FU ain’t sh!t and they have a new HC with a whole new system and set of coaches–plus the Dawgs will be smarting over what happened last season and wanting revenge, IMHO. Kentucky? C’mon, really? I think it is very likely that Georgia goes to Auburn undefeated. Get past the Tigers and all that’s left really is Tech for an undefeated season and Grant Field is really like a home game for the Dawgs. This schedule is a dream for a team that is good and has aspirations to be great. It has difficulty (we need that–remember TCU last year?) but all the really tough games are at home. I don’t care who says it doesn’t matter where games are played–the Dawgs have a higher winning percentage in Sanford Stadium. This schedule is made for winning the SEC East, the SEC and making the 4 team playoff. Find a QB who won’t beat us himself–that’s the key. (Damn I wish Murray could come back for this season!)

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        • reipar

          What? It is better to have a difficult schedule than an easy one? That helps us how? Mizzou gets USC, UF, Miss St, and UT at home. We go to UT the week after playing Bama at home (yeah the same Bama they do not even play!). Their schedule is much easier than our and there is no denying that. Being happy our schedule is difficult while their schedule is easy is delusional.

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  15. AusDawg85

    Shoot…as the favorite, now we’re going to get everybody’s best shot.

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  16. Macallanlover

    We should be, and are, the favorite in the East since no one else has as much going for them. Does that we mean we will win it? Probably but who knows about injuries at key times sitting here in March? If we can stop the run by being stout up the middle, we can play with anyone in the country. But it is March, and those paper victories are worth nothing.

    I think the harder decision is picking the runner-up. Mizzou, Florida, and TN look pretty equal to me. If I had to pick one of those, I would probably just flip a coin. Say Mizzou is runner-up, just edging, or being tied by the Vols. More difficult to make a case for FU as runner-up but they all lack some essentials.

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  17. EdDawg

    Gary Pinkel is by FAR the more STRATEGIC coach of the SEC East.

    His record in the SEC in 2013: 7-1, in 2014: 7-1. Finished 1st in the East both times.

    Mark Richt on the other hand, went 5-3 in the SEC in 2013, and 6-2 in 2014.

    Thus the key difference between the 2 coaches:

    One knows which games are more important to win, the other doesn’t.

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    • Except for that whole 34-0 thing…

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      • Irwin R Fletcher

        It was a ‘strategic’ blow-out loss at home. Pinkel “knew” it wasn’t important to win against UGA or Indiana or Bama, it seems.

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        • EdDawg

          How did Pinkel win the East in 2013 & 2014 if head to head is more important than overall conference wins? It’s not. Head to head ONLY comes in to play if the 2 teams have the SAME conference record. And they didn’t either year. So Pinkel was more strategic than Richt in focusing in the right things (conf win totals > head to head).

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          • He’s not saying that head-to-head is more important than overall conference wins.

            He’s saying you’re making an idiotic argument.

            He’s right.

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            • EdDawg

              Far from idiotic, I was exactly right both seasons, that Pinkel would win the most conf games, and thus win the East.

              I figured some coaches know how to peak for the right games, and after looking at Richt over the last 10 seasons, and seeing how few 7-1 conf seasons he has, vs Pinkel over the last 2 seasons, I look very smart indeed.

              And Pinkel will win the East again.

              Easily.

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              • You’re posting this in 2015, with the benefit of hindsight.

                Yes, you’re a real genius.

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                • Mayor

                  CMR pulled the same thing on SOS in 2010 and 2011, i.e. getting beaten by South Carolina each year but still winning the SEC East in each season. I guess CMR “out-strategized” Spurrier those 2 years. Right?

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                  • EdDawg

                    That was before Pinkel started dominating the East. But no, Spurrier is not a threat to win the East, he’s a great coach, but just doesn’t have the talent. It’s all the Gary Pinkel show. Pinkel owns the East until someone takes his crown..

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        • EdDawg

          The Spurs in basketball rest their starters, and tend to peak at the right time, as all champions do.

          Pinkel won the game he figured he could win, and marshalled all his resources to those games.

          Richt has no clue about this or he wouldn’t have continued to play Murray in the game Murray gor hurt, or Gurley in the game Gurley got hurt. Both were already won and the ACL injuries unnecessary.

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  18. Dave

    There was zero reason for us not to win the east last year. The only reason for us not winning it this year would be major injuries all over the place. Yeah yeah, Bama auburn, but geez, no team in the east stacks up to us….

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    • reipar

      They do not have to stack up to us. You are aware how the conference tie breaker works right?

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    • EdDawg

      Zero reasons? Pulleze. Try these 7 out:
      1- Red zone offense snafus
      Bad calls in the red zone vs SC, pass with Gurley from inside the 5?
      2- Inept Run defense
      418 yards rushing to UF when they had no passing threat when the players promised all week they were going to run it until the wheels came off????
      3- Defensive Scoring
      Gave up 38 points of offense in both SEC losses
      4- Field Goal Issue
      Morgan missed a 28 yard chipshot vs SC.
      5- Richt Outcoached by Spurrier lately
      Richt has lost 4 of last 5 vs Spurrier.
      6- Bonehead First 2 games Scheduling by AD
      Opening up with 2 top 10 opponents in 2013 didn’t work out, nor did opening up with 2 top 25 teams in 2014.
      7- Special teams snafu
      Giving up the fake field goal on 4th and 9 for a td to UF was awful.

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  19. FisheriesDawg

    Missouri will be the 5th-best team in the East this year and will be playing in Atlanta just because. We should have never let those fools in.

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