The SEC East’s gonna SEC East, man.

I’d like to think Georgia’s division is on the upswing, if for no other reason than mediocrity can’t last forever, but I’ll be damned if I can muster much enthusiasm for the concept after reading this post-spring summary of the SEC East.

For every positive step mentioned, like Florida perhaps setting on a starting quarterback, there’s an equal step backwards, like the Gators losing most of their defensive backfield to the NFL.

Reading that piece, if you had to pick a team in the East that was most likely to improve — which is not necessarily the same thing as picking the team most likely to win the division — which program would you pick right now?

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49 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

49 responses to “The SEC East’s gonna SEC East, man.

  1. Rebar

    If Kentucky can find a defense, I’d say they would be the pick

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  2. The other Doug

    I think South Carolina will be most improved.

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    • Skeptic Dawg

      I agree with you other Doug. I look for Carolina to be a solid team this season. The Gamecocks appeared to improve throughout the 2016 season. They are a very young team with a lot of potential. I do not expect improvement from Georgia. I had hopes of improvement last season and saw nothing close to that. I believe that we have a QB who is an inaccurate passer and that is in over his head. An OL that is potentially scary bad. A group of WR’s that is unproven. A RB with a shredded knee that may or may not return to glory. A defense that could not stop anyone in the red zone last season. In short, I see 4 to 5 losses in 2017.

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  3. Russ

    I know which one better improve.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The East is going to get better because the QB play will improve. Florida, Mizzou, Georgia, South Carolina, and Kentucky should all see a jump in QB play. Tennessee is a question mark, but the early returns are good. But having said that… the coaching in the division still leaves a lot to be desired.

    If I had to pick on team to take a leap it would be Georgia, and I say that not as a homer but that the roster is the most balanced. I would caution that those pouring dirt on Florida due to lost defensive players I’d tread lightly. If the offense starts to click they will be very dangerous.

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    • DawgPhan

      I think you are right about the coaching. SEC Coaching right now is at the lowest point I can remember.

      Saban is clearly #1, but who is #2? Dan Mullen? Mason might be the best SEC East coach. After last season it would be hard to argue that he isnt the best SEC East coach.

      Where does the #2 coach in the SEC stack up nationally? Would anyone rank Dan Mullen or whoever you pick as the 2nd best SEC coach above any of these coaches.

      Dabo
      Fisher
      Meyer
      Harbaugh
      Stoops
      Gundy
      Helton
      Shaw
      Franklin
      Fuente
      Richt
      Dantonio

      I am sure I am missing a couple. These were just off the top of my head.

      I just think that the SEC has whiffed badly on coaching hires over the last couple of years and hasnt been able to overcome that.

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      • You’re missing Peterson. It’s a bit early on Helton.

        Freeze did beat Alabama back to back. Malzahn was less than a minute from a national championship. The coach at Florida seems pretty good to me. Will is better than people give him credit for. His first team at USC looked a hell of a lot better than SOS’s last. Bert’s a jerk but a decent football coach.

        I’d agree that that the top tier in the big ten looks better right now, but they’ve all been around longer.

        Right now the sec is very similar to the way it was when bear was at alabama, as is the big ten/psu. The only way for the rest of the sec to get any attention/credit is to start winning SEC championships over alabama. That’s just hard to get done right now.

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        • DawgPhan

          But no one is taking Malzahn, Jim Bob, the high school coach, or coach karma over any of the coaches that I listed. So still at best the #2 coach in the SEC is the 15th best coach in the country. The SEC not too long ago had 4 or 5 HC with national titles. I believe that Saban is the only HC in the SEC with a national title.

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          • How many coaches in the big ten or the PAC 12 have natties? It’s one combined ain’t it?

            Active coaches with national championships is a short list. Meyer and Saban have been eating those up.

            Off the top of my head there’s also:

            Fisher
            swinney
            Stoops

            That’s it. Of those sec coaches who’ve won a natty none, at least in modern times, had one before they became sec coaches. So again, someone has to start beating Alabama or saban needs to retire. You probably aren’t hiring coaches with natties on their resume, unless you’re alabama and are willing to spend 10 million plus.

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      • Snoop Dawgy Dawg

        Fuente and Helton don’t belong on that list yet. They’ve accomplished nothing to distinguish them from any other coach starting out at a premier program.

        other than that, outside of a flash in the pan season with the most insane luck ever, Malzahn isn’t on that list. Bert and Freeze aren’t better than anyone on that list, which I think Derek agrees with below.

        The SEC is at a nadir of coaching effectiveness at the moment outside of Nick Saban. It’s TBD whether any of them progress to even match the success of their predecessors at the respective programs.

        That and QB quality is why the SEC is as bad as I’ve seen it in many years.

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        • Fuente and Helton don’t belong on that list yet.

          Helton – I agree on, but do people seriously not remember how terrible Memphis was prior to Fuente? They were the 120th rated team in the country in 2011, per S&P+. That was good enough for worst in the nation and that was the last year before Fuente took over. He improved them to 85th, 82nd, 39th, and 44th from 2012-2015, respectively. He literally took the worst program in the country with no meaningful football history and turned them into a top 45 program. I can’t help but be impressed by that.

          As far as the SEC where it is, it’s gone the exact opposite of the ACC in recent years. Saban has driven everybody insane so they’re all firing good coaches (that can’t get past him) in the hopes that they can chase him down. Most of the hires right now are especially uninspiring, increasingly in the SEC East, where the only qualification seems to be that they have a connection to Saban hoping to get some of that magic dust. The ACC on the other hand is loading up on good, experienced coaches and the league as a whole is much better than the SEC. It’s not rocket science. The SEC has made crap coaching hires because Saban is driving everybody insane and the ACC is biding its time making good coaching hires.

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          • DawgPhan

            Agree. The future of the ACC is looking very good right now. Dino Babers is going to have Cuse scoring a lot of points. Pitt beat Clemson and Penn State last year. VT and Miami are both getting better.

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          • Snoop Dawgy Dawg

            I’m not going to discount Fuente as being a hot, up and coming coach, and Memphis did improve greatly under his tutelage, but I’m just saying, if we’re talking cream of the crop coaching, he doesn’t belong in that category until he’s actually demonstrated that same capability at a Power 5 school.

            We’ve seen hot shot coaches for years make that big jump and fall short. No shame in that, but he needs to win and win big at VT before I’d put him on a list that includes Shaw, Harbaugh, Fisher or Dabo.

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            • That’s fair. He’s riding a similar path as Urban Meyer did years ago by using an innovative offense to win big at a place that doesn’t so I’d take my chances that he’s gonna be considered one of the best sooner than later. He did win 9 games and a division title in his first season with a brand new QB and a team that went 6-6 the year before.

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  5. HirsuteDawg

    When we play ’em they’ll all be better than we expect and we will be worse. I expect Florida to win the east and Georgia to stumble into a 2nd place spot.

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  6. 3rdandGrantham

    Got to go with SCU. What Muschamp did there last year going 6-6 was very impressive, and I think their O will be much improved this year. We already know their D will be solid/well coached, and though they are lacking in talent (especially at skill positions), it wouldn’t surprise me to see them end up #2-3 in the east by the end of the year.

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  7. The best chances at improving by 3 or more wins over last year belong to us and then Mizzou.

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  8. MDDawg

    Us, Mizzou, and SC are all in year 2 under a new head coach, right? So I’d expect one of those three to be most improved. I like how the Senator made the distinction between most improved and most likely to win the East. I’m curious if fans will make the distinction between a better product on the field and a better result in the win-loss record.

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    • Fried Biscuits

      Wouldn’t a better product on the field and the same (or worse) win-loss record just mean that UGA might be improving, but improving at a slower pace than the competition? IMO, that’s the same as not improving. I don’t like the whole “moral victory” idea.

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  9. Otto

    Florida has won the divisions in back to back years and has done so playing games with a back up QB. UF has a redsirt QB ranked just behind Eason and returning talent. They are my pick until someone proves they can win it.

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  10. Decatur Dawg

    Kentucky will be the most improved East team. I will go ahead and predict that Georgia v Kentucky on November 18 will determine the East winner.

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  11. Otis Day

    Vandy because they are 1-0 vs. Kirby 🙂

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  12. Macallanlover

    East isn’t as talented as the West at the top but will be more competitive, and not as bad as the current media meme has it. UGA should prevail but there will be some pretty exciting games on the way to Atlanta. I am not taking any game for granted but on talent/experience alone we should be favored in every regular season game we play this year, with the possible exception of Auburn. Still see it as a 10-2 year but we could stumble to as low as 9-3. Any lower than that, or not winning the East, will seriously dampen any hope of a good recruiting class. UGA needs to demonstrate that we can compete for titles again, 5 years since that 2011 season when we were last highly regarded.

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  13. Otis Day

    Vandy because they are 1-0 vs Kirby 🙂

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  14. PTCDAWG

    UGA would top my list, that said UF usually finds a way. Last year UT was the most disappointing, and they just might claim that title again.

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    • Otto

      It would be rather amazing if UT gets that title again as the expectation from most in the media is likely that they are 3rd or 4th fighting against SC.

      UK? they might be most improved but a successful year would be 4th in the East. The turnaround last year once they changed QBs was impressive. They have something to build on.

      1 UF
      2 UGA The WLOCP should decide the East with both teams coming with perfect SEC records.
      3 SC
      4 UT
      If UK beats UT, Butch will be out.

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      • PTC DAWG

        I don’t get the Carolina love…we shall see.

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        • Macallanlover

          I don’t either, other than, maybe, one mild upset. If they do contend for the East, we will have to give some major credit to Boom because they just don’t have even 2nd or 3rd place talent…again. Or we really have to look at what the other staff’s are doing with their player development responsibilities given the class rankings for the last 3-4 years.

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  15. dawgman3000

    I think the dawgs will be the most improved team, and I expect them to win the east. Anything short of that will result in a borderline meltdown within the fan base.

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  16. ApalachDawg

    South Carolina and Georgia
    Florida loses too much D and that is what carried Jim Bob to his two titles. Muschamp left him a SEC championship level D.

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  17. Bulldog Joe

    Cross-division games always play a role. Here’s how they look for 2017:

    Tennessee: @Alabama, LSU;
    Vanderbilt: @Mississippi, Alabama;
    Florida: LSU, A&M (both at home);
    Georgia: MSU; @Auburn;
    Missouri: Auburn, @Arkansas;
    South Carolina: @A&M, Arkansas; and
    Kentucky: Mississippi; @MSU.

    South Carolina and Kentucky appear to have the scheduling edge (and both get last year’s SEC East champion at home).

    But Florida is the favorite and they have to like their in-state schedule.

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  18. ASEF

    Auburn and Ole Miss are going to be tire fires this year. That’s about the only prediction for the SEC I would be willing to put money on. AM seems more likely to stink than to shine. Arkansas, LSU, MSU – are their question marks any less significant than, say Florida, Georgia, and SC? And are their ceilings that much higher? Take Alabama out of the equation, and the division comparisons tilt slightly in the SEC East’s favor, imo.

    The SEC East could easily be perceived as the deeper division by season’s end.

    SEC East:
    SC: Muschamp strikes me as a guy who wears out his welcome quickly. That’s been his track record. Sure, he whipped SC into shape last year, but does he have multiple gears to keep moving forward without burning out the team engine? Or has he had his foot mashed to the floorboard the entire time? Because history says he starts to break his players emotionally in Year 2.

    UT: Has Butch lost this team? I see a lot of evidence he has. Guys like Dobbs and Barnett – reportedly solid leaders – can mask some of those issues. Dobbs and Barnett are gone.

    Georgia: Has Smart figured out that the offense has to be way more dynamic? And even if he has, can the offensive line handle their end of that bargain? I was kind of surprised at the number of Georgia OL I saw being invited to NFL camps.

    Florida: Everyone says their recruiting has become second rate. Maybe relative to a “pencil them in as a pre-season favorite to win it all” level, but probably not a “viable SEC East champion” level.

    Missouri, Vandy, and KU could all be better than Ole Miss and Auburn. But none of them are winning the East.

    I’d bet Florida if someone forced me.

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    • DawgPhan

      please dont mention UGA OL getting invited to NFL Camps…you could really hurt some feelings around here.

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    • Otto

      Auburn finally has options again at QB including a transfer and we know their coach does better with transfer QBs.

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      • ASEF

        Stidham looked awesome throwing TO NFL receivers running rings around average college DBs. Stidham looked awesome throwing behind an OL that faced NFL-potential front 7 personnel once in a blue moon.

        AKA: your standard B12 flash in the pan.

        Cam Newton on Auburn’s 2017 roster might get them to .500.

        And Auburn 2017 would get Gus fired if the rest of the SEC West wasn’t also trending sharply down.

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  19. CB

    SC will probably be the most improved IMO, but isn’t it strange that 5 out of the last 6 East champions have essentially won the division by default? Ever since Meyer left the East has been embarrassing.

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