Biting the bullet: reviewing my 2019 SEC preseason predictions

Once again, it’s accountability time.

I made my preseason picks bed and now I have to lie in it.

As always, schools are listed in the same order as they were in my preseason post, with this season’s won-loss totals.

[Ed. note:  Please read that last sentence again, carefully, before you blast me in the comments for not agreeing with the order of presentation.  You’ll save us both a lot of time.  Thanks!]

SEC WEST

ALABAMA (10-2, 6-2)

  • What I said:  The most lather, rinse, repeat program in college football.  As I said in last year’s preview, if Alabama isn’t in the national title hunt when the Tide plays in the SECCG, it’ll be a complete shock.  A regular season loss would be a mild upset.
  • How I did:  Hi, there, complete shock.  Didn’t see you coming.
  • Final grade:  C-

LSU (12-0, 8-0)

  • What I said:  There’s an awful lot riding on the supposed change in offensive philosophy this season.  Color me unconvinced.  LSU is too talented to have a mediocre season, but the schedule and Orgeron have me thinking the Tigers are on their way to nine regular season wins in ‘nineteen.
  • How I did:  Um… I’m convinced now.
  • Final grade:  D+

TEXAS A&M (7-5, 4-4)

  • What I said:  Yeah, I think Jimbo can coach when he’s motivated.  But between that schedule, the wholesale losses on the defensive front and Trayveon Williams’ departure, the won-loss record will take a step back in 2019.  Seven wins is pushing it a little, but I think TAMU gets there.
  • How I did:  Nailed it.
  • Final grade:  A

MISSISSIPPI STATE (6-6, 3-5)

  • What I said:  Mullen left Moorhead a stacked roster and that showed on defense.  But Fitzgerald was a poor fit for what Moorhead wanted to do offensively, and that showed, too.  This year’s roster looks more pedestrian, but presumably Moorhead will get more out of his offense.  The schedule is certainly manageable, so I can see an eight-win season coming.
  • How I did:  The defense slid as expected, but the offense never picked up the slack.
  • Final grade:  C-

AUBURN (9-3, 5-3)

  • What I said:  It’s one of those patented Auburn years — you know, when nobody’s expecting great things from the Tigers, so they outperform expectations.  That being said, for all their obvious strengths (and that defense is gonna be a real good one), they play six preseason top twelve teams and Gus is counting on a true freshman quarterback to run his offense.  I’ll say nine wins, maybe even ten if Gus finds his lucky rabbit’s foot again.
  • How I did:  Didn’t miss anything.
  • Final grade: A+

OLE MISS (4-8, 2-6)

  • What I said:  Hard to see this season being anything other than a long, hard slog.  The roster has been significantly weakened by sanctions and Ole Miss is making a radical change in scheme on offense.  The schedule isn’t awful, but I have a tough time coming up with more than four wins.
  • How I did:  While the offense was entertaining at times, 2019 played out pretty much as expected.  Just ask Matt Luke.
  • Final grade:  A

ARKANSAS (2-10, 0-8)

  • What I said:  This is year two of a massive rebuild project.  I think the Hogs will win three games this season, but only because the schedule is so soft.
  • How I did:  The record remained the same as it was the year before, but you could make an argument that Arkansas regressed.  Ugly season.
  • Final grade:  B

 

SEC EAST

GEORGIA (11-1, 7-1)

  • What I said:  There’s a high ceiling on Georgia’s season because of the talent level.  The big question is whether Smart has the program ready to take the next big step, which is beating Alabama.  In the meantime, history and a formidable schedule suggest one regular season loss for the Dawgs.
  • How I did:  The journey may have been a little unanticipated, but the destination wound up in the same place.
  • Final grade:  A

KENTUCKY (7-5, 3-5)

  • What I said:  Stoops is a good coach, period, but no program like Kentucky survives the loss of its two best players unscathed.  Still, that schedule will somewhat ameliorate the drop.  Call it an eight-win regular season for the ‘Cats.
  • How I did:  No way to anticipate the quarterback injury situation, but Stoops did a good job with what he had.
  • Final grade:  B-

FLORIDA (10-2, 6-2)

  • What I said:  Mullen, to his credit, stabilized the program last season.  Like it or not, he’s a solid coach.  2019 looks like it’ll be dependent on team health in two key areas.  The ceiling appears to be a ten-win regular season; the floor, if injury luck and turnover margin go south, bowl eligibility.  I’ll sort of split the baby and say nine wins, for now.
  • How I did:  Mullen reached the ceiling, even with his second-string quarterback.
  • Final grade:  A-

MISSOURI (6-6, 3-5)

  • What I said:  Odom is another good coach who deserves more credit than he gets.  The schedule is favorable, to say the least, and I could see Mizzou rolling into Athens with a 7-1 record.  Plus, there’s more talent on this team than you might think.  That being said, you never know how a team reacts to postseason ineligibility.  Right now, I feel comfortable with a nine-win prediction.
  • How I did:  Between the quarterback situation and the way the NCAA jerked Mizzou around on sanctions, the season wound up falling off the table.  I recognized the possibility of the latter, but still…
  • Final grade:  C

SOUTH CAROLINA (4-8, 3-5)

  • What I said:  Muschamp has repaired the dumpster fire of a roster Spurrier left him with.  On offense, the big fix has to be getting Bentley to turn the ball over less; you’d have to think with his experience, that’s not an insurmountable task.  As you might expect with a Muschamp-coached team, the ‘Cocks have some good pieces on defense.  Man, oh, man, that schedule, though.  It’ll be a yeoman’s task to win eight games.  I’m thinking seven wins, and that would be a good year for SC.
  • How I did:  Boom went bust.
  • Final grade:  D-

VANDERBILT (3-9, 1-7)

  • What I said:  Vaughn is the most under the radar player in the conference.  Vandy has some nice pieces at wide receiver and tight end, but who’s going to step up at quarterback?  Overall, it looks like another typical Vanderbilt season coming up — five wins, maybe six if the ‘Dores can extend the winning streak against the Vols.
  • How I did:  There’s really no excuse for how bad Vandy’s offense was this season.  I’m a little surprised Mason kept his job.
  • Final grade:  D-

TENNESSEE (7-5, 5-3)

  • What I said:    UT will improve its won-loss record again, but when you’re in a conference where everything starts with line play, and your lines are the weakest part of your team, there’s only so far you can go.  The Vols will go bowling, but that’s about all.
  • How I did:  It’s not that I underestimated the Vols so much as I underestimated how weak much of the SEC East turned out to be.
  • Final grade:  A-

There you have it.  How do you think I did?

18 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

18 responses to “Biting the bullet: reviewing my 2019 SEC preseason predictions

  1. For me Alabama’s fall from grace/misfortune/whatever-you-want-to-call-it is the most interesting turn of events in the SEC this year because of the long-term ramifications it may have.

    Alabama’s domination of college football under Saban has to end some time. And the end has to begin somewhere. I’m wondering specifically how this Alabama season ended will impact it’s 2020 recruiting class.

    The past year can NOT have been good for Bama long-term:
    – getting crushed by Clemson in NC
    – losing two conference games this year
    – missing SECCG
    – AND playing for Saban looks as much like a joyless experience as it ever has…. compared to the likes of Clemson, Ohio State, and LSU, where it looks like everyone’s having a blast.

    Just my impression. But it’s hard for me to think that this impression is not shared by many recruits, and this impression, when paired with Saban’s ever-increasing age, is going to be a story that is easier and easier for competing schools to sell on the recruiting trail.

    Like

    • practicaldawg

      Add to that list:

      Losing Tua and his entire legion of first round receivers overnight to the NFL

      Like

      • Will (the other one)

        Well, 3 out of the 4. Waddle is only a true sophomore, so he can’t go pro until next season. But given UGA’s struggles losing multiple top WRs, and how good Jones looked with 4 NFL-caliber WRs, I think it’s safe to say Bama takes several steps back towards earth on offense next year.

        Like

    • Classic City Canine

      I don’t think this is the end of Saban, but it is a gash that if not repaired, could be the first of multiple hits that takes down Saban. Next year shapes up to be an actual rebuilding year if Tua leaves. Georgia beating Bama in Tuscaloosa would be a welcome follow-up to this year’s stumble.

      Like

  2. Bulldog Joe

    Given what they inherited, I’m surprised Matt Luke and Odom were let go while Muschamp and Mason returned.

    Like

  3. Mick Jagger

    Bama lost 2 close games to very good teams and the world acts like the sky is falling! They will continue to be very strong. Yes, some cracks are showing and Nick may be getting tired of the whole thing, but they’re not suddenly Vandy. I truly think they could beat most – if not all – of the teams ranked above them more than 50% of the time, with Tua of course.

    Mick ducks from flying bricks……..

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mick Jagger

    UGA doesn’t look to be having much fun either.

    Like

    • Agreed. Notice I conspicuously left them out of my “having a blast” list.

      Of course, if they’re able to pull off the upset on Saturday it will look like everyone on the team just won the lottery, regardless of exactly how they looked doing it.

      Like

    • The Dawg abides

      I’m not sure about that. The fans? Sure, a lot of frustration and consternation for the offense. But the players have seemed to be having a blast celebrating the wins. The players and staff know how hard it is to win at a place like Auburn, hence the birth of HBTFD!

      Like

  5. RangerRuss

    Greatly improved from zero point zero,Bluto. With the exception of underestimating Ed Orgeron’s ability to delegate tasks to his O coordinator you did a fine job of predicting. I think you were a bit hard on yourself on the letter grades.
    Ed O seems to have turned the corner on his career. Reduced testosterone, an ability to learn from his mistakes and a generational QB have allowed him to become what some thought he could be fifteen years ago. It’s up to the Dawgs to stomp that potential flat into the turf.

    Like

  6. Rocketdawg

    Pretty spot on. No one could have foreseen the injuries that Alabama had to deal with on defense at LB and of course Tua.

    I still think Mullen is a product of circumstances than a good coach. He always seems to get the fortuitous bounce or call (South Carolina and Auburn). They lose a lot on both sides of the ball. His lack of recruiting prowess is going to catch up next year.

    I think everyone could see Auburn coming a mile away. Odd numbered year/not much expected/great defense.

    On the other hand no one saw LSU being this good on offense. I wonder if they come back to earth next year after Burrow leaves.

    Like

  7. Macallanlover

    I think your calls, overall, turned out to be excellent, an A from me. I did nail the LSU offensive improvement, and overthrow of the Death Star, but did much poorer on the middle teams. Given the QB chaos this season, your calls were remarkably close, great job.

    Like

  8. waterloodawg

    Mullen reached the ceiling, because of his second-string quarterback. FIFY

    Like

    • The Truth

      That’s the question I keep asking my Gator frie…acquaintances: if Mullen is such a great coach and QB guru, how was Franks the starting QB over Trask coming out of camp? Dan got lucky Felipe got hurt.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Comin' Down The Track

    Heeeyy, you’re getting pretty good at this. Maybe you orta start one o’ them blogs or whatnot. Sure, I’d read it. A.

    Like

  10. SouthernYank

    Next year will be interesting. East looks easy to predict. I see UGA still top in the East, easily. I think UF is in trouble – they are going to lose a bunch and have little depth to fill the holes – I can see UT coming in at #2. UF and UK next. MIZ falling and SC sneaking up on spot, and then poor Vandy.

    I’m not sure how the top of the West shakes out, as LSU and ALA will both look very different next year. AUB should be better, as will A&M. MST by default next, and then OLE and ARK fighting with Vandy for the worst.

    Like

    • Classic City Canine

      Why would Auburn be better? Yes, Nix should be better, but they lose the heart and soul of their defense: all those DL monsters.

      Like