Bud Elliott analyzes the state of the SEC conference race:
Would you rather have Alabama or the field to win the SEC? There are good arguments to be made for both sides of the argument.
LSU was the SEC’s top team in 2019, but the Tide was not far behind. And that was without many of the Tide’s best defensive players who were missing the year with injury. Alabama still has as much talent as any program in the country, and the schedule is fairly friendly by SEC standards. Texas A&M and Auburn come to Tuscaloosa, as does Georgia. Quarterback and receiver are two of the bigger questions with the loss of Tua Tagovailoa, Henry Ruggs, and Jerry Jeudy, but Alabama has capable backups.
If not the Tide, then who? Georgia? LSU? Florida? Texas A&M? Maybe Auburn? All of those teams have a shot in theory, which is why the SEC is perhaps a bit more wide-open than normal.
Georgia is primed to have perhaps the best defense in all of college football. But its offense has been the relative weakness under Kirby Smart, and it won’t have spring ball to implement its new offense with transfer QB Jamie Newman.
LSU must replace a ton of starters and coordinators on both side of the football. And without a spring practice, that could cost the Tigers in terms of continuity. But there is so much talent on LSU’s roster that they cannot be counted out.
Florida returns a lot on both sides of the football and has a top coach in Dan Mullen. But do the Gators have the top-end talent to get over the hump?
Texas A&M returns even more than Florida does, with 19 starters including QB Kellen Mond. Yet Mond is still a question, as is A&M’s ability to hang with the SEC’s elite teams before garbage time kicks sets in.
And Auburn could potentially make a run with Bo Nix at QB and a salty defense.
Before you sneer, there’s a good argument to be made that Bud’s right about 2019 and Alabama. An injury or two less for the Tide might have made the difference.
This year, Tua’s gone, but all those injured defenders are back. I hate to use the “g” word here, but is there an SEC team you feel confident in saying has closed the gap on Alabama this offseason?