This is harsh.
There’s a real chance that Gus Malzahn, who enters the season on the hot seat, doesn’t make it out of September with his job. That’s because there’s a real chance that the Tigers, who open the season with four home games, start 0-4 on the year against Clemson, Arkansas State, Texas A&M, and LSU. Yes, Arkansas State, a team that is exponentially better than the Jacksonville State team that almost beat Auburn on the Plains last year. What issues appear solved heading into the season? The defense, outside of Carl Lawson, isn’t noticeably improved, and the quarterback situation is anything but settled — they’ll either roll with Sean White again or go with John Franklin III instead of Jeremy Johnson. Franklin, a junior college transfer, left Florida State because he wasn’t deemed good enough to be the fourth-string QB. They also have only one running back with collegiate experience and lost their two leading receivers from 2015. The makings of a bounce back do not appear to be in place — there’s a real chance Auburn finishes in last place in the SEC West again in 2016.
Dayum. Even I’m not that down on Auburn’s chances this season — although I reserve the right to change my mind if Lawson goes down again.
Jason Butt summarizes it nicely:
Going with Lambert against North Carolina would make plenty of sense. Tasked to stay within the game plan, Lambert will get Georgia’s offense into the right plays the vast majority of the time. He brings 28 games of experience — 16 at Virginia and 12 at Georgia — and is the least prone to make a devastating mistake on the field.
But Lambert had three games in 2015 where he didn’t throw for 100 yards. He threw for more than 200 yards only three times. The fact that he won 10 games a year ago and isn’t getting all of the first-team reps says a lot. But he is probably the safest option of the three as he only had two interceptions last season.
Going with Ramsey against North Carolina would also make plenty of sense. You can argue that it’s Ramsey’s time to get a shot and that he has had a good enough preseason to deserve the chance of leading Georgia’s offense. He has similar arm strength to Eason and can make every throw on the field with great velocity.
But Ramsey has been prone to mistakes in practice and in game situations, highlighted by a pick-six to Alabama’s Eddie Jackson last season. The worry of making a game-changing mistake is something Georgia’s coaches have to consider.
Going with Eason makes sense only if he is, without a doubt, the best quarterback on the roster entering the North Carolina game. Everyone knows he has the most potential. But Georgia doesn’t open against an inferior opponent in which all three quarterbacks could get equal playing time without worry of a loss.
Or, to put it more succinctly, when you’ve got three quarterbacks, you don’t have any. I don’t envy what Smart and Chaney are going through right now. Then again, I’m not being paid the big bucks to make the call.
And that’s what Tennessee finds itself straddling as it goes into this season.
Tennessee: The Vols might be really good this season. They might win the SEC East. These things definitely fall within the realm of possibility. It’s just, this is the same Tennessee team that hasn’t beaten Florida since 2004 and hasn’t won against Georgia in Athens since 2006. It’s also 3-13 against ranked teams under Butch Jones, so while I see the potential, I’m still approaching with caution. [Emphasis added.]
I’ve been thinking about my annual preseason SEC projection post for the past couple of days. I think I may be less certain about which team wins the East than I’ve ever been before. Hell, I can’t even figure out whether that’s because some team legitimately scores a breakthrough to become a powerhouse, or simply because one program muddles through 2016 a little better than everyone else.
One of my favorite Sanford Stadium moments…
… and Munson, as only he could, made it better.
Okay, Hugh Freeze shows his funeral to motivate his players. Meanwhile, Kirby’s going the slasher movie route for the same purpose.
On showing the team the movies — Friday The 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street — before the last two scrimmages …
“That’s who we want them to be. We want them to be scary. Just like the guy in the mask, you can’t kill him. He keeps coming back. As soon as you do kill them, well, here comes the sequel.”
“He keeps coming back.” Next up as a motivation stone: the zombie apocalypse. They could bring back Zach DeBell as a graduate assistant.
One of my favorite colloquialisms from Jim Bouton’s epic Ball Four was the compliment “he wouldn’t say shit if he had a mouthful”.
Brandon Kublanow is that kind of guy, bless his heart. If the ship sinks, it won’t be because of his lips.
I must be old school. I thought the reason you pay coaches millions of dollars a year was to win football games.