2011 SEC East Preview

I’m going to hold back on my game-by-game preview for now (my target date for publishing is my birthday, March 7), but I have such an incurable case of football fever that I’m going to preview the divisions and the final standings in order.

So, without further ado, here’s the SEC East.

1)Florida

Breakdown: We as Gator fans all know what’s going to happen: more offense. But the Gators really don’t lose anybody all that valuable aside from Ahmad Black on defense. The stars are aligned for a quick turnaround in Will Muschamp’s first season, much like Oregon with Chip Kelly. Expect very few negatives this year with the Gators. The schedule is murder, but the roster is loaded with the type of talent that can turn 8-5 into 14-0 and a BCS Championship within two years.

Key loss: safety Ahmad Black: the anchor of the Gator secondary since 2008 is gone.

Key returner: receiver Chris Rainey, one of the more explosive players in the nation.

Key game: vs.Georgia (Jacksonville): Beware the Dawgs. They strike when you least expect it. As big a game as Alabama is, it has almost nothing to do with how Florida finishes in the East, and before the Gators can worry about Carolina, they must first dispatch UGA.

Prediction: 11-3 (6-2 SEC) Florida has all the pieces in place for another appearance in Atlanta, and though they will lose there, they will win the Capital One Bowl and be ready to contend for the 2012 BCS Title.

2)Georgia

Breakdown: Dream Team aside, Georgia has plenty of talent. QB Aaron Murray has lots of talent, and while he won’t be juking or powering his way for 55 yard runs, he still can win plays with his feet. AJ Green is a big loss on offense, but tight end Orson Charles should see a lot of passes coming his way in Green’s absence. This is the year for Georgia to win the East, for if they don’t at least contend for it, Mark Richt is most likely finished.

Key loss: WR AJ Green: One of the best receivers in the nation.

Key returner: QB Aaron Murray: He’s only a sophomore and has great potential.

Key game: vs. South Carolina: Last year, Georgia’s SEC East dreams took an early and nearly fatal hit. This year, they get their shot at revenge the second week of the season in Athens.

Prediction: 9-4 (5-3 SEC) Georgia has a relatively easy schedule, and so watch out for a good rebuilding season. They’ll still be cursed in Jacksonville, but they’ll do well enough to keep Richt’s job for one more year.

3)South Carolina

Breakdown: Now, they’re not youngsters. They’re talented veterans of SEC wars, and it should show. QB Stephen Garcia, WR Alshon Jeffrey and RB Marcus Lattimore have all played an SEC season so they know what it’s about. The addition of Jadeveon Clowney won’t hurt, either. But until they prove that the Chicken Curse is really dead and last year wasn’t a fluke, I can’t move them up from here.

Key loss: FB Patrick DiMarco: A deadly blocker and dependable receiver in the flat.

Key returner: WR Alshon Jeffrey: A dynamic junior receiver that will be counted on heavily in 2011.

Prediction: 8-5 (4-4 SEC) The Chicken Curse was put to bed for a year, but it’s been on for so many years before that I refuse to believe it’s really gone. The Gamecocks will collapse once again and will lose to Florida at home, sealing their fate as the third place East team.

4)Kentucky

Breakdown: The Cats lose Randall Cobb, Derrick Locke and Mike Hartline. But they’re in fourth place because after Carolina the talent level in the East drops off like a continental shelf in the Pacific Ocean. Almost by default, really. Watch for QB Morgan Newton (no relation to Cam) to win the starting job and turn some heads early in the year.

Key loss: WR Randall Cobb: One of the most versatile players in the game.

Key returner: QB Morgan Newton: The best bet for the 2011 QB.

Key game: vs. Florida: If UK wants any chance at all to win the East, they cannot start out 0-1 with a loss to one of the real contenders.

Prediction: 5-7 (2-6 SEC) The Cats simply lost too much to be considered a legitimate threat to do damage in the East, and they might stay here for quite some time.

5)Tennessee

Breakdown: The Vols are in shambles. Losing defensive backs Janzen Jackson and Brent Brewer combined is a big hit. QB Tyler Bray showed some flashes last year, but the Vols also lose Gerald Jones and Luke Stocker, and therefore Bray has nobody to throw to but Justin Hunter, who also has shown flashes as a freshman.

Key loss: WR Gerald Jones: A top target for UT QB’s since 2007.

Key returner: QB Tyler Bray: He’s only going to get better and better, he’s a sophomore in 2011.

Key game: vs. LSU: UT really won that game last year, and if they can win this one on the scoreboard, they will turn lots of heads.

Prediction: 5-7 (2-6 SEC) This will not be a good year for UT. They’ll even lose to Kentucky for the first time in two and a half decades. Barring injuries to major players on all four teams ahead of them, they have no shot at winnng the East.

6)Vanderbilt

Breakdown: The ‘Dores will be better than peole think. They gain JUCO QB Jordan Rodgers, little brother of Aaron. They also return top running back Warren Norman. But the defense is a mess. They’ll need help from God if they want to stay in half their games.

Key loss: Coach Robbie Caldwell: I know, he wasn’t all that great, but swapping coaches at a school at a level below the elite is not easy.

Key returner: RB Warren Norman: One of the only real threats on offense.

Key game: @Florida: Just to prove their worth. If they can hang around, it might be interesting to watch them against Tennessee and Kentucky.

Prediction: 2-10 (1-7 SEC): Until the defense improves, the ‘Dores will struggle. Chris Marve couldn’t do it all by himself last year and Brian Urlacher couldn’t do it all by himself this year. Vanderbilt is on the way up, though- watch out for them two years down the road.

17 thoughts on “2011 SEC East Preview

  1. I agree with just about all of your Predictions Neil. I just think that South Carolina will finish 2nd & UGA will finish 3rd. Bout it.

  2. I hope your right man, going from the trash we were last year to East champs would be awesome! I’m just a little worried about our depth on the D line and linebacker. We all know you need depth in the SEC… what do you think Coach Bone?

  3. I agree with that man, I just think its going to have to be a h*ll of a coaching job for us to win the east.

  4. Yeah it’ll have to be one helluva coaching job but I think there’s a chance. [b]BOOM[/b] & Weis are some pretty damn good coaches and we’ve got some pretty damn good players coming back. So who knows.
    Here’s hoping.

  5. Yeah you make good points. The good news about the D-line is that both Floyd ([b]MAN-BEAST[/b]) and Easley will be in their 2nd years. And Powell did a pretty damn good job as a converted LB last year as well. So it’s not all bad (I think).

  6. So we’re assuming Florida will lose 2 regular seasons games, both SEC, and then lose the SECCG and that’s it ?

    So we think the new Gators are going to be able to play Bama, @LSU, @SC, @Auburn and FSU and only walk away with 3 losses, one of which will probably be a rematch between LSU/Bama ?

  7. While the raw talent is there for a 12-1/13-0 season, especially with a smaller target on their backs, I just don’t think it will happen.

    I am thinking 4 losses or so – Bama, LSU, FSU, SECCG.

  8. Remember kids – guys like Dunkley, Debose and the likes, while they were recruited to play the “spread” remember, Weis too likes to run the spread and Weis made his name with smallish receivers who could run after the catch.

    The point is there is not going to be as much of a transition as people think with recruits to philosophies. In fact, they already HAVE the pieces for Weis offense; now it’s a matter of experience and hypnotizing the bed sh8tter into believing he’s confident.

  9. Alabama is reloading, it’s in the Swamp, Auburn completely lost their entire team. When was the last time LSU beat Florida and luck wasn’t involved? 2002? South Carolina has no pass defense, and Brantley should be able to throw against them. FSU comes to the Swamp, where it should be rocking and Florida plays furious.

    But I’ll hold off on the actual game by game preview on who will actually beat Florida until I publish it. But yes, I think Florida can go 10-2 in the regular season.

  10. That’s a h*ll of a schedule. In 2006 it was tough like this and we lost 1 game so this team better work their a** off this spring.

  11. Alabama’s not reloading. They lose McElroy but last time they had a first year starter they won it all.

    They lose Ingram but Richardson is better and their depth is freakish.

    Also, their defense was what reloaded last year; this year they have experience.

    LSU – 2007 didn’t involve luck. They just beat the piss out of the Gators. Besides, Saturday in Death Valley with a stacked and experienced team.

    SC’s a toss up, but they return a lot of talent. Brantley couldn’t throw against them at home; there’s no evidence to suggest he’ll do it on the road.

    As for your “furious at home” comment – come on Neil. That statement is beyond ridiculous coming off a year in which they lost 3 at home, including 2 in a row where they managed 2 offensive touchdowns.

  12. Alabama loses McElroy, Ingram, Julio Jones, and half their defense.

    LSU got lucky because they went 5 for 5 on fourth down.

    Before last year… what was the Swamp like for visitors?

  13. “Alabama loses McElroy, Ingram, Julio Jones, and half their defense.” – Negligible. The only player of impact they are losing on defense is MD. Don’t forget, Saban’s been recruiting better than Meyer and Bama isn’t changing philosophies. Ingram was the third best back on his team last year, but you can’t exactly sit the Heisman winner. McElroy lol. Florida fans were rejoicing Bama’s downfall when JPW, Glenn Coffee, Andre Smith, Antoine Caldwell and company left. They had a completely rebuilt defense and still only lost their games by a combined 18 points, all to teams with much more experience.

    As for losing half their defense, when did 3 players equate to half a defense ? MD is a pretty good players, but two of the 3 players they are losing are linemen. Linemen in a 3-4 scheme at that. Chavis Williams is the only off line player they lose.

    “LSU got lucky because they went 5 for 5 on fourth down.” LMAO Yes it was luck. Les Miles actually called a few hook and ladders but Matt Flynn misread the signs and ended up calling power runs up the gut with Hester. STFU they got lucky – they were more experienced and beat the piss out of Florida physically. They Julio Caeser Chavez’d them. You know, they team that Mickey Marotti tortured in 2008 because of the Georgia fiasco ?

    “Before last year… what was the Swamp like for visitors?” – it doesn’t matter what it was like before last year. At THIS moment, it’s no longer a death trap. The most successful teams in NCAA football history are Princeton and Yale, but we’re not interested in dredging up ancient history are we ? Remember when Meyer was hired one of his the main goals was returning the Swamp to a home field advantage ? At that moment in time, it wasn’t. Until Muschamp accomplishes the same, the Swamp is no longer a guaranteed win.

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