Friday, August 29, 2008

Clemson vs Alabama, Preview, Prediction



Clemson vs Alabama
Atlanta, GA - Georgia Dome
8PM ABC
Line: Clemson -4.5, -190, 48 total

Its finally here...Alabama vs Clemson in the first of what the Atlanta Sports Council hopes is an ongoing series of season openers pitting the ACC vs SEC. Clemson has high expectations coming into this season with many picking them to win the ACC (myself included). Alabama is entering its second season under Nick Saban and could play more than a handful of true freshmen from their highly ranked recruiting class signed this past February. This is a big game for the ACC and Clemson who need to show they can play on a national level. If one of the top teams in the ACC loses to a middle of the pack SEC team, then the ACC just slips further down the BCS totem poll.


Keys to the Game:
1. Experienced Offenses...Sort of
Both of these teams have significant strengths on offense, just in different spots. Alabama returns four starters on the offensive line including All-American LT Andre Smith. The Tide should be able to protect QB John Parker Wilson and open holes for RB Terry Grant. But neither Wilson or Grant has shown gambreaking ability consistently and the Alabama receivers are very young. Expect highly touted true freshman wideout Julio Jones to start for the Tide. Clemson is loaded at the skill positions. WR Aaron Kelle has a good shot at becoming the ACC's all time leading receiver this season and RBs James Davis and CJ Spiller are home run hitters. QB Cullen Harper is the best in the ACC. But the Tigers are inexperienced on the o-line. A problem they also had last year.


2. Can John Parker Wilson be a difference maker for Alabama?
Wilson may leave Alabama as its leading all time passer, but the senior has only showed a few times the ability to really lead the Tide to a big victory. His miscues late against LSU may have been the reason the Tide lost. Saban needs JPW to become a game breaker this year for the Tide to move up into the SEC Title race. Clemson would like to see the Wilson of Auburn, not the Wilson of Tennessee.


3. Inexperience at Linebacker
Both teams have issues at LB with litle depth returning from last year and a lot of new faces. Surrounding these LBs will be solid secondaries and d-lines for both sides. The linebacker group that can stuff the run and pressure the QB sucessfully will give their defense a big advantage in a game loaded with stars on offense.

Prediction
With all the offensive talent on the field, the over looks like a safe bet right? Actually I think it is the opposite. Generally, the defense is ahead of the offense at this time of year and with all the talent and plays run in the Chick-Fil-A bowl last year (Auburn vs Clemson), the total was only 43 and that included OT. I think Clemson gets a 4th quarter score off a big play to take the lead and hold on in the final minutes.

Clemson 17 Alabama 13

Alabama Covers, Total - Under

Other Week 1 Predictions

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Rest of the SEC and ACC Weekend Predictions



So far we have gone through GT-Jax State, NC State-South Carolina, LSU-App State, and Georgia-Georgia Southern predictions. And now onto the rest of the games this weekend. Clemson-Alabama is coming on Friday!

Florida Over Hawaii
This isn’t your 2007 Warriors. June Jones is gone. Colt Brennan is gone. Brennan’s back up is gone.

Louisville Over Kentucky (Sun)
Louisville won’t have much of a drop off in QB with Hunter Cantwell. Kentucky will with Michael Hartline.

Miami (OH) Over Vanderbilt (Thur)
Who is going to catch all those passes now that Earl Bennett is gone? Tough to open on the road against a solid MAC team.

Arkansas Over W. Illinois
Petrino has no mercy for the NFL or directional Illinois schools.

Ole Miss Over Memphis
These games have been close over the past few years, but I feel these programs are going in opposite directions.

Mississippi State Over La Tech
Former Georgia Tech QB Taylor Bennett will be leading La Tech in a rare home game against an SEC team. The Bulldogs of Miss State have too much defense though.

Auburn over UL-Monroe
Tubs won't make the mistake his rival Alabama did and overlook La-Monroe. Tigers hope for 90+ offensive plays in their win.

Tennessee Over UCLA (Mon)
Word is that Rich Neuheisal is checking if Troy Aikman still has any eligibility left as a Bruin. The Vols go the West Coast and win big this time.


Virginia Tech Over East Carolina
This game will not be an easy one and I expect the Hokies to need a late score or turnover to beat the Pirates of Skip Holtz.

Boston College Over Kent State
Everyone doubts BC’s ability to win the Atlantic including me. Not doubting them against Kent St.

Maryland Over Delaware
The Blue Hens of Delaware played App State for the FCS title last year. Joe Flacco is gone to the NFL though.

Wake Forest Over Baylor (Thur)
Deacs gotto Texas and wrangle with the Bears…and win.

Duke Over James Madison
If doesn’t win this game then we have to start looking at 1-10 or 0-11 as distinct possibilities.

Miami Over Charleston Southern (Thur)
Starting QB Robert Marve misses out on his first college start. Not a big deal until he faces slightly tougher competition in Florida next week.

North Carolina Over McNeese St
This is the only win I have guaranteed for the Heels all year. But I didn’t guarantee any loses either.

USC Over Virginia
The Trojans came, they saw, they conquered the Cavaliers. Even if that was the Romans and not the Trojans.

Outside the ACC or SEC pick...
Everyone is jumping on Utah and rightfully so. The Utes are now just 3.5 point dogs at Michigan, but the line has come down from an open of +7. With everyone jumping on, I think I am going to stay away from this game. Casinos get more bigger for a reason.

I will go with Michigan State +5.5 at Cal. The Spartans are returning the core of their team last year that should have beaten Michigan and played Ohio State very tough. The Bears finished their season on a slide all the way to the Armed Forces Bowl and lost play maker Desean Jackson.

Other Week 1 Predictions

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Georgia-Ga.Southern Prediction


Georgia vs Georgia Southern

Sat, Aug 30
Line: n/a

The Georgia Bulldogs start their run to a possible BCS Championship with Georgia Southern. The Eagles bring a successful passing attack at the FCS level to Athens, but will be without eight starters and starting a new QB.

Keys to the game:
1. Just Run the Ball
For last year's Sugar Bowl, I said UGA has such a huge advantage on the lines that they should just pound the ball on their way to the endzone. The same thing applies here.

2. Practice Makes Perfect
If UGA can successfully run the ball then nothing else should matter. Once they gain control of the game, then they can play around with some things on offense and defense that may help them later in the year against better opponents.

3. Avoid the Injury Report
Georgia HC Mark Richt has talked about using Knowshon Moreno as a PR. If UGA is doing things right, we should not even see the Heisman candidate in the second half. QB Matt Stafford doesn't have a solid backup, so this might be the time to get a backup some game action.

Prediction
The hype is so great in Athens, that I think Georgia may struggle a little in the 1st Quarter. But once they get going there will be no stopping them in this game.

Georgia 38 Ga. Southern 7

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

LSU-Appalachian State: FBS Champs vs FCS Champs


LSU vs Appalachian State

Sat, Aug 30
Line: n/a

The FBS Champion will play the FCS Champion when LSU takes on Appalachian State. The Mountaineers have won three straight FCS Championships and caught everyone's attention when they went to Ann Arbor and beat Michigan last season. LSU has plenty of talent returning, but will be starting a QB who has never taken a snap in Baton Rouge.

Keys to the Game:
1. Tackling in the Secondary
One of the keys to stopping the spread offense App State will employ is speed on defense. LSU has plenty of that. The other big key is tackling in space. Look at some of those touchdowns the Mountaineers had against Michigan last year; you will see one or more missed tackles in the secondary. With last year's LSU secondary, I wouldn't have blinked at this. But this years defensive backs are not as experienced.

2. Place Doubt
Appalachian State wants LSU to think about what happened last year at Michigan as much as possible. I am sure LSU is supremely confident they will not become another victim to a FCS team, but if App State is matching them blow for blow by the middle of the 3rd quarter, Tiger minds may wander.

3. Don't Hatch a Loss
Andrew Hatch will be playing in his first game at LSU. Good thing for him LSU has one of the best o-lines in the country. LSU has some very good receivers returning too. But just hand the ball off to the running backs and let them clear the way to the endzone. Hatch doesn't have to the be the reason LSU's wins, he just can't be the reason they lose.

Prediction
I think what App State has done over the last three years is remarkable. But LSU will be ready for the spread and will be able to neutralize it with their team speed on defense. LSU pulls away in the second half.

LSU 35 App State 14

Monday, August 25, 2008

South Carolina-North Carolina State Prediction



South Carolina
vs North Carolina State
Thur, Aug 28
Line: SC -550, -12, 47.5

We get our first ACC vs SEC matchup of the season in week 1. South Carolina HC Steve Spurrier may have his most talented team yet in Columbia with 10 starters returning on defense.
NC State looks to build off the second half of 2007 where they won four of their final six.

Keys to the game:
1. New QBs, New Results?

Both teams will feature new starting QBs. South Carolina will have Tommy Beecher and NC State will have redshirt freshman Russell Wilson. Beecher has more experience than Wilson so expect Beecher to make less mistakes. If both struggle, the Gamecocks have better backups.

2. Defensive Leaders
A Spurrier team led by their defense? Sounds kind of odd, but with 10 returning starters from last year, Carolina's defense will likely help out the offense early on. A weakness from last year was stopping the run so look to see how improved the run D is for a good meauring stick of their defense.

3. QB Contain

Don't expect Beecher to run much, but a big reason why State HC Tom O'Brien chose Wilson at QB was because of his dual threat ability. The young Wilson may get some happy feet in the pocket and take off a little early until he gets comfortable. South Carolina must make sure to keep an eye on the redshirt freshman.

Prediction:

Spurrier has been trying to keep expectations down this year, but many are calling this his best team yet. I like O'Brien as a coach, but he still has a ways to go in his rebuilding efforts at State. South Carolina busts this game open in the second half.

South Carolina 28 NC State 14
South Carolina Wins, Covers, Under

Tuesday: Georgia-Georgia So, LSU-App State

Georgia Tech-Jacksonville State Prediction



Georgia Tech vs Jacksonville State

Thur. Aug 28
Line: n/a

Georgia Tech and Jacksonville State help kick off the college football season on Thursday night at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Georgia Tech will be unveiling their new offense under first year HC Paul Johnson, while Jacksonville State will have a new QB but a familiar one to SEC fans - former LSU QB Ryan Perrilloux.

Keys to the Game:
1. Can Tech issue a knockout punch early?
Ever since the Appalachian State upset of Michigan last year, FCS teams have pointed to that game as a reason why they can beat the big boys. Jax State is not a pushover and was picked to win the OVC. Tech needs to issue a knockout punch in the first half to break the Gamecocks confidence.

2. Protection for Perrilloux
The Jax State o-line is out manned and out sized by the Jackets. Tech's d-line could be the best in the ACC with potential 1st round pick DE Michael Johnson coming off the edge. The Gamecocks need to give the former SECCG MVP some time to throw and keep Tech's D off balance.

3. Turnovers
With Paul Johnson's offense comes not only big plays, but the potential for turnovers on pitches and missed hand offs. I would be surprised if the Jackets went without a turnover in their first game, but they cannot have three, four, or five turnovers.

Prediction:
Georgia Tech has some big plays and big breakdowns in their first game, but the advantage of the lines will lead them to a relatively comfortable victory.
Georgia Tech 38 Jacksonville State 17

Tuesday: Georgia vs Georgia Southern, LSU vs Appalachian State

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pre Season Top 10 Poll


My first top 10 poll of the year. I call it a pre season poll, but this is how I feel the teams will be ranked on that Monday after the conference championships (Dec 8). Isn't that how "pre season" polls should be?

1. USC
The Trojans have cured their jock itch but an itch to return to the BCS Championship still burns. If they dodge Ohio State on Sept 13, the Trojans have relatively smooth sailing the rest of the way.

2. Georgia
Georgia will be able to navigate through their ridiculous schedule relatively unscathed. They will be afforded a slip up because of where they start and the teams they will beat along the way.

3. Ohio State
The Buckeyes are better than 11 of the 12 twelve teams they face and the 12th is debatable. If they come out of LA with a win they have the easiest path to Miami.

4. Florida
The Gators showdown with Georgia could mean the difference between playing in New Orleans or Miami. Tebow's health will determine where Florida finishes. Finishing this high means UF is almost a lock for a BCS Bowl.

5. Oklahoma
The Sooners are national title contenders themselves. I think they win the Big 12, but will have a loss or two on the way there.

6. Clemson
The Tigers will get a bump after their ACC Championship Game win to #6. They are equal to or better than everyone they play, but it is hard not to think they won't have a bad game somewhere keeping away from the national title.

7. West Virginia
The Mountaineers will look similar to how Miami did in Larry Coker's first year. But I think they may be in for a drop in '09 after Pat White leaves and Bill Stewart really get his handle on the program.

8. Illinois
The Fighting Illini are my surprise team of '08. They did get thumped in the Rose Bowl, but they got to a BCS game in only Zook's third year. They have Ohio State at home and could be looking for a second straight upset.

9. Missouri
Missouri takes a slight drop after a second consecutive Big 12 Championship Game loss to Oklahoma. But they don't get left out of the BCS two years in a row.

10. Auburn
Similar story to Missouri here as Auburn will fall slightly after an SEC Championship loss. By my count, Auburn makes five teams using the spread offense in my top 10.

SEC Bowl Predictions


The SEC has a penchant for getting two teams into the BCS (and one into the Championship Game), which might limit their ability to fill all nine of their bowl slots. I only predicted eight teams to qualify so I expect a shortage somewhere.

BCS Championship
BCS #1 vs BCS #2

Georgia vs USC

The two teams who start at the top finish their in the regular season meeting for the national title. Two of the most exciting running backs in the nation will be displayed in Georgia's Knowshon Moreno and USC's Joe McKnight
.

Sugar Bowl

BCS At-Large vs BCS At Large

Florida vs Missouri

The Sugar Bowl lost the SEC Champion to the BCS Championship, but is glad to snap up Florida. They will pit them against the number two team from the number two conference - Missouri Tigers.


Capitol One Bowl

SEC #2 vs Big 10 #2

Auburn vs Illinois
This has been one of the best non-BCS bowls over the years. Auburn happily comes to Orlando and they face Illinois who was somewhat of a Big Ten surprise. Two more teams using the spread offense playing on New Years Day.

Outback Bowl

SEC #3 vs Big 10 #3
LSU vs Penn State
It just doesn't get any easier for the Big 10 as they have to face LSU again. This time it is Penn State who gets the nod over Wisconsin who is tired of making Tampa their home in January.

Cotton Bowl
SEC #4/5 vs Big 12 #3

Alabama vs Texas
Alabama gets the nod here due to an exciting end to the regular season. They will play Texas in a game pitting two teams who are long time college football powers.


Chick-Fil-A Bowl

SEC #4/5 vs ACC #2
Tennessee vs Virginia Tech
Alabama is considered here, but the trip to Atlanta earlier in the year eliminates them giving Tennessee the selection. The ACC runner up Hokies are glad to be invited to Atlanta and the feeling is mutual since Va Tech travels well.

Music City Bowl
SEC #5/6 vs ACC #5
North Carolina vs South Carolina
An old ACC rivalry is revived and there is no love lost between the Carolina's. These two teams met in '07 with South Carolina coming out on top.

Liberty Bowl
SEC #6 vs Conf USA #1
Kentucky vs East Carolina

The Wildcats squeak into this bowl at .500 and look for their third straight bowl win which would be a school record. They face a tough East Carolina team that gave Va Tech a tough game earlier in the season.

Independence Bowl
SEC #7 vs Big 12
Due to the SEC getting two teams into the BCS there may not be enough teams to fill all of the slots. My best guess for a team I have outside of a bowl is Mississippi State.

Papa John Bowl

SEC vs Big East
See Independence Bowl. If two SEC teams don't get in then a Mississippi State could be pushed down here. If not, then my next guess to Miss State would be Bobby Petrino's Arkansas Razorbacks.

ACC Bowl Predictions

SI.com


The ACC adds the Congressional Bowl to its bowl allotment this season and the ACC will need all nine of their slots this season. Let's take a look at the bowl projections.

Orange
ACC Champ vs Big East Champ
Clemson vs West Virginia
The Tigers finally win an ACC Championship. West Virginia will have Pat White in his final college game in what should be a high scoring game.

Chick-Fil-A
ACC #2 vs SEC #4/5
Virginia Tech vs Tennessee
The runner up Hokies are glad to be invited to Atlanta and the feeling is mutual since Va Tech travels well. Alabama is considered here, but the potential matchup for the first game the following season gives Tennessee the edge.

Gator
ACC #3 vs Big 12/Big East/Notre Dame
Florida State vs Notre Dame
Even though I have Wake finishing ahead of FSU, the 'Noles get the nod here with the fans they will bring. The Gator Bowl just can't pass up Notre Dame even though they have just 7 wins against a weak schedule.

Champs Sports
ACC #4 vs Big Ten #5
Wake Forest vs Michigan
Wake falls to the Champs Sports to play an improving Michigan team. These two offenses will look very similar to each to other.

Music City
ACC #5 vs SEC #5/6
North Carolina vs South Carolina
An old ACC rivalry is revived and there is no love lost between the Carolina's. These two teams met in '07 with South Carolina coming out on top.

Meineke
ACC #6 vs Big East
Miami vs Rutgers
The Hurricanes meet up with old Big East rival Rutgers; except when the 'Canes were in the Big East, the Scarlet Knights were never this good. Rutgers HC Greg Schiano used to coach at Miami and turned down their head job before last season.

Emerald
ACC #7 vs Pac 10 #5
Boston College vs Cal
Maryland was here last year so BC gets the nod for the Emerald Bowl. Cal is chosen for its proximity. The Eagles look to extend their bowl winning streak.

Congressional
ACC vs Navy/Army
Georgia Tech vs Navy
The Congressional Bowl wants Maryland, but that would leave Georgia Tech returning to Boise again. This bowl features Paul Johnson against his old Navy team. Expect a lot of running plays.

Humanitarian
ACC vs WAC
Maryland vs Boise State
The Terps will essentially play a road game against Boise
State.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Georgia Starts Number 1, Can They Finish There?

digital light


SEC East #1 Georgia Bulldogs

2007 Results and Off Season
In mid-October, not even the die hard Georgia fans would have honestly told you they would finish the season #2 in the country, but a win over Florida, followed by a win over Auburn, and a thumping of Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl led the way to a number two final ranking. Georgia had another top ranked recruiting class, but did have its share of off season trouble that will results in some suspensions for the first two games. Georgia enters the season ranked #1 in both the AP and Coaches Polls.
2007 Record: 11-2, 6-2
Ret. Starters: 16
Ret. Lettermen: 44
Off PPG 28.5 (6th) 175.6 (4th) 188.6 (6th) - SEC Play
Def PPG 21.4 (2nd) 131.3 (4th) 197.0 (5th) - SEC Play

Offense (7 RS 16 RL)
If you want to discuss Georgia's offense then you need to know the name Knowshon Moreno. After splitting carries with Thomas Brown in the first half of the season, the red shirt freshmen burst onto the national scene in the 42-30 win over Florida. and ended up with 5 consecutive 100 yards games. Joining Moreno will be Caleb King and Richard Samuel who were both highly recruited out of high school. FB Brannan Southerland may be out until mid season, but he should be paving holes by the time Georgia hosts Tennessee on Oct 11. Matt Stafford may be the number 1 QB taken in the draft next year if he decides to fore go his senior season. The junior has been good, but not great in his first two years. If UGA is going to win the national title, Stafford has to become the elite QB the NFL is projecting him to be. Outside of Mohamed Massaquoi, the receiving corps is young, but talented. This group has suffered from the drops the past few seasons, but did show improvement down the stretch in '07. Watch out for true freshmen AJ Green out of South Carolina. The o-line was thought to be a big problem heading into last year, but played surprisingly well considering the youth. A big loss this year will be C Fernando Velasco who was the glue for the young guys. LT became a big spot to fill when starter Trinton Sturdivant went down with a knee injury for the season. Sturdivant's name may not ring a bell, but I bet his dance moves do. Currently, Richt has four new starters on the o-line but says he might make changes. .

Defense (9 RS 25RL)
Georgia returns its top four tacklers from last year and six of the top seven. The leader of the defense is senior Dannell Ellerbe who had 93 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss last season. Joining him at linebacker is Renne Curran who despite his size adjusted very well to SEC play as a true freshmen last season finishing with 53 tackles. Marcus Washington will likely redshirt this season after suffering a shoulder injury in spring ball. Soph Akeem Dent steps in his place. Colt Brennan still has nightmares of Marcus Howard coming off the edge in the Sugar Bowl. However, SEC QBs can rest a little easier knowing Howard is gone to the NFL, but the Dawgs must replace the SEC's number 1 sack artist from last year. The d-line's strength is in the middle with DTs Jeff Owens and Geno Atkins. All of the backups from last season return so expect this unit to be strong once again. The secondary has three of four starters back. FS Reshad Jones steps in as a full time starter this year in what should be one of the top pass defenses in the SEC.

Special Teams
The biggest question mark outside of the o-line is the PK position where Brandon Coutu has moved onto the NFL. True freshmen Blair Walsh has shown a strong leg in practice and is expected to take the job. Mikey Henderson is gone at PR and the buzz around Athens is that Knowshon could be used as a PR this season. Asher Allen will figure heavily into KR.

Recruiting - Link

Schedule
It is brutal. Beano Cook said that Georgia should go to the Super Bowl if they go 12-0 through this schedule and I agree. Road trips to the top 2 in the SEC West (Aub & LSU); vFlorida, @Arizona St, @South Carolina, v Tennessee, vAlabama, vGa Tech. The four game stretch of @LSU, vFlorida, @Kentucky, @Auburn is the worst I have ever seen. I think Georgia will lose a game somewhere along the way.

Final Thoughts
The pieces seem to be coming together for Mark Richt. Georgia starts out ranked number 1 so one loss will not drop them down that far. They are as good or better than everyone they play, but I think they slip up somewhere along the way as no team could go through their schedule undefeated. The celebration last year in Jax set a new tone in the Georgia/Florida rivalry and the winner of that game I think will be playing in the BCS Championship.

Prediction
Likely Win: vGa So, vC.Mich, vVandy, vAlab, @Kent, vGa Tech
Likely Loss: None
11-1, 7-1

Previous SEC Football Previews

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Auburn Turns To The Spread Offense



SEC West #1 Auburn Tigers

2007 Results and Offseason

Auburn started '07 just 1-2 but quickly rebounded with a huge upset win at Florida. A last second loss at LSU was possibly the best game in the SEC last season. The Tigers won their 6th straight over Alabama. Before the bowl, Auburn hired OC Tony Franklin who installed his version of the spread in just a few weeks leading to a 23-20 OT victory over Clemson in the Chick Fil A Bowl.
2007 Record: 9-4, 5-3
Ret. Starters: 16

Ret. Lettermen: 48

Off PPG:19.5 (10th) RYPG 164.9 (5th) PYPG 154.8 (10th)

Def PPG: 17.3 (1st) RYPG 126.8 (3rd) PYPG 156.0 (1st)


Offense (9 RS 23 RL)
The QB situation is a dicey right now at Auburn where sophomore Kodi Burns and junior Chris Tood are duking it out. Burns played a lot in the bowl game, but Todd played under a similar system in HS. Either way, Auburn should see improvement over last year. The Tigers will move to mostly 1 back sets this year with Ben Tate and Brad Lester both getting reps. Auburn must do a better job of holding onto the ball though. Mario Fannin will also figure into the mix. The o-line went through some growing pains last season, but starting three true freshmen will pay off this year. Only 1 starter is gone. In the new offense, Auburn will need a lot more receivers. The top two return from last year - Rodgeriqus Smith and Montez Billings. Robert Dunn and Terrell Zachery are expected in many sets as well. The one thing this offense will do is generate many more plays per game than last year which should create more yards and points.

Defense (7 RS 20 RL)

Auburn has really made their mark in the SEC with their defense, but they have will to fight through another change in DC with Will Muschamp moving on to the place where Auburn coordinators go - Texas (Gene Chizik left a few years ago for Austin). Three of the top four tacklers return including two starters from the SEC's number one pass defense in '07. CB Jerraud Powers had four picks a year ago and five pass break ups. Gone of the the d-line are three starters including leading tackler Josh "Stump" Thompson and DE/LB Quentin Groves. Auburn will look to junior Sen'derrick Marks to replace Pat Sims and his 7 TFL in '07. The linebacking corp should be led MLB Tray Blackmon, but the junior has to learn to stay out of trouble to full advantage of his talent. New DC Paul Rhoads came from Pitt who finished #5 in ypg last season.


Special Teams

Both kickers are back including PK Wes Byrum picture above before doing the gator chomp in the Swamp. P Shoemaker was 2nd team All SEC. WR Robert Dunn will return punts and Fannin will likely handle kickoffs.

Recruiting - Link

Schedule
Auburn plays vULM, vSo Miss, vUT-Martin, and a big one at West Virginia. From the East they get permanent opp vGeorgia, along with vTenn, and @Vandy. They play seven straight games before a bye before traveling to Morgantown on Oct 23. They also have a bye between Georgia and Alabama.


Final Thoughts
Auburn is not getting a lot of press due to the expectations in Gainesville and Athens. They have LSU at home which has meant good things for them lately having won the last four at home in the series. Tubberville is replacing both OC's for the second time, but that paid dividends in the past. If the receivers can step and be the game breakers needed in the spread, Auburn could sneak their way into the national title race.


Prediction
Likely Wins: vULM, vSo. Miss, @Vandy, vTenn-Martin
Likely Loss: None
10-2, 7-1

Next Up - Georgia Bulldogs

Previous SEC Football Previews

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tebow's Health and Defense Key to Gators Season



SEC East #2 Florida Gators

2007 Results and Offseason
The Gators started out 4-0 until they were stunned by unranked Auburn in the Swamp for HC Urban Meyer's first home loss. QB Tim Tebow had a record setting year on the way to becoming the first sophomore to win the Heisman trophy. Meyer brought in another stellar recruiting class heavy on the lines and the secondary where the Gators struggled last season. The injury bug has hit the Gators though in fall practice with five players out with ACL injuries.
2007 Record: 9-4, 5-3
Ret. Starters: 15
Ret. Lettermen: 51
Off PPG 38.1 (1st) RYPG 186.1 (3rd) PYPG 250.4 (3rd)
Def PPG 28.0 (7th) RYPG 114.6 (1st) PYPG 256.6 (11th)

Offense (7RS 23RL)
Meyer's offense revolves around Tebow and his ability to run and pass the ball. To be as effective this year though, Tebow has to stay healthy and limit the blows he takes. Look for backup Cam Newton to get a lot more snaps than last year to spell the Heisman trophy winner and save his body for the grueling SEC schedule. The Gators have not an every down back under Meyer and hope that changes this year with USC transfer Emmanuel Moody now available. RFr Chris Rainey impressed during the spring game as well and will see action. Soph Mon Williams, coming off knee surgery in '07, and senior Kestahn Moore provide depth here. Percy Harvin is listed as a WR but he was Florida's second leading rusher last season behind Tebow. The junior may miss early season action as he is coming off heel surgery in the spring. RFr Deonte Thompson could fill Harvin's role early on as a quick, playmaker. Other leading receivers should be senior Louis Murphy who caught 37 balls and JC transfer Carl Moore. TE Cornelius Ingram went down with an ACL injury this fall. Soph Aaron Hernandez will take over. The o-line returns three starters from last season and gets Phil Trautwein back who was a 2nd Team All SEC in '06. If you couldn't tell from reading this, Florida is absolutely loaded on Offense from a team that finished #1 in PPG in SEC play last season.

Defense (8 RS 26RL)
The D-line must replace two starters but Meyer is hoping his recruiting efforts the last two seasons will pay off here. DE Jermaine Cunningham will be the leader of this group of talented, but less experienced starters. The linebackers return all three starters from last year and will be led by junior Brandon Spikes. Spikes led the Gators in tackles a year ago with 131 and also had 14.5 TFL and 7 pass break ups. Joining him will be fellow junior Dustin Doe who finished second in tackles a year ago. True frosh Brandon Beal was expected to contribute but tore his ACL in fall practice. The secondary was the weak spot of Florida last season as they finished 11th in pass defense in SEC play. Two starters are back and Major Wright moves from corner to FS this year. Joe Haden is the best of the corners and he had 12 pass break ups last year. Meyer really concentrated his recruiting efforts here and brought one of the best in the nation in Will Hill who hopefully can contribute right away. This Florida defense will be the determining factor for the Gators national title hopes this season.

Special Teams
The Gators will have a new kicker this season and it might be a true freshmen, Caleb Sturgis. Chas Henry is back at punter and had a great 38.7 net avg last season. Returner Brandon James is very dangerous on punts and kicks.

Schedule

Florida opens the season with home games against a much tamer Hawaii and in state rival Miami. The Gators have not had much success against Miami in recent times. From the West they host LSU and Ole Miss and travel to Arkansas. The big games will be @Tennessee on Sept 20 and Georgia on Nov1. The winner of the Georgia-Florida game will most likely be playing in the SECCG and could be playing in the BCS Championship Game. You cannot understate the importance of this game this year.

Recruiting - Link

Final Thoughts
Florida has the most talented offense in the nation and returns the Heisman winner at QB. It is paramount that Meyer can find an alternative on the ground to Tebow. The junior cannot withstand the same punishment he did last year. The secondary needs to improve as well and we should have a good read after they play pass happy Hawaii in game 1. Florida has the easier SEC schedule than Georgia, but until they can find a proven second runner I have to put them just behind Georgia.


Prediction
Likely Wins: vHawaii, vOle Miss, vKent, @Vand, vCitadel, @Ark
Likely Losses: None
11-1, 7-1

Next Up - Auburn Tigers

Previous SEC Previews

How Far is LSU From Repeating in SEC?


SEC West #2 LSU Tigers

2007 Results and Offseason
LSU won their second BCS Championship, the only school to do so, despite losing two regular season games including the finale vs Arkansas in OT. The star losses were heavy, but LSU has recruited so well the past five seasons that they can now just reload. The QB is the biggest issue heading into the season after expected starter Ryan Perrilloux was dismissed.

2007 Record: 12-2, 7-2
Ret. Starters: 13
Ret. Lettermen: 44
Off PPG 37.3 (2nd) RYPG 210.5 (1st) PYPG 198.6 (7th)
Def PPG 26.9 (5th) RYPG 126.4 (2nd) PYPG 201.8 (6th)

Offense (7 RS 22 RL)
After Perrilloux was dismissed, the QB competition became wide open with rFR Jarrett Lee and Harvard transfer Andrew Hatch competing in the spring. True freshmen Jordan Jefferson has joined the fray in fall ball and as of a week ago, there was no clear cut decision on the QB. Jacob Hester is gone to the NFL, but LSU won't have a shortage of players to run the ball. Keiland Williams showed flashes of brilliance last year and will be complemented by speedster Trindon Holliday. Charles Scott will also figure into the mix. The o-line returns four starters including the biggest baby in Louisiana History LG Herman Johnson. This group has 96 starts between them. Six of the top seven receivers in yardage return led by the explosive Brandon LaFell and Demetrius Byrd. Richard Dixson is a quality TE who made AA LB James Laurinaitis look stiff in the BCS Championship

Defense (5RS 19 RL)
The d-line lost SEC Def POY Glenn Dorsey but there will not be much of a drop off with the depth retuning. DT Ricky Jean-Francois showed his talent in the BCS Championship as the Bowl MVP despite missing the first 12 games due to susp. DE Kirston Pittman is a speed rusher who had 8 sacks LY and is also the leading returning tackler. Darry Beckwith returns at LB, but Ali Highsmith and Luke Sanders are gone. This is the weakest part of the D. The secondary was the hardest hit losing three starters including 1st Team AA SS Craig Steltz. Both corners are gone as well and expected replacement Jai Eugene struggled at times last year. True freshmen Patrick Johnson was LSU's top recruit and should see the field early.

Special Teams
Colt Davis is back at kicker and was 1st Team All SEC last season. A new punter will have to replace Patrick Fisher. Holliday and Williams will return kicks again and super soph Chad Jones will likely return punts.

Recruiting

Schedule
The FBS Champ plays the FCS Champ (App State) in the first game of the year. Other non-conf foes are v N. Texas, vTroy, and vTulane. From the East they welcome Georgia, but travel to Florida and South Carolina. The Sept 20 game at Auburn will go a long way in determining the West winner.

Final Thoughts
LSU lost a lot of very talented players from last year, but their recruiting will pay off this year with the depth they have built. Don't count Les Miles out in the panetheon of SEC coaches. He is 15-5 against ranked opponents in Baton Rouge. The QB situation has to be settled before they go to Auburn. The home team has won the last eight in the series and the winner has gone to four of the last five SECCG.

Prediction
Likely Wins: vTroy, vN. Texas, vTulane, vOle Miss, vMiss St
Likely Loss: None
9-3, 5-3

Next Up - SEC East #2

Previous SEC Football Previews

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fulmer Tries To Prove Doubters Wrong...Again


SEC East #3 Tennessee Volunteers

2007 Results and Offseason
The Vols were not expected to compete for the East Division Title and especially not after a 39 point loss at Florida. But UT went on a 6-1 streak in the SEC to clinch a berth in Atlanta for the second time in four years. The Vols brought in a small and somewhat disappointing recruiting class in the offseason and lost OC David Cutcliffe .

2007 Record: 10-4, 6-3
Ret. Starters: 14
Ret. Lettermen: 47
Off PPG 30.4 (5th) RYPG 127.6 (8th) PYPG 248.3 (4th)
Def PPG 30.8 (9th) RYPG 146.1 (8th) PYPG 262.5 (12th)

Offense (8 RS 21RL)
Erik Ainge is gone to the NFL leaving the starting QB job to Jonathan Crompton. Crompton had his most extensive action against Arkansas last season. The junior was a highly rated QB out of high school. RB Arian Foster should leave Tennessee as its all time leading rusher after coming off a 1193 yard season last year. He is joined by Montario Hardesty and Lennon Creer in the backfield. UT has three very capable TBs. Tennessee arguably will have the best o-line in the SEC with four returning starters who all have shots at All-SEC teams. LG Anthony Paker was 2nd team AA last season. The Vols return their top four pass catchers including leader Lucas Taylor (1000 yards, 73 rec).

Defense (6 RS 22 RL)
UT had an off year on defense finishing last in pass defense in SEC play. The biggest loss will be LB Jerod Mayo whom the Patriots made their first pick in the draft. Rico McCoy will assume the leadership role at LB and he will be joined by two new starters in the LB corps. Two starters must be replaced up front, but returning is senior Robert Ayers who had 8 TFL last season and Dan Williams with 40 tackles at DT. The future of the secondary looks bright with SS Eric Berry. Berry had 5 INT in his true freshman season to lead the Vols. Brett Vinson is the best CB on the team and the Vols expect Demetrice Morley back as well.

Special Teams
The Vols return both specialists after the first five games of the year. P Britton Colquitt is suspended for the first five. Jonathan Hefney and LaMarcus Coker are gone as kick returners so expect to see Dennis Rogan handling both.

Recruiting - Link

Schedule
Non conf includes @UCLA, vUAB, vN.Ill, and vWyoming. From the West they tackle vAlab, vMiss St, and @Auburn. After a bye on Sept 6 the Vols play eight straight. UT holds the longest winning streak in the nation over Kentucky at 23.

Final Thoughts
Tennessee is the Rodney Dangerfield of the SEC. They had a blip on the radar a few years ago missing out on a bowl, but they continually compete for East title when no expects them to. I do think Florida and Georgia are a head above this year, but don't count UT out if a big time player goes down for UF or UGA.

Prediction
Likely Wins: vUAB,vN.Ill,vWyoming, vVandy
Likely Loss: @Auburn
9-3, 5-3

Next Up - SEC West #2

Previous SEC Previews

Saban Hopes Recruiting Class Is Springboard For '08


SEC West #3 Alabama Crimson Tide

2007 Results and Offseason
Nick Saban made his home SEC debut with a thrilling win over Arkansas 41-38. But the Tide lost their last four regular season games including a sixth straight defeat to Auburn. Les Miles got the best of Saban in their first meeting also. But Saban turned in a phenomenal recruiting class ranked #1 in the country by many. Offseason trouble did find the Tide though and some unexpected holes will have to be filled.
2007 Record: 7-6, 4-4
Ret. Starters: 13
Ret. Lettermen: 49
Off PPG 26.5 (7th) RYPG 131.6 (7th) PYPG 219.8 (5th)
Def PPG 23.8 (3rd) RYPG 139.6 (5th) PYPG 212.0 (8th)

Offense (7 RS, 23 RL)
John Parker Wilson is back for his senior season and comes off a junior campaign with 18 TDs. The depth behind him is slim and Wilson will have to adjust to another new offensive system with the departure of OC Major Applewhite. The Alabama receivers were hard hit by graduation losing their top three receivers, but this is where the Tide excelled the most in recruiting. Julio Jones was one of the top recruits in the nation and may start right away. Junior Mike McCoy is the leading returning receiver with 28 rec. Leading the o-line are two All-SEC caliber players in C Antoine Caldwell and LT Andre Smith. Two other starters return as well and will block for Terry Grant at RB. Grant will be joined by Glen Coffee.

Defense (6 RS, 23 RL)
Alabama will likely employ a 3-4 scheme again this year until some of their prized recruits can get up to SEC size and speed. DE Wallace Gilberry is gone and his 10 sacks will have to replaced. Saban hopes leading returning tackler Rashad Johnson is not again this year considering he is a FS. LB Rolando McClain leads a group of LB that will be without expected starter Jimmy Johns. Johns was caught selling cocaine and is gone from the team. Prince Hall had off season trouble as well and is currently suspended. Ezekial Knight is out due to medical reasons. All these open spots at LB leave true freshmen Jerrell Harris a good chance of starting. CB Simeon Castille will be replaced Javier Arenas. The other CB Kareem Jackson can defend the best WRs in the SEC.

Special Teams
Leigh Tiffin is back at PK though he hopes to improve on 25-34 LY. PJ Fitzgerald hopes to rebound from a disappointing soph. year. Arenas will return kicks and punts most likely.

Recruiting - Link

Schedule
The Crimson Tide open the year in Atlanta with Clemson. They also play vTulane, vW.Kent, and vs Ark State. From the East they face @UGA, vKent, and @Tenn. The Tide have a bye before Auburn on Nov 29 looking to break Auburn's longest winning streak in the series at six.

Final Thoughts
Saban had an ok year in '07 but did he ever bring in a foundation for the future. The Tide need to get better decision making out of Wilson to contend for the West and hope these freshmen, especially on defense, live up to the hype. Saban did not have LSU winning the SEC from the start but he recruited many of those players on the their 2 NC teams. In other words, Alabama is on the upswing.

Prediction
Likely Wins: vTulane, vW.Kent,vKent,vArk St
Likely Losses: @UGA
8-4, 5-3

Next Up - Tennessee Volunteers

Monday, August 18, 2008

Spurrier Hopes For Breakthrough Season

Spurrier needs to find the right man at QB

SEC East #4 South Carolina Gamecocks

2007 Results and Offseason
6-1 and looking great. Then came the Vanderbilt game, and the Tennessee game, and the Florida game. Pretty soon South Carolina was staring at 6-6 and was home for the bowl season after losing their final five games. In the offseason, Spurrier brought in another solid class but does not have his QB situation settled after a disappointing Spring game and off the field trouble with former prized recruit Stephen Garcia.
2007 Record: 6-6, 3-5
Ret. Starters: 17
Ret. Lettermen: 54
Off PPG 25.6 (8th) RYPG 94.5 (12th) PYPG 277.4 (2nd)
Def PPG 28.4 (8th) RYPG 217.1 (12th) PYPG 172.5 (2nd)

Offense (7 RS 26 RL)
Steve Spurrier's offense revolves around a QB who can make sound decisions and throw the ball vertically. So far in Columbia, Spurrier hasn't had the guy he wants. Chris Smelley is the leading retuning QB, but he threw more than a few INTs in the Spring Game. Tommy Beecher is the leading candidate as of now for the starting job, though Garcia could see some action as well if he can stay out of trouble. WR Kenny McKinley is one of those guys who seems like he has been in college for 10 years, but this is finally his senior season and he brings back 77 rec and 9 TDs from a year ago. Other outlets for the QBs will be TE Jared Cook (very underrated) and WR Dion Lecorn. Rushing the ball was not the Gamecocks strong suit in '07 finishing last in SEC play. Mike Davis is the leading rusher returning with 549 yards and 5TDs. Blocking for him will be four returning starters on the o-line.

Defense (10 RS 26 RL)
South Carolina should have one of the best defenses in the SEC with 10 returning starters and 26 lettermen. LB Jasper Brinkley returns, but is coming off season ending knee surgery in mid-Oct. He will joined by sack specialist Eric Norwood who had an outstanding 13.5 TFL last season. On the d-line, they must replace Casper Brinkley, but return three other starters. Watch out for super sophs transfers Cliff Geathers and Travian Robertson here as well. The secondary was very good last year ranking second in pass defense and returns all four starters. Captain Munnerlyn will compete for All-SEC teams and so will leading returning tackler Emanuel Cook. Though Spurrier wants someone besides SS Cook as the leading tackler this year after the Gamecocks gave up 5ypc in '07.

Special Teams
Ryan Succop returns to man both kicking spots. Munnerlyn will return both punts and kicks. Backup WR Chris Culliver will join Munnerlyn on kick returns. The Gamecocks must prevent the three punts blocked they had LY.

Recruiting - Link

Schedule

South Carolina faces four preseason AP top 10 teams: Georgia, Florida, LSU, and Clemson. In the non-conf they start off the CFB season hosting NC State. Also coming to Columbia are Wofford and UAB. From the west they grab @Miss, vArk, and LSU. The final five games are brutal again with South Carolina likely to be favored in only 1 or 2 games.


Final Thoughts

I think South Carolina has the most loyal fans in the country. Spurrier has one of his best teams since he arrived in Colombia, but he is in the toughest division in the toughest conference in the nation. Until they get a game breaking QB in here, I don't South Carolina can break into the SEC Championship Game.


Prediction
Likely Wins: vWoff, vUAB, vNC St
Likely Loss: @Florida

7-5, 4-4

Next Up - Alabama Crimson Tide


Previous SEC Football Previews

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Can Arkansas Line Up Another New Years Bowl?


SEC West #4 Arkansas Razorbacks

2007 Results and Offseason
Arkansas played in their second straight New Years Day Bowl led by the outstanding running back tandem of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. Both left early for the NFL and HC Houston Nutt bolted for Oxford. After a lengthy head coaching search, Arkansas plucked Bobby Petrino from the Atlanta Falcons to Fayetteville.
2007 Record: 8-5, 4-4
Ret. Starters: 10

Ret. Lettermen: 43

Off PPG 34.3 (3rd) RYPG 282.4 (1st) PYPG 149.8 (12th)

Def PPG 31.1 (10th) RYPG 142.4 (6th) PYPG 249.6 (10th)


Offense (6 RS, 19RL)

Casey Dick is back for the Hogs at QB and should have better passing stats under Petrino's system. His younger brother Nathan Dick could press his older brother. Do not rule out true freshman Jim Youngblood if he shows a lot of promise for the future. Ryan Mallet lost his appeal and will sit out '08 (Mich transfer).Arkansas led the SEC in rushing last season, but Darren McFadden and Felix Jones are both gone to the NFL (1st round). DeAnthony Curtis is a true freshman and could very well start. The leading returning rusher is junior Michael Smith. FB Peyton Hills is also gone. At wideout, Arkansas lost its top 4 receivers (4 of which were their top rushers also). Lucas Adams is the leading returner but expect true frosh Joe Adams (orig. USC commit) to also figure in. Arkansas does return Rimington winner C Jonathan Luigs along with three other starters. Petrino's system will bring some changes to the blocking schemes.


Defense (4 RS 21RL)

The Razorbacks lost their top six tacklers off a defense that struggled against the pass. Leading returning tackler Freddie Fairchild was dismissed in June leaving an entirely new unit at LB. The d-line will be led by DT Malcolm Sheppard who had 10 TFL last season. Three other starters return on the line as well. The secondary lost all four starters off last year. CB Jerell Norton had five INTs and 11 pass break ups. This unit allowed close to 250 ypg and the lose of all four starters does not help. The Hogs are very strong up front, but need time to gel in the back seven.


Special Teams

Both kickers return but neither were spectacular in '07. Norton will likely return punts again but someone new will be back on kickoffs replacing the dangerous Jones and McFadden.


Recruiting - Link

Schedule

The non-conf schedule has longtime SWC rival @Texas on Sept 13. W.Illinois, UL-Monroe, and Tulsa visit. From the East, Arkansas draws vFlorida, @Kent, and @So. Carolina. The game @Miss State on Nov22 could sway the season.


Final Thoughts

Petrino's ugly exit to Arkansas makes him the bad guy in the SEC this season. At first I was wondering why Nutt would be pushed out, but then we they hired Petrino I said "oh, that's why!" A big myth about Petrino's offense is that he likes to throw a alot, but just like Spurrier the Arkansas HC is very balanced. This year will be rough with all the starters and no bowl is very possible.


Prediction:

Likely Loss: @Texas, @Auburn, vLSU

Likely Win: vW Ill, vULM

5-7, 2-6


Next up is SEC East #4 South Carolina


Previous SEC Previews

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Will Kentucky Repeat '07 Excitement?

Kentucky players celebrated a lot of TDs

SEC East #5 Kentucky Wildcats


2007 Results and Offseason
Kentucky was the center of the college football universe for two straight weeks last year hosting LSU and Florida. QB Andre Woodson has moved onto the NFL and UK named OC Joker Phillips as the replacement when HC Rich Brooks retires.

2007 Record: 8-5, 3-5
Ret. Starters: 12
Ret. Lettermen: 57
Off PPG 31.1 (4th) RYPG 116.3 (11th) PYPG 288.4 (1st)
Def PPG 34.5 (12th) RYPG 200.3 (10th) PYPG 206.5 (7th)

Offense (4 RS 26 RL)
It was thought Curtis Pulley would take over for Woodson, but he decided not to follow the law and was dismissed from the team. Soph Michael Hartline will take over at QB. Hartline threw just six passes LY and one was an INT. Kentucky had a very good group of receivers LY but lost three of the top four. Dicky Lyons, Jr is the leading returner as a possession receiver with deceptive speed. UK had a tough time running the ball last year, but hopefully with three returning o-linemen and healthy Derrick Locke the Wildcats can improve. Senior Tony Dixon will split time with Locke at RB.

Defense (8 RS 27 RL)
The Wildcats return eight of the top nine tacklers, but that one loss is huge in LB Wesley Woodyard. Woodyard nearly doubled the output of the #2 tackler (CB Trevard Lindley). Lindley is an All-SEC candidate coming off an 11 pass break up season. Even with Woodyard's departure, the LB corp should be strong again with Michal Johnson stepping in (58 tkl LY). Both the d-line and secondaries have three starters back each and should be improved with most of the two deep also returning. DE Jeremy Jarmon had 9 sacks a year ago.

Special Teams
Both the kicker and punter return. PK Lones Seiber struggled last year hitting just 16-25 including a huge miss against Tennessee. Keenan Burton is gone from KR and Rafael Little from PR. Dicky Lyons may handle both.

Recruiting - Link

Schedule
UK starts off with in-state rival @Lville. Also vNorfolk St, vMTSU, and vW. Kentucky in the non-conf. From the West, @Miss St., @Alab, vArkansas. Kentucky has a bye on Sept 20 but plays eight straight before a bye on Nov 15.

Final Thoughts
Kentucky had an exciting 2007 season led by Heisman candidate Woodson. However, UK finished just 3-5 in the SEC and was outscored by 3 points per game. The offense has a lot to replace and losing Pulley, who battled with Woodson two years ago, does not help. I think getting back to a bowl will be challenging, but is very possible.

Prediction
Likely Wins: vNorfolk St, vMTSU, vW. Kent.
Likely Loss: @UF, vUGA, @Alab
6-6, 2-6

Next Up SEC West #4

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sly Croom Looks For More Victims

Anthony Dixon vaulted Miss St to 8 wins

SEC West #5 - Mississippi State Bulldogs

2007 Season and Offseason
The Bulldogs had a great season last year going to a bowl for the first time since '00. The defense led the way making up for an anemic offense. You can now put Ed Ogeron in the category of "Croomed" with Mike Shula and Ron Zook. The Bulldogs beat Alabama for the second year in a row too.

2007 Record: 8-5, 4-4
Ret. Starters: 14
Ret. Lettermen: 47
Off PPG 19.6 (9th), RYPG 116.6 (10th) PYPG 170.4 (9th)
Def PPG 26.9 (5th), RYPG 175.0 (9th) PYPG 185.4 (3rd)

Offense (6 RS 20 RL)
Wesley Carroll was forced into action after Michael Henig performed poorly in the first half of the year. Carroll will be backed up Josh Riddell who threw 2TDs last season. The cog in the Bulldogs offense will be RB Anthony Dixon coming off a 1,000 yard season. Christian Ducre added 515 and Robert Elliot is an exciting RS freshmen. This is one of the best RB units in the SEC. Jamayel Smith is the leading receiver returning but had just 33 catches last season. Co-Eric Riley hopes for a breakout year as a former JC standout. The o-line has to replace three starters including the dismissed Michael Brown. Philip Freeman, a JUCO transfer, may be the best of the bunch

Defense (8 RS 24 RL)
Miss State returns seven of their top eight tacklers from LY including MLB Jamar Cheney. Chaney is joined by Dominic Douglas at LB which should be the strength of this D. FS Derek Pegues had 5 INT last season and will move from CB. Other than Pegues the other three secondary starters return. The d-line will be searching for sacks this year after losing Titus Brown. Two other starters are back but the entire D brings back just seven sacks.

Special Teams
All four specialists return, including PK Adam Carlson (10-13). Pegues will return kicks and punts.

Recruiting - Link


Schedule
Non conf opponents are @La Tech, vSE La, @Ga Tech, and vMTSU. From the East it is a relatively easy draw with permanent opp vKentucky, vVandy, and @UT. The game vs Arkansas on Nov 22 could be for a bowl bid.

Final Thoughts
Miss State was a great story last year winning at Auburn and beating Alabama again. However, if you look at their stats they were outscored by 7+ points a game in SEC play! I don't think the ball will bounce their way as much this season, but Croom has them going in the right direction in the long run. The SEC should be safe this year from any Croomings.

Prediction:
Likely Loss: @LSU, @ UT
Likely Win: vSE La, vMTSU
5-7, 2-6

Next Up is SEC East #5