SEC Preview: The Five Southeastern Conference Games To Watch in 2010

by Jim Harris  on Monday, Jul. 12, 2010 12:00 am  

Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn will soon be a head coach. (Photo by Todd J. Van Emst/Auburn University)

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Florida. Big-armed John Brantley at QB will give the Gators a completely different look from the Tebow years, and the style shift might not be nearly as successful. Still, the Gators should out-talent the rest of the East.

South Carolina. If the Gamecocks could play like they did at Alabama last October, but with just a little more offense, Steve Spurrier could upset the applecart in his division. QB Stephen Garcia has the ability and maybe now can handle the mental part. Defense will be stout.

Georgia. Mark Richt needs a proven quarterback. Touted redshirt freshman Aaron Murray will need time to jell. Will the schedule allow that? Ten starters back on offense; all, but the QB. Defense will have a new look with a new coordinator. If it’s like “old” Georgia of the early 2000s, look out.

Tennessee. Nothing about the Lane Kiffin era of one year in Knoxville can be good for Volunteer football in the near future. Derek Dooley, fresh from Louisiana Tech but with an SEC pedigree through dad Vince, is going to need time. Kiffin didn’t leave a lot of upperclassmen, and Philip Fulmer’s 2007 recruiting class mostly washed out.

Kentucky. Rich Brooks left a tradition in Lexington of going to, and winning, bowl games. He made the program dangerous in a difficult division and defensively tough. Who knows what to expect from successor Joker Phillips. Did Brooks know this was the year to bow out?

Vanderbilt. When Commodores fans start complaining about bottoming out and missing out on a bowl — Vandy went to its first in 27 years in 2009, then hit the skids again last year — maybe Bobby Johnson’s program is getting somewhere. Lots of bad luck in ’09. Still the least talented bunch in the conference.


Alabama. Maybe now Crimson Tide fans can let Bear Bryant rest; no more séances to bring him back. Saint Nick is fully in charge. Like the great Bryant teams, Saban’s Tide will just line up and bruise you with all that running talent, avoid mistakes and shut you completely down. If they fall at all, it won’t be far, not the way Saban has recruited to Tuscaloosa.

Arkansas. Could this finally be the year? The great coaches usually show up with their programs turned around by the third year, which is where we are with Bobby Petrino. While the offense thrills, too many questions still surround the defense, especially at linebacker, where great SEC teams excel. But the schedule is IDEAL — if they don’t start 0-2 in the SEC at Georgia and at home vs. ’Bama.

LSU. The talent on paper (re: recruiting rankings) may not be as good as the talent in reality. The Tigers aren’t as physically strong as in past years. QB will continue to haunt them. Schedule may not allow for early momentum, and if LSU stumbles, it could tank while Miles is packing.

Auburn. Betcha everybody in the SEC has studied the Gus Malzahn offense ‘round the clock this off-season. The Tigers will need to be better on defense. QB is a raw JUCO transfer, and RB Ben Tate is gone. Talent is a year away, but it’s getting there. Gene Chizik can recruit with Saban. Who would have thought that?



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