With the end of SEC Media Days (which featured Phil Fulmer being served with a subpeona, the awesomeness of Dicky Lyons, Jr, and the possible arrival of a new Warren Sapp Glen Dorsey in Auburn defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks, now is as good a time as any to make SEC predictions. Part 1 today will be the Eastern division
1. Florida-Most people think this is Georgia’s to lose. Me? I think UGA’s schedule (which, just in conference features trips to Auburn, Baton Rouge, Columbia, and Jacksonville for the Cocktail Party, as well as home dates against Alabama and Tennessee) will be too much for them-or anyone-to handle. With Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, along with Brandon James and Percy Harvin, back, the Gator offense should be explosive, while the defense, so young last year, should improve tremendously with the tutelage of Charlie Strong.
2. Georgia-This is a team that could easily win the national title, and be denied by losing 3 games. Seriously–at Auburn, at LSU, at Arizona State, Florida in Jacksonville, at South Carolina—that’s just ridiculous. Still, look for the Dawgs to again be extremely tough, as Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno lead a tough offense, with a defense that absolutely terrorized poor Colt Brennan and the Hawaii Warriors returning basically intact, the Bulldogs could still make some noise.
3. South Carolina-Many thought last year would be the breakout year for Spurrier and crew, but a devastating injury to star linebacker Jasper Brinkley, as well as a few tough losses to end the season saw the Gamecocks fall to 6-6 and out of the bowl picture. With newcomer Tommy Beecher at quarterback, expect the Gamecock offense to struggle early. But, with a fairly stout defense back, if they ever find their stride, look out. The Cocks could be rising.
4. Tennessee-The SEC East champs of 2007 (which still baffles me, to be honest), they return some good weapons in Austin Rogers, Josh Briscoe, and Lucas Taylor in the receiving corps, as well as Josh Cottram at tight end and Arian Foster at running back. Still, they lost perhaps their two most important members: quarterback Erik Ainge, and offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe, who took over the moribund (and that’s a gross understatement) Duke football program. While the Vols return the pure awesomeness that is Eric Berry on defense, they will probably still struggle. Trips to Athens, Auburn, and Columbia, as well as home games against Florida and Alabama could be too much.
5. Vanderbilt-The Commodores have still not been able to crack the glass ceiling of 5 wins under Bobby Johnson, but it’s not for lack of effort. Still, losing all-World receiver Earl Bennett, as well as offensive lineman Chris Williams will probably hurt the team. Still, they should get a boost from probable starter Mackenzi Adams at quarterback, and if not him, then 2003 Alabama Mr. Football Chris Nickson. The schedule for the ‘Dores is not that bad, two trips to Oxford (one in Ohio for Miami, one in Mississippi for my beloved Rebs), along with home dates with Rice and Duke, give the team a shot at 4 or 5 wins. More than that, though, may be asking too much.
6. Kentucky-Although the awesome Dicky Lyons returns, not much else does. Steve Johnson? Gone. Andre Woodson? Gone. And it’s not like the Wildcat D has been overpowering lately either. With the struggles of the basketball program lately, this was UK’s chance at maybe giving football a fighting chance. But with Billy Gillispie getting commitments from 8th-graders, well, it looks like that’s not gonna happen either.
SEC West predictions will be up tomorrow. Hopefully