2019 SEC Preview

Yes, SEC Media Days are right around the corner, so it’s now time to sneak preview what to expect this season in the SEC. We will start in the East in the order I am predicting each team to finish.

  1. Georgia. Kirby Smart has this team on the fringe of greatness. They narrowly lost the SEC Championship to Alabama, but their loss to LSU in Baton Rouge showed that they’re still not quite prime time ready. This year, the Bulldogs have all the pieces they need by returning 13 starters from last year’s 10-3 team. They will have quarterback Jake Fromm as well as a stable of running backs. The big transition in Athens will be going from Jim Chaney at OC to James Coley. (11-2; 7-1 SEC)
  2. Florida. This team and Gator nation have been rejuvenated since Dan Mullen’s returned to Gainesville. One thing about Florida’s defensive unit: stout. They are returning Feleipe Franks at quarterback. They have multiple receiving threats as well as a loaded backfield. In 2018, the Gator defense allowed 162.5 rushing yards a game. If you want to beat the likes of Georgia, here’s where you must improve. (9-3; 5-3 SEC)
  3. Vanderbilt. This may come as a surprise to you, but despite the loss of Kyle Shurmur to the NFL, Coach Derek Mason is building a strong program in Nashville. This team continues to trend in the right direction. They had several games last season where they just couldn’t close opponents out and let leads slip out of their hands. Vandy will also go to a bowl game this season as well. (8-4; 4-4 SEC)
  4. Missouri. Despite being bowl-ineligible unless they are granted an appeal, the Tigers will be rolling on all cylinders as they upgrade at quarterback with Drew Lock having left for the Denver Broncos and former Clemson QB Kelly Bryant takes over the reins. This team will have very little to play for during the season not having bowl-eligibility. The only thing Kelly Bryant will do is bump his NFL Draft stock with some nice numbers until he faces both Florida and Georgia’s big front seven. ((7-5; 4-4 SEC)
  5. South Carolina. They have an interception-prone quarterback in Jake Bentley. If only a ride with him at the helm was as smooth as the car that shares his last name, but that is not the case. He had 14 interceptions in 2018 and their rushing attack might as well have been parked at the side of the road due to lack of production. They got 7 wins last year but won’t come even close to that. ((5-7; 2-6 SEC)
  6. Kentucky. Last year’s 10-win run hinged on great running back play and great defense. Wildcats’ fans didn’t have to wait until basketball season to see a winning product. However, the air left Lexington when Georgia rolled into town and derailed the Wildcat express off the track. Mark Stoops is the best thing, coach wise, that’s happened to this program and he’s done an outstanding job turning losers into winners. After losing Benny Snell and Josh Allen to the NFL, they’ll have a long road to travel. Look for UK to come back to earth a bit this season. (5-7; 2-6 SEC)
  7. Tennessee. Jeremy Pruitt knew what he was getting into when he arrived in Knoxville. Tennessee’s fans must either have the patience of Job or so drowned in Jack Daniels, they’ve just decided to ignore the long-term construction that faces this team. Jim Chaney comes over from Georgia to be the offensive play caller. Vols fans, bear with Pruitt. He’s building some talent for sure, but it will still be another year before the big wins arrive. (5-7; 2-6 SEC)

Now we go West!

  1. Alabama. After licking their wounds from getting punched, knocked down, and then picked up and beat up again by Clemson for the National Championship, Alabama will come back angry. They are going to treat every team like a piece of meat heading for a cleaver and go down the chopping block. They’re returning stud wide receiver Jerry Judie. Steve Sarkisian comes over to handle play calling duties for the offense. Tua Tagovailoa returns under center in what could very well be a Heisman season for the young man. The Crimson Tide will win the SEC Championship and will go on to win the 2020 National Championship. (12-0; 8-0 SEC)
  2. LSU. Coach Ed Orgeron has his boys playing hard in Baton Rouge. They return eight starters on defense that will be difficult and near the top of the SEC rankings. However, the one question the Tigers always face is how well their offense will perform? LSU averaged 32.4 points a game last season and they’ll need every point they can get with road trips to Texas, Alabama, Mississippi State, and home games against Texas A&M, Florida, and Auburn. (9-3; 5-3 SEC)
  3. Auburn. Gus Malzahn needs to make something big happen or War Eagle nation is going to have a Krispy Kreme fundraiser to buy him out and send him out of Auburn. The Tigers fell well short of expectations last season and the Auburn faithful let the world know their displeasure. They pointed their fingers at Gus Malzahn. Auburn does have a top-ranked defensive line this season, but they have to go on the road to the likes of College Station, Gainesville, and Baton Rouge. They have Georgia at home and host the Iron Bowl against Alabama, which we know anything can happen in that game. In the end, they have a freshman at quarterback. (8-4; 4-4 SEC)
  4. Texas A&M. Jimbo Fisher was probably hoping things would get easier in year two. They go on the road to play the defending National Champion Clemson Tigers on Sept. 7, the Crimson Tide of Alabama roll into town on Oct. 12, and then they finish off the season with back to back road trips to Athens (Georgia Bulldogs) and Baton Rouge (LSU). The boost in the win column won’t be coming this year due to this brutal schedule. (6-6; 3-5 SEC)
  5. Mississippi State. Joe Moorhead’s first season in Starkville went beyond expectations after finishing an 8-5 effort. Bulldogs lost several of their top defensive players (Montez Sweat, Jonathan Abram, and Jeffery Simmons) and are only returning three starters. Penn State graduate transfer Tommy Stevens will compete with Keytaon Thompson for the quarterback starting job. (5-7; 2-6 SEC)
  6. Arkansas. Chad Morris, when he accepted the head job in Fayetteville, knew he had a long rebuild ahead of him. The quarterback position got a major upgrade from last season adding transfers Nick Starkel (Texas A&M) and Ben Hicks (SMU). They’ve signed on some nice pieces, and things will improve from a 2-10 mark in Morris’ debut season. Arkansas will win a few games that no one expects. Look for them to sneak up on a few. (6-6; 2-6 SEC)
  7. Ole Miss. Still recovering from the post-Huge Freeze era, last season the Rebels defense gave up 36.2 points a game. That’s one of their biggest areas of improvement if they’re going to be competitive in the SEC. Coach Matt Luke brought in former Michigan and West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriguez (OC) and former University of Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre (DC) onto his staff. They’re also without their top 3 wideouts who went to the NFL and lost quarterback Jordan Ta’amu. Sorry Ole Miss fans, prepare yourself for a bumpy ride. (4-8; 1-7 SEC)

SEC Championship: 

Alabama defeats Georgia 31-24

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