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Football NCAAF

2019 SEC Football Preview

Their talent on the field is going to be always great under Saban but coaching matters in football more than any other sport.

2018 Standings & Bowl Results

SEC East

  1. Georgia – 11-3 (7-1): Lost Sugar Bowl 28-21 to Texas
  2. Kentucky – 10-3 (5-3): Won Citrus Bowl 27-24 over Penn State
  3. Florida – 10-3 (5-3): Won Peach Bowl 41-15 over Michigan
  4. South Carolina – 7-6 (4-4): Lost Belk Bowl 28-0 to Virginia
  5. Missouri – 8-5 (4-4): Lost Liberty Bowl 38-33 to Oklahoma St
  6. Vanderbilt – 6-7 (3-5) Lost Texas Bowl 45-38 to Baylor
  7. Tennessee – 5-7 (2-6)

SEC West

  1. Alabama – 14-1 (8-0): Won Orange Bowl 45-34 over Oklahoma; Lost National Championship Game 44-16 over Clemson
  2. Texas A&M – 9-4 (5-3): Won Gator Bowl 52-13 over N.C. State
  3. LSU – 10-3 (5-3): Won Fiesta Bowl 40-32 over UCF
  4. Mississippi State – 8-5 (4-4): Lost Outback Bowl 27-22 to Iowa
  5. Auburn – 8-5 (3-5): Won Music City Bowl 63-14 over Purdue
  6. Ole Miss – 5-7 (1-7)
  7. Arkansas – 2-10 (0-8):

The SEC went 6-6 in their bowl games counting Alabama two games, and went 3-1 against the Big Ten which most people agree is the second best conference to the SEC. The SEC also had three teams play in NY6 Bowls: Alabama who went 1-1, LSU who beat UCF, and Georgia who got beat by Texas in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the score looks. Overall the SEC had a decent year that ended with the awful drubbing of Alabama by Clemson in the National Championship Game. If you’re in SEC country then this conference is head over heels better than everyone else, if you aren’t then the SEC is overrated. The SEC will point towards NY6 wins over Michigan and UCF as dominance, but Georgia also got drubbed by Texas. You’ll never convince me that what happens before bowl games doesn’t have an effect on how a team performs. What do I mean by that? Michigan had CFP hopes before they got manhandled by Ohio State. There is no way Michigan brought their A game to the Peach Bowl to play Florida. On the other hand, Georgia heartbreaking loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship game led to them not bringing their A game against Texas. So did the SEC prove their dominance in 2018? It’s hard to say. The ACC was so down, the Big Ten was down with Michigan and Ohio State being the only really good teams with Penn State, Michigan St, and Wisconsin all having down years. The Pac 12 is the Pac 12, and the SEC went 1-3 against the Big 12 in bowl games. During the regular season however, the SEC went 9-4 overall against Power 5 teams and Notre Dame.

2019 Questions in the SEC

  1. Can anyone beat Alabama and keep them from the CFP?
    • The biggest question year after year in the SEC. Teams have beaten them in the past, like Auburn in 2017 but Alabama still made the CFP and eventually beat Georgia in the National Championship Game. Speaking of Georgia, they’ve had Alabama beat the past two years but couldn’t finish them off thanks to backup QBs beating them in the 4th quarter and OT. LSU and Texas A&M both have very talented teams but do they have enough to beat Alabama during the regular season? Could a game at Mississippi St. on Nov. 16th be a trap game? In the Iron Bowl anything can happen and this year the game is being played at Auburn. I just have this sneaky feeling that Alabama is going to trip up during the regular season but of course they’ll still make the SEC Championship.
  2. Can Tennessee make a jump in year two under Jeremy Pruitt?
    • Tennessee has been looking for a coach to bring them back to the promise land since Phillip Fulmer left. Pruitt came over from Alabama and led Tennessee to 5-7 record and dead last in the SEC East. They only had one close lost on the year and the rest were blowouts to teams like Vanderbilt and Missouri. Pruitt still doesn’t have his guy playing yet but fans would like to see at least a bowl appearance from this team. Tennessee starts out with Georgia St, BYU and Chattanooga at home which is a great chance to get out to a 3-0 start. They also have UAB on the schdule later in the year. Can Pruitt find three more wins on the schedule that includes @ Florida, @ Alabama, @ Kentucky, @ Missouri, and at home against Georgia, Mississippi St, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt.
  3. Is Gus Malzahn coaching for his job?
    • Malzahn has brought Auburn to a National Championship Game but since then Auburn has been up and down. The team always has a ton of talent but for some reason doesn’t reach expectations and has lost 4 of 5 to rival Alabama. The fan base can only take so many 8 or 9 win seasons until Malzahn has to win the SEC West and possibly the SEC before he loses his job. If Malzahn doesn’t win the SEC West this year, it could very well be his final year at Auburn.
  4. Can Missouri compete in the SEC East?
    • Missouri recruited former Clemson QB Kelly Bryant to come play for them and it worked. Missouri loses Drew Lock but they added Bryant who led Clemson to the CFP and shouldn’t miss a beat coming into Missouri. Missouri has a very favorable schedule and should start out the year 7-0 before having to go to Kentucky and Georgia, and then playing Florida at home. If Missouri is the real deal in 2019, that game in Georgia will decide the SEC East.
  5. Does Feleipe Franks Suck?
    • Yes. Bold prediction, he gets benched at some point during the year.

Biggest Off Season Moves

  1. LSU hires Joe Brady as Passing Game Coordinator
    • This move is a lot like Michigan’s to hire Josh Gattis. LSU has always had a CFP worthy defense but the offense has held them back because of an old school approach. Ed Orgeron brought in Joe Brady from the Saints to change this offense and open it up to more of a spread. LSU has the offensive talent to be great and Joe Burrow is a veteran QB who can actually run the ball pretty effectively. If Brady can turn this LSU offense around, then LSU has a good as shot as anybody to beat Alabama and make it to the CFP.
  2. Ole Miss hires Rich Rodriguez as their OC
    • Ole Miss is going to struggle to make a bowl game but bringing in Rich Rod as an OC shows a movement to a different type of offense for them. Rich Rod has failed as a HC since he left West Virginia but he is a great offensive mind. Even if Ole Miss doesn’t have a good record, Rich Rod running the offense could cause some problems for SEC defenses.
  3. More coordinators leave Nick Saban and Alabama
    • Defensive Coordinator Tosh Lupoi left Alabama to go be the DL coach for the Cleveland Browns, Offensive Coordinator Mike Locksley left to be the new head coach for Maryland, co-OC and WR Coach Josh Gattis left to be the OC at Michigan, QB coach Dan Enos left to be the OC at Miami, and OL coach Brent Key left to be the OL Coach at Georgia Tech, his alma mater. Nick Saban basically has to replace his whole offensive staff and that could be a huge factor in Alabama’s success this season. Their talent on the field is going to be always great under Saban but coaching matters in football more than any other sport.

Conference Notes & Tid-Bits

Schedule

  • SEC East Toughest Schedule: South Carolina
    • South Carolina has a brutal schedule. First up they start off against another Power 5 team in North Carolina on August 31st, although UNC isn’t that great right now it’s still a big school team. Then they have to go to Missouri, Georgia, and Texas A&M during the year. They also get Kentucky, Alabama, and Clemson at home and have a late season non-conference home game against Appalachian State who could challenge for the best non-Power 5 team in the country. South Carolina gets arguably the best three teams in the country on their schedule.
    • Runner-Up: Vanderbilt
  • SEC West Toughest Schedule: Texas A&M
    • A&M or South Carolina have the toughest schedule in the country. First up in Week 2 A&M heads to Clemson, then they have to end the year at Georgia and at LSU. In between there they get Auburn, Alabama, and Mississippi St at home.
    • Runner-Up: Auburn

Offensive Player of the Year Candidates:

  • QB Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama), QB Jake From (Georgia), QB Kellen Mond (Texas A&M), WR Jerry Jeudy (Alabama), RB D’Andre Swift (Georgia)
    • Darkhorse: QB Kelly Bryant (Missouri), RB Kylin Hill (Mississippi St)

Defensive Player of the Year Candidates:

  • DL Raekwon Davis (Alabama), S Grant Delpit (LSU), DL Derrick Brown (Auburn)
    • Darkhorse: CB J.R. Reed (Georgia), LB Dylan Moses (Alabama)

Best Offensive Units

  • QBs: Alabama (Tua Tagovailoa, Mac Jones)
    • I mean besides Trevor Lawrence he’s the best QB in the country so you can not, not pick Alabama here. Mac Jones backs him up which might be a cause for concern for Alabama fans but Jones has also been in the system for awhile.
    • Runner-Up: Georgia, Texas A&M
  • RBs: Georgia (D’Andre Swift, Zamir White, James Cook, Brian Herrien)
    • Georgia produces year after year after year with 1,000 yard backs, and sometimes multiple 1,000 yard backs. Swift is back and will be the main guy but look for Zamir White to be a breakout player. Cook saw some time last year and if he plays well early on could lock up that #2 spot behind Swift.
    • Runner-Up: Alabama, Vanderbilt
  • WRs: Alabama (Jerry Jeudy, Jaylen Waddle, Henry Ruggs)
    • This one was easy, there probably isn’t a better three deep group of WRs in the country (Oklahoma & Michigan could argue, maybe). Jeudy is the best of the bunch who ad 1,315 YDS and 14 TDS last year and will be a top 5 pick next year in the NFL draft. Behind these three guys Alabama has incredible depth and talent.
    • Runner-Up: Texas A&M, Florida
  • TEs: Missouri (Albert Okwuegbunam)
    • TEs are not the most used personnel in college football so I went with the team that had the top TE returning and that was Missouri. Okwuegbunam has a great chance to be a first round pick next year.
    • Runner-Up: Vanderbilt, Tennessee
  • OL: Georgia (Andrew Thomas, Solomon Kindley, Tray Hill, Ben Cleveland, Isaiah Wilson, Cade Mays, Jamaree Salyer, Owen Condon)
    • Georgia only needs to replace one lost starter from last year and none of these guys are seniors so everybody could return in 2020. The Bulldogs haven’t had massive success running the ball the past few years because their offensive line is average. Georgia again should dominate almost everybody they play up front.
    • Runner-Up: Missouri, Alabama

Best Defense Unites

  • DL: Auburn (Derrick Brown, Nick Coe, Marlon Davidson, Big Cat Bryant, Daquan Newkirk, Coynis Miller Jr, Gary Walker)
    • Auburn returns a ton of talent and and have incredible depth on the DL. Brown should be a top 10 pick the NFL draft next year, Coe and Davidson are both projected first rounders as well.
    • Runner-Up: Alabama, LSU
  • LBs: LSU (Jacob Phillips, Michael Divinity, K’Lavon Chaisson, Travez Moore)
    • Even with top 5 pick Devin White gone, LSU still has a great LB core. Phillips had 87 tackles year, 5.5 TFL and is possibly the best returning LB to the SEC. Divinity also showed out last year with 54 tackles and 10.5 TFL in 2018. Chassion is coming back after missing 2018 with a knee injury and can play both standing up and with his hand in the dirt.
    • Runner-Up: Alabama, Mississippi St.
  • DBs: LSU (Grant Delpit, JaCoby Stevens, Kristian Fulton, Derek Stingley Jr, Todd Harris Jr, Kary Vincent Jr, Eric Montroe, Mannie Netherly)
    • No surprise here, LSU has turned into DB-U lately and Grant Delpit is on track to be a top draft pick. Fulton and Joseph are probably the best CB duo in the SEC and one of the best in the country.
    • Runner-Up: Alabama, Florida

Best Special Teams

  • Kicker: Rodrigo Blankenship (Georgia), Evan McPherson (Florida)
  • Punter: Braden Mann (Texas A&M), Jake Camarda (Georgia)
  • Returner: Jaylen Waddle (Alabama)

Conference Game of the Year

  • LSU @ Alabama November 9th
    • Hard to pick another game here even though the SEC is loaded with huge games. LSU should be undefeated or with just one loss at this point and like every other year they seem to be the team with the best shot to beat Alabama. If LSU’s offense is improved under second year QB Joe Burrow than LSU has a real shot at upsetting Alabama.
    • Runner-Up: Alabama @ Texas A&M (Oct. 12th), Alabama @ Auburn (Nov. 30th), Texas A&M @ Georgia (Nov. 23rd)

Non-Conference Game of the Year

  • Notre Dame @ Georgia
    • Both these teams are legit CFP contenders and if Georgia loses this game, it will severely hurt their chances of making the playoff with another SEC loss. Notre Dame on the other hand can get revenge for two years ago and prove to the country they are back in the mix after making the playoff last year. This is bigger to me than LSU @ Texas because I think both ND and Georgia have better shots at making than playoff than LSU or Texas.
    • Runner-Up: LSU @ Texas (Sept. 7th), Texas A&M @ Clemson (Sept. 7th), Auburn vs Oregon (Aug. 31st)

2019 Picks

SEC East

  1. Georgia
  2. Missouri
  3. Florida
  4. Kentucky
  5. South Carolina
  6. Tennessee
  7. Vanderbilt

SEC West

  1. Alabama
  2. LSU
  3. Texas A&M
  4. Mississippi St.
  5. Auburn
  6. Ole Miss
  7. Arkansas

Going Bowling

CFP Contenders: Alabama, Georgia, LSU

NY6 Contenders: Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M

Bowl Participants: Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Mississippi St., Auburn, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina

Note: Missouri is ineligible for the post-season.

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