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2011 Spring Preview - SEC East Buzz
Kentucky QB Morgan Newton
Kentucky QB Morgan Newton
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Mar 22, 2011


The early buzz around each SEC East team going into spring practices.


2011 SEC Spring Preview

SEC East Spring Buzz

Click for each team's spring preview
East Florida | Georgia | Kentucky | South Carolina | Tennessee | Vanderbilt 
West Alabama | Arkansas | Auburn | LSU | Ole Miss | Miss State
 
2011 SEC Spring Preview 
- SEC Spring Preview - Does SEC Champ = BCS Champ?
- 2011 SEC East Spring Buzz | SEC West   
- 2011 SEC East Spring Attitudes | SEC West
- 2011 SEC East Big Spring Questions | SEC West 
- 2011 SEC East Key Positions To Watch | SEC West
- SEC East Spring Rankings | SEC West
 
East

Florida

If Urban Meyer had left before last year, there would’ve been a sense of panic and urgency during spring ball. This year, after the way the 2010 team struggled and appeared tired, like its head coach, it’s time for a change, and in comes Will Muschamp to bring so new fire and new ideas. While there’s going to be even more of a bunker down mentality than there was under the ever-tight Meyer, it’s going to be an interesting offseason with some major changed, led by the switch to a pro-style offense. Between Muschamp and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, the coaching staff will be full of quotes and opinions, but all that matters is production. This is one of the nation’s most talented teams, and the coaches have to come up with a good spring to set the tone that 8-5 isn’t acceptable in Gainesville while trying not to make everything as joyless as Meyer did.

Georgia

Win or else. No one wants to see a good coach and a great guy like Mark Richt go, and nothing would make Georgia fans happier than for him to be the one who takes the program on a national title run, but the door is closing. To call Richt on a hot seat isn’t quite right; he’s been on one, in a way, for years. He got Georgia close, but with Florida about to be Florida again, and with South Carolina loaded, the pressure is on to come up with a special year in an improved East. The offensive line has to start playing up to its billing and the defense has to be better against the top teams, but no matter how it happens, more big wins have to come. Richt did the fire-the-assistants thing last year, and while there were a few minor moves this offseason, this is it. Georgia doesn’t have to win the SEC title, but there will almost certainly be a new era of Bulldog football beginning next year if this isn’t a ten-win team and a player on a national scene.

Kentucky

Now we get to see what kind of a head coach Joker Phillips really is. It’s not like Rich Brooks left the cupboard stocked with All-Americans, but the 2010 UK squad had some extremely talented playmakers and a smart veteran quarterback in Mike Hartline to guide the ship. Even so, the Wildcats didn’t do much in the SEC outside of a wild comeback against South Carolina and only went bowling because Western Kentucky, Akron, Vanderbilt and Charleston Southern were on the schedule. There’s a ton of returning talent on defense, but the pieces aren’t quite there to run the 3-4 scheme the way defensive coordinator Rick Minter would like. The offense is missing almost all the key players from last year’s solid attack and needs some big performances from several untested prospects. Phillips is a great-looking coach and a rising star, but this year he has to show why.

South Carolina

This is it. 2010 was, arguably, the greatest year in the long and phenomenally mediocre history of South Carolina football, but things are different now. Florida isn’t going to be that lame again, Georgia will certainly be better, and teams are going to be gunning for the SEC East champs. Whatever. Florida is the most talented team in the East, but the Gamecocks are loaded with the best trio of skill players in the conference in QB Stephen Garcia, WR Alshon Jeffery, and RB Marcus Lattimore, who packed on extra weight to take more of a pounding. Seven starters are back on defense, and the recruiting class, led by the signing of NFL-ready defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, upgraded the talent level. Get ready for the expectations that are going to be through the roof. Winning the SEC East might not be enough for this team.

Tennessee

The biggest news around the program is that Derek Dooley is still the head coach. Not that he was going to get fired after his first year, and he wasn’t looking around for another gig, but the 2011 Vols are used to putting up with different coaching styles with many getting recruited by Phil Fulmer, dealing with the Lane Kiffin experience, and then starting new last year with Dooley. There’s a little bit of drama with the secondary, hoping for a few key players to get off-the-field issues settled to be back on the field at some point this season, but for the most part, just being able to have the same coaches around, and the continuity that comes with it, should do wonders for a program in need of some consistency. Enough starters are back to hope for a strong season, and the coaching staff can now refine rather than spend all its time implementing the basics.

Vanderbilt 

And here we go with the James Franklin era. Bobby Johnson had his moments, and he came up with a shocking 2008, but the program hasn’t been able to reach any consistent level of production and struggled mightily under Robbie Caldwell last season. Being beaten up in the SEC East is hardly anything to get in a twist over, but the Commodores lost to Northwestern and were blown out by Wake Forest. Franklin is wiping the slate almost clean with a slew of new assistants, more excitement and renewed energy, and a belief that it’s time to start being nastier. Franklin’s teams might not be challenging for SEC titles, but they’re going to go down with a fight.

Click for each team's spring preview
East Florida | Georgia | Kentucky | South Carolina | Tennessee | Vanderbilt 
West Alabama | Arkansas | Auburn | LSU | Ole Miss | Miss State
 
2011 SEC Spring Preview 
- SEC Spring Preview - Does SEC Champ = BCS Champ?
- 2011 SEC East Spring Buzz | SEC West   
- 2011 SEC East Spring Attitudes | SEC West
- 2011 SEC East Big Spring Questions | SEC West 
- 2011 SEC East Key Positions To Watch | SEC West
- SEC East Spring Rankings | SEC West