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2011 Spring Preview - SEC West Buzz
Ole Miss RB Brandon Bolden
Ole Miss RB Brandon Bolden
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Mar 22, 2011


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


2011 SEC Spring Preview

SEC West 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

West

Alabama

When a team goes 10-3 and is a disappointment, the expectations are either 1) a wee bit high and/or 2) right on the money because the talent level is so high. Alabama was the 2010 preseason No. 1 team in the nation mostly because there wasn’t another viable option for the top spot, but the defense had to reload and the offense lost Mark Ingram early on and didn’t find any semblance of consistency. The defense that was supposed to be such a concern with so many new starters finished fifth in the nation a third in scoring D, and now it’s loaded and should be a brick wall. The coaching staff ramped up the brutal offseason workout program even more, and while all the focus will be on the quarterback situation and the loss of offensive stars, the buzz should be around an even better-conditioned defense that might be truly special, even for the Tide.

Arkansas

This is the year. At least that’s what the belief appears to be around the program. Houston Nutt had done some big things with the Hogs thanks to a special ground game, but Bobby Petrino was sort of starting from scratch when he took over. Now everything is in place to make a big run and be this year’s South Carolina, or better. The defense should be the best in the Petrino era by far, and the offense, even without Ryan Mallett, has the potential to be terrific with a loaded receiving corps, arguably the best in the nation, and a thumping group of running backs, which could also be the best in college football. Considering Arkansas should’ve beaten Alabama, was in the battle against Auburn until the fourth quarter, and should’ve finished the comeback against Ohio State, a team that was really, really good last year has the potential to be truly special this season.

Auburn

Everything is wide open, and that’s a good thing. With seven starters gone off both sides of the ball, and with new kickers needing to be brought in, Auburn has a lot of work to do. A LOT of work. However, what’s being lost on many is how Gene Chizik and the coaching staff have done a phenomenal job of recruiting over the last few seasons, and while there might not be a Cam Newton or a Nick Fairley, there’s tremendous talent all across the board and there will be plenty of very, very good prospects looking to prove they can play. RB Michael Dyer is hardly a bad centerpiece to work around, and the secondary should be better with a bit more experience. Yes, this might be a team full of no-names, but remember, there was a battle for the starting quarterback job last year at this time and Nick Fairley was a promising part of the tackle rotation.

LSU

No, Zach Mettenberger hasn’t won the Heisman yet. Because LSU was so awful throwing the ball last year, there’s hope that Mettenberger becomes the latest Cam Newton-like SEC reclamation project who takes a great team and makes it a national champion. While the former Georgia Bulldog has great size and enough talent to potentially be a starter, Jordan Jefferson will still be the main man going into the season with Jarrett Lee getting his share of snaps in the possible No. 2 role. Mettenberger isn’t Newton in any way other than that they both quarterbacks and they both started their careers at an SEC East school before going to the West, but if the passing attack struggles so badly again, Jefferson might be on a short leash and Mettenberger might be seen as the savior.

Ole Miss

Welcome back, David Lee. Everyone is having a party in the SEC, and Ole Miss didn’t get an invite. (Vanderbilt’s got “lost in the mail.”) The 2010 season started out weird, with a double-overtime loss to Jacksonville State, and it didn’t get much better thanks to an offense that rolled against Louisiana-Lafayette, Fresno State, Jacksonville State, and shockingly, LSU, but was non-existent way too often. Finishing 43rd in the nation in offense, averaging 400 yards per game, isn’t bad, but more is needed out of one of the nation’s most inefficient passing games and the running game, while good yardage-wise, hasn’t provided the pop it did for Houston Nutt at Arkansas. Nutt brought back Lee, the former Hog assistant and Miami Dolphin QB coach, and it should be back to the good old days of Wildcat offense and even more running. However, the Rebels have to find their Darren McFadden-Felix Jones combination – Brandon Bolden is a start - and they have to find a quarterback.

Miss State

Hitting, and lots of it. The Bulldog practices have been full-contact and with lots of popping on both sides. No one is kept out of the fun, with QB Chris Relf getting hit and not shying away from contact on his runs. The main focus, though, has been on a passing game that was efficient, but only averaged 186 yards per game. The hope is to make Relf more of a dangerous playmaker through the air to keep teams from loading up on him and the ground game, but it’s early and there’s still plenty of work to do. MSU is going to be physical, it’s going to keep running the ball, and unlike the last few years, it’s more about tweaking than building.

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