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2011 SEC Preview - East Lookaheads
Florida RB Jeff Demps
Florida RB Jeff Demps
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 10, 2011


Preview 2011 - CFN SEC East Team-By-Team Quick Looks and Predicted Finish


Preview 2011

SEC Team By Team


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EAST
- 2011 Florida Preview | 2011 Georgia Preview
- 2011 Kentucky Preview | 2011 South Carolina Preview
- 2011 Tennessee Preview | 2011 Vanderbilt Preview

WEST  
- 2011 Alabama Preview | 2011 Arkansas Preview
- 2011 Auburn Preview | 2011 LSU Preview
- 2011 Ole Miss Preview | 2011 Mississippi State Preview
   
- 2011 SEC Preview | 2011 SEC Unit Rankings
- 2011 SEC Schedules & Picks | 2011 SEC Thoughts
- 2011 CFN All-SEC Team & Top 30 Players 
- 2011 SEC East Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish 
- 2011 SEC West Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish 
- 2010 SEC Preview

Note: Predictions based on team talent and schedules.

Predicted Champion: Alabama over Florida

SEC East Predicted Finish

1. Florida

Offense: The 2010 Florida offense was the working definition of a square peg trying to fit in a round hole as it tried to go on with life after Tim. Ready to take over at quarterback was a big-time talent in John Brantley, who possessed the next-level tools to make the passing game sing, but the old coaching staff had no earthly clue how to utilize his skills. This coaching staff does. The Charlie Weis infamous “schematic advantage” actually will make a big difference for an offense that finished 82nd in the nation in yards. If Brantley doesn’t take to the new system, superstar recruit Jeff Driskel will, but no matter who’s under center, the passing game will be far more efficient and effective. The receivers will be utilized better, the tight ends are going to be terrific, and speed backs Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps should get more room to move while Mack Brown should grow into a star back as the season goes on. And then there’s the line. There’s talent up front, but it’s going to take a while to find the right combination to make all the pieces fit. No, the Gator offense isn’t going to explode right away under the new regime, but it’s going to be better. There’s too much talent to be any worse.

Defense: The 2010 Gators might have been a disappointment, but the defense can’t be blamed after finishing ninth in the nation in yards allowed and 12th in pass defense. The run D had problems with South Carolina, South Florida, and Mississippi State, but it was decent overall. Now it’s time for a youth movement, and that’s not a bad thing considering the tremendous talent level across the board. The superstar-loaded recruiting class of last year is about to blow up, especially on the line, with end Ronald Powell leading the way. The secondary has to undergo some major changes, hurt by the loss of star safety Ahmad Black and the dismissal of NFL-caliber corner Janoris Jenkins, but the athletes are there including the star defensive back of last year’s class, Matt Elam. The linebackers will be good, but they probably won’t be spectacular even though Jonathan Bostic can do a little of everything and Jelani Jenkins will likely be an all-star.

2. South Carolina 

Offense: Some key pieces to the offensive line are gone, and it’s going to take a while before the right combination is found up front, but the pieces are in place for the Gamecocks to have one of the nation’s deadliest attacks. QB Stephen Garcia is a heady veteran who has been through all the wars, and while he has to cut down on his interceptions and his mistakes, he’s a tremendous leader who knows what he’s doing. It’s easier to be a great quarterback with a back like Marcus Lattimore to hand off to and a receiver in Alshon Jeffery, along with a huge receiving corps, to throw to. It’s not a stretch to call Lattimore and Jeffery the two best players in the SEC, and as long as they’re healthy the offense should shine. The key will be a line that hasn’t protected the quarterback in several years and needs to quickly develop a few quality young prospects to figure out what the best starting five is.

Defense: Last year’s defense had the potential to be the best yet in the Steve Spurrier era of strong defenses, and it came through with a phenomenal season against the run and rushing the passer. However, the secondary struggled too much and was a bit too inconsistent. This year’s defense should be devastating up front with, arguably, the nation’s best rotation of defensive ends led by underappreciated star Devin Taylor and with superstar recruit Jadeveon Clowney coming in. The linebacking corps might not be dynamic, but it’s full of veterans and should be rock solid against the run. The big key will be the secondary that was full of talent and experience last year, but struggled against efficient passers. This year’s group of defensive backs is potentially great, led by do-it-all corner Stephon Gilmore, but there needs to be far more production.

3. Georgia

Offense: The offense didn’t get the running game going, the line struggled to do anything positive on a consistent basis, and the passing game didn’t work when A.J. Green wasn’t rocking. Green is gone, the top two running backs – Washaun Ealey and Caleb King – are also out of the mix, and the line is battling to find the right five guys for the starting jobs. But all is not lost for an offense that wasn’t all that bad averaging 385 yards and 32 points per game. Aaron Murray is one of the SEC’s top returning quarterbacks and he appears ready to make the attack his, but will he be able to keep the passing game moving without Green? Orson Charles and a loaded group of tight ends will help the cause, but Tavarres King will have to grow into a No. 1 receiver.
 
Defense: The defense might have gone bye-bye in key moments against Arkansas, Florida, and Auburn, but for the most part the team’s problems were on the other side of the ball. The star power might not be there going into the season, especially after losing pass rusher Justin Houston to the NFL, but there’s a ton of very good, very promising players about to make the nation’s 23rd best D shine. Linebacker Jarvis Jones comes in from USC and should be one of the team’s top playmakers, while the addition of top JUCO transfer John Jenkins should anchor the 3-4 as a rock of a nose tackle. Kwame Geathers is good enough to also dominate on the inside, while the huge ends should be rocks against the run. The secondary should be a major strength with corner Brandon Boykin and safety Bacarri Rambo leading a veteran group won’t allow too many big plays.

4. Tennessee

Offense: 2010 was the textbook definition of a rebuilding season for the offense, and to further the clichés, it was the proverbial step back to take a giant leap forward. The passing game put up yards, but there were too many mistakes, and RB Tauren Poole was fantastic, but the ground game struggled. The Vol attack will be unstoppable in 2012 – Poole is the only senior projected starter - and it could be far, far better this year mostly because the line could be awesome. The freshmen who were thrown to the wolves last year can actually play, and now there are four really strong, really good sophomore starters and a nice junior left tackle in Dallas Thomas to form a better more consistent blocking unit. QB Tyler Bray has the moxie and the arm to be a special passer, and he has excellent explosive threats to work with. Poole won’t get the press of other SEC running backs, but he’s among the league’s most effective runner. 

Defense: A few adjustments were made from the Monte Kiffin Tampa-2 defense, and for the most part, the D did a good job. Yes, Oregon ran wild in Knoxville and UAB bombed away, but the production was a bit better than the overall stats might indicate. More of a pass rush is a must from the ends, the linebacking corps needs to find two new, reliable starters, and the secondary could use a more playmakers, but overall the potential is there for a better year. It all starts up front with former USC Trojan Malik Jackson manning the starting defensive tackle spot, and there’s size across the line to help him out. Prentiss Waggner is a rising star safety who’ll lead a veteran group of defensive backs that have to tighten up after giving up 200 passing yards or more to just about everyone. Linebacker is the question mark where a few true freshmen might have to upgrade the talent level for what should be a decent, but unspectacular group.

5. Kentucky

Offense: Offensive coordinator Randy Sanders had problems cranking out production on a consistent basis, and the points weren’t exactly flowing over the second half of the season against the better teams, scoring a total of 24 points in the final two games against Tennessee and Pitt, and now there’s some major work to be done. On the plus side, the line should be among the best in the SEC with four (really five) starters back from a group that was excellent throughout last season. The very big, very fast receiving corps loses key targets Randall Cobb and Chris Matthews, but welcomes back a slew of interesting, talented prospects. The backfield is the biggest issue with QB Morgan Newton needing to shine in place of the quietly productive Mike Hartline and with a running back-by-committee approach in place to take over for the multi-talented Derrick Locke.

Defense: Only two starters are gone from a decent defense that struggled against the run and was great against the pass. The Wildcats finished 45th in the nation in total defense, but allowed 28.38 points per game and did next to nothing to get into the backfield. Danny Trevathan is one of the nation’s best linebackers, and Winston Guy is a potentially special safety, but the D needs pass rushers up front with the line and the defense finishing dead last in the SEC in tackles for loss and 11th in sacks. There will be plenty of shuffling in the secondary with a 4-2-5 alignment used on a regular basis, and there’s enough experience and enough depth for defensive coordinators Steve Brown and Rick Minter to get creative.

6. Vanderbilt

Offense: The new coaching staff is going to get the passing game going; that’s the stated goal. New offensive coordinator John Donovan has a ton of work to do, but he has experience to work with. Vanderbilt finished last in the SEC in yards, points, and passing efficiency, and while the skill players weren’t great, the biggest problems came from a young, inexperienced line that didn’t find the right combination until late in the year. All five starters are back, and if the front five is better, the veteran skill players should shine. Warren Norman and Zac Stacy, if healthy, form a strong running back tandem, while the receiving corps has promise and potential if the quarterback play is better. Larry Smith is the mobile, veteran option, but Jordan Rodgers, Aaron’s brother, is the one everyone is waiting to see. 

Defense: Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop has a ton of experience to work with, and now he has to try to improve a defense that finished dead last in the SEC and was 11th in scoring defense and last in run defense. Getting into the backfield won’t be a problem with athleticism and high-motor playmakers on the line, while Chris Marve leads a promising linebacking corps that should come up with a ton of tackles. The strength should be in the secondary where pick-off artist Casey Hayward and tackling-machine Sean Richardson will be all-stars. This is an active, aggressive defense, but it has to learn how to hold up against the better offenses and it has to come up with more stops on third downs.

EAST
- 2011 Florida Preview | 2011 Georgia Preview
- 2011 Kentucky Preview | 2011 South Carolina Preview
- 2011 Tennessee Preview | 2011 Vanderbilt Preview

WEST  
- 2011 Alabama Preview | 2011 Arkansas Preview
- 2011 Auburn Preview | 2011 LSU Preview
- 2011 Ole Miss Preview | 2011 Mississippi State Preview
   
- 2011 SEC Preview | 2011 SEC Unit Rankings
- 2011 SEC Schedules & Picks | 2011 SEC Thoughts
- 2011 CFN All-SEC Team & Top 30 Players 
- 2011 SEC East Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish 
- 2011 SEC West Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish 
- 2010 SEC Preview