2012 SEC Preview - East Breakdowns & Picks
Tennessee QB Tyler Bray
Tennessee QB Tyler Bray
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 13, 2012


Preview 2012 - CFN SEC East Team By Team Quick Looks and Predicted Finish


Preview 2012

SEC East Team By Team

 
East
- 2012 Florida Preview | 2012 Georgia Preview
- 2012 Kentucky Preview | 2012 Missouri Preview 
- 2012 South Carolina Preview | 2012 Tennessee Preview
- 2012 Vanderbilt Preview

West

- 2012 Alabama Preview | 2012 Arkansas Preview
- 2012 Auburn Preview | 2012 LSU Preview 
- 2012 Mississippi St Preview | 2012 Ole Miss Preview
- 2012 Texas A&M Preview

- 2012 SEC Preview
- 2012 SEC Unit Rankings
- 2012 SEC Schedules & Picks 
- 2012 CFN All-SEC Team & Top 30 Players
- 2012 SEC East Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish  
- 2012 SEC West Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish   

1. South Carolina
2012 CFN Prediction: 10-2
2012 SEC Prediction: 6-2

Offense: How healthy is Marcus Lattimore? The superstar running back is coming back from a knee injury, and while all indications are that he’ll be ready to roll, it’s asking for too much for him to be the same back right away. If he’s not 100%, the Gamecocks have other good options who can pound away behind a promising line that might have to replace three starters, but should more talented if new left tackle Brandon Shell is as good as advertised. The receiving corps has plenty of speed and quickness, but it has to find a No. 1 target with Alshon Jeffery gone. Connor Show has the starting quarterback job all to himself, and while he’s a great runner he’s improving as a passer and should push the ball down the field more.
Defense: Considering Steve Spurrier is known for his high-flying offenses, it has been a bit of a shocker that his calling card at South Carolina has been defense finishing third in the nation last season behind Alabama and LSU and 11th in scoring D. The secondary might not have faced too many passing games with a pulse, but it finished second in the nation and should be almost as strong despite the loss of CB Stephon Gilmore and two other starters. The defensive backfield will be helped by one of the nation’s most aggressive and dangerous lines highlighted by the dominant end tandem of Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor. The linebacking corps loses the team’s No. 1 (Antonio Allen) and No. 3 (Rodney Paulk) tacklers, but it should be fantastic with a deep group of athletes to form a great rotation.

T2. Florida
2012 CFN Prediction: 8-4
2012 SEC Prediction: 5-3

Offense: A phenomenal flop last season, the Florida offense went absolutely nowhere averaging a pathetic 329 yards per game and doing nothing against the defenses with a pulse. Charlie Weis is off to Kansas and in steps new offensive coordinator Brent Pease, who has a boatload of talent to work with and appears to be ready to turn things around. The line should be night-and-day better, more physical, and more consistent as long as the starting five can stay healthy. Mike Gillislee leads a promising group of running backs that should benefit behind the improved front five, and Quinton Dunbar appears ready to become the breakout star of a receiving corps that looks that part but produced jack squat last season. The key to the season, though, is the quarterback situation with superstar prospects Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett battling it out for time. Neither one looks like a world-beater yet, and no matter what else the Gators do this year they’re not going anywhere without improved quarterback play.
Defense: The defense wasn’t necessarily the problem last year. However, the stats are a bit misleading – ranked eighth in the nation in total defense, considering the Gators didn’t exactly face the Green Bay Packer offense on a regular basis. The run defense was a bit soft at times and there weren’t enough plays in the backfield, making the concerns this offseason about the line a bit more glaring. There’s talent, but several former top recruits have to start playing up to their stars after DE Ronald Powell suffered a torn ACL this offseason. The linebacking corps is fine, but thin, and the secondary should be a strength again once the right combination is found. This is still a young and emerging defense, but it’ll be a good one.

T2. Georgia
2012 CFN Prediction: 9-3
2012 SEC Prediction: 5-3

Offense: There are just enough pieces in place for the Bulldog offense to come up with a solid year, but it’s going to require some tinkering to make everything work. Having a strong veteran quarterback in Aaron Murray is an excellent start, and while he throws way too many picks he’ll make up for a lot of problems elsewhere. Now he has to be kept upright behind a rebuilding line that might need a little while before it makes the all the pieces of the puzzle fit. The receiving corps should be excellent with a nice group of speedsters led by the return of leading receiver Tavarres King. The loss of former star running back prospect Isaiah Crowell might have been a big problem if there wasn’t so much hope for top recruit Keith Marshall and with several different options to work in a rotation.
Defense: It might be hard for a defense to stand out in the SEC, but Georgia’s was able to do it last year finishing fifth in the nation in yards allowed. It wasn’t always great at keeping the better offenses under wraps – allowing 75 points to LSU and Michigan State to close things out – but overall it was a good D. Now it should be even better. The front seven in the 3-4 alignment has the potential to be a killer with a loaded line led by the tackle rotation of John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers. Pass rushing terror Jarvis Jones is one of the nation’s top outside linebackers in an athletic and active corps. And then there’s the secondary. After losing a slew of young players to suspensions and transfer, there were even more problems with three starters getting hit with suspensions for a variety of reasons. After the first few weeks all will be fine, but it could take a bit of adjusting early on to find the right combination.

T4. Missouri
2012 CFN Prediction: 7-5
2012 SEC Prediction: 3-5

Offense: Only in the Big 12 could a team finish 12th in the nation in yards and still finish fifth in the conference in total offense. Life will be vastly different in the SEC with the Tiger running game likely to have a tougher time. Henry Josey isn’t expected back until 2013 after suffering a horrible knee injury late last season, and while QB James Franklin has the mobility to keep the ground game going, SEC linebackers aren’t going to let him run wild. There’s just enough talent to come up with yet another strong year with superstar receiver recruit Dorial Green-Beckham potentially adding more firepower to the passing game, while Franklin and a promising group of backs should keep the running game moving. The healthy return of tackle Elvis Fisher is a huge boost for the line, and the starting five should be great, but the depth is thin.
Defense: Life is going to be a bit easier for the Missouri defense going into the SEC. It’s a different style and different mindset, and while that’s bad news for the Tiger attack, the D that’s used to getting into wild Big 12 shootouts will have to adjust. The starting 11 should be terrific with corner E.J. Gaines leading an athletic secondary and the return of Will Ebner solidifying an already strong linebacking corps. The line will generate pressure into the backfield from all four spots, but end Brad Madison and tackler Sheldon Richardson have to be 100% after suffering shoulder injuries.

T4. Tennessee
2012 CFN Prediction: 7-5
2012 SEC Prediction: 3-5

Offense: The offense looks like all the pieces should be in place for a huge year, but it’s asking a lot for a huge jump up in production after finishing 106th in the nation in scoring and 104th in yards. Health is the key after losing WR Justin Hunter to a torn ACL early last season and with QB Tyler Bray out for a stretch with a broken thumb, but they’re both back along with Da’Rick Rogers and TE Mychal Rivera forming one of the SEC’s best passing attacks. The line was great in pass protection but couldn’t push anyone around for a ground game that averaged just 90 yards per game. Even though there’s plenty of experience, lots of depth, and nice upside, the line has to show it can start beating someone up. It’ll be a running back by committee approach with several talented options, but the ground game needs to get far more from the line.
Defense: Defensive coordinator Sal Suneri should reap the rewards from a few years of building things up. Several young players were thrown into key roles, and now there’s experience across the board and enough talent to get excited about from a defense that finished 28th in the nation and allowed 22.6 points per game. The D didn’t give up a ton of yards, but it also didn’t come up with enough big plays with just 16 sacks and a mere nine interceptions. The line is full of size and enough good players to form a great rotation, but a terror has to emerge on the outside. The secondary has a nice blend of veterans and young talents, and now the pass rush has to help the cause. The stars will be in a linebacking corps that took its lumps with a slew of freshmen, but now is loaded and should be as deep as any in the SEC.

6. Vanderbilt
2012 CFN Prediction: 6-6
2012 SEC Prediction: 2-6

Offense: With eight returning starters and good depth, the Vanderbilt offense should be better than it has been in several years. The running game will be dominant against the mediocre teams with the return of running back Warren Norman from a knee injury to help Zac Stacy, who set the Vandy single-season record for rushing last season. The line could be great if everyone stays healthy – that’s not a given – and is versatile enough to patch things up when needed until the backups get more time to develop. The key to the season will be the play of quarterback Jordan Rodgers, who has a ton of talent but can’t seem to find any consistency. He’ll have a terrific receiving corps to throw to with Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd a rising pair ready to break out.
Defense: The defense finished 18th in the nation and allowed just 21.62 points per game, but it was inconsistent. Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop did a brilliant job improving the a defense that finished last in the SEC two years ago, and he has more work to do again losing four irreplaceable stars in linebacker Chris Marve, end Tim Fugger and defensive backs Sean Richardson and Casey Hayward. The bigger problem is a schedule with better passing teams to deal with, but there’s enough experience in the defensive backfield to get by. Rob Lohr is among the nation’s best linemen, working at tackle but potentially seeing time on the outside, and there’s upside with Walker May a great-looking pass rushing option. Chase Garnham and Archibald Barnes are good-looking linebackers, but the depth is thin.

7. Kentucky
2012 CFN Prediction: 4-8
2012 SEC Prediction: 1-7

Offense: There’s nowhere to go but up. The production wasn’t exactly flowing two years ago under offensive coordinator Randy Sanders, but it came to an absolute dead stop last season with the third-worst attack in college football. The Wildcats finished 118th in the nation averaging just 260 yards per game and was 117th in scoring averaging just 15.8 points per outing. Making matters worse stat-wise, 68 of the points came against Jacksonville State and Ole Miss with nine game scoring 17 points or fewer. Experience isn’t a problem at the skill positions with several options for each spot including quarterback, where true sophomore Maxwell Smith appears to have taken the job by the horns. There should be a nice rotation at running back and La’Rod King is a good receiver to work the passing game around. The line has promise after an off year, but three new starters including to tackles have to shine right away.
Defense: The defense that finished tenth in the SEC and 58th in the nation did what it could considering the offense didn’t provide any help. Even so, there wasn’t enough of a push into the backfield – nothing new for the UK D – and stopping the run wasn’t always a given. Now the defense has to go on without its two best players, linebacker Danny Trevathan and Winston Guy, and has to hope and pray that a shaky corner situation comes together in a big hurry. Defensive coordinator Rick Minter will try to get more creative and more aggressive with a veteran line that should be decent with a good set of tackles in Donte Rumph and Mister Cobble. The linebacking corps has lots of work to do, but there’s plenty of athleticism to work with, and the safety tandem of Mikie Bendon and Martavius Neloms will be a plus. 

East
- 2012 Florida Preview | 2012 Georgia Preview
- 2012 Kentucky Preview | 2012 Missouri Preview 
- 2012 South Carolina Preview | 2012 Tennessee Preview
- 2012 Vanderbilt Preview

West

- 2012 Alabama Preview | 2012 Arkansas Preview
- 2012 Auburn Preview | 2012 LSU Preview 
- 2012 Mississippi St Preview | 2012 Ole Miss Preview
- 2012 Texas A&M Preview

- 2012 SEC Preview
- 2012 SEC Unit Rankings
- 2012 SEC Schedules & Picks 
- 2012 CFN All-SEC Team & Top 30 Players
- 2012 SEC East Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish  
- 2012 SEC West Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish