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2012 SEC Preview - West Breakdowns & Picks
Auburn RB Onterio McCalebb
Auburn RB Onterio McCalebb
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 13, 2012


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


Preview 2012

SEC West 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. LSU
2012 CFN Prediction: 12-0
2012 SEC Prediction: 8-0

Offense: All that was missing last year was the threat of a passing game. The Tigers were able to charge through the season with a very simple formula: start running, come up with the efficient throw now and then, and then keep running with big back after big back behind a powerful line that wore down every defense but Alabama’s. Now the job is to stick with what worked while throwing in a little bit more of a deep passing game with pro-style passer Zach Mettenberger taking over at quarterback for Jordan Jefferson. The stable of running backs is very deep and very talented; the offensive line full of size and experience; and the receiving corps, even with the loss of Rueben Randle and TE Deangelo Peterson, should flourish with more downfield throws.
Defense: The LSU defense has been among the best in the nation over the last several years, and last season it took things to another level with a dominant defensive front, a phenomenal secondary, and a solid linebacking corps with it all adding up to a group that allowed just 262 yards and 11.3 points per game. There are some massive losses, including Thorpe-winning corner Morris Claiborne, Tyrann Mathieu and star tackle Michael Brockers, but defensive coordinator John Chavis is locked up with a whopper of a contract to keep him around. If the outside linebackers can shine early, the starting 11 will be as good as any in college football, but there are experience and depth issues everyone except at tackle. No one’s running on this line, and the secondary will be terrific if everyone can stay healthy, but the linebackers are a bit thin. This won’t be the defense it was last year, but it won’t be too far off.

2. Alabama
2012 CFN Prediction: 11-1
2012 SEC Prediction: 7-1

Offense: New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier has some work to do. Last year the defense didn’t allow more than 14 points against anyone but Georgia Southern, and this season it’s not like the Tide offense has to do anything more than be ultra-conservative, score a few times and go home with a win, but QB AJ McCarron will be allowed to open it up a little bit more. He’s not going to start chucking it all over the field, but he’ll be allowed to take a few more shots down the field to a green but fast receiving corps. However, his main job will be to keep the chains moving and to make sure the running game is working. The Tide has five excellent backs to work in a rotation behind the most talented line in college football. The O line depth might be lacking and there will be problems if injuries strike, but there are four sure-thing NFL starters up front to pave the way for a ground game that should once again be among the best in the SEC.
Defense: Alabama’s defense didn’t play anyone with a passing game other than Arkansas – giving up 209 yards through the air in the blowout win – but it was still a dominant season no matter what finishing No. 1 in total defense, scoring defense, run defense and pass defense. While there might be a slight step back after losing Dont’a Hightower, Mark Barron, Courtney Upshaw, Dre Kirkpatrick and Josh Chapman, this is still going to be among the nation’s best defenses with a who’s who of superstar prospects across the board. Everything starts up front with future NFL anchor Jesse Williams on the nose to go along with very strong, very tough run stoppers on the front three. The linebacking corps will be every big as dominant with a swarming group of athletes who’ll keep the big plays to a bare minimum. There might be a few question marks in the secondary, but don’t expect much of a drop-off, if any, with Dee Milliner one of the nation’s top corners and a nice influx of JUCO transfers and star recruits to help fill in the gaps.

T3. Arkansas
2012 CFN Prediction: 9-3
2012 SEC Prediction: 5-3

Offense: There might be a new head coach, but offensive coordinator Paul Petrino is around to keep the attack rolling. In a league full of mediocre offenses, Arkansas was dominant finishing first in total offense, scoring offense, passing offense and passing efficiency. With quarterback Tyler Wilson choosing to put off the NFL for one more year, and with All-America caliber running back Knile Davis returning from missing all of last year hurt, the backfield is set. The running game should be dominant with several terrific options ready to work in a rotation with Davis, while the line should be fine after getting a little while to gel. The receiving corps might be the concern with Jarius Wright, Joe Adams and Greg Childs gone, but Cobi Hamilton and tight end Chris Gregg are great pieces to start with, and the offense and Wilson will make everyone shine.
Defense: There might be a new head coach, but offensive coordinator Paul Petrino is around to keep the attack rolling. In a league full of mediocre offenses, Arkansas was dominant finishing first in total offense, scoring offense, passing offense and passing efficiency. With quarterback Tyler Wilson choosing to put off the NFL for one more year, and with All-America caliber running back Knile Davis returning from missing all of last year hurt, the backfield is set. The running game should be dominant with several terrific options ready to work in a rotation with Davis, while the line should be fine after getting a little while to gel. The receiving corps might be the concern with Jarius Wright, Joe Adams and Greg Childs gone, but Cobi Hamilton and tight end Chris Gregg are great pieces to start with, and the offense and Wilson will make everyone shine.

T3. Texas A&M
2012 CFN Prediction: 9-3
2012 SEC Prediction: 5-3

Offense: Will Kevin Sumlin and offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury be able to run the high-octane attack in the SEC? The Aggies threw the ball 537 times last year and was able to keep up the pace in the Big 12, but now it’ll have to be prepared to go against some of the best defenses in the country. Everything will start with a phenomenal line that was among the best in the nation last year and gets five starters back. There’s NFL talent to go along with the experience, but it’ll have to go from being a good all-around group to a steady pass blocking unit. It’ll be a race for the starting quarterback job with several terrific options to choose from, led by big-armed sophomore Jameill Showers. The receiving corps will be more than fine with a little bit of time, but the backfield is an issue with star back Christine Michael coming back from a torn ACL and Oklahoma transfer Brandon Williams likely to have to wait until next year before he’s eligible.
Defense: Welcome to the 4-3. New defensive coordinator Mark Snyder is about to change things up to a more conventional attack, but the hope is to continue to get unconventional production out of a pass rush that finished first in the nation with 51 sacks to go along with 104 tackles for loss. The problem was that all the disruption didn’t mean anything to a secondary that was obliterated early on and finished 109th in the nation. This year’s defensive backfield is a bit green with three sophomores likely starting. The defensive line needs work but it’s athletic enough to get to the quarterback, while the linebackers should be phenomenal with Sean Porter and Steven Jenkins pass rushing phenoms on the outside and with Jonathan Stewart a rising star in the middle.

T5. Auburn
2012 CFN Prediction: 7-5
2012 SEC Prediction: 3-5

Offense: New offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler will change things up a bit from the Gus Malzahn era. There should be more from the passing game and a better balance, but that can only happen if the young – but talented – line can start to pass protect a little better. The quarterback situation will be under the spotlight all season long with Kiehl Frazier and Clint Moseley two good passers who can get the ball down the field, and now the veteran receiving corps has to start making more consistent plays. Philip Lutzenkirchen is on the verge of being one of the nation’s elite tight ends, while Emory Blake is a good deep threat receiver to stretch the field. It will take a committee to replace Michael Dyer with a solid rotation of talented backs in place to make the running game even more of a positive.
Defense: New defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder isn’t going to change up much, but it will be his job to get more out of a group that suffered through too many growing pains on the way to finishing with the second-worst defense in the SEC. There was going to be a drop off in some ways from the national championship D, but the secondary was actually a wee bit better despite getting burned time and again for big plays. The front seven should get more from the pass rush with Corey Lemonier and Dee Ford a potentially devastating pair on the outside. However, the promising defensive tackle prospect brought in over the last few seasons have to be far better. The linebacking corps is a liability outside of Daren Bates, but it’s an athletic group that can swarm around the ball.

T5. Miss State
2012 CFN Prediction: 7-5
2012 SEC Prediction: 3-5

Offense: Offensive coordinator Vic Koenning might need to change things up a little bit to match the personnel. Last year, dual-threat quarterback Chris Relf and workhorse running back Vick Ballard carried the offensive workload, but now the passing game could get a bit more work. Tyler Russell is more of a pro-style passer who gets all of the top targets from last year back. There’s athleticism and potential at wide receiver, and now everyone will get used a bit more. The running game won’t be forgotten about with a rotation of four good backs working behind a decent line. The interior of the front five will be strong, but both starting tackles have to be replaced.
Defense: The defense kept up its end of the bargain last season getting blasted by Auburn and Arkansas and holding up well against just about everyone else – including LSU and Alabama. Now the production should be even better led by a loaded secondary led by All-America candidate Johnthan Banks at one corner. The linebacking corps that was supposed to be a concern last year turned into a strength as the season went on, and now it should be dynamite on the outside with Cameron Lawrence about to get more recognition as one of the SEC’s best defenders. Despite losing tackle Fletcher Cox up front, the line shouldn’t have any problems getting into the backfield and might have found a pass rushing superstar on the outside in JUCO transfer Denico Autry.

7. Ole Miss
2012 CFN Prediction: 3-9
2012 SEC Prediction: 0-8

Offense: Co-coordinators Matt Luke and Dan Werner have lots and lots of work to do to implement the Hugh Freeze spread offense. The first step will be to generate production from a line that failed to generate any sort of a push for the running game, was awful in pass protection and isn’t built to work a spread offensive attack. The quarterback situation is up in the air with three options and last year’s top passer – Randall Mackey – moving to help out a mediocre receiver situation. The running backs are really, really thin behind the diminutive Jeff Scott, who has to get past some academic issues and can’t be used as a workhorse. There’s athleticism and speed among the skill players, and the line is massive, but the offense that finished 116th in the nation in scoring and 114th in yards has to find something it can do right early on.
Defense: Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack has an interesting group to play around with. The line is still rebuilding from a miserable season, but if everyone is healthy and academically eligible the back seven could be terrific. But how will the alignment look? There’s a glut of veteran linebackers for possibly two spots in a 4-2-5 scheme, but at times the second linebacker – the Stinger – will be built like a corner giving the Rebels a 4-1-6 look. However, if D.J. Shackelford can get back from a knee problem he’ll combine with Mike Marry to make an NFL-sized duo at linebacker. Safety Charles Sawyer leads a promising secondary that could be terrific if the line can come up with any sort of a pass rush. And there’s the problem. The Rebel front four has to hold up against the run and has to find someone who can get to a quarterback.
 
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