2013 SEC Preview - West Team Breakdown
Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace
Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace
Posted Aug 6, 2013

Preview 2013 - CFN West Team By Team Quick Looks and Predicted Finish

Preview 2013

SEC West Team By Team

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- 2013 SEC West Team Looks & Predicted Finish
1. Alabama
2013 CFN Prediction: 11-1
2013 SEC Prediction: 7-1

Offense: Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier isn't going to change things up too much, but there might be a little bit of tweaking with so much talent to work with. This will be one of the most efficient and effective offenses in college football, but it'll have to be consistent again, too, despite some huge losses up front. As good as the 2012 line was – it was as talented as any front five in the history of the game – it wasn't always a rock in pass protection and it wasn't always as dominant for the ground game as history will show. Fortunately, tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and guard Anthony Steen are back as building blocks to work around, and if the line is good, the offense should dominate. Quarterback AJ McCarron is the unquestioned leader now, and he has an embarrassing array of riches to work with helped by a loaded recruiting class. T.J. Yeldon is one of the SEC's most effective backs, Amari Cooper is one of the most dangerous receivers, and there's more NFL talent waiting in the wings to show what it can do.

Defense: Ho hum. Once again, Alabama finished No. 1 in the nation in total defense, run defense and scoring defense despite losing a slew of NFL talent and having to revamp and reload in several key areas. This was supposed to be the year everything came together, and the potential is there to be even nastier as long as the secondary has a decent season. It struggled when LSU's Zach Mettenberger was on fire and Johnny Manziel was Johnny Manziel, but for the most part the defensive backfield was terrific. However, Dee Milliner is gone to the NFL and the corner situation is a wee bit shaky. Fortunately, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and the safeties should pick up the slack. The line has to replace Jesse Williams on the nose, but Ed Stinson leads another big, fast, pro-quality group of defensive tackles working on the front three. The real strength is at linebacker where just about everyone returns including C.J. Mosley and Trey DePriest on the inside and pass rusher Adrian Hubbard along with Xzavier Dickson outside. It's a rare problem to have; Alabama has too many good linebackers for the 3-4 scheme.

2013 CFN Prediction: 10-2
2013 SEC Prediction: 6-2

: The offense simply couldn't score touchdowns in the red zone. While the Tigers finished 36th in the nation in red zone scoring, that figure plummeted to 104th when it came to scoring six. It was even worse on the road, where it dropped to 114th and didn't come through in key moments. LSU may have struggled in 2012 with a patchwork offensive line, an inexperienced quarterback and a receiving corps that took the first half of the season off, but the talent, experience and upside is there to be far better. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger appears ready to take his game to another level behind a terrific line and with the usual array of fantastic skill players to work with.

Defense: Despite finishing eighth in the nation, 2012 was still a step backwards for the LSU defense from 2011. How much so? There were fewer tackles for loss, fewer sacks, forced less fumbles, allowed opposing quarterbacks a better passing completion percentage, more passing yards, twice as many passing touchdowns, almost half a yard more per run, twice as many rushing touchdowns, and more total rushing yards. And now the D has to replace seven starters including leading tackler Kevin Minter, All-America safety Eric Reid, and all four starting defensive lineman. Experience is clearly the question mark, but defensive coordinator John Chavis rotates so much of his roster during games, a lack of starting experience means less in than for most programs. Overall it might take a little while, but the defense should improve as the season goes on.

T2. Texas A&M
2013 CFN Prediction: 10-2
2013 SEC Prediction: 6-2

Offense: Kliff Kingsbury left his offensive coordinator job to take over the head coaching gig at Texas Tech, and now it's Clarence McKinney's job to keep the machine humming. Not only did Texas A&M take the SEC by storm, it blew the league away finishing first in total offense, scoring offense, rushing offense and passing offense helped by the unbelievable Heisman-winning season from Johnny Manziel. While he made all the highlights as a runner, as long as he's eligible, he'll likely turn into more of a passer with a loaded group of backs to hands off to. Ben Malena is a good returning starter, but Oklahoma transfer Brandon Williams is special and Oregon transfer Tra Carson is fantastic. The receiving corps needs some seasoning with replacements needed to help out leading target Mike Evans, but the 2013 recruiting class was special. Jake Matthews might be the best pro prospect in college football, and he'll show it at left tackle as the anchor of a good line that will still be fantastic even if it takes a step back.

Defense: Defensive coordinator Mark Snyder changed things up last year to a more conventional scheme, and the results were good enough. The pass rush might not have been as dominant as it was in the Big 12, but the secondary stopped giving up so many big plays. The front seven is loaded with athletes and should be able to get into the backfield on a regular basis, and the results will show for a defensive backfield that might not be full of stars, but will be solid. The key will be versatility, with lots of room to play around with both the linebacking corps and the secondary, and if nothing else, everyone will get around the ball without a problem.

T4. Ole Miss
2013 CFN Prediction: 6-6
2013 SEC Prediction: 3-5

Offense: The offense that was trying to put the pieces together in Hugh Freeze's first year should be far sharper and more explosive with eight starters returning along with a slew of terrific new recruits for offensive coordinators Matt Luke and Dan Werner to play around with. The quarterback situation that was a bit of a question mark going into last season should be settled with Bo Wallace at the helm, but he has to cut down on his interceptions and needs more time to work behind a leaky line. The offensive front gets back four starters, but it has to be far better in pass protection. Jeff Scott leads a lightning-fast group of young and talented runners, while Donte Moncrief should be an All-SEC talent in a receiving corps that gets everyone back.

Defense: Why did Ole Miss go from 2-10 to 7-6? The defense made a night-and-day improvement with a massive turnaround in the pass rush and with more production against the run going from last in the SEC to allowing almost 100 fewer yards per game. Defensive coordinators Jason Jones and Dave Wommack bring the heat with a smallish line full of speedsters able to fly into the backfield from all spots. End C.J. Johnson leads a loaded line, but the tackles are a bit light. Denzel Nkemdiche and Mike Marry head a brilliant group of linebackers who can pop. The secondary gets back everyone of note, but the pass defense has to be stronger against the deep plays considering the pass rush will do the job up front.

T4. Mississippi State
2013 CFN Prediction: 6-6
2013 SEC Prediction: 3-5

Offense: Offensive coordinator Les Koenning has the skill and talent to work with to take the attack even further after a nice season. Cranking out 382 yards and 29.5 points per game might not seem like much, but in the SEC world the overall numbers were down-the-middle solid. The emergence of quarterback Tyler Russell took the passing game to another level, and he was helped by an improved line that did a nice job last year and welcomes back four starters including All-America-caliber guard Gabe Jackson. LaDarius Perkins leads a nice group of running backs that should shine behind the veteran line, but work needs to be done with a receiving corps that has to replace everyone. Tight end Malcolm Johnson should become a more dangerous factor, but the new starting receivers will be fine, too, with a little bit of time.

Defense: Get into the backfield and do nasty things. That's the demand from defensive coordinator Geoff Collins to his D that's full of veterans who struggled to get to the quarterback on a regular basis. This is a strong, athletic defense that should be able to use the front seven to swarm, and there's no excuse to not be better against the run with a great rotation up front. The secondary might be a bit of a concern after losing Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay, and that's where the improved pass rush will hopefully kick in.

T5. Arkansas
2013 CFN Prediction: 6-6
2013 SEC Prediction: 2-6

Offense: Don't expect the stunning efficiency and brutish power of the Wisconsin offense quite yet. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney will want to get the passing game moving in a balanced attack that can do a variety of things well, but Bret Bielema likes the power game and he likes to control games with a ground attack that beats people up. The running backs are there with super-recruit Alex Collins joining Jonathan Williams and a good backfield that should move on and be fine without Dennis Johnson and Knile Davis. Can the line start to blow people off the ball? After finishing dead last in the SEC and 104th in the nation in rushing, there's work to do. Brandon Allen is a decent quarterback prospect, but he needs help from a revamped receiving corps that loses Cobi Hamilton.

Defense: There's an interesting mix of talents that have to come together in a big hurry. Defensive coordinator Chris Ash inherits a loaded defensive front that should be able to hold its own with any SEC offensive line. The pass rush should be terrific with the combination of Chris Smith and Trey Flowers on the end, while there's terrific size to play around with in the interior. However, the front four will have to make up for the concerns in the back seven. The secondary gets everyone back from a group that got lit up by a Christmas tree finishing last in the league in pass defense and pass efficiency defense. The linebacking corps has to replace all three starters, but it's full of upperclassmen and brings in a few good JUCO transfers.

T5. Auburn
2013 CFN Prediction: 6-6
2013 SEC Prediction: 2-6

Offense: Last in the SEC in total offense, 112th in the nation in scoring and pass offense, last in sacks allowed – enough of that. Gus Malzahn is back at the helm with co-offensive coordinators Rhett Lashlee and Dameyune Craig ready to change things around in a big hurry. The talent across the board is undeniable with a roster loaded with four and five-star talents who haven't come close to reaching their potential. The line has a world of upside and the receiving corps has prototype size/speed ratio targets, but someone needs to get them the ball on a regular basis with the quarterback situation an ongoing fight. Running back Tre Mason is a good piece of the puzzle to work around, but with the offense about to go into hyperdrive with the pace cranked up, getting steady quarterback play is a must.

Defense: The woes on offense were one thing considering all the talents were trying to figure out what to do, but the defense's problems were unacceptable considering 2011 was supposed to be the rebuilding year. The pass rush was non-existent at times, the front seven was like tissue paper against the run, and the entire D came up with a grand total of two interceptions. Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson is changing things up to a 4-2-5 alignment to try be far more active and far more disruptive. The talent is undeniable on the line with Dee Ford leading a deep and athletic group. The secondary has experience, but playmakers have to emerge around corner Chris Davis, who's great in coverage but doesn't pick off passes. The linebackers will be asked to hold up against the run, and veteran Jake Holland can do that.