2007 CFN SEC Preview
Offenses, Defenses & Depth Charts
South Carolina |
Ole Miss |
CFN All-SEC Team &
Top 30 Players
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Really, how good is
No one can deny it’s the best conference going at the moment. No one can
deny that the overall speed and talent level is tremendous. The weekly
drama is unparalleled, thanks to so many good match-ups, and the overall
competition is so tough that it’s just about impossible to get through
unscathed. So after the way Florida blew up Ohio State to win the
national title, will the conference start to get every benefit of the
doubt? It should.
Of all the national champions since Florida State won in 1993 (remember
that only the BCS champions count in our new world…sorry USC of 2003),
only three finished with a loss. Take a wild stab at which league
produced those three; yes, the SEC (1995 Florida, 2003 LSU, and 2006
Florida). You can understand why Auburn fans are still angry after their
unbeaten team got left out in the cold in 2004. The SEC has proven time
and again that when given the chance, it shines through on the highest
But really, how good is the SEC?
To feed the ego a little more, the league has gone 7-1 in the BCS since
2001, with two national titles, and the lone blemish was Georgia’s 38-35
upset loss to West Virginia in the 2006 Sugar Bowl. In that same time
span, the Big Ten went 4-6 (with Ohio State winning three of those), the
Big 12 went 3-6, and the ACC was 0-6.
Remember, it took USC losing to UCLA and a sizable portion of the voters
to go against Michigan just to get Florida in the championship game.
Maybe it’s time to start weighing the strength of schedule more when it
comes to the SEC, and to realize that a one-loss team here could be the
equivalent of an unbeaten team from another conference. That might
especially be the case this season.
Things have gotten even tougher, with normal bottom-feeders Kentucky and
Vanderbilt now good enough to go to a bowl. Ole Miss and Mississippi
State are even better than in 2006, when they were more than just
competitive by the end the season. And then, of course, there are all
the big-name programs.
Georgia is getting better with QB Matthew Stafford improving, South
Carolina will be better than it’s been in several years, Arkansas has
the best running back tandem in the nation, Auburn will be typical
Auburn with a fast, nasty defense, Tennessee will be strong again (as
long as the receiving corps comes through), and LSU and Florida will
open the season ranked among the top five teams in the nation.
How good is the SEC? It’s still the best, and it’s only getting better.
Team That'll Surprise
Vanderbilt. This is the year. This is the year Vanderbilt finally
breaks the drought and goes to its first bowl game since the 1982 Hall
of Fame Classic (which it lost to Air Force). While their SEC record
won’t be anything to swoon over, the Commodores will go 4-0 in
non-conference play (Richmond, Eastern Michigan, Miami University and
Wake Forest) and will come up with just enough league wins to get it
Team That'll Disappoint
Florida. Even though they’ll be ranked in just about everyone’s top five
to start the season, the Gators have to rebuild almost the entire
defense while hoping for the hyperkinetic Tim Tebow to lead the offense
as effectively as Chris Leak did (at least when it counted). Even with
as much raw talent as anyone in America, this team isn’t going to win
all those close games two years in a row.
Offensive Player of the Year
RB Darren McFadden, Jr. Arkansas. The coaching staff realizes who the
franchise is. In the Hogs’ “Wildcat” package, McFadden will see more
time at quarterback, just to get the ball in his hands as much as
possible. He’d be a threat to tear off a 68-yard touchdown as a
Defensive Player of the Year
DT Glenn Dorsey, Sr. LSU. Does anyone crank out top defensive tackles
like LSU? One after another…the place is a factory for All-Americans,
and Dorsey has continued the trend, coming off a phenomenal season as
the team’s anchor. Eschewing the NFL for a year, he’ll be the key piece
to a possible national title puzzle.
5 Big-Time Players Who Deserve a Bigger Spotlight ...
1. LB Jasper Brinkley, Sr. South Carolina
2. DL Titus Brown, Sr. Mississippi State
3. OL Antoine Caldwell, Jr. Alabama
4. OL Michael Oher, Jr. Ole Miss
5. LB Wesley Woodyard, Sr. Kentucky
Coach on the Hot Seat
Mississippi State – Croom hasn’t exactly turned things around, going
9-25 in three seasons. His Bulldogs won’t win the SEC this season, but
they’d better flirt with a winning season or the program might have to
rebuild yet again.
5 Non-Conference Games the SEC had better take very, very seriously
1. South Florida at Auburn, Sept. 8
2. South Carolina at North Carolina, Oct. 13
3. Southern Miss at Tennessee, Sept. 8
4. Houston at Alabama, Oct. 6
5. Miami University at Vanderbilt, Oct. 27
5 Best Pro Prospects
1. RB Darren McFadden, Jr. Arkansas
2. DT Glenn Dorsey, Sr. LSU
3. QB Andre Woodson, Sr. Kentucky
4. DE Derrick Harvey, Jr. Florida
5. WR Earl Bennett, Jr. Vanderbilt
5 Biggest Shoes to Fill
1. Matt Flynn for JaMarcus Russell, QB LSU
2. Jonathan Cornell for Patrick Willis, LB Ole Miss
3. Lucas Taylor for Robert Meachem, WR Tennessee
4. Tim Tebow for Chris Leak, QB Florida
5. Kyle Jackson for Reggie Nelson, S Florida
1. Florida will be terrific and will have a much easier schedule, but
it’ll still lose three games. It’s easy to forget now after the dominant
performance against Ohio State, but the 2006 Gators won five games by
seven points or less. This year, the retooled national champions will
lose at LSU, in a shootout at Kentucky, and in an emotionally-charged
war at South Carolina.
2. Nick Saban won’t mean that much for Alabama right away. Just because
Saban’s in Tuscaloosa, that doesn’t mean the rest of the SEC will be
appreciably worse. There are just enough easy games to mean a bowl
appearance, but Saban won’t be earning that big payday until at least
next year, when his recruiting classes start to kick in.
3. Steve Spurrier will have his big year with the type of season South Carolina fans have been waiting for. He
has just enough experience on both sides of the ball, and a veteran
quarterback in Blake Mitchell, to be a real live threat to win the SEC
East. Road games at Georgia, LSU, Tennessee and Arkansas will keep this
from being a title season, but South Carolina will set the stage to be
the “it” team of 2008.
4. There will be at least three new head coaches next year at this time.
Croom will be gone from MSU, only because the record simply won’t be up
to snuff. Houston Nutt won’t be at Arkansas, as the program will want to
go a different direction after a decent, but not fantastic year. The
5. Some NFL team will open up the bank vault to Urban Meyer. While he’ll
have a tough time leaving Gainesville and a team poised to win the 2008
national title, the money, power, and opportunity in the big league will
be too great to pass up. Think Cleveland Browns.
What Will Happen
- LSU will play for the national title. Forget all that stuff about
a team from the SEC not being able to go unbeaten. LSU has the schedule
(with the toughest road game at Alabama) to battle its way through to
the championship game. Where’s the 2008 BCS Championship Game being
played? New Orleans.
- Tennessee will lose at Florida and at Kentucky, but it’ll beat
Georgia, who’ll lose to Florida, to win the East and play LSU for the
- Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, South
Carolina, Tennessee, and yes, Vanderbilt, will go bowling.