2008 SEC Insider Spring Questions
Tennessee RB Arian Foster
Tennessee RB Arian Foster
Posted Mar 9, 2008

With spring ball kicking in, here are some of the SEC's key questions answered by the inside sources, the Scout publishers.

2008 Spring Preview

Key SEC Questions Answered

- 2008 SEC Spring Analysis

Is Casey Dick really the quarterback to do what Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino wants, or is this going to be a year to play for 2009? (Sub-question: If Ryan Mallett is eligible, how much of a look does he really get?)

From Clay Henry, HawgsIllustrated.com

I think if Ryan Mallett is eligible, he will get a good look. I also think Nathan Dick, Casey's younger brother, will be in the mix. He was making a serious push in August when he tore a hip flexor and missed the rest of August workouts. I believe he would have pushed Casey for playing time had he been healthy and properly prepped in the offense.

I am also convinced the offensive problems of the last year were as much because of a lack of weapons at wide receiver and tight end as they were the result of problems at QB. Injuries to Monk, Cleveland and Tuck were blows to an area where there just wasn't much talent or depth.

Are the pieces really in place at Auburn to run the offense like Tony Franklin wants to? Realistically, how much of a transition year is this going to be?

From Mark Murphy, AUTigers.com

From talking to Tony Franklin, I believe he is excited about the possibilities for the 2008 Auburn offense after a successful trial run in which he installed as much as possible in nine practice days leading up to the Chick-fil-A Bowl victory over Clemson.

Auburn returns all five starters on the offensive line and the new offensive coordinator notes that he likes the athleticism and quickness of those players, who look to be a good fit for his system that includes large line splits. Lee Ziemba, Ryan Pugh and Chaz Ramsey were SEC All-Freshman performers and rising senior Tyronne Green is getting looks from NFL scouts.

A big plus for Franklin is returning a pair of talented junior tight ends, Gabe McKenzie and Tommy Trott. Franklin likes to get the football to the tight ends if he has talented ones, and that is something he didn't have at Troy.

Another thing missing from the equation at Troy was talented running backs and with Brad Lester, Ben Tate, Mario Fannin and Tristan Davis returning, that should be a team strength this fall. Look for Fannin to be featured in the passing game, too.

A big key to success of Franklin's system will be how the wide receivers adapt to the new offense. Rod Smith has proven to be a steady performer, but no player has emerged as an All-SEC caliber performer from a large group that includes Montez Billings, Robert Dunn, Chris Slaughter, James, Swinton, Terrell Zachery and Quindarius Carr, who was redshirted last fall as a freshman.

Kodi Burns, who played well in the bowl game, looks to be a good fit for the system at quarterback. JUCO transfer Chris Todd, who ran Franklin's offense in high school, will be battling for the starting spot held by Brandon Cox the past three years. Neil Caudle, who has been set back by a series of injuries, is finally healthy
going into his redshirt sophomore season.

Are the Georgia expectations out of control? Considering the schedule, a national title run isn’t a given. Is this the year Matthew Stafford becomes the next-level player everyone’s expecting him to be?

From Dean Legge, DawgPost.com

Expectations are not out of control. This is a big-time program which has won big-time games. It just happened that the two year they won the SEC they would not have played in the national championship anyway because the two teams there were undefeated and started the season in front of them (2002 Ohio State vs. Miami; 2005 Texas vs. Southern Cal).  Georgia has been one of the most consistent programs in the country over the last seven years – a national title is all that’s missing.


The schedule is difficult – welcome to the SEC – nothing is new there. Georgia will have to navigate difficult road games, but that’s the case pretty much every season. The road hasn’t usually been the problem, however, so they need to be wary of home games against Alabama, Tennessee and other upset-minded teams. As always Florida and Auburn loom late.


Matthew Stafford is an NFL quarterback playing college football for a team that likes to run the ball, play defense and kick the ball. He’s not going to put up the numbers to make the national boys happy; he just wins a lot of football games – that counts for something. Tim Tebow’s numbers were out of control – Florida finished third in the East. It’s about winning, and Stafford understands that.

With Michael Henig gone at Mississippi State, can Wesley Carroll improve enough to make the offense more than just along for the ride?

From Gene Swindoll, Publisher of GenesPage/Dawgs' Bite mississippistate.scout.com

As a true freshman Wes Carroll helped lead the Mississippi State Bulldogs to their first winning season in seven years.  In his nine starts, the ‘Dogs record were 6 and 3, which included a 3-2 record in Southeastern Conference play. The Bulldog offense scored 30 or more points in five of their thirteen games. Four of those five contests were with Wes as the starting quarterback. And most people don’t know that he did this while recovering from shoulder surgery and a hamstring injury.

Fast-forward to the spring of 2008 and a new and improved Wes Carroll is now available. His shoulder and hamstring are 100% healthy. He has gain significant muscle mass. And he’s got a year’s worth of SEC experience under his belt. In addition to Wes, add in six returning starters on the offensive unit as well as two other players who played as much as the just-graduated starters and you have the makings of a much-improved Bulldog offense.

What's going to happen to the Tennessee offense without David Cutcliffe? Is the fan base rumbling at all after an average recruiting class?

From Randy Moore, Inside Tennessee 

Tennessee's offense will change as much as Phil Fulmer allows it to change. Close friend David Cutcliffe essentially had total freedom over the offense in 2006 and 2007, and Tennessee threw the ball probably more than Fulmer wanted. Odds are, the Vols will go back to "pounding the rock" in 2008, whether new offensive coordinator Dave Clawson wants to or not. Clawson will bring in some new ideas but don't look for wholesale changes in a UT offense that hasn't changed significantly since Fulmer was the offensive coordinator from 1989-92. Probably the biggest change is that the Vols have a little more mobility at quarterback, now that Jonathan Crompton will be replacing the statue-like Erik Ainge.
The fan base is split following an unusually low-ranked recruiting class. Fulmer's critics are saying this class proves he can no longer coach OR recruit. Fulmer's apologists are convinced this class is full of sleepers just waiting to blossom. The average fan is taking a wait-and-see attitude.