2008 CFN SEC Team Capsules
Arkansas C Jonathan Luigs
Arkansas C Jonathan Luigs
Posted Aug 3, 2008

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East Florida | Georgia | Kentucky | South Carolina | Tennessee | Vanderbilt 
West Alabama | Arkansas | Auburn | LSU | Ole Miss | Miss State

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SEC Championship: Florida over LSU


T1. Florida
Predicted record: 10-2  Conf. record: 6-2
Best Offensive Player:
QB Tim Tebow, Jr.
Best Defensive Player:
LB Brandon Spikes, Jr.
Offense: There are a lot of health concerns, but if and when everyone is 100%, this will be one college football's most devastating attacks. It all starts with Heisman winner Tim Tebow, who likely won't put up the stats he cranked out last year but could be a better passer as the coaching staff looks to keep its star fresh by limiting his workload. There will be more of a quarterback rotation and far more help from a four-headed monster at running back led by Kestahn Moore and USC transfer Emmanuel Moody to go along with speedsters Chris Rainey and Brandon James. Percy Harvin is one of the nation's most devastating playmakers, while the rest of the receiving corps should be unstoppable. The key will be a line with two very good, but very banged up seniors, Phil Trautwein and Jim Tartt, leading a talented group of underclassmen.
Defense:  Florida weathered the storm of last year when it needed to replace nine starters. The pass defense was abysmal, and while the run defense was tenth in the nation and first in the SEC, that's partly because everyone was stretching out the passing game legs on the green secondary. Now the defensive backfield should be far better as corners Wondy Pierre-Louis and Joe Haden should be much better, and FS Major Wright could grow into an all-star. The problem is the secondary depth; there isn't much, especially at safety. That, along with the potential for disaster at tackle with two true freshmen, Omar Hunter and Matt Patchan, needing to be stars, could be the difference between a good season and a potential national championship. Brandon Spikes leads a tremendous linebacking corps and the ends, especially rising star Carlos Dunlap, will be phenomenal.

T1. Georgia
Predicted record: 10-2  Conf. record: 6-2
Best Offensive Player:
RB Knowshon Moreno, Soph.
Best Defensive Player:
CB Asher Allen, Jr.
Offense: The offense was opportunistic and it put points on the board, but it didn't move the ball nearly as well as you'd think considering the team put up 40 or more points six times. It was a balanced attack, but it's no coincidence the season changed and the Dawgs got good, really good, once the young offensive line fully jelled and RB Knowshon Moreno turned into a superstar. There's as much talent and potential on the three-deep depth chart as any team in America, but for all the promise and all the high school accolades, there are still question marks. Will the receivers start producing on a regular basis, or will they just look the part without really being the devastating group they should be? Will QB Matthew Stafford fulfill his destiny and become a top pro prospect? Will all the redshirt freshmen from a terrific 2007 class be ready for primetime right away? There are simply too many good players to be 74th in the nation in total offense again, and with a line like the Bulldogs have, and with the talent in the backfield, it won't be.
Defense: Considering last season was supposed to be a problem with no experience and several holes to fill, finishing 14th in the nation in total defense and 18th in scoring D, allowing 323 yards and 20 points per game, showed how quickly the team rebuilds. Now the defense is loaded with former high school all-stars who have grown into great college players. There's depth, options, and the potential for an even better rotation with a loaded defense that'll be dominant at times. The only downside is the lack of a sure-thing pass rushing end, with Marcus Howard gone, but there will be pressure from all four spots up front, led by the tackle pair of Geno Atkins and Jeff Owens, while the linebacking corps will be solid, if not spectacular. The secondary grew into something special by the end of the year, and now it should be terrific led by soon-to-be all-stars CB Asher Allen and FS Reshad Jones.

T3. South Carolina
Predicted record: 8-4  Conf. record: 5-3
Best Offensive Player:
WR Kenny McKinley, Sr.
Best Defensive Player:
LB Jasper Brinkley, Sr.
Offense: Steve Spurrier Jr. will call the plays and run the offense. Really. He needs the line to come through with a far better, and far healthier year so everyone else can work. The big issue is the quarterback situation with Tommy Beecher, Chris Smelley, and troubled, suspended Stephen Garcia all being considered for the job, and it won't be settled until fall. Kenny McKinley might be the SEC's best receiver, and Jared Cook is growing into a top tight end and a key No. 2 target. Mike Davis and Brian Maddox aren't speed backs, but they'll be productive if the line is better.
Defense: A major disappointment last year thanks to a slew of injury problems, the D is loaded and could be among the best in the SEC if everyone can stay on the field. The biggest boost is the return of LB Jasper Brinkley after suffering a knee injury, while the linebacking corps will undergo a bit of a change with end Eric Norwood swapping spots with LB Cliff Matthews. There's plenty of star power with Brinkley, Norwood, CB Captain Munnerlyn, SS Emanuel Cook, and DT Ladi Ajiboye all certain to earn all-star honors, and now someone has to stop the run. USC finished first in the SEC in pass defense, but that's partly because everyone pounded the ball. That should change with massive size in the front seven and most of the key parts healthy again.

T3. Tennessee
Predicted record: 9-3  Conf. record: 5-3
Best Offensive Player:
RB Arian Foster, Sr.
Best Defensive Player:
SS Eric Berry, Soph.
Offense: Welcome to the Dave Clawson era. The former Richmond head coach has taken over the offensive coordinator reins from David Cutcliffe and while he's not going to overhaul the solid attack, he's going to change things up a bit. He'll add more to the running game giving the offensive line a chance to be more physical and use more power than it did under the Cutcliffe finesse attack. Fortunately he has the line to do it. The Vols won't give up just four sacks again, but it'll do more for the running game and with five starters returning and a slew of good backups, it should be dominant. Lucas Taylor and the receiving corps are promising, and Arian Foster leads a strong group of running backs who should thrive with the new tweaks. And then there's the quarterback. Can Jonathan Crompton be the player he was throughout spring ball? If so, the offense will be unstoppable. The only real concern is at fullback where David Holbert was supposed to help the power game before hurting his knee. Kevin Cooper needs to be the blocker who helps add more balance to the offense.
Defense: There's an interesting mix of superstars, pedestrian talents, and overhyped prep prospects who never lived up to their billing. While all top teams have that, it's more pronounced on the Tennessee defense that'll boast the phenomenal safety tandem of Eric Berry and Demitrice Morley and a fantastic outside linebacker in Rico McCoy, but could be woefully lacking at the other linebacker positions and is strangely mediocre on the line. Tackles Dan Williams and Demonte Bolden are fine, but the defense desperately needs to generate more of a pass rush after struggling to get into the backfield last year. Defensive coordinator John Chavis might have to find ways to manufacture pressure from different places. The secondary should be able to handle the stress, but it would be nice if the ends could get to the quarterback on their own.

5. Kentucky
Predicted record: 5-7  Conf. record: 2-6
Best Offensive Player:
OT Garry Williams, Sr.
Best Defensive Player:
DE Jeremy Jarmon, Jr.
Offense: Everyone of note has to be replaced. QB Andre Woodson and his 40 touchdown passes. gone. Keenan Burton, Steve Johnson and Jacob Tamme, who combined for 182 catches and 28 touchdowns ... gone. Leading rusher Rafael Little, who also caught 42 passes, is also gone. However, there's tremendous speed returning at receiver and running back with Alfonso Smith about to become the back the offense can work around. Derrick Locke isn't a bad second option. Dicky Lyons is the one returning receiver of note, but he has to prove he's a No. 1. The line, led by all-star tackle Garry Williams, is experienced, but it has to be far, far better in pass protection to give the new starting quarterback time. And there's the problem. With Curtis Pulley booted from the team, it's now up to Mike Hartline, and he didn't exactly rock the Casbah in practices. He'll be decent, but he has to be great for an offense that led the SEC in passing in each of the last two seasons.
Defense: This is a promising, talented defense that can't finish last in the SEC in scoring D and tenth in total defense again. Has there ever been this much talent on a Kentucky defense? DE Jeremy Jarmon and CB Trevard Lindley will each go in the top 50 picks whenever they come out, while DT Myron Pryor, DE/DT Ventrell Jenkins, and a few others should see time in NFL camps. The line is very big, and very promising, and very underwhelming when it comes to production so far. The pass rush wasn't there last year and the run defense had way too many problems. The secondary was night-and-day better after a nightmare of a 2006, and now it should be even better if FS Marcus McClinton can stay healthy.

6. Vanderbilt
Predicted record: 3-9   Conf. record: 0-8
Best Offensive Player:
QB Mackenzi Adams, Jr.
Best Defensive Player:
CB D.J. Moore, Jr.
Offense: It's rebuilding time with only three starters from an offense that wasn't any good last year. Even with five senior offensive linemen, star receiver Earl Bennett and a ton of potential in the backfield, the attack was 103rd in the nation in total offense and averaged a mere 22 points per game. The only way things improve is if Mackenzi Adams and/or Chris Nickson improve the quarterback situation. Never consistent last year, the passing game struggled even with Bennett, and now it has to find a new No. 1 receiver. The O line shouldn't be that bad considering the wholesale change of starters, and the running backs should be serviceable, but not explosive. Again, it's all up to Adams and Nickson. They're veterans, and as they go, so will go the season.
Defense: The defense struggled at times giving up points, but it turned out to be one of the best in the nation in total yards allowed. Seven starters return led by a secondary that could be among the most productive in the nation. Corners D.J. Moore and Myron Lewis form a dangerous lock-down tandem, while safeties Reshard Langford and Ryan Hamilton hare productive, huge-hitting veterans. Even with three starters gone off the line, the pass rush should be fantastic with Broderick Stewart taking on a bigger role on the other side of Steven Stone. The linebacking corps isn't a mess, but it'll be a work in progress trying to make all the pieces fit.


T1. Alabama
Predicted record:
8-4  Conf. record: 5-3
Best Offensive Player:
OT Andre Smith, Jr.
Best Defensive Player:
S Rashad Johnson, Sr.
Offense: Another year, another offensive coordinator as Jim McElwain comes over from Fresno State looking to kickstart a mediocre and inconsistent attack. There will be more running, more use of the tight ends, and quicker, shorter passes from veteran QB John Parker Wilson. Nick Walker and Travis McCall are good tight end to keep things moving. The backfield of Terry Grant, Glen Coffee and Roy Upchurch is good, but they have to stay healthy. The line, led by LT Andre Smith and C Antoine Caldwell, will be the strength, while the receiving corps needs uber-recruit Julio Jones to be a star right away.
Defense: The defense was solid last season and was all set to take another step forward this year until the linebacking corps took a hit. Ezekial Knight was forced to quit football thanks to a heart condition, Jimmy Johns was booted for allegedly selling cocaine, and Prince Hall was suspended for violating team rules. Fortunately, Rolondo McClain is back while the recruiting class should bring in instant help from Jerrell Harris and Courtney Upshaw. The line in the 3-4 is fine, but nothing special without Wallace Gilberry and his 10 sacks and 27 tackles for loss. A pass rusher has to emerge. FS Rashad Johnson leads a fast secondary that'll get a boost from freshmen Mark Barron and Alonzo Lawrence.

T1. Auburn
Predicted record: 9-3  Conf. record: 5-3
Best Offensive Player:
OT Lee Ziemba, Soph.
Best Defensive Player:
DT Sen'Derrick Marks, Jr.
Offense: The offense is undergoing an overhaul of styles with new offensive coordinator Tony Franklin stepping in and establishing his spread attack. So who's going to run it? Former Texas Tech Red Raider Chris Todd looks the part, but Kodi Burns is a strong runner who showed in spring ball that ha can be an accurate passer. The receivers are promising but young with veteran Rodgeriqus Smith a decent No. 1 target to work with until everyone else grows up. It's Auburn, so there's the usual stable of great backs with two good ones in Brad Lester and Ben Tate to go along with kick returner extraordinaire Trsitan Davis. And then there's the line, which might not just be the team's biggest strength, it could be the best in the SEC. Not only will it be good this year with all five starters returning, but with a ton of depth and plenty of options, it'll be an even better front five over the next two seasons.
Defense: Auburn always comes up with productive defenses no matter what the talent level is like, but this year, unlike last season when the coaching staff had to play around with several different combinations, defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads has a loaded group with seven returning starters. The right players appear to be in the right spots with future NFL millionaire Sen'Derrick Marks in his more natural tackle spot after spending last year on the end, LB Tray Blackmon finally ready to be counted on in the middle after a slew of off-the-field issues marring the first part of his career, and the secondary ready to be among the best in the nation again. The linebacking corps is steady, but needs to prove it can be spectacular. The defensive backfield might not have a bunch of household names, but that should change with Jerraud Powers on the verge of being recognized as one of the SEC's best all-around corners and the safety tandem of Mike McNeil and Zac Etheridge ready to blow up. The one concern is depth on the line and the secondary; it needs time to develop.

Predicted record: 9-3  Conf. record: 5-3
Best Offensive Player:
OT Ciron Black, Jr.
Best Defensive Player:
DE Tyson Jackson, Sr.
Offense: And the quarterback will be ... ? He might be a knucklehead, but Ryan Perrilloux is a talented knucklehead and would've made the LSU offense spectacular when he was on the field. But now he's out of the program after getting the boot, and it'll be a fight between Jarrett Lee and Andrew Hatch for the keys to the high-octane car. The offensive line will be among the best in America with four returning starters led by the left side combination of OT Ciron Black and OG Herman Johnson, while the 1-2 receiving duo of Brandon LaFell and Demetrius Byrd have NFL written all over them. The running game loses blasting fullback Jacob Hester, but there are four tremendous options to make running-back-by-committee a good thing.
Defense: The nation's number three defense in each of the last three years might fall off a little bit with the loss of defensive coordinator Bo Pelini, DT Glenn Dorsey, LB Ali Highsmith, SS Craig Steltz and both starting corners, but it's not like things are going to fall off the map. The defensive line might even be better, even without Dorsey, with tackles Ricky Jean-Francois (academics) and Charles Alexander (knee) joining Al Woods and Marlon Favorite on the inside to form a brick wall, and tackle-sized Tyson Jackson on the end looking for a big season to cash in on for next year's NFL draft. Speed and athleticism should make up for concerns at outside linebacker and cornerback, while MLB Darry Beckwith and the safeties should be tremendous.

T4. Arkansas
Predicted record: 6-6  Conf. record: 3-5
Best Offensive Player:
C Jonathan Luigs, Sr.
Best Defensive Player:
DE Adrian Davis, Jr.
Offense: Just imagine what might have been. Had everyone stuck around and if Bobby Petrino was the coach, Arkansas could've had now-USC Trojan Mitch Mustain at quarterback, Darren McFadden and Felix Jones in the backfield, and star receiver prospect Damian Williams as the main target. The O could've been special, but as is it might not be all that bad if QB Casey Dick is as good as he was this spring. There will still be a running game, but it's not going to be nearly as effective with Michael Smith and true freshman De'Anthony Curtis replacing McFadden and Jones. On the plus side, the line should be fantastic with Rimington Award winning center Jonathan Luigs and guard Mitch Petrus paving the way. The receiving corps is promising, and tight end D.J. Williams will be a breakout star, but it'll need time to become consistent.
Defense: This should be interesting for defensive coordinator Willy Robinson. The defensive line might be the best in the SEC if everyone plays up to their talent level, with Ernest Mitchell and Malcolm Sheppard a rock-solid tackle tandem, and Adrian Davis and Antwain Robinson two of the league's best ends. And that's where the fun stops. The linebacking corps is a mess following arrests and the booting of Freddie Fairchild, but if nothing else, it's full of speedsters. The secondary has to replace all four starters, but it shouldn't be all that bad if the pass rush can help the cause.

T4. Ole Miss
Predicted record: 6-6  Conf. record: 3-5
Best Offensive Player:
OT Michael Oher, Jr.
Best Defensive Player:
DE Greg Hardy, Jr.
Offense: It’s not like the Rebels are going to crank out an Arkansas-like rushing offense right away, but it might have the talent to do it. The league’s worst scoring attack got a huge boost this off-season with the emergence of QB Jevan Snead, an immediate upgrade for the passing game. Now, the talented receiving corps, led by Shay Hodge and Mike Wallace, should do far more, while Dexter McCluster will be used in a variety of roles. The strength of the offense should be up front with OT Michael Oher returning for his senior year to lead a big, beefy group of veterans. RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis is gone, but pounding junior Cordera Eason had a good spring and star recruit Enrique Davis is almost certain to be used right away. Yeah, when all is said and done, Nutt really does want to run the ball.
Defense: There will be plenty of attacking and lots of pressure in the backfield, but the D will also give up its share of big plays. Eight starters return to a defense that wasn’t all that bad, but it didn’t get any support from the offense. Greg Hardy will earn several All-America honors at one end, while Marcus Tillman and top JUCO transfer Emmanuel Stephens should help provide a killer pass rusher from the other side. The linebacking corps gets JUCO transfer Patrick Trahan, a guided missile who originally went to Auburn before having academic issues, to pair with do-it-all playmaker Ashlee Palmer. The hope is for receiver Marshay Greene and running back Jeremy McGee, a transfer from UCLA, to provide help on the corner, while Jamarca Sanford and Johnny Brown form a solid safety tandem.

T4. Miss State
Predicted record: 6-6  Conf. record: 3-5
Best Offensive Player:
RB Anthony Dixon, Jr.
Best Defensive Player:
FS/KR Derek Pegues, Sr.
Offense: The offense was along for the ride last year as the defense set the tone game after game, but that should change a little bit. After averaging fewer than 300 yards per game, this group has to do a better job of moving the chains. The running game should be far stronger with a jelled, veteran line paving the way for a strong trio of running backs, led by Anthony Dixon, but the passing attack has to start doing more after finishing 113th in the nation. The receiving corps is mediocre, lacking a true No. 1 target, while QB Wesley Carroll isn't the type of passer who'll make everyone around him better.
Defense: There might not be many all-stars, and there might not be much in the way of a steady pass rush, but the defense will be among the best in the SEC again with eight starters returning led by the safety combination of Derek Pegues and Keith Fitzhugh. The linebacking corps gets three of the top four tacklers back with Jamar Chaney and Dominic Douglas a strong 1-2 defensive punch, but there's little depth behind them and the third spot is a question mark. The tackles are excellent and the ends can stop the run and make plays in the backfield, but there has to be more sacks after finishing last in the SEC with just 19.