What we don’t know about the SEC West

Today we take a look at the SEC West as spring practice gets up to full speed. On Friday we will look at the ACC Atlantic.

 

ALABAMA (12-2, practice started March 13, ends April 18)

What we know: Greg McElroy will be the starting quarterback. How do we know that? Look at the schedule. Alabama opens the 2009 season against Virginia Tech at the Georgia Dome.  Virginia Tech returns seven starters from a defense that finished No. 7 nationally. McElroy knows Jim McElwain’s offense and he has played in a Division I-A game. Star Jackson, the redshirt freshman, is talented but you can’t start him against a Bud Foster defense. We also know that Alabama’s defense, which finished third nationally last season (263.50 ypg) will be scary good. NT Terrence Cody has now been through an offseason program and will again be impossible to block. LB Rolando McClain is one of the best in the country.

What we don’t know: How quickly can the offensive line be rebuilt? Andre Smith, a three-year starter at left tackle, is gone as is C Antoine Caldwell and RG Marlon Davis. That offensive line simply overwhelmed most opponents with brute strength last season. A JUCO transfer, James Carpenter, may eventually be the left tackle. Who is going to replace Rashad Johnson at free safety? Alabama lost more than a great player when Johnson finished his All-America career. That guy was a big time leader.

 

ARKANSAS (5-7, practice starts March 24, ends April 18)

What we know:  The Hogs will be able to run the football. Say what you will about Bobby Petrino but his first Arkansas team got better as the 2008 season went along. That’s because Petrino found a jewel in running back Michael Smith, who had 1,072 yards in only 10 games.  Smith is small and started to wear down at the end of last season. Petrino will get him some help, maybe from USC transfer Broderick Green.  We also know that the offense, which finished fourth in the SEC (373.1 ypg) last season and returns eight starters, will be even better in the second year in Petrino’s system. But the pass protection must improve. Arkansas gave up an incredible 45 quarterback sacks last season.

What we don’t know: Will Ryan Mallett be the answer at quarterback? Petrino’s system is based on having a pro-style quarterback who can make very accurate throws. Mallett, who sat out last season after transferring from Michigan, has some experience and appears to have the tools. Who will replace Jonathan Luigs at center? The All-American Remington Award winner leaves a huge hole on that offensive line. And what about the defense? All 11 starters return from a unit that finished dead last in the SEC (375.2 ypg). In fairness that group was very young.

 

AUBURN (5-7, practice starts March 24, ends April 18)

What we know: Auburn is not very deep on the offensive line but the Tigers are talented. But these linemen were recruited for a run-oriented offense and not Gus Malzahn’s no-huddle, up-tempo passing attack. The defense will be good. Head coach Gene Chizik is a former defensive coordinator at Auburn. DL coach Tracy Rocker was an All-America at Auburn. Defensive coordinator Ted Roof is a former head coach at Duke. With the staff that Chizik brought into Auburn, there will be a lot of energy in spring camp.

What we don’t know:   Malzahn has an exciting offense, but does he have the quarterback to run it? Malzahn’s offense lit up the scoreboard at Tulsa, which was second only to Oklahoma in scoring, averaging 47.21 points per game. But at Tulsa Malzahn had David Johnson, who was fourth nationally with 4,059 passing yards. Kodi Burns can run but he is not close to being the passer that Malzahn needs. Will Chris Todd, who battled a shoulder injury all of last season, or highly-touted freshman Tyrik Rollison win the job? Neil Caudle and Barrett Trotter are also in the mix.

 

 

LSU (8-5, practice started March 12, ends April 18)

What we know: John Chavis will make a huge difference at defensive coordinator. Given its talent, LSU’s defense woefully underachieved last season when DC Bo Pelini left to become head coach at Nebraska. Co-defensive coordinators did not work and now Les Miles has a pro in Chavis, the former DC at Tennessee. Chavis will have some very talented young defenders and knows how to use them. Chavis also gets some help on the DL as Charles Alexander was granted a sixth year of eligibility because of injury. Despite an injury on Monday to sophomore running back Stevan Ridley, the running backs, led by Charles Scott, are really, really good.

 

What we don’t know: Does Jordan Jefferson have a lock on the quarterback job? Right now the answer appears to be yes.  Jefferson, a rising sophomore, was very impressive in the win over Georgia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl and has earned the confidence of his teammates. Jarrett Lee, who was the starter last season until getting injured, could be pushed by incoming freshman Russell Shepard of Houston, considered to be the best quarterback prospect in the country. Shepard will work at QB early in the spring but OC Gary Crowton will also look for a way to get him on the field at another position. He is too good of an athlete to sit. Will Atlanta’s T-Bob Hebert be able to replace Brett Helms at center? Hebert is recovering from a knee injury and will be limited this spring. But if he is ready to go this fall then the offense will be set.

 

OLE MISS (9-4,  practice starts March 26, ends April 18)

What we know: The Rebels are set at quarterback. Jevan Snead exceeded all expectations in his first season after transferring from Texas. He will lead an offense that returns nine starters, including all-purpose WR Dexter McCluster (655 rushing, 625 receiving). Ole Miss was second in the SEC in scoring offense (32.1 ppg) behind Florida last season. Five of the top six receivers are back. If the Rebels can find a couple of new offensive linemen, this unit will be even better. But it won’t be easy replacing LT Michael Oher. He was big time. Only Kentucky (13), Florida (16), and Georgia (17) gave up fewer sacks last season than Ole Miss (20).

What we don’t know: Who is going to replace the big plays made by DT Peria Jerry? Jerry led the SEC in tackles for loss with 13 solos and 10 assists in 12 games. DE Greg Hardy showed flashes of brilliance last year rushing the passer. He needs to step up. Ole Miss led the SEC in sacks last season with 38 and does not want to have a drop off. DT Jerrell Powe has had a long and winding road to get to Ole Miss. He’ll get a chance to show what he can do.

 

MISS. STATE (4-8,  practice starts March 24, ends April 18)

What we know: Mississippi State’s offense will be better. The primary thing that caused school officials to show Sly Croom the door was the inability to mount and effective offense. Of 119 Division I-A schools the Bulldogs ranked 113 last season. The quarterback play simply was not very good. Enter new head coach Dan Mullen, who tutored Alex Smith (Utah), Chris Leak (Florida) and Tim Tebow (Florida) as the OC for Urban Meyer. Mullen will start with a big-time running back in Anthony Dixon (who averaged 4.4 yards per carry in that bad offense). Dixon should have a huge year in this scheme.

 

What we don’t know:  Does Mullen have a quarterback in camp who can run his offense? Probably not. Tyson Lee (153 of260, 1,519 yards, 7 TD) has the job by default going into spring practice. But this question won’t fully be answered until reinforcements arrive this summer. QB Tyler Russell (6-5, 217) of Meridan, Miss., appears to be the quarterback of the future but it will take some time for him to learn the offense. Will the offensive line improve? It has to if Mullen is going to have any chance to install his offense. Mississippi State gave up 37 quarterback sacks last season.

 

77 comments Add your comment

Kid Ray

March 19th, 2009
8:59 am

Coach Tracy Rocker

Tony Barnhart

March 19th, 2009
9:12 am

Enter your comments here

Tony Barnhart

March 19th, 2009
9:12 am

Kid Ray…
Fixed it thanks

GeoffDawg

March 19th, 2009
9:28 am

I think Chavis at LSU could put LSU right back at the top with Bama in the West. It’ll be interesting to watch them slug it out over the next few years. Unfortunatley for Auburn, they could be the odd man out for awhile. Not only are they most likely going to be on the losing end against the Tide for the foreseeable future, Ole Miss may take their #3 spot in the division.

Otto

March 19th, 2009
9:31 am

Caudle for Auburn QB. Burns and Caudle will be the competition for QB. Malzahn knows both from his HS days.

Shane

March 19th, 2009
9:43 am

bank walker

March 19th, 2009
9:51 am

I see Chavis kicking a** @ LSU. They will be atop the west by themselves for the next couple of years! GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!!!

DawginLex

March 19th, 2009
10:01 am

What we do know:

Order of finish:

LSU
Ole Miss
Arkansas
Alabama
Auburn
Miss St

How do you like that BAMASTAN????????????????????????

WTF???

March 19th, 2009
10:10 am

NOTE TO SELF…..dawginlex,bank walker=stupid people who can type but can’t think!! p.s. also are OBVIOUSLY scared of CNS AND BAMA!!!

terrell

March 19th, 2009
10:15 am

Ole Miss will win the SEC west easily this year. We have a user-friendly schedule and have 17 returning starters,

[...] the known and the unknown in the SEC East yesterday.  Today, he tackles the SEC West.You can read his latest blog post in full right here, but for our purposes, here are his questions regarding each West Division football team:Alabama [...]

joe

March 19th, 2009
10:22 am

I agree Ole Miss and LSU will fight it out with Bama 3rd…

DawgGirl32

March 19th, 2009
10:31 am

Yeah Bama will be no higher than 3rd in the West definitely.

Boston Williams

March 19th, 2009
10:44 am

According to LV odds for 09 FB Champs, UGA is tied for 13th place with UNC in terms of odds (50/1) to win championship.

GeoffDawg

March 19th, 2009
10:48 am

Thanks for the off topic post BW. Since neither UGA nor UNC are the subject here, I’m not sure where you’re going with this.

Miles

March 19th, 2009
10:49 am

Ole Miss or LSU will win the SEC West…then they’ll lose to Florida in the SEC Championship…simple!

[...] Barnhart also provides a glimpse at other SEC West teams in today’s blog. [...]

mcdawg

March 19th, 2009
10:57 am

hate to say it but the west could be alot better top to bottom than the east interested in seeing how or if Auburn comes back and Mallett should be a pretty darn good QB at Arkansas

BILLY JACK

March 19th, 2009
10:58 am

Dawg in Lex-agree with your predictions but think you have Ark a little high.I said the same thing last year about Auburn on the blog.Injuries to certain players will be a major factor I favor Ole Miss a little only because of Rebs established QB and have not really seen enough of LSU QB yet.I see Alabama coming in 3rd.Injuries can derail a team faster than anything else just ask Georgia.

Ryno

March 19th, 2009
11:06 am

LSU fans, you will like Chavis on first and second downs, but you will soon learn why UT fans referred to third downs hatefully as “3rd and Chavis.”
There is no 3rd and long that he can’t convert into a first down with soft coverage and no blitzing. Chavis does well as long as he has talented players and LSU has that, but he is not a master tactician.

GeoffDawg

March 19th, 2009
11:09 am

Can’t wait for Arkansas to play Florida. It’ll be Mallett vs. Mulletts.

AUFAN

March 19th, 2009
11:12 am

Almost impossible to win a championship of any kind without a talented and, more importantly, experienced QB. Just look at history. This axiom gives the nod to Ole Miss in my opinion.

Boston Williams

March 19th, 2009
11:22 am

GeoffDawg, don’t know where you are going introducing Florida into this topic.

Sam Robards

March 19th, 2009
11:24 am

Ole Miss wins the West, with LSU in second, Auburn/Alabama for third (that’s a toss-up for me), then Miss St/Arkansas (toss-up as well).

Arkansas will do decent this year, but 2010 will be their big year … too bad LSU, Ole Miss, Auburn and Alabama’ll be recharged, too.

GeoffDawg

March 19th, 2009
11:26 am

Building off Mallett BW. Try to keep up.

Bamafan

March 19th, 2009
11:33 am

LSU should win the West and Ole Miss and Bama fighting for the 2nd spot. Bama had 3 All-American’s leave the program that will play in the NFL this season. That is hard to replace so that
is why I think LSU will win the west. Bama will still win 10 games this year, the defense is going to
be very very good again this year!!

Billy Bob Bama

March 19th, 2009
11:53 am

Come on folks. The Alabama play everyone at home this year except auburn.

lawzoo

March 19th, 2009
12:04 pm

I am personally awaiting the Gene Chezlik era at Auburn with baited breath. Oh, excuse me I had sushi for lunch. Disregard this.

the scouting report

March 19th, 2009
12:09 pm

I see a competitive 3 team race between Bama, LSU, and Ole Miss. Ole Miss will have their best team since Ely Manning led them to a 10 win season and a bowl win several years back. They finished their last several games last year not by winning but by stomping people into the ground. LSU, Miss. St, and then Texas Tech all took physical beatdowns from Ole Miss to end the season. Don’t forget. This is also the one team to beat the gators and they did it in the swamp and they did it by body slamming Tim Tebow on 4th and 1. I think they will probably be the surprise team of the conference this year and if the o-line is their biggest issue with the loss of Oher then they should be fine. Nutt is an O-line coach and always seems to produce good, physical o-lines with less talent than other coaches. Nutt also always gave LSU and Bama in particular fits when he was at Arkansas. Watch out for Nutt and the rebels. They are physical and ready to make some noise.

I can see Arkansas continually getting better. Like Ole Miss they finished strong and I can see them probably getting 7 wins and going bowling in year 2 of Petrino. Whether you like Petrino or not he is a good coach, last year’s Arkansas team was incredibly young, and these guys will only get better. Expect them to pull a couple of surprise wins just like last year.

LSU loses a lot of great talent, especially on defense with all those great d-linemen gone and a couple of very good o-linemen on offense gone. Chavis is a heckuva D-coordinator but it’ll take more than 1 year to get them back to where they were with all the talent they lost. Offensively they will be fine. Expect them to be in the mix but to be just a shade behind Bama and Ole Miss. We saw LSU dip to 7-5 the year after 17 5th year starters recruited by Saban won a national title for LSU. Interesting how LSU nosedived immediately after the last of Saban’s players were gone.

Bama. Similar to Joe Cox at Georgia McElroy has been grooming for 3 years for this shot. at qb People forget that he was in the same recruiting class as Stafford coming out of high school in Texas. But it was McElroy who was the Texas 5A player of the year coming out of high school and set the state record for td passes with 56 in 1 season and also ran for almost 1,000 yards. He is 16 out of 20 in limited action the last 2 years.

Saban has been stockpiling massive 4 and 5 star O-lineman for a few years now. James Carpenter was regarded as maybe the top-rated JUCO O-lineman coming out last year. He will start out as a left tackle but will probably move to guard where he will have to compete against 2 former 4 star recruits with starting experience for one guard position. Bama has possibly the top rated offensive tackle coming out of high school to take over Andre Smith’s spot. 6′7, 350lb 5 star recruit DJ Fluker was the guy everyone was watching during the us army all-american week of practice leading up to the game. He’ll be better than Andre Smith when its said and done. But first he will have to win the left tackle job over the other 6′7 310 lb 5 star offensive tackle recruit from the year before Tyler Love. Love took a medical reshirt last year because of a stress fracture but is finally healthy. At center Evan Cardwell takes over. He started several games in 2006 and 2007 and played frequently last year. Bama looked bad in the sugar bowl when Andre Smith was lost 2 days before the game and all conference guard Michael Johnson was lost in the 1st qtr. But with the sheer size and number of elephants Saban has recruited Bama is actually locked and loaded throughout the offensive line.

The Bama defense returns 9 starters and practically the entire 2 deep. One starting defensive end is gone but the top other 8 D-lineman return. The interior front 7 of the Alabama D is going to be scary good and deep. All American safety Rashad Johnson is gone but will be replaced by former 5 star safety recruit Mark Barron. Barron is a bigger, faster, more physical version of Johnson and after a year of experience and backup duty the sophomore is ready to take over. By the end of the season Barron could end up being an upgrade given his physical tools. This guy will be all-conference and possibly all-american before his career is over. The addition of 5 star linebacker recruit Nico Johnson rated no. 2 at his position and the no. 1 rated lockdown cornerback in the country in Dre Kirkpatrick only adds more depth and firepower to an already loaded defense. Yet another 5 star former recruit BJ Scott will move from wr to cornerback in the spring to give Bama a pair of former 5 star recruits at cornerback for the future. For the future it looks like Bama will have 3 former 5 star recruits manning 3 of the 4 defensive back spots. The 5 star lb recruit Nico was the guy who ran down Bryce Brown 3 times at the us army all american game. Makes you feel sorry for Bryce Brown knowing that he’ll be taking 4 years of abuse from Nico rather than just one all star game worth of abuse.

Skills players. Bama brings back 2 great rbs in Mark Ingram and Roy Upchurch and brings in the no. 2 running back in the country 5 star tailback recruit Trent Richardson. Bama also redshirted several tbs. All in all there are 10 rbs on the Bama roster. Several 4 star rated wide receivers should complement Julio Jones.

The bottom line. After 2 consecutive no. 1 ranked recruiting classes Saban has Alabama looking more like a veritable war machine than a football team. The skills players at wr and rb are frightening enough. But what sets Saban teams apart is the sheer size, power, and speed of the lineman on both sides of the ball and in the defensive recruits, especially at linebacker. This is a physically dominating team that is still young but will be terrifying the sec for years to come. Get ready for it. Its coming.

Auburn just doesn’t have the talent that they did before Saban got to Bama. They’ve definitely fallen behind Bama and LSU in the west and the big 3 in the east as far as talent goes. And I don’t think a high school coach 2 years removed from high school is going to get it done at Auburn, especially with a qb in Kodi Burns who is clearly lacking as a passing threat. Tulsa was scoring lots of points before Malzahn got there and when Tulsa played better competition in their bowl game that offense didn’t look so impressive. Missy State. Same qb issues as Auburn. They will be in a rebuilding state since if there is a worse qb in the sec than Kodi Burns that it would have to be the qb at State.

Dorsey Hill

March 19th, 2009
12:12 pm

What we know: the west is far tougher than the east.
What we know #2: there will be a pretty darn good SEC team that won’t play a bowl game but would beat the 4th best team in every other conference’s azz.

Otto

March 19th, 2009
12:19 pm

Scouting report I will be very surprised if Burns keeps the job.

GeoffDawg

March 19th, 2009
12:31 pm

I don’t know if “far” tougher is accurate Dorsey Hill but I would agree that on paper, the West looks a little deeper this year. It depends on if Tennessee looks any better with old foot in mouth running the show.

lawzoo

March 19th, 2009
12:35 pm

Big Three in the East? ga. ,of course, Fla., Certainly, and Carolina. No? Vandy? No. Oh, is it the talented team that lost to Wyoming on Homecoming last year? You can’t spell talent without ut….at least not in tennessee.

Tide rising

March 19th, 2009
12:37 pm

Hard to believe some people are actually picking Bama to finish 3rd or 4th. We go 12-2 with a lot of freshman playing. We have almost the whole defense back and most of the offense and people are picking us 3rd or 4th? What???

The few players we lose will be replaced by highly touted recruits that have been waiting in the wings and yet people are picking an Ole Miss team that has never won the west division ever to win it over us? Are you serious?

People are picking an LSU team that went 7-5 last year and only won 3 sec games to win the west over Bama? How does one pick a team like LSU that won only 3 sec games to suddenly jump up and beat a young bama team that didn’t lose an sec game until the sec championship against Florida? How do that happen? As Ricky Ricardo would say “Someone got some splaining to do!”

Clearly, I think some of the comments relegating Bama to 3rd or 4th in the division are based not on sound football logic but on anti-Alabama sentiment brought on principally by Bama Stan. And one guy picked 3rd place as a toss up between Bama and Auburn. Are you kidding me? Auburn? The same Auburn team that finished 5th and got blasted 36-0 by Bama, has a new coach, subpar talent, and arguably the worst qb in the sec? That Auburn?

I guess we have Bama-Stan to thank for that. Thanks Bama Stan for stoking anti-Bama sentiment! You are the annoying Alabama equivalent of what Roswell Ed is to Auburn fans. Except that I actually liked Roswell Ed and found his comments to be funny and not even annoying. I kinda wish he would start posting again since I was one of his biggest fans. Ed, if you’re out there come on back! At least you were funny!

the scouting report

March 19th, 2009
12:43 pm

Lawzoo,

Like it or not Tennessee has always been one of the big time programs in the sec. They are only 1 bad season removed from winning the sec east, they’ve won more sec titles than Georgia, especially since the 2 division format, they’ve won a national title in the last 10 years or so, and they wallopped the dawgs 9 in a row in the 90s. And while they lost to UGA last year in a meltdown of a year they pounded the dawgs 35-14 and 51-30 in the 2 previous years. They still have the fanbase, the facilities, and the recruiting prowess to be an sec and national title contender. As far as alltime accomplishment and tradition goes they are 2nd in the sec only to Bama. You have a very short memory.

Gen Neyland

March 19th, 2009
12:46 pm

Admittedly, I don’t keep up with the West as I do the East, but I like Ole Miss to pull at least one divisional upset… Tony is spot on about Chavis and the LSU defense. 8-5 was a down year for Miles… I know how much John Bubba Parker Wilson meant to the Red Elephants and I think we’ll get a better understanding of that along he way. Defensively, they let theirselves down in the SECCG and The Sugar…Razorpigs can pull surprises. But with what Alabama has and LSU and Ole Miss getting better, the Ham Hocks will still be a little piggy in the mud hole…Miss St and Auburn will be fighting for last place in the West…

chickin bowl

March 19th, 2009
12:48 pm

What? There was something lacking with LSU “D” last year? WOW!

ChewDawg

March 19th, 2009
12:49 pm

Auburn will NOT be very good. Way to many questions. They fire Franklin for his coaching style and then hire Malzahn? Really? To run a program that has recruited zero talent for the hurry-up pass he’ll utilize? Wow. And let’s not even discuss the hiring Chizik…great decision there for sure. The only decent hire they made was Roof…who, though not a good head coach at all – no offensive skill, really is a solid defensive coordinator.

Alabama will not be the Alabama of last year. They’ll still contend for the West but it won’t come easy, if at all. While their defense will be outstanding, replacing key players on offense will keep them from scoring enough to win. Expect a lot of low-scoring games for Bama this year.

Arkansas will be middle of the pack…with some quality wins and a couple stupid losses.

Ole Miss will be the team to beat. They were a surprise last year but not this year. They return a ton of talent and their only loss was Jerry and they’ve sufficient talent to take his place. I don’t there’s much we don’t know about Ole Miss. They’ll be good. SEC West champions good.

LSU made a great hire in Chavis. As bad as UT was last year, their D was stout. Chavis will right the ship in short order. But what they make up in D, they’ll give up in O. Too many questions and no proven leader on that side of the ball. LSU finishes third in the West. They’ve got a stud in Shepard and they need to make him the QB. Give him a year under his belt and they could win it all in 2010. With or without Shepard, the finish third, so why not give him the experience. Lee nor Jefferson have the talent of this kid. Is LSU willing to sacrifice 2009 to have a better shot at taking it all in 2010 and 2011?

And now MSU…

I loved Croom…but he was never the right man for MSU. Mullen is. Starkville gave Croom 6 years, can they give Mullen 2-3 to get the talent he needs? That’s the unknown. MSU can’t recruit the quality of talent needed to smash head-to-head with the big boys in the SEC. But they can get lesser-known stars that can make the program a winning program. Think West Virginia. If Rodriquez can get kids to come to Blacksburg, VA; Mullen can certainly get them to come to Starkville, MS.

The west could be very exciting in the next couple of years. At the least, they’ll be better than the East top to bottom.

ChewDawg

March 19th, 2009
12:49 pm

I meant Morgantown, WV….not Blacksburg, VA.

the scouting report

March 19th, 2009
1:02 pm

Dorsey Hill,

You may very well be correct in stating the west may be better than the east at least this year anyway. Nothing against the dawgs but the east is a one team show this year.

Also, while fans of the east have traditionally knocked the east and especially the 2 Mississippi teams its very interesting to note the success of the 2 bottom dwelling Missippi teams over the dominant team in the east the Florida gators since the inception of the 2 division format. For example, UGA plays Fla. every year and has won only 3 games in the past 2 decades against the gators. Miss. State has beaten them twice in the 2000s and Ole Miss beat the gators last year in the swamp. Miss. State also shredded the gators at least once in the 90s under Sherrill 47-30 over Spurrier and either Ole Miss or Miss. State went to the swamp and put it on the gators 30-6 also in the 90s. And the rebels and Miss. State rarely ever play the gators. Yet it seems like they both beat the gators with more regularity than UGA or possibly even Tennessee. Just something to think about.

Also, I’m not sure about the alltime record between Ole Miss and UF but I believe they are either tied in the series or Ole Miss may lead the series by 1 win.

After UF, UT, UGA, the sec east drops off rapidly. S. Carolina has won 2 bowls in its history, Kentucky is historically as bad in football as it is good in basketball, and even though Vandy went to and won a bowl game for the 1st time since 1982 they are well, Vandy.

Ole Miss actually has a respectable football history, decent success under Johnny Vaught and more recently David Cutcliffe and now Nutt, and Miss. State while its history is poor they did have some good years under Sherrill and they have at least been strong enough to win the division. They’ve also pulled some surprises here and there under Croom.

Same with Arkansas. This is a program that has won national titles, they were the #2 program when they were in the old southwest conference behind texas, and Arkansas over the years has consistently gone to bowl games and consistently had teams that have won 8 or 9 games in a season.

In the east there have been many a years where you basically played the other big 2 if you are a UF, UT, or UGA, and then you basically had the rest of the division off. Not so in the west with an Arkansas program that has been consistently decent and Missippi teams that have shown flashes of success more consistently than the 3 bottom dwellers in the east.

lawzoo

March 19th, 2009
1:08 pm

Tony,(Scouting Report) I was simply referencing your comment about Aubun’s present talent level compared to the “Big Three.” While not an expert(or wannabe) I am very aware of tenn.’s history. However, with last year’s debacle and coaching (Lane) change, it is hard to Presently view them as part of the present Big Three, if any.

Gerry

March 19th, 2009
1:14 pm

LSU IS LOADED

Boston Williams

March 19th, 2009
1:22 pm

GeoffDawg, are you a UGA graduate, or did you actually go to college?

Saint Nick

March 19th, 2009
1:30 pm

Lsu might be loaded, but so is Bama.

1. Bama
2. LSU
3. Ole Miss
4. Who cares……

Otto

March 19th, 2009
1:31 pm

Rising Tide is nothing against Bama for me but Ole Miss is improving and LSU has a QB now. In the 2nd year both will be better. Bama has a new QB and replacing key people on the OL. Malzahn had some success at Arkansas and he has a QB that has run a hurry up spread style offense. Todd isn’t the QB either. The west will be instersting.

Tide rising

March 19th, 2009
1:34 pm

Tony, Has anyone including you factored in the favorability of scheduling when talking about who will win the west this year? You may have forgotten to mention how the favorability of home and away scheduling factors in.

Our odd years are the favorable home schedule years and our even years are the tough road schedule years. Last year was our traditional tough road schedule year as 3 of our 4 toughest games were on the road including Georgia in Athens, LSU in Baton Rouge(allthough Baton Rouge is traditionally a home game for us), Tennessee in Knoxville, and only Auburn as a big home game.

This year is much easier for Bama. We get LSU at home, Tennessee at home, and we drop a good Georgia team for South Carolina which we get at home. We only play Auburn on the road which is not expected to be as tough a game this year.

I’m not sure about Ole Miss schedule but if LSU is the team that others are picking to win the division I think LSU has a tougher road schedule this year. I’m not sure but I think the go on the road to play both UGA and maybe UF. The UF game is almost a sure loss and UGA is sure to be favored at home in that game against LSU. So if you’re picking LSU to win the west you might want to check the schedule. They play the top 2 teams in the east on the road whereas Bama does not play either UGA or UF and Ole Miss doesn’t play UGA or UF either as far as I know.

This is a huge advantage to Bama and Ole Miss for that matter since I think Ole Miss also avoids both UF and UGA. If LSU loses both of these games as they probably will then it leaves almost no margin for error in their division games in the west. Its almost impossible to win a division with 3 losses and LSU would then certainly have to beat both Ole Miss and Bama and win most if not all of their remaining division games in order to win the west. On top of playing Bama and UGA on the road I’m now also thinking that LSU plays Ole Miss on the road. Not sure though.

BAMA STAN

March 19th, 2009
1:40 pm

31-0 at the half?!!!

Hey guys – by the way – I am retiring my famous “31 – 0 at the half?!!!” at the bequest of other Bama fans – yes, it’s fun to do.

Just wanted to do it one more time!!!!

I will now start my posts with: 12 National Titles, 21 SEC Titles, !!!!

DawginLex – you asked me what I think of your prediction?
Well, you are entitled to your own opinion – and who knows – you just might be right on the mark – we will see at the end of the season.

I personally think that it will come down to LSU and Bama in the SEC West.

LSU
I have to give LSU a slight edge on paper due to QB position – but you never know how a team will gel during the season. Another Issue for LSU – their SEC West Schedule is Florida, UGA, and Vandy. LSU should win 2 of the 3 with the loss to Florida. I will be rooting for UGA and Vandy!!!

Bama
Our defense should be as good as LSU’s – if not slighlty better. We have talent on the OL – might be reloading here – if we gel as a unit quickly – we will be very good. Area of concern is QB – McElroy is kind of like Cox at UGA. Kid shows good leadership and knows the system. McElroy is slightly bigger, faster, and stronger than Cox and has a better arm. HOwever, Star Jackson maybe the long term answer – as he brings DJ Schockley type of Athleticism to the position.

Bama’s SEC East schedule is Tennessee, Kentucky and South Carolina – we should win all 3 of these games – giving us a 1 game edge against LSU (losing to Florida).

Of course – the comparisons between LSU and Bama are on paper – head to head competition is key – as both teams have the ability to run the SEC West table.

OlLe Miss – greatly improved – but I think Coach Nutt will see that he has Ole Miss playing as good as Ole Miss can play. They are as good as they are going to be. If we take them lightly – we will get “UTAH’d”

Hey DawginLex – like my new saying – getting “UTAH’d” Kind of like when UGA got “BC’d” in the Music City Bowl Richts first year – or “WV’d” in the 2005 Sugar Bowl. Will UGA get Vol’s or “Kiffin’d” this year in Knoxville this year?

Yep – we got “UTAH’D” last year – embarrassed the SEC – it happens and we will be better for it!!!!!

Auburn, Arkansas and Miss State – should finish in that order. Again, LSU and Bama should beat these guys – but you never know? Who would have thought that Florida would lose to Ole Miss last year?

Any way – that’s my take on the teams for now.

ROLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL TIDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tide rising

March 19th, 2009
1:48 pm

Otto,

I would have to agree with you on Ole Miss. I think they are certainly improving and they may very well end up winning the west. Wouldn’t surprise me. As for LSU they could end up being just as good as Ole Miss or my Bama boys but I think what trips them up is having to play UGA and UF on the road whereas Ole Miss and Bama both get to skip the 2 best teams in the east this year. Big disadvantage for LSU.

I do have to agree with you though. The west will certainly be interesting.

We may respectfully just disagree on the Bama qb and O-line. I think we’ll be fine on both fronts because of the talent we’ve been recruiting on the O-line and the fact that McElroy has been in the system 3 years preparing to take over. Besides, the offense we run the qb is asked just to manage the game like Wilson did, he doesn’t have to win the game with his arm.

As for Malzahn I don’t really think he had any success to speak of at Arky. The whole reason he left Arky is because his offense wasn’t working in the early going. Nutt ended up taking back control of the offense and went straight back to a run oriented offense. Who could blame him though with Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. Malzahn was obviously frustrated over this and resigned at seasons end cause his offense either didn’t work and took the job at Tulsa. The 2 highly recruited recruits who came to Arky because of his offense Mitch Mustain the qb and Damian Williams the wr both transferred to the real USC. This was the mess that ultimately ended up getting Nutt run out of Arky.

Otto

March 19th, 2009
1:52 pm

Ole Miss goes to SC and Vandy and gets UT and LSU at home back to back before the egg bowl.

Ole Miss and Bama do have the easiest schedule out of the west.

Arkansas starts out Missouri St., open, UGA at home at Bama, at Tex A&M, Auburn at home, and then at UF and at Ole Miss. Tough schedule to break in a QB.

Ole Miss, Bama, LSU and Auburn could all take the west. I’ll go with Ole Miss with LSU, Bama, and Auburn fighting for 2nd. I think it will be close. The 4th place team could easily be 3rd in the east.

Tide rising

March 19th, 2009
1:56 pm

Bama Stan,

Thanks for taking down the 31-0!!! moniker even if you had to wrankle the dawg fans one last time. The rest of us Bama fans were just tired of it so thanks again. Since you enjoyed it so much though I am wondering if you are going to be able to resist the sheer temptation of wrankling the dawg fans. Just kidding.