SEC East: Can Georgia find a big-time RB, regain its edge on defense?


Can Florida handle the hype and the expectations that come from being the defending national champions AND preseason No. 1? Can Georgia regain its edge on defense and enjoy life after Stafford and Moreno? Tennessee has a new attitude, but does that translate into more wins under first-year coach Lane Kiffin? Is Kentucky headed to a fourth straight bowl for the first time in school history? Can Stephen Garcia finally give South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier a real threat at quarterback? In 2008 Vanderbilt went to a bowl game in a rebuilding year. Can the Commodores go to two straight bowls for the first time in school history?

Those are just a few things we still don’t know about the SEC East as we head into the summer. Here is a breakdown of each team. The SEC West comes on Thursday.




Last season: 13-1, 7-1 SEC; beat Alabama 31-21 in SEC championship; beat Oklahoma 24-14 in BCS championship game.

Starters returning:  Offense 7, defense 11, kickers 2.

Coach: Urban Meyer, 83-17 overall, 44-9 in four seasons at Florida.

What we still don’t know: Who is going to back up Aaron Hernandez? Hernandez is probably the best tight end in the country but Florida is going to have some power-I sets this season and at times may use two tight ends. Freshman Desmond Parks, an early enrollee, suffered a leg injury during the spring which could keep him out of action this season. Can the Florida defense, which returns 11 starters, get even better? DC Charlie Strong says yes and the Gators can prove it by being more of a dominating unit. “We have talked to our guys about being more aggressive and working to get the opposing offense off the field as fast as possible,” Strong said. Are Frankie Hammond, Jr., and Deonte Thompson going to be the big-play wide receivers? Florida has a lot of guys who can run but a lot of emphasis this spring was put on getting separation from the defensive back in man-to-man coverage. The big question at Florida is not talent, which the Gators have plenty of. The question is whether or not the Gators can handle the expectations that come with being the defending national champions and preseason No. 1.

First game:   Sept. 5 vs. Charleston Southern.




Last season:  10-3, 6-2 SEC; beat Michigan State 24-12 in Capital One Bowl.


Starters returning:  Offense 7, defense 6, kicker 1.

Coach: Mark Richt, 82-22 in eight seasons at Georgia.

What we still don’t know: Is somebody going to step up at tailback? With a veteran offensive line and a new quarterback in Joe Cox, Georgia will certainly need to establish the running game. The only question is whether or not there will be a featured back or if the job will be handled by committee.  The Georgia coaches have been waiting on sophomore Caleb King to step up and show why he was one of the most highly-recruited players in the nation two years ago. King is good but he’s yet to prove that he should get 20-25 carries a game. Richard Samuel (wrist) did not take part in spring practice. Redshirt freshmen Carlton Thomas and Dontavius Jackson have some ability. It remains to be seen if incoming freshman Washaun Ealy will be a factor. How big a setback is Justin Houston’s suspension? Houston emerged as the best defensive end candidate in the spring but will miss the first two games for violating team rules. Georgia was counting on Houston to step up and help get this defense turned around. Who’s going to help A.J. Green? If somebody doesn’t step up Green won’t see single coverage all season. Michael Moore and Tavarres King will get a chance or it could be a true freshman like Marlon Brown or Rontavious Wooten.

First game:   Sept. 5 at Oklahoma State.



Last season:  7-6, 2-6 SEC; beat East Carolina 25-19 in Liberty Bowl.

Starters returning:  Offense 7, defense 5, kicker 1.

Coach: Rich Brooks, 123-150-1 overall, 32-41 in six seasons at Kentucky.

What we still don’t know: Can Mike Hartline get it done consistently at quarterback? Hartline, a junior, is coming off one of his best performances when he was named the most outstanding offensive player in the win over East Carolina in the Liberty Bowl. He is the No. 1 quarterback coming out of spring practice but Brooks said he will take a long look at incoming freshman Morgan Newton of Carmel, Ind. Newton (6-4, 220) had 1,938 yards passing and 1,664 yards rushing last season and led his high school to three state championship games. Brooks said he would use sophomore WR Randall Cobb in the “Wildcat” formation to take advantage of his athleticism. Can Kentucky rebuild a defense that returns only five starters? Yes, because CB Trevard Lindley, DE Jeremy Jarmon, and MLB Micah Johnson all decided to come back instead of turning pro. “Those three guys took what would have been a difficult transition and made it a lot easier because they decided to come back,” Brooks said. “Defensively we will be an improved team.” Last season Kentucky was 11th  in the SEC in total defense (332.4 ypg) and eighth in scoring defense (21.5 ppg)

First game:   Sept. 5 vs. Miami (Ohio) in Cincinnati.



Last season: 7-6, 4-4 SEC; lost to Iowa 31-10 in Outback Bowl.

Starters returning: Offense 5, defense 6, kicker 1.

Coach: Steve Spurrier, 170-62-2 overall, 28-22 in four seasons at South Carolina.

What we still don’t know: Can Stephen Garcia hold it together this summer? For the first time  since coming to campus in January of 2007, the sophomore quarterback from Tampa made it through a spring practice and will be (hopefully) working with his receivers this summer. Spurrier believes that Garcia has the physical tools to play quarterback at this level. If Garcia will focus on football this summer, Spurrier might finally have the consistent quarterback he has lacked in four seasons as South Carolina’s head coach. Will the offensive line finally jell and become a respectable unit? Spurrier has not had an SEC-caliber offensive line since he got to Columbia. This group is still a work in progress under new OL coach Eric Wolford. The offensive line has to play better or Garcia will be running for his life all season. Who is the big-play WR now that Kenny McKinley is gone? Looks like it will be Moe Brown, who was named the offensive player of the spring. How good is Stephon Gilmore? Very. He enrolled in January and won a starting position at cornerback in the spring. Spurrier is also thinking about using him at quarterback in the shotgun formation.

First game: Sept. 3 at N.C. State.



Last season: 5-7, 3-5 SEC.

Starters returning: Offense 7, defense 5, kicker 1.

Coach: Lane Kiffin, first year as college head coach.

What we still don’t know: Can QB Jonathan Crompton get Tennessee through an entire season? Crompton, a senior who threw for 889 yards in eight games last season, emerged as No. 1 after the spring game. B.J. Coleman, the guy some people thought was a little more talented, has transferred to Chattanooga. That leaves junior Nick Stephens as the only other experienced quarterback on campus. How big an impact will the freshmen have at running back? Montario Hardesty looks like the starting tailback but Tennessee fans can’t wait to see true freshmen Bryce Brown and David Oku, two highly recruited players. Who will play the other safety opposite Eric Berry? Berry, who needs just 14 yards in interception returns to become the NCAA’s all time leader, lost his running mate in Demetrice Morley, who was kicked off the team. His replacement could be Dennis Rogan, who started 10 games at cornerback and two at free safety last season.

First game:   Sept. 5 vs. Western Kentucky.




Last season: 7-6, 4-4 SEC; beat Boston College 16-14 in Music City Bowl.

Starters returning: Offense 9, defense 9, kicker 1.

Coach: Bobby Johnson, 87-92 overall, 27-56 in seven years at Vanderbilt.

What we still don’t know: Could Vanderbilt go to its second straight bowl game? It sure looks like it. The Commodores return 18 starters from Vanderbilt’s first bowl team since 1982. “We didn’t have to pull guys out of the locker room at spring practice because they are thinking we can do this again,” coach Bobby Johnson said. “We’ve got some momentum and we hope to build on it.” Who is going to start at quarterback? Vanderbilt has two quality quarterbacks in senior Mackenzie Adams, the returning starter, and rising sophomore Larry Smith, who led Vanderbilt to its first bowl victory since 1955. Johnson did not name a 2009 starter after spring practice. Who replaces the versatile D.J. Moore? Moore was a very successful two-way player for the Commodores last season and that role will probably be filled by sophomore Jamie Graham. Graham had 17 catches as a wide receiver last season but was moved to cornerback in the spring and will probably see action on both sides of the ball. Myron Lewis, who played opposite Moore last season at cornerback, could also see some snaps on offense.

First game:   Sept. 5 vs. Western Carolina.


217 comments Add your comment


May 13th, 2009
6:15 am

Dawgs are the best team in the country again this year. That makeshift line last year allowed Moreno to have a great year, and the protected Stufford real well. Just think how good they’ll be this year. AND I WAS FIRST!!!!!


May 13th, 2009
7:16 am

I’m very worried about the 3rd string waterboy. If we don’t develop some depth there an injury could cause us to become tired in the 4th quarter. We may then possibly become dehydrated across our 3rd string line and could give up a few yards.


May 13th, 2009
7:22 am

Let’s get it started early and out of the way so we can talk UGA football.

1. We all work at burger places.
2. our degrees from UGA are worthless.
3. only a TECH grad can make over 100K
4. we all live in trailers.
5. mark richt has never won the big one
6. Grant field is the place and Sanford stadium is the pits.
7. No UGA fans ever stepped in a class room.
8. The SEC is over rated, even with the last 3 of 4 national champs from conf.
9. we will never beat tech again as long as Johnson is there.
10. Florida owns ya’ll
11. our players are angels and never get in trouble.
12. we’ll take our 2& 3 star players, you can have your 4 and 5 star.
13. Rather be dead than a Dawg fan.
14. All of the 7 game win streak was chan’s fault, nothing ya’ll did.
15. I know I missed some, Tech fans please feel free to add. I thought this would save ya’ll some time.


May 13th, 2009
7:41 am

Good Job JB,
This blog is getting very tired with all the other BS on it every freakin day. Hopefully, we can talk some football today, but I wont hold my breath.


May 13th, 2009
7:51 am

Tech fan here. I don’t see Georgia getting past Florida to get to the SEC championship game, but I give the Dogs props for opening with a real team this year, travelling to Okla State…Florida opening w/ Charleston Southern? Give me a break. And yes, I know my Jackets are opening w/ Jax State…I’m not crazy about that game, either.

Urban Warfare

May 13th, 2009
7:53 am

Wow Tony, by some strange Cosmic circumstance you may have just placed the East in the exact order of actual finish with your listings! I’m sure that some would place Tennessee ahead of Kentucky and maybe South Carolina but I just have a feeling that it’s gonna be a tough year for the Vols. I thought Kiffin might try to rotate Crompton and B J Coleman a little this year to take the pressure off the QB position and mask the deficiency there but Coleman has left the building…But who knows, maybe Crompton turns into Peyton Manning this year. I sure hope so, because Peyton was the one Manning who could NEVER beat Florida…Georgia is a real wildcard to me, in some ways I see them being better and in some ways worse but honestly it could be 10-2 or it could be 7-5…probably somewhere in the middle. I think with the little summer program that Meyer has in place with strength coach M&M running the show…there will be no complacency going on in Gainesville…Mighty Gators…Beast of the East.

Urban Warfare

May 13th, 2009
8:01 am

Also Tony, going in Alphabetical order just might work for the West too when you break that down Thursday! Might have stumbled on to something there. LOL


May 13th, 2009
8:04 am

JB, you need to concentrate on solving your acne and try to determine if you’re a guy or a girl. Leave the football discussions for the men. You little techies always spew the same bile….you should’ve gone to UGA, like you wished you could have, and then you wouldn’t have all of these psychological issues confronting you every day.

Washaun better be the answer because I haven’t seen anything on UGA’s roster close to what we need at running back. I have a feeling that the passing game will have to open holes for the running game. AJ will get his help, but it’s most likely to come from a couple of the new kids coming in this year.

We had better find a couple of really good defensive ends to rush the passer and stop the toss sweep, or our defense will be chasing everyone sideline to sideline….no one will be running up the middle.

Oh, JB, are you still here….you may now go to your computer techician job….try to pick out a shirt without drool or food stains on it.


May 13th, 2009
8:15 am

Haha, SimpleDawg, JB is a UGA fan, his post should be considered tongue-in-cheek….moron. Typical

Yo Simple

May 13th, 2009
8:17 am

I guess I’ll have to break it to you, SimpleDawg. JB is a Dawg whose entry above is tongue-in-cheek. So you wasted all your brilliance about acne and computers on one of your own.

Pago Flyer

May 13th, 2009
8:17 am

Well FL still has the best college qb, now if the DAWGS could just figure out how to beat them and gt!

BS Patrol

May 13th, 2009
8:17 am

SimpleDawg has outdone himself.

Atlanta Gator

May 13th, 2009
8:19 am

Predicted final 2009 SEC East Division standings—-

(1) Florida (8-0);
(2) Georgia (5-3);
(3) South Carolina (4-4);
() Tennessee (3-5);
() Vanderbilt (3-5);
() Kentucky (2-6).

For the Gators, it’s all about focus vs. believing their own press clippings; as an optimistic fan, I choose to hope that they will get a little bit lucky (again). For the Dawgs, it’s a rebuilding year; new quarterback and “featured” tailback will emerge, but it’s not enough to break through, and the UGA defense will continue to have untimely break-downs at critical points. The Evil Genius and South Carolina will finally find a quarterback, but it’s not enough to win more than 8 or 9 games overall (4 or 5 SEC). Tennessee has young talent, but no senior leadership and no established quarterback. Vanderbilt may out-perform expectations; I would love to see it happen, but I refuse to put any money on it. Kentucky’s season will be a test of Brooks’ coaching skills; the Wildcats are not going to overwhelm anyone in the SEC, but they could pull some unexpected wins.


May 13th, 2009
8:24 am

My apologies to JB….I guess I get the dumba$$ award today. To all of you techies…just consider my rant aimed at you.

Damn, I feel like Lane Kiffin…..I hope I can get my foot out of my mouth before lunch.

BS Patrol

May 13th, 2009
8:25 am

JB is too hip for the room.


May 13th, 2009
8:28 am

Tony, I just want some dye for my hair!

Urban Warfare

May 13th, 2009
8:33 am

SimpleDawg…I’ll give you credit…UNLIKE Kiffin, you’re man enough to give a sincere apology when you’re wrong…so kudos to you, my friend.


May 13th, 2009
8:33 am

The difference in the quality of the opening games is amazing.

Kiffin a joke

May 13th, 2009
8:33 am

Only question about UTee is how long will it be before Jonathan “Deer in the Headlights” Crompton gets benched & replaced by Jim Bob Cooter?

Can’t wait to see Urban Whiner exact vengeance of Biblical proportions against the Vols.

The Ghost of Wayne Madkin

May 13th, 2009
8:34 am

Will anyone score on Florida this year?

BS Patrol

May 13th, 2009
8:34 am

Very few of JB’s points are arguable.

Reality Check

May 13th, 2009
8:40 am

Lifelong dawg fan here, and JB is right. Hopefully this will remain a football discussion about the Dawgs and SEC and not a pissing contest about academia, and superiority of other schools. From a balling standpoint, UGA has several issues, the chief one being the defense or lack therof. It is not a stretch to say that last year was an aberration when comparing to other defenses under CMR, so hopefully we can show more energy and make less dumb penalties on defense. I think with our OL that the running game and J. Cox will be decent to score points in most games, however, a couple of teams with powerful offenses (ok State, Fla) scare me because of their ability to put up points. I also think that getting our best Offensive lineman back (Stourdivant) and defensive lineman (J Owens) back will help more than the doubters will admit.

Florida is head and shoulders above UGA and the rest of the East on paper, and should win the SEC. Hopefully we can get back to competing in every game this year and show up in the first quarter ready to play in every game. I think 9-3 would be a good year if we compete reasonably in all games.


May 13th, 2009
8:40 am


May 13th, 2009
8:43 am

Thought this was a football blog; can we stay on topic please? Do the techies really get under your skin that bad?


May 13th, 2009
9:01 am

My poor beloved dawgs….I hate to admit, but I don’t think UF is beatable! Handle the hype? It’s not like it is something new for them like it was us last year! I believe many people had them preseason #1 last year, as well! Plus, Tim Tebow is the kind of leader I wish we had! After last year, he won’t let them lose this year!

However, I think UGA is realistically the only team on their schedule that COULD beat them (given our week off) but we are going to have to find a pass rusher! Hopefully Jeff Owens will be the spark we needed to at least crush the pocket and give someone a chance to get to the passer!

I will also commend UF on putting together the biggest sh*t schedule on planet earth! If they played Bama or Ole Miss from the west instead of Arkansas or Miss St (not sure who that is…I think they are SEC) then maybe I would understand, but they literally play NOBODY! What a bunch of girls!


May 13th, 2009
9:02 am

I thought Caleb King was a big-time running back. Oh, that was in high school? I think Richard Samuel will step up and be the feature back.


May 13th, 2009
9:02 am

Florida’s schedule is a joke but they could lose one game either to LSU or GA. It is hard when you have the bullseye on you. GA will lose 2 maybe 3 games depending upon how the first two games go. SC hasn’t had a good offense with Holtz or Spurrier and this year won’t be any different. They have to beat UGA early to have a chance at a good season.

Georgia is loaded on defense so it will be upt to their coach to get it out of them, injuries decimated them last year.

Branden Smith will make an impact as will the kicker putting the ball into the end zone.


May 13th, 2009
9:02 am

The SEC East will be won by the Gators.


May 13th, 2009
9:07 am

Attn: Dawg fans . Re: Techies.

Sometimes it’s best to just ignore the baby and let them cry rather than humor them. I look at Tech fans talking football the same way that I look at actors talking about politics. Why get all worked up over comments from people who are clueless about the subject at hand? Ignoring the ignorance is the best policy.Their comments are totally worthless and not worthy of response.


May 13th, 2009
9:10 am

1. Florida: Preseason #1; Legitimate SEC and National Title Contender; Not infallible; Could lose 2-3 games if complacent or Meyer tries to get cute; Will win the East regardless.

2. Georgia: Good but far from great. May be able to knock off Florida after the off week but won’t be consistent enough over the long haul to win the East. Will at least make that game more interesting than last year. Pounding Tech 10 feet in to the turf will make the season. A return trip to the Capital One bowl would be quite a feat.

3. South Carolina: Total Crap and irrelevant.

4. Vanderbilt: I think they go to another bowl.

5. Tennessee: Total crap and irrelevant. The offense will be an absolute horrific train wreck of epic proportions.

6. Kentucky: Total Crap and irrelevant. I just don’t have the same soft spot in my heart for Kentucky like I do for Vandy. I really don’t like these clowns for some odd reason.

That about sums it up. The SEC East will be pretty boring this year and isn’t that great. Thanks.


May 13th, 2009
9:18 am

well, maybe all of us haven’t stepped in a class room…………….just got back from the doctor and find I’m being attacked by my own breed…………Thanks for straighting him out….and the apology…….


May 13th, 2009
9:21 am

miles, I bet Sports center would hire you….geez………..

Voice of Reason

May 13th, 2009
9:26 am

Urban- a little blasphemous I believe.

JB- Loved the points, yet why to you say 3 of the last 4 NC? It is 3 of the last 3. 3 in a row. 3 of the last 4 makes it sound less than what it is. Besides that, you basically summed up all techie comments…. but don’ leave St Simons out… 45-42! hahahahahahahaha now that is out of the way.

Gen Neyland

May 13th, 2009
9:32 am

It has been written, ‘The bigger they are, the harder they fall.’ It will be hard to rope the Gator, especially if Tebow et al continue to live by the motto of ‘no one will practice, practice and play harder than we’uns.’ Okay, that wasn’t quite the quote but that was the attitude. What will August bring..? What will transpire over the summer..? Who will be doing community service and why..? And who will be the first from the SEC to suffer a loss to CLK and the Vols..? BTW, been in Athens this week. Saw the bronze Dooley and Heisman’s. Enjoyed the walk around UGA. Where can you get a beer in this town..?

Saint Nick

May 13th, 2009
9:35 am

Fla has tickets already on sale for the SECCG. They will play Bama, this time Bama gets the job done. Percy claimed glaucoma for his failed drug test, that is why he left UF early. He knew that if he stayed at UF that excuse would not work because Tebow could bless some eye drops and cure his glaucoma and give him sight equal to that of an eagle!!!!


May 13th, 2009
9:37 am

Thanks voice if reason…………..That’s why you are a Tech Guy and I a lowly UGA guy……..hold on a minute….Leroy, the damn drive thru is backing up………Sorry about that, I’m back….Where was i ?


May 13th, 2009
9:43 am

Rutgers fan here, and therefore able to stay objective…

Fla is a top heavy fave although the Dawgs seem to play better with low expectations. They could surprise and finish 7-1. Also, I think Kent will take a step back this year although Tenn is relevant again. Both off the field (right away) and on the field (in a year or so)

Another monster year from Fla and UM could bolt to the pros.


May 13th, 2009
9:44 am

General, give our Tech friends directions to the Heisman’s in Athens, just in case they ever want to ride over and see one in person….sorry, or two…….


May 13th, 2009
9:45 am

Florida opens with Charleston Southern? Charleston Southern what? Is that a Hospital, a rest home, a drive in, a church, what? What the hell is Charleston Southern? And why is the “mightiest team in the land” playing them? What a bunch of wusses!

Red Elephant

May 13th, 2009
9:46 am

JB – That was too funny!!

Alabama & Virginia grad here – GT is certainly no lady, but “She doth protest too much, methinks.”

Every visit I make to UGA I come away impressed with the beauty of the campus & town, the pretty co-eds, the diverse student population and great fan support. At GT I encounter diesel fumes and that stunning view of the I-75/I-85 “connector.” Besides, what kind of school errects a flashing, electric sign on their campus? NC – No Class. But I guess it is a close walk to The Varsity.


May 13th, 2009
9:46 am

Saw Tim Tebow over here at Clearwater Beach the other day. When he got into the water I actually saw a 12ft Hammerhead swim and get into a shark cage.


May 13th, 2009
9:50 am

TampaDave…nice…that’s a new one, not the same tired Chuck Norris type crap…good stuff…

Forrest Gump

May 13th, 2009
9:51 am

The issue with UGA is never about talent but about discipline. Until Richt stops applying NCAA minimums to criminal behavior and gets control of the program, arrests will continue as will penalties at critical points during games. The beatings by Alabama and Florida and the humiliation by Tech should reduce the sense of entitlement somewhat.


May 13th, 2009
9:53 am

I’m usually very positive but there isn’t a whole lot to be excited about as a UGA fan, for me. Noone stepping up at RB, a QB who knows the system but has VERY little game experience, 1 WR, and a D with more holes in it than Jeff Francouer’s swing. Having Bobo and Martinez returning certainly doesn’t help the situation. 8-4 Capital One here we come.


May 13th, 2009
9:54 am

ugag being ranked preseason #1 last year was probably the funniest joke EVER. Helle, they didn’t even end up #1 in Clarke County; and certainly not #1 in the state of Georgia or the nation.

you delusional dawgies are hilarious. Just remember there is a new sheriff in town…and his name is Paul Johnson.

Thank God and Greyhound that Chan Gailey is gone forever…you dawgies are really going to miss him.

Reality Check

May 13th, 2009
9:56 am

Florida is truely a great team and deserves all of the hype based on last year, unlike our Dawgs last year when we beat a second tier Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl. With that being said, I still do not put Florida in the unbeatable category. It is worth noting that the last four National Champs from the SEC this decade have all had at least one loss in the conference. However, if any team can run the table like Auburn in 2004 it is this UF team. Unlike Auburn, UF’s easy OOC schedule will not penalize them if they win all their games since they will start ranked #1.


May 13th, 2009
9:58 am

Also had a chance to say hi and meet his girlfriend. I’ll tell you, that Lois Lane is one nice girl!

Red Elephant

May 13th, 2009
9:59 am

Oh yea, back to football…. only Florida will beat Florida this year. Too much talent, too much speed, too much mental toughness, too many returning starters, too much Tebow……keep your eye on the Florida/LSU game.

UGA may have a painful flirtation with the 2006 season. Sorry guys, I see you struggling in a mighty way with the O. The TE position has always figured heavily as a Mark Richt calling card (Ben Watson & Leonard Pope spring to mind – They were on the field making a HUGE difference, not on the sidelines paying penance half the season). Who steps up as TE this year? I do expect the D to have a bit more fire in the belly, but you have to step up the pressure on the QB………..and as usual, Florida waits for you……

[...] Barnhart of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has put together his end-of-spring previews for the teams in the SEC East in his latest blog post.For each school he provides a list of “what we still don’t [...]


May 13th, 2009
10:03 am

Gen. Neyland:
There is beer everywhere you walk in Athens. But you should try Trapeze Pub. They have over 1000 beers available.