Five burning questions about the SEC West

At last, at long last, we have some real football to cover as teams are finally going to report this week. But there is a lot to do between now and Sept. 3, when South Carolina goes to N.C. State.

As always, the landscape changes between the end of spring practice and now. So we’re going to spend the next few days looking at the most burning questions still surrounding the SEC and ACC as we head into two-a-days.

On the eve of preseason practice, here are my five burning questions about the SEC West:

 

1-The Alabama offensive line is going to eventually grow into a good unit. But will it happen in time for Virginia Tech? Head coach Nick Saban had a wonderful luxury last season. If the game seemed to be getting out of hand, he had the offensive line to just grind on people and re-establish control of the game. With three starters gone, including (Outland Trophy winner) Andre Smith and center Antoine Caldwell, there is much work to do for offensive line coach Joe Pendry. I really like LG Mike Johnson, who will be the bell cow of that unit. And there is talent there. But the offensive line really has to play with one heartbeat and I wonder how close this group will be on Sept. 5 when the Tide plays the ACC champs at the Georgia Dome?

 

2-What’s the future for LSU QB Jarrett Lee? The quarterback position was pretty much a nightmare for LSU in 2008 but nobody’s dreams were worse than those of Lee, a rising third-year sophomore. You really have to work at it to throw 16 interceptions, seven of which were returned for touchdowns. When I talked to coach Les Miles at SEC Media Days, he insisted that Lee is in the mix with sophomore Jordan Jefferson, who finally grew up and took over at the end of last season. But does Lee really come all the way back from last year’s disaster, especially with highly-touted recruit Russell Shepard waiting in the wings? I think we’ll find out in the first few scrimmage if Lee is going to be a factor.

 

 3. How important is the NCAA’s decision to allow Broderick Green to be immediately eligible to play?  This is huge-literally-for Arkansas. One of the problems a year ago is that the offense had to rely too much on running back Michael Smith, who is generously listed on the roster at 5-7, 176. Smith had 207 carries last season (for 1,072 yards) but by the end of the season he was beat up. Smith was also not a good goal-line option. Green (6-2, 248), an Arkansas native, got 32 carries for 168 yards and three touchdowns at Southern Cal in 2008. The NCAA granted him a waiver (sick grandmother) and last week he was declared eligible to play this fall. Now Arkansas has a power running game to complement Smith, which means that Ryan Mallett’s play-action passing game will be even more effective. This is a very important development for Arkansas, who I think can be a bowl team in Bobby Petrino’s second season.

 

4-What about that Auburn offensive line? Any chance they can stay healthy?  While the whole world is worried about the starting quarterback-because it doesn’t appear that Auburn has one-it ain’t gonna matter much if the Tigers get a couple of offensive line injuries in preseason. The first unit, which includes proven players like LT Lee Ziemba and RG Bryon Isom, can play at the SEC level. But if anybody gets hurt, OC Gus Malhzan told me, then this offense will go into a scramble mode. I watched this happen at Georgia last season after LT Trinton Sturdivant got knocked out for the season early. It is not fun and it’s an aggravation new head coach Gene Chizik does not need.  

 

5-Ole Miss finally cut signee Jamar Hornsby loose. Is that good karma or bad karma going into preseason practice? Hornsby may have set some kind of record by managing to get himself kicked off of two SEC teams in the space of two years. You might remember Mr. Hornsby. He was the guy who took the credit card of the dead girlfriend of Gator Joe Haden and ran up $3,000 in gasoline charges. After Hornsby did a stint in junior college, Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt signed him last February. Jamar was so overjoyed at his second chance in life that he proceeded to get arrested on felony assault charges on March 1. Nutt was going to let the legal system run its course, but last Friday Hornsby was indicted on the charges and Ole Miss decided they had better cut their losses. Something like this probably has no impact on the rest of the team. But this summer we have also had a near-tragic auto accident involving RB Dexter McCluster, the Rebels’ most versatile offensive player, and DE Greg Hardy, their best defensive player. Do you believe in bad karma? Just asking.

 

 Tomorrow we will take a look at the SEC East.

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130 comments Add your comment

m

August 3rd, 2009
1:20 pm

The post at the top of this page by m is a fake, obviously.

Tony, the mighty sec plays the ACC 7 games this year. I say the ACC smacks the sec around this year just they did last year. What say you?

The sec, the chan gomer gailey of conferences…Thank God and Greyhound that he is gone forever.

Don Ho

August 3rd, 2009
1:21 pm

KR

Q: What does AU QB Kody Burns have in common with Larry Bird?

A: They both throw great bounce passes.

Tide Rising

August 3rd, 2009
1:22 pm

Atlbrett,

Jordan Jefferson is 36 of 73 passing for 49.3% with 4tds and 1 int. Pulling stats out of my arse? I think not.
Check the facts yourself before making a complete jackazz out of yourself. Google his career passing stats and go to silive.com and see for yourself you punk!

archangeladidas

August 3rd, 2009
1:22 pm

Urban Meyer just inked a new deal. So much for coaching at ND next year. May the GATOR dominance continue. GO GATORS!!!

Tide Rising

August 3rd, 2009
1:25 pm

KR,

I did say “arguably” the worst which leaves the running for the title up for debate. The Miss State qb was really bad also and Kodi Burns the Auburn qb was as you said really bad. If Auburn can find a good qb they could be really good in a hurry. I’m thinking they should maybe just go with Barrett Trotter or incoming freshman Rollison I think his name is, take their lumps early while the new qb learns, and then by the time they play their biggest rivals at the end of the season like Bama and Georgia they would be competitive.

KillCasualFan

August 3rd, 2009
1:29 pm

LSU wasn’t the only SEC team with QB issues last season. Tebow and Stafford aside, overall it was one of the worst years in SEC history for QB play. Tennessee, Auburn, & Miss. St. fired their coaches over it and Bama was embarrased in their bowl game because of it. The others aren’t worth mentioning. Stafford would have ranked #7 in QB ratings had he been in the Big 12. It’s easy for the SEC to look good on defense when they are mostly facing less than average QB’s.

Its a gator world

August 3rd, 2009
1:33 pm

Tide,

Sorry about that calling your stat bs. I guess Jefferson is a career under 50% passer.

Miss.who

August 3rd, 2009
1:35 pm

archangeladidas dominance my —.

Tide rising

August 3rd, 2009
1:39 pm

Atlbrett,

What manner of an idiot are you to be calling someone else a simpleton when you are regurgitating high school statistics? Is Jordan Jefferson still playing high school ball or is he now playing in the SEC? You freaking idiot.

What have you got to say about the man being 36 of 73 for a career % under 50% as I stated? I thought you said I just made that stat up. Well, those are real stats that you can verify yourself. Please go verify them yourself before you start saying that I’m just making stuff up out of my arse. Oh, but you think I should have included his freaking high school stats after he’s already played in 7 games as a freshman and is now a sophomore in college. Good God you are stupid!

Atlanta Gator

August 3rd, 2009
1:41 pm

archangeladidas—-Yes, and may the Schwartz be with you, too, brother.

Don Ho

August 3rd, 2009
1:43 pm

Never realized High School stats were included in career stats. I learn something new on this blog every day!

Otto

August 3rd, 2009
1:47 pm

Tide, Trotter is out with the ACL. Caudle is the real option and Gus remembers a HS game played between his team with Mustain against Caudle’s Spain park team which has a high scoring game where whever had the ball last won. Auburn’s greatest problem is depth on the OL.

Jordan Jefferson had one good game against GT. LSU has lost some veterans on their very good DL. LSU also one of the harder schedules in the West. Also I don’t think Chavis is the answer at DC. LSU finishes in 3rd in the west. Auburn 4th. Arkansas gets killed by their schedule for 5th.

Matt

August 3rd, 2009
1:48 pm

Tide Rising:

Hello again! LSU fans are excited about JJ and the rest of the team because LSU actually showed improvement the last game of the season. I seem to remember Bama getting crushed by Utah. Oh and how many passes have the Bama QB’s thrown and completed to date? LSU has more talent and experience at QB than Bama does face it.

Yes, Ole Miss does have the scheduling advantage this year. But they also have 2 (count’em 2) FCS schools on their schedule. That is the type of schedule that gets you knocked out of contention with one loss. I’m ok with LSU finishing 2nd in the West. All that means is that when the #1 west school gets crushed by UF in the SECCG, LSU will jump into the Sugar Bowl or At Large spot in the BCS (something LSU takes more seriously than Bama).

Its a gator world

August 3rd, 2009
1:50 pm

I guess Atlbrett loves those high school stats. Give it up Brett. You called the man a liar and he pulled the stats to prove it and now you’re coming up with high school stats? I called him out on the Jefferson stat also but I’m convinced and said I was sorry.

gdawginkalamazoo

August 3rd, 2009
1:55 pm

Atl Gator, for a few minutes Urban was the highest paid coach in the SEC, at least until Les Miles attorney/agent got wind of it.

Matt

August 3rd, 2009
1:56 pm

The numbers Tide Rising is throwing out on JJ are correct but I’ll take them from a kid who just turned 18. If it were not for the defensive meltdown against Arky, LSU would have won and JJ would be 2-0. That game was not JJ’s fault. However, that was last year and the only thing we can do about that is fix the problem. Those problems have been fixed.

Tide Rising

August 3rd, 2009
1:57 pm

Matt,

Sorry man but I just deal in facts. Jefferson is 36 of 73 for 49%. McElroy has also seen limited action but is 16 out of 20 for 80%. Stick to the facts Matt.

And to bring up the Utah game? Man, that’s weak that you have to live vicariously through Utah. Do you want me to bring up any of LSU’s 5 losses conference losses? We can have this debate all day long but the bottom line is I’ll take 12-2 with losses to the national champs and the nation’s only unbeaten team in Utah over 8-5 all day long. Do you really want to go there?

gdawginkalamazoo

August 3rd, 2009
1:58 pm

Anybody know what Va Tech’s record against the SEC is?

Tide Rising

August 3rd, 2009
2:00 pm

Congrats to the gators for signing Urban to a long term deal. Now maybe people can quit with the nonsense of obsessing over when he will go to ND. I think the continued excellence that Meyer brings will make everyone else raise their game to keep up.

Tide Rising

August 3rd, 2009
2:04 pm

gdawginkalamazoo,

VT is 18-38 against the sec for a losing % of around 30% I’m guessing. The source is Stassen.com lest Atlbrett accusing me of lying and just making stats up again. Against Bama they are 1-10 but they won the last time we played and whooped us pretty good in the music city bowl something around 10 years ago.

Matt

August 3rd, 2009
2:10 pm

HAHA, yeah you only deal in facts. How about these facts.

McElroy has played against Auburn, Arkansas, Tenn, Western Carolina, Miss. St., and Western Kentucky. All in mop up duty and in some games didn’t even throw a pass. I’m pretty sure I could complete 80% of my passes against those 2nd and 3rd team defenses.

JJ has played against GT, Ark, Ole Miss, Troy, Miss. St., Tulane, and North Texas.

Point is, JJ has taken meaningful snaps and made starts against SEC competition. McElroy has taken meaningless snaps in the final moments of crap games.

gdawginkalamazoo

August 3rd, 2009
2:10 pm

Thanks Tide I was just wondering. It may be my perception but to me Va Tech just seems to play like UGA does sometimes in that they just mentally and physically drop out of the game for periods of time. Call it trying to protect a lead or just not showing up.

Matt

August 3rd, 2009
2:15 pm

Oh and yes, I do believe I will continue to talk about the last game of the season. Momentum comes from those games. A bowl game is where you get to show the world what kind of a team you are. LSU could have easily given up. They were 7-5 at the time. Had a bad year but they are true champions who do not give up. They spent the a month grooming a true freshman QB and came up with a defensive scheme to stop what had been an upstoppable offense. Bama gave up as soon as Tebow got fired up and it carried over. What did Bama spend that month doing between games. Apparently it wasn’t watching film. Bama had a senior QB, a stacked defense, and Nick Saban and they still could not beat a team that everyone thought they would. You probably think Utah plays a crap schedule and doesn’t belong in the National Title conversation either.

tek

August 3rd, 2009
2:16 pm

lsu is the best

ThaMan

August 3rd, 2009
2:17 pm

If you mutts want to go back, lets go to 8 in a row over the fleabags.

G8R GRAD

August 3rd, 2009
2:18 pm

“Not only did the University of Florida win a national championship in January, but all 13 seniors earned degrees and the 2008 football team tied an SEC-league record with 37 players named to the SEC academic honor roll.”
ESPN.com

Tell me again why Charlie Weiss is still making more per year than Coach Meyer?

ThaMan

August 3rd, 2009
2:19 pm

Jeff – last year, Tech went 2 for 3 against the SEC. Moron!

Matt

August 3rd, 2009
2:22 pm

G8R Grad: I say that quote as well and was very impressed. The academic stats often get overlooked.

G8R GRAD

August 3rd, 2009
2:22 pm

“[Meyer's] also made a $1 million commitment to UF’s Florida Opportunity Scholars Program, which was created by school president Machen to provide financial assistance to first-generation, financially disadvantaged students working toward a bachelor’s degree.

Meyer and Florida men’s basketball coach Billy Donovan agreed to lead that charge last year. The goal is to raise $50 million.”
ESPN.com

G8R GRAD

August 3rd, 2009
2:25 pm

Say what you will about the man, his ethics, whining, etc., but . . . . .

Tide Rising

August 3rd, 2009
2:25 pm

Atlbrett,

“Jefferson is 36 of 73 and nobody is arguing those facts”. Excuse me but you started arguing those stats in your first post when you said that I just made those up out of thin air and basically just called me a liar. Did you not? Seems to me that you want to continue to conveniently ignore the fact that you called someone a liar, you got proven wrong, and now you’re acting like it never even happened. What does that say about you as a man?

Tide Rising

August 3rd, 2009
2:34 pm

Matt and Atlabrett,

I see that you are still living vicariously through the Utah game and to some extent the Florida game. I would venture to say that Tim Tebow would say that the seccg was a lot more competitive than their game with JeaLSU. What was that score 51-21? Was that it? Who let’s people score over 50 pts against them anyway? That is nothing short of humiliation. Seems like the dogs pegged 52 on your azzes also. Talk about giving up in a game.

Hard to believe you want to rag on me about losing to the two teams that collectively finished 26-1 and finished 1-2 in one of the polls while you conveniently get all the mileage you can out of one bowl win. Never mind the 5 conference losses including some of those UGA, UF, Ole Miss in humiliating fashion. The Ole Miss game may not have been real lopsided scorewise I haven’t looked it up but they physically put a whooping on you guys. Let me know when you can keep Tebow and the dawgs under 50 pts.

And how do you lose to an Ark team that had the worst D in the conference. How does that happen? How come the miracle worker JJ couldn’t outscore ARK when he was starting against the worst D in the conference. How does that happen?

You guys are amazing.

Atlanta Gator

August 3rd, 2009
2:45 pm

gdawg~zoo—-Virginia Tech’s all-time record against the current members of the SEC is 26-49; Virginia Tech’s all-time record against Alabama is 1-10.

Here’s the link to College Football Data Warehouse:

http://cfbdatawarehouse.com/data/div_ia/acc/virginia_tech/vs_conf_opponents.php?confid=177&restrictions=none

Steve

August 3rd, 2009
2:46 pm

Alabama a so-so quarterback last year and they far exceeded any preseason expectation. They sure as hell put some black jeresy’s on the For Sale Real Real Cheap rack, if I recall corredtly…. here in Georgia. ROLL TIDE.

Matt

August 3rd, 2009
2:50 pm

Tide Rising:

Are you trying to hurt my feelings? LSU had a horrible year last year. We know. LSU gave up a ton of points defensively. We know. Oh but check the 07 and 06 seasons and you’ll find that LSU has held Tebow to under 30 points, TWICE.

If you could read you would see that I have explained why LSU lost the Arkansas game. Wasn’t JJ’s fault. And nobody called him a miracle worker but yourself. Bama was supposed to be one of the greatest teams ever last year. I heard Bama fan after Bama fan saying that time after time. But you guys can’t even win a bowl game against a lesser opponent. But that is Nick Saban for you. Lost to Iowa in his last game at LSU. Couldn’t beat Louisana Monroe two years ago (man that one must have hurt).

What do LSU fans have to be jealous of? Bama hasn’t meant anything to us in over a decade. Until Saban came back, LSU fans really had forgotten about Bama.

You clearly do not watch the games, or maybe you just don’t own a TV or have cable hookups or something. UF beat the pants off LSU, no other way to spin it. Against UGA, Lee threw 2 pick 6’s (one on the 1st pass of the game). The difference in the game was 14 points. Do you remember that UGA had one of the best offenses in the Nation? Ole Miss was just a mess. The D gave up on that one.

But what about Bama? I mean it took Lee throwing an INT in Overtime to lose that game. Lee tried giving Bama that game all day long. What happened there guy?

Point is again, that LSU could have given up but didn’t. They came back and wore out a decent team. Bama on the other hand was 12-1 at the time and considered one of the best teams in the nation and what do they do to end the season. LAY AN EGG. Sounds like Bama’s D gave up against Utah.

The Blog Referee

August 3rd, 2009
2:51 pm

AJC Editors,

Please delete comment of Atlbrett @2:41pm for violations of the AJC blog user agreement.

Thanks.

The Ref

Matt

August 3rd, 2009
2:52 pm

Saban has never had back to back double digit win seasons.

I love that stat!!!!!

Tide Rising

August 3rd, 2009
2:53 pm

Atlbrett,

Allow me to help you out there buddy. He started 2 games but he played in 7 games overall so this is based on a number of games,. not just the 2 that he started.

Also, your point is contradictory. On the one hand you talk about how great JJ is going to be based upon how he played in one single game which was the bowl game. Then when I give you his stats over 7 games with 2 complete starts you dismiss those stats as being meaningless because its only 2 games. You can’t have it both ways dude. Either he is an average at best qb because his stats aren’t very impressive over his career which includes 7 games or he is a one game wonder in the bowl game. Which is it?

Your last statement about my “tons of fun” redneck wife just diminishes you. Surely you can do better than that if you want to insult me. Give it another shot and this time try to be witty.

[...] Burning Questions about the SEC West From Tony Barnhart Five burning questions about the SEC West | Mr. College Football [...]

Mac

August 3rd, 2009
2:56 pm

Hornsby got into an ocean-trench-deep karma hole when he stole and used a dead girl’s credit card. How devoid of decency do you have to be to do that? Houston Nutt tarnished his own karma by signing that slimeball.

Mort Merkel

August 3rd, 2009
2:58 pm

In fact, Saban is far more familiar with the eight win season than any other. Over-rated!

Tide Rising

August 3rd, 2009
3:01 pm

Matt,

Great stat on Saban! Let’s see if it holds up this year. Now allow me to return the favor and give you a couple stats.

Head to head record Bama 44 wins, LSU 22 wins. Bama doubles up LSU head to head. Source is stassen.com. All you have to do is beat us for the next 22 years in a row to even up the record. Good luck with that.

LSU’s famed death valley AKA tiger stadium. I think instead of the fighting bayou bengal tigers I’ll just call you the mildcats when we play in our home away from home.

In one of college football’s alltime great unbeaten streaks Alabama went unbeaten in 19 straight games at tiger stadium from 1969 to 2004 when Saban of all people finally beat Alabama. Tiger stadium is our house. You guys just pay us rent. As a matter of fact we felt so comfortable there that we played back to back when the conference split into divisions in the ealry 90s. For us its just another home game.

Matt, I patiently await yet another remark about Utah, U, even La-Monroe, etc. since you have to live vicariously through our losses to other teams.

Tide Rising

August 3rd, 2009
3:03 pm

The blog referee,

Please leave Atlbrett’s comments at 2:41 posted. I don’t mind the insult and I think it just tells us a lot about Atlbrett.

gdawginkalamazoo

August 3rd, 2009
3:06 pm

Matt, Atlbrett and Tide Rising. Gentlemen, I have been follwoing you guys and your arguments regarding the “stats”. I can give you guys one piece of information regrading those stats, they won’t mean diddly when this season rolls around. Last years game don’t count toward this year either. So can we get back to talking football players and thier potential THIS year. 12 INTS from last don’t carry over to this year. Neither do the points UGA and UF put up on LSU last year. I suspect that Miles will have A QB picked and ready to go come Sept.

Thanks ATL Gator, who do you favor in the Bama/VaTech game?

CharlotteGator

August 3rd, 2009
3:10 pm

gdawginkalamazoo,

I believe Miles’ contract says he’s the highest paid coach in the SEC after winning a national championship. I don’t think it’s every time another coach gets a raise.

G8R GRAD,

Thanks for pointing out those pieces of the ESPN article. Maybe we can archive those for when the Liar, Crier, ‘I once saw him hit a baby seal’ stuff comes out in the season.

gdawginkalamazoo

August 3rd, 2009
3:10 pm

Tide Rising, Matt and Atlbrett….. you guys should be receiving a call from Obama shortly inviting you to the WH for a beer.

TampaGator

August 3rd, 2009
3:13 pm

Houston Nutt….what took you so long with Jamar Hornsby? And, a better question, why did you sign him in the first place? A person with any kind of morals and values would not have stolen and used a dead girl’s credit card. Did you really think he would reform himself, or does winnnig really override a coaches morals and values as well? Just asking, Mr. Nutt? P.S. This has nothing to do with you beating my Gators last year. You earned that one fair and square with all the previous legit talent from the previous coach.

Matt

August 3rd, 2009
3:17 pm

Tide Rising: And yet you, as all other Bama fans, are living vicariously through Bear!!! haha!

This just in, Bear Byrant is still dead.

I don’t care about past winning percentages, especially when they span over 40 years. You ignored that fact yesterday, as I just brushed it off. You just spit out the same old Bamer stats that date back to Bear and that is all you have. No real fire. You continue to bring those up because you are scared of what the future holds. I’ll tell you what it holds.

A couple of really good years (1 down) and a ton of dissapointment. You can count on Saban lying and leaving at one point in the next 5-7 years and you can count on Bama continually being on probation. You can also count on LSU continuing to dominate Bama as they have done the past decade and you can count on me talking about Bama losing to UL-Monroe for quite some time. That one’s just funny. Like Michigan losing to App. St funny. 11/7 cannot come fast enough. I cannot wait till the Tigers take the field in Tuscaloosa, where they have played well the past few years.

Tide Rising

August 3rd, 2009
3:19 pm

Matt,

Actually I do watch the games on my tv with rabbit ears. As a matter of fact, I remember the Iowa game. They won it on a hil mary pass on the last play of the game did they not? I also remember LSU losing to UAB now that you mention LA-Monroe. If you’re going to downplay Saban’s accomplishments at LSU then you might as well downplay 2003 and a national title shouldn’t you? Just seems fair. I seem to remember you barely escaping Troy of all people last year. Would that be correct? I’m sorry but I thought pick 6 tds counted in football in the UGA game and our game.

Seems you want to got that pick 6 excuse ready for the ga game and for the Bama game last year. It seems that you also forget that we spotted you a td when we fumbled a kickoff around the 20 in last year’s game. You also forget that the game should never have gone into overtime as our kicker kicked the ball way too low on a chip shot field goal to end the game and got it blocked. No problem, Julio just dragged Patrick Peterson on his back for a 9 yard ride to take the ball down to the one and basically seal the game. Seems you also forget that on the opening drive we stuffed it down your throat and our wr fumbled the ball as he was going across the goal line resulting in a touchback. Funny how you forget all those things about last year’s game. I guess you were watching with rabbit ears also. That’s 3 big breaks that we gave you and you still couldn’t win.

And to say that LSU fans had forgotten about us for a decade. Yeah. That’s why you had a record crowd for last year’s game. You had a 5 game winning streak while we were down 21 schollies in the mid 2000s but that wasn’t a decade ago now was it? As a matter of fact I doubt if you had forgotten about us in 04 when you were all jacked up with idea of finally beating us in your own house. Seems we were still in your head at that point in time. That wasn’t a decade ago was it?

Matt

August 3rd, 2009
3:20 pm

gdawginkalamazoo– I’ll gladly answer the phone and accept that beer or two. I just hope FOX news doesn’t make fun of my selection!!

Charlotte Gator– You are correct. Les is to be the highest paid coach after winning a national championship. So the raise Urban received will not affect Miles this year.