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.

Please follow me on Twitter at:

http://twitter.com/MrCFB

130 comments Add your comment

Atanta Gator

August 3rd, 2009
3:24 pm

gdawg~zoo—-Bama by 7.

Matt

August 3rd, 2009
3:33 pm

Yeah, Saban did lose to UAB his first year at LSU. He has a knack for that. The Iowa loss was on the last play too but he has a knack for lossing bowl games anyways. In last years Troy game, LSU could have called it a game after the 3rd quarter but they didn’t. They showed a heart of true champions and came back to win. I don’t really remember Bama coming back to beat many teams over the years do you?

I remember the Bama game very well. I still see D. Byrd flailing around trying to either catch the ball or knock it down as he was standing in the middle of 3 or 4 Bama defenders before getting crushed. That play turned into an INT inside the 30. You seem to have forgotten that. For every Bama miscue LSU matched it. And yes, I do remember Peterson getting dragged, it was ugly. That’s ok though, this year the ball wont even make it to Jones (that was sarcasim, Jones is the man).

As for the record crowd, we were just welcoming our old coach back. Had it not been for Saban, the crowd would have been an average crowd. However, you make it out to be a big deal that there was a record crowd there. In truth there were probably only 100 or so more people there above the average and they were probably Bama fans anyways.

Tide Rising

August 3rd, 2009
3:37 pm

Matt,

Ahhh! It was only a matter of time I suspect before you would go digging up the bear. Only rival fans like you refuse to realize the man has been dead something like 26 years now. His last year at Bama was 1982 or 1983 I think Seems we still were whupping you in your own house for another 20 years after that so why would you start digging up the bear? What’s he got to do with anything if he’s been dead 26 years?

What was LSU before Saban resurrected that program. 8 losing seasons in 11 years before Saban got there? Is that right? Sorry dude but in the myriad number of coaching changes since the bear I don’t ever remember us having losing seasons 8 of 11 years. That is truly pathetic no matter how bad the coaching. Now that the last of Saban’s players are finally gone I see LSU going back to its accustomed position in the basement.

Miles reminds me of Larry Coker at Miami. He won a national title in 01 and played for another in 02 with Butch Davis’s upper classment. Then as Davis players gradually filtered through Miami dropped horribly despite good recruiting classs and well, we know the rest of the story. Strange how it parallels Miles going 7-5 his first year after that stellar senior class of 07 that Saban recruited to LSU. Looks like history as already started repeating itself.

History will repeat itself also in that we will go back to our usual, customary dominance of you which existed well after the bear left. The only time you’ve ever dominated was in the mid 2000s when we were playing with 21 fewer players. Heck, everyone was beating us. Its a little harder to beat us now that we are back at full strength as you found out last year.

You can bring up La-Monroe all you want if all you can do is live vicariously through other teams which is just plain sad. Its actually kinda funny to me too though and I don’t mind it being brought up.

Last, if you’re going to dominate us and the west you might want to start thinking about winning more than a paltry 3 sec games this year. And if you lose at least show some pride and some fight. Don’t let teams continually rack up over 50 pts on you. Hard to believe that you guys can win only 3 conference games, get blown out in 3 of those 5 losses, and then talk smack about dominating. Absolutely amazing you are!

gdawginkalamazoo

August 3rd, 2009
3:43 pm

Charlotte Gator, I thought he got the automatic raise to $1 above the highest paid coach in the SEC and at least 3rd highest in the land.. But I am not certain on that.

Tide Rising

August 3rd, 2009
3:49 pm

Matt,

Its been fun trading barbs with you but I think I’ll actually get back to doing some work and let some of the other guys have at it. Besides, I get the feeling that the other guys probably are growing weary of our ongoing debate. Nothing wrong with some spirited smack talk. Its all in good fun.

I will leave you with one good bit of advice. Leave the bear out of it. The man has been dead 26 years and most bama fans don’t even remember him. You would have to be 40 years old to vividly remember any of his games as a 14 year old teenager. When you revert to bringing up the bear it seems you’re really reaching. Just an opinion since most Bama fans today rarely even bring up the bear among themselves since most of us aren’t even old enough to remember him.

Got 12 but none in quite a long long time ....

August 3rd, 2009
4:03 pm

Tide has something that the rest of the SEC does not have….

PROBATION

Matt

August 3rd, 2009
4:11 pm

HAHA. Oh Tide Rising. You are the one who continually brings up stats from the Bear days. You have to dig up stats from 40 years back to make Bama look good. I only used his name. LSU has one down year while Bama has one good year and all of a sudden LSU is in a downward spiral while Bama is top dog again. Right, I get it. And you need to talk to more Bama fans or listen to Bama radio. All I hear is crap about Bear. It’s sickening. Bama fans still live in the Bear days. You may not but the majority do. If I am to leave Bear out of the conversation, you must not bring up stats from the ’60’s and you must recognize LSU’s accomplishments of this decade. Which you do not. You’re such a homer that you cannot even face that fact that Bama has blown chunks most of this decade, probation or not. You can’t simply forget about an entire decade of football. We haven’t even talked about the late 90’s have we? Were was bama? On the way down!!!! Sure LSU sucked, I fully and rightfully admit that. I also rightfully admit the ownage Bama showed LSU throughout the ’60’s and 70’s. but you, you my friend see through Crimson colored glasses.

I also find it humorious that you dig up stats from the past 40 years of Bama football while dismissing anything LSU did between 2000 and 2007. LSU won 2 National Championships during that span. 3 SEC Championships. 7-2 in Bowl games and something like 7-1 against Bama. You say Bama was on probation, yet again I ask, isn’t Bama always on probation? You ignored that in the last debate we had.

gdawginkalamazoo

August 3rd, 2009
4:13 pm

Charlotte Gator, never mind you are correct on that. He needs another title, fast.

Matt

August 3rd, 2009
4:13 pm

Saban dresses like Bear during the Spring games. Sounds like someone is living in the past!!!

gdawginkalamazoo

August 3rd, 2009
4:16 pm

If Saban were an animal what kind of animal would he be? Guess if he is going to be there a while we need to give him a nickname. The Bear was classic, what can we call Nick?

Matt

August 3rd, 2009
4:17 pm

I’ve got to get back to work as well. looks like I’m going to be at the office a little longer tonight!!

UGA fans, the board is now yours again!

11/7/09

Matt

August 3rd, 2009
4:20 pm

I like Weasel.

Pat

August 3rd, 2009
4:32 pm

In regards to the “Do you believe in bad karma? Just asking.” sentence in Mr. Barnhardt’s article, I believe in it and it’s due for Nutt, who is still running from it after getting off scot-free at Arkansas.
Nutt is due up some bad Karma and I’m hoping it hits him this year, his only chance to ever sniff success at Ole Piss.

Otto

August 3rd, 2009
4:34 pm

As a UGA fan I was enjoying Tide Rising doing his part to continue the tradition of Bama beating up on LSU.

Paddy

August 3rd, 2009
5:53 pm

Biggest flop in the ACC- Miami

Biggest flop in the SEC-I want to say Akansas because of that coward coach of theirs. But Ole Miss will not be able to stop the bleeding once it starts.

GatorBait

August 3rd, 2009
8:14 pm

is there an sec west? won’t matter too much this year. go gators.

obomaisaclown

August 3rd, 2009
8:27 pm

IF you can’t win championships do what Alabama does , make them up !!!

duran

August 3rd, 2009
8:33 pm

with all things happen at bammer
Lsu coach has a bab year this year look out
they will kick him out if he loses 4 or 5 this year

Big_Fan

August 3rd, 2009
8:42 pm

Alabama was supposed to be great last year? Most people were predicting 7 or 8 wins…a few 9.
The OL was not supposed to be great last season, and the QB was considered a liability going into the season…much like this year, only this team has more depth.

Nice revisionist history.

Saban inherited a train wreck and has turned the Tide faster than anyone thought possible. The Tide may not be NC contenders this season, but they will be very good. In 2010 Bama will be hard to handle.

Dawg in Jville

August 3rd, 2009
8:44 pm

Those were the best questions you could come up with? :-)

Does Arkansas have a defense?
Is Jevan Snead really a higher draft pick projection than Tebow?
How does that Auburn chop-blocking lineman stay eligible?
Is LSU’s Jefferson the real deal? Can he take it to the next level?
Does MSU have the talent to run a spread attack?
How is the new Bama safety going to do at 180 lbs. dripping wet?

Not great questions either, but I’m tryin…

Jeff

August 3rd, 2009
8:56 pm

I can’t believe that Houston Nutt waited as long as he did to pull the plug on Jamar Hornsby.

Also, LSU’s quarterbacking HAS to be better this year, although that’s not saying much. I wouldn’t expect anything productive from Jefferson or Lee. If I were an LSU fan, I’d be happy just to not get game-killing mistakes from them.

BamaBoots

August 3rd, 2009
10:26 pm

Tide Rising

You may have to let up on these guys. THEY CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH.

Denver Dog

August 3rd, 2009
11:08 pm

The tide won’t be rebuilt in time for Va Tech, but Alabama has something to prove after the Sugar Bowl performance, or lack thereof.

Jarrett Lee, will play and then sit. He will be a great back-up and will be used that way.

Auburn will suffer on line, but they will adapt and will be a real surprise in the SEC west

Arkansas gets a great boost, but they still need a defense

Ole Miss, Houston Nutt signed too many and waited too long to cut folks. He is a good coach, but the teams will be ready for him this year.

Gators will be close to winning it all, alot depends on Jax, and LSU

Gen Neyland

August 4th, 2009
12:29 am

Good golly Miss Molly, Rehashing the past year’s ups and downs will never grow old…Like they say in Divorce Court – There’s his side, her side and the truth…?

Oy!!!!

August 4th, 2009
6:18 am

Sad news for Georgia that Florida’s Coach Myers will be around for years to come. “Did I mention he got paid!!!!”

[...] Five burning questions about the SEC West 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? 2-What’s the future for LSU QB Jarrett Lee? 3. How important is the NCAA’s decision to allow Broderick Green to be immediately eligible to play? 4-What about that Auburn offensive line? Any chance they can stay healthy? 5-Ole Miss finally cut signee Jamar Hornsby loose. Is that good karma or bad karma going into preseason practice? [...]

ATL

August 4th, 2009
9:21 am

really Tony, those are your 5 burning questions. Give me a break. I have 5 for LSU alone and none of which involves the backup QB. Come on Tony, your SEC East bias clearly shows.

braxton24

August 5th, 2009
2:27 am

why do these things all ways end up with 2 ppl actin like little children! well lsu sucks well bama still talks about the bear… give me a break! haha bama had a great season last yr cant take that away! they did lose the bowl game but thats bc the utah off was no slouch they shocked bama with 3 big plays. bama actually came back and got control of the game just a little to late! bama will prolly win 8 or 9 this yr their back up is not that bad! lsu is a team with alot of great players but much like my au tigers they lack in key skill positions! aus line will be fine! they just needed a yrs worth of butt whoopins to get some exp! trotter in my mind would have started this yr but with the injury we will never know! im praying that rollinson lives up to the hype and we start a true freshman! never liked burns caudle is to inexp and todd just flat out sucks (yes i know he was “100″% last yr) but the fact is he isnt what au needs! ole miss lost some key players to injury as well and prolly will go 500. just remember au loves being the underdog! last yr we were highly touted and blew our nuts! in the yrs past when we were supposed to be avg. we had great seasons! hopefully history repeats itself!haha all in all florida is just to stacked all over the field! they win the sec and prolly yet another national title!

David Smith

August 13th, 2009
10:24 am

I think this is the way things will pan out in the SEC West in 2009:

1)Ole Miss
2)Alabama
3)LSU
4)Arkansas
5)Mississippi State
6)Auburn(Worst Auburn team since 1999)

Jay Rock

August 15th, 2009
8:52 am

David Smith

Your SECwest ranking is exactly how SI.com’s PreSeason 120-team ranking has it. And you/they may be right

But I don’t think so. Being especially tuned into Rebel Nutts and Hog Pets, I believe you’ll see a roll reversal there in ’09. I could say much more, but only have time to put out there a couple rankings I recently determined. I didn’t set out to predict the ’09 SECwest; instead the New Order of things over say the next five years chiefly in the Top Half of the conference + 2.

First, going into the 10 year of this decade, here is the W-L rankings of shall we say this passing decade (The Old Order):

Georgia
LSU
Florida
Auburn
Tennessee
Alabama

Arkansas
Ole Miss

Next, predictions for The New Order:

Florida
Alabama
Arkansas
LSU
Georgia
Ole Miss

Tennessee
Auburn

SECwest: And finally, my instincts for 2009, based upon the thinking that led to the above:

Alabama
Arkansas
LSU
Ole Miss
Auburn
Mississippi State

I guess this’ll stir things up!