Five burning questions about the SEC East

Yesterday we looked at the SEC West and identified five burning questions that need to be answered heading into the start of practice this week. Today let’s look at the SEC East.

 

1. Is Georgia REALLY going to get after it in the preseason? Here is what I mean by that. A year ago when the injuries started piling up the Georgia coaches had to back off contact work in practice. They really had no choice. But the downside to that is that players lose their edge, particularly the when it comes to tackling on defense. Coach Mark Richt has stated on more than one occasion that he won’t make that mistake again. Defensive coordinator Willie Martinez is candid that his group must practice at a high level, and that means hitting, in order to play like an SEC defense. But what happens if Georgia suffers a couple of significant injuries early like it did with DT Jeff Owens and LT Trinton Sturdivant? Will Georgia be able to stick to its guns and keep getting after it in practice?

 

2. Is Florida REALLY serious about this I-formation thing? Urban Meyer tweaked his offense in the spring to add some I-formation.  He did it for several reasons: He wants to put Tim Tebow under center to prove to the NFL boys that the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner can do it. He wants a power running game for goal line and short yardage where somebody other than No. 15 carries the ball. And he wants to get backup quarterback John Brantley ready to take over in 2010. With Brantley’s arm, which is big-time, the play-action passing game out of the I-formation will be a difficult change of pace for Florida’s opponents. But that was in the spring. Now it’s time to get ready to play the games. This spring I sat in the office of new OC Steve Addazio and he was adamant: This was not an experiment. This would become part of the offense. Meyer told me the same. We’ll see.

 

3. Is Tennessee REALLY going to throw these rookie running backs into the fire right away? This much we know about Tennessee’s first team under Lane Kiffin: All season it is going to be a struggle between getting the team ready to play the next game and preparing for the long haul. That will again be the case when Kiffin and OC Jim Chaney decide how to use the highly-recruited running backs, Bryce Brown and David Oku. How much these guys actually get on the field, I believe, is up to the offensive line. If Tennessee had to play tomorrow, instead of Sept. 5 against Western Kentucky, it’s a pretty good bet the Vols would have five seniors starting up front. This is significant. If this group really jells, then Kiffin and Chaney can be a little bolder. If not, you stick with the proven players in Montario Hardesty and Tauren Poole and you spot play the freshmen. The toughest things for young running backs to learn are how to block (because the game is much faster) and picking up pass protection schemes. You wonder how much a highly-recruited kid like Brown was asked to block in high school.

 

4. Is Stephen Garcia FINALLY ready to become the leader at South Carolina? Steve Spurrier has been giving Garcia his props for behaving himself and getting through a spring and a summer without incident. Now it’s show time and the Gamecocks have a pretty tough opening opponent in N.C. State (in Raleigh on Sept. 3).  Garcia is going to have to overcome some things. South Carolina looks to be pretty average at wide receiver. The offensive line, which has been a weak point since Spurrier got to Columbia, is still underwhelming. If there is no running game then there is no play-action passing game and Garcia is going to spend a lot of time just running around for his life. I would like to see some of their early scrimmages, especially with Eric Norwood applying pressure from the other side. And how does Garcia react if things don’t go well?

 

5. Vanderbilt is going to use a no huddle. Seriously? The Commodores, who went 7-6 and won their first bowl game since 1955 last season, must do something about their offense, which was last in the SEC and 117th (out of 119) nationally last season with only 256.23 yards per game. Vanderbilt has two proven quarterbacks (Mackenzi Adams and Larry Smith) and a veteran offensive line. So coach Bobby Johnson wants to shake things up. They played with the idea of a no-huddle offense in the spring. Do they continue to use it this summer and into the season? Smith, the MVP of Music City Bowl, is perfect for that kind of offense. And if the Commodores use it in the opening game against Western Carolina, will it still be in place when they go to LSU on Sept. 12?

 

Bonus question:

Does Kentucky freshman Morgan Newton insert himself into the quarterback competition early? Since their record-breaking offense of 2007, Kentucky fans have waited for the second coming of quarterback Andre Woodson. It looks like he has arrived in the person of Morgan Newton (6-4, 217) of Carmel, Ind. As a senior Newton threw for 1,938 yards and ran for 1,664 more. He scored 48 touchdowns. He led his high school team to three straight state championship games and was 38-7 as a starting quarterback. Mike Hartline is the starting quarterback at Kentucky and Randall Cobb, a full-time wide receiver, will get some snaps out of the Wildcat formation. How quickly can Newton pick up the offense of Joker Phillips and will he be a factor early in this season?

 Coming Wednesday: Five burning questions about the ACC Atlantic.

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231 comments Add your comment

heeltide

August 4th, 2009
10:33 am

I think Kiffin’s more a PR guy and salesman than a football coach. Don’t underestimate the impact of 110,000 orange fannies in Neyland on that sort of mindset — he will cater to the crowd and give them the big name recruits. After all, those recruits are the reasons he had to make such a spectacle of himself in the off-season, remember?

thom

August 4th, 2009
10:37 am

GREAT QUESTIONS – GO DAWGS! http://www.wedgeorgia.com

Tide Rising

August 4th, 2009
10:37 am

Atlanta Gator,

Go get some coffee. Either that or learn how to spell your name right. Yeah, I figured Florida has to be really flush. 4 million is probably nothing. If they really wanted to they could pay 5, 6 million or more. I just think that they don’t because obviously ADs nationwide want to try and hold the line at some point on coaching salaries and keep the coaching salary arms raise in check. This is probably a good thing anyway since the smaller schools like MAC conference schools would have a really hard time keeping up. I’ld be curious to see where the coordinators at big time programs like the SEC big 6 compare in salary to head coaches at programs like say Utah or a Southern Miss or a MAC conference member like Ball State.

Tide Rising

August 4th, 2009
10:39 am

Sorry, I meant to spell it coarching salaries. The same way Corrine Brown (D) Florida would spell it.

Atlanta Gator

August 4th, 2009
10:41 am

co dawg—-If, after Meyer has coached a decade at Florida, won 3+ MNCs and 5+ SEC championships, and he still wants to coach at Notre Dame (or anywhere else), I would say “thank you and good luck, coach.”

However, I don’t see it happening any time soon for two reasons: Florida President Bernie Machen and athletic director Jeremy Foley. They believe in him, they support him, and they are willing to pay him to keep him. I know you Dawgs never make it to Gainesville for football season, but the stadium enhancements of the last 10 years are first-rate. The only reason Meyer would ever leave would be, like Spurrier before him, he needs a new challenge. It clearly won’t be for the money, because Florida can afford to pay more than Notre Dame.

Paddy

August 4th, 2009
10:45 am

trade school junkie….every new offense always starts in high school then moves on to college. Been that way since the single wing in Port Arthor, Texas.

Atlanta Gator

August 4th, 2009
10:52 am

Tide Rising—-Did you see the total athletic revenue numbers for the 2007-2008 when I posted them last week? Florida knocked down $102 million, behind Texas and Ohio State. The rest of the competitive SEC programs (Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Tennessee) were in the $80 million to $90 million range. With the new TV revenue, there’s no reason why Arkansas, Kentucky, Ole Miss and South Carolina can’t be competitive, too. Now, if everyone can stay off NCAA probation, this could become the golden age of SEC football.

G8R GRAD

August 4th, 2009
10:53 am

Tide Rising:

There is also the public relations consideration of paying your coach millions with the overall economy and unemployment numbers under which we are curently suffering.

G8R GRAD

August 4th, 2009
10:55 am

Atlanta Gator:

Do you recall the link to those athletic revnue numbers?
I must have missed your post.

Gatorzone

August 4th, 2009
10:55 am

Burning and bleeding, what are you hearing on UGA’s DBs? With the front 7 coming back, I look for their D to be aweful stout. Anyone selling Cox short is making a mistake as well. This is a perfect situation for Richt to come in under the radar and really make some noise.
Can’t wait for what should be a great year for the SEC!

mcdawg

August 4th, 2009
11:02 am

hey m (moron) UGA was not the #1 ranked team when they played Tech go play your computer games

one of the first things CMR changed when he came from FSU was the intensity of practice-i remember him making the observation that UGA practiced soft which showed up on Saturdays during the Donnan era (poor tackling)he knows what to do

Urban has been crowned the Pope of Gainsville

Looking forward to seeing B. Brown play

the USC game is making me nervous for some reason

a no huddle will be extremely obnoxious

Matt

August 4th, 2009
11:08 am

Hang on, do you guys actually think Meyer signing a contract extension means anything? All it means is that he will coach at Florida this year and make more money doing so. We already knew that. He can still get out of this contract if he wants to. I’m not saying he will leave but this, in no way, guarantees that Meyer will stay at UF for the remainder of the terms. I’ve had to oppurtunity to read a few coaching contract (actually they put them up on the internet now). All the legal jargin is quite impressive but the language of these contracts fills them with so many loopholes that it is usually fairly easy to get out of one. I’m sure the newly minted 4 million dollar man had the best team of lawyers money can buy.

TommyJack

August 4th, 2009
11:09 am

Same as most years. Richt will do less with more.

The Big Gator

August 4th, 2009
11:10 am

Check the following site to verify that Florida is the 2009 Preseason National Champs (like UGA was in 2008 – but I think Florida will end the season a lot closer to Number 1 than UGA did last year) – http://www.lsufootball.net/articles/2009-preseason-polls.htm

Gator Mater

August 4th, 2009
11:13 am

I’m sorry, but Tim Tebow is just a FB playing at the QB position. He will be, at best, a third round pick in the draft.

In the Know

August 4th, 2009
11:13 am

Urban Meyer can not coach an I-formation offense. The only thing he knows is the spread…..thats all he’s ever coached. His team will fail when they go to the I- formation because his players, with exception of Tebow,are not better athletes than those found at other SEC top tier schools and will not be able to just push other teams around. The spread offense has been successful because it presents mismatches based on speed. I personally think Meyer is really going to miss Dan Mullen calling the plays and running the Florida offense.Right now Urban is just so full of himself that he thinks he’s invincible an he can do anything and be successful. Only time will tell, but I think he’s setting himself up for failure.

DawginLex

August 4th, 2009
11:15 am

tommyjack the tool,

“Same as most years, richt will do less with more”?????

Try ending the year ranked higher than the preseason polls 7 of his 8 years in athens with 2008 being the exception.

Did you go to Tech and get that fine edumacation????????????

Atlanta Gator

August 4th, 2009
11:16 am

G8R GRAD—-Check the second page of Tony’s Friday blog. I posted top-10 football and overall athletics revenue with links to the sources.

kmarkvii

August 4th, 2009
11:18 am

Here’s my burning question-will Georgia lead the SEC in penalties again this year?

Matt

August 4th, 2009
11:19 am

The Big Gator:

I’ve seen that spread sheet before and still laugh when I see one ranking having LSU at 3. Not even I would rank LSU 3 (or top 10 for that matter). I do believe though that UF will do better than UGA did last with handling all the presure of being a consensus #1 pick. However, it is going to be very, very tough for them to go wire to wire this year.

I saw an interesting stat today that I have not had the time to look up so maybe someone can help me. It said that UF has never been a regular season #1 in the BCS. Is this true?

Kim Z's package

August 4th, 2009
11:20 am

UGA will be on a new QB by the 3rd game and will be 3rd in the SEC East by the end of the season. Tech can’t pass and UGA can’t cover, Tech can run and UGA can’t tackle. It should be fun. Can we play the game at night, so the UGA fans have to walk off-campus to their cars after the game? A UGA fan getting Mugged and Violated twice in a day would make my New Year.

BurningRedBleedingBlack

August 4th, 2009
11:22 am

Gator zone i hope the db play with alot more heart than last year, we have some veterans, but lot of new faces. Cox will play good , he’s way better leader compared to Stafford, We need to be a team again. We all saw what happens when a team comes together for one common goal(UF)national champs. Gator Zone do you feel like the running game will be a major role this year for the gators since FLA has such a wide range of great backs this year. Urban will not leave he wants leave great things behind him when he retires. Hopefully we will all have a smooth, healty, fun season. Can’t wait!!!

Kim Z's package

August 4th, 2009
11:23 am

doginlex did UGA finish higher than your expatations in any of those years?

Old Dawg

August 4th, 2009
11:25 am

It’s obvious CMR is tired of hearing his team is soft, so they’re taking an Erk Russell approach where every play is the last play in the world. To do that, nobody backs down and everyone plays like a warrior on fire. With the leadership displayed throughout off-season workouts it’s obvious UGA has a major chip on its shoulder to prove they can play with the other top programs in the SEC and OK State.

Whether that equates to more wins is anyone’s guess. But the opposite colored jerseys better be prepared for wiping snot bubbles off their face masks!!

MoDawg

August 4th, 2009
11:30 am

I think there may be too much in the Gators going to the I-Formation to “sell” Tim Tebow to the NFL. They should be careful not to make it all about Tebow and getting him to the next level as a QB, and make it more about winning games and the future of the program.

I’m just saying that by hearing all the time about moving to the I for Tebow’s sake might be misleading and detract from the real focus of the future. I know Tebow is God’s Gift to us all, but putting a round peg in a square hole won’t be easy.

It’s good that they start with a couple of VERY beatable opponents. (Good for them, bad for my Dawgs?)

DawginLex

August 4th, 2009
11:33 am

Yes KZP, they did. Especially 2002 and 2005 when we were SEC champions. 2005 especially-breaking in a new QB, opening up with a non-con opponent that was supposed to wax us.

dawgfan1911

August 4th, 2009
11:34 am

My only comments are for the bulldawgs and gators. The bulldawgs better go hard at practice. This soft lets not get injured approach is stupid! If they recruit as good as they say they do, they should have some flexibility. They also need to look at their stregth and conditioning coach. The Gators talk a lot of smack, but their schedule is as vanilla as Penn State who should go undefeated. Imagine, Penn State versus Florida in the BCS Championship game! What a snoozer! Tell Urban to schedule a tough road non conference game and then we will see how tough thry are.

G8R GRAD

August 4th, 2009
11:39 am

Atlanta Gator:

Found the article.

Search engines are a wonderful thing.

Will

August 4th, 2009
11:41 am

On Sept 5 a new leader in supremacy in the SEC will emerge…That team, the UGA Bulldogs. You will see speed, depth and a hunger to win at every position. You will see a nastiness on defense that resembles the UGA squad of 02′. Marcus Washington will replace Brandon Spikes as the defensive player of the year as well. With this schedule, I think a 1-loss UGA team finally squeaks into the national championship game vs Will Muschamp’s Texas.

G8R GRAD

August 4th, 2009
11:42 am

Oh, and THANKS.

Tony Barnhart

August 4th, 2009
11:42 am

Thanks for the catch on Lennon Creer. Yes, he left the program. I meant to say Tauren Poole, who had a couple of decent games (9 carries vs. UAB, 11 carries vs.Wyoming) last season.
TB

Randy Quaid

August 4th, 2009
11:42 am

I can’t wait for the season to start. Tech fans, last time I checked this blog has nothing to do with Tech or the Almost Counts Conference but yet you come on here just to talk trash. try to respect a rival, you’ll grow as a fan. I m impressed with the gator fans that have shown respect. The real fans out there know that when UGA, FLA, BAMA,LSU, AUB, Ole miss, and tenn play each other, there is a good chance the underdog can win. those top four have been in the top of the recruiting rankings the past 3 or 4 years so they have talent to play with each other. my take, fla is loaded on D, offense has tebow, but Fla will miss the player that helped tebow get to where he is today, Percy Harvin. LOuis Murphy will be missed too. Lsu- lost a lot on the D line, great secondary. Good o line, their QB has not seen a quality D yet. Bama, losing the 3 linemen will hurt more than people realize, especially Smith. QB is untested and if he couldn’t beat out JPW, I wouldn’t be too confident. Solid on D. UGA, solid on o line. need people to step up at WR and RB but has the talent to do so. Their D will suprise people this year. these four teams are the contenders for the SEC. Ole miss has the skill players but lost two big men on Off & Def. Aub will play everyone tough but will come up short due to lack of offense. tenn will have a good d and o line but the QB isn’t good. the WR’s are average. the sec west will be decided in a tie breaker. Only one more month!!!

Frozen_Gator

August 4th, 2009
11:43 am

The Urb man seems to be somewhat like Coach Bryant in that he is not afraid to adapt his offense to the times and personnel

uga has talent, they will be a challenge, I think they will be more conservative because they have a covey of fine backs and the QB is untested and doesn’t have a “million dollar” arm

ut is a giant ? who knows

It’s very sad for me to watch USCe

DawginLex

August 4th, 2009
11:50 am

trade school flunkie,

UT has no QB. They have no depth at DL or LB. The secondary has Berry and not much else. Monte kiffin or not, you have to have personnel to play his scheme. When teams line up and ram it down their throats, no scheme in the world is going to stop that. The UT guys in Nashville are saying that the defense won’t be as good as last year because of lack of personnel.

They might go 7-5 but 2nd in the east is only predicted by you because of your UGA hatred. Why don’t you go back to the nerd blog where you might actually can type something that has a little bit of validity to it?

SEC Grab Bag O’ The Day | MrSEC.com

August 4th, 2009
11:52 am

[...] a good read — tosses out five burning questions from the SEC East in his latest post.  You can read his explanations here, but these are his questions:1.  Is Georgia REALLY going to get after it in the preseason?2.  Is [...]

Gen Neyland

August 4th, 2009
11:54 am

CharlotteGator : We’ll all be watching for the jump pass out of the I-formation…I know it’s said to be one game at a time, but Meyer and/or Florida has to be sneaking a look toward life after Tebow…

Gatorzone

August 4th, 2009
11:58 am

Frozen, hopefully he will stay at UF like Bryant did at Alabama.
I expect a much bigger role on offense for Moody especially during I formation plays. UF should use more of a smash mouth approach this year while still having the breakaway speed at WR and scat backs. It should be a wide variety on offense.

athensdawg

August 4th, 2009
12:05 pm

UGA’s “injury problems” are due to a lack of depth. The lack of depth is due to insufficient recruiting…particularly along the lines. We seem to be able to get skill players out the wazoo, but we cannot recruit depth at the “grunt” positions, which are key to being able to dominate, particularly in the SEC. We haven’t had an full time offensive line since 2002. Seven years later, we might just have an offensive line that can play every game….

Here’s the burning questions about UGA:

1. Will there be a rash of injuries during fall practice (shoulder, knees, etc.?)
2. Will Richt (as he does every year) “take it easy” on the players after a “big win” and then we come out flat as a pancake? (First test: If UGA wins vs. OSU, watch out vs. USC.)
3. Will Mike Bobo realize that he doesn’t have M. Stafford at quarterback, and start calling a ball control, David Green type of game?
4. Can CWM redeem himself from last year’s debacle?

If we can get positive answers to all of these questions, we might just be a darkhorse in the SEC East……..if just one is negative, we might be spending bowl season in Shreveport.

Matt

August 4th, 2009
12:09 pm

Gatorzone:

Sounds like UF will try to do the same thing LSU has been doing to past couple of years of offense. They line up and play smashmouth football but at the same time have the speedy athletes to create mismatches. LSU will use Russell Shepard a lot this year in a Harvin type roll. I however, don’t think UF is set up to play a lot of smashmouth football right now. Meyer has been recruiting for the spread his entire career and especially with Tebow at UF. You’ll need a good strong FB and a big RB. Can Moody be a power back? I guess time will only tell. I don’t see the o-line having a problem playing power ball. Should be interesting though to watch Tebow’s progression throughout this season.

[...] question." Also, I’m wondering if he’s capable of proofreading an article (in red below). Five burning questions about the SEC East | Mr. College Football [...]

hmmmm.......

August 4th, 2009
12:12 pm

urban’s buyout is 500,000

Gen Neyland

August 4th, 2009
12:14 pm

DawginLex : UT’s defense extends further than Berry although there are some gaps that need filling. I believe you’ll be surprised. I read the same thing from the naysayers you do, but I also read what they’re working on. BTW, in the 2007 SECCG, UT had 4 Freshmen playing coverage in the 4th quarter with the game still on the line. 3 of those 4 are returning this season.

Voice of Reason

August 4th, 2009
12:15 pm

funny that everyone thinks that Meyer’s new contract ensures that he will not go to ND. He is still paid less than the current ND coach who hasn’t been very good at all. The buyout in his new contract is also only $500K. Sounds like he left the option open to me.

The Ole Miss Blog

August 4th, 2009
12:18 pm

Take a look at the new trailer for The Blind Side, a movie about Ole Miss offensive lineman Michael Oher, at The Ole Miss Blog.

http://www.theolemissblog.com

gbal

August 4th, 2009
1:06 pm

Will UGA get after it in practice???? This is a burning question??? WOW

bigreddawg

August 4th, 2009
1:12 pm

The only question that matters is the first and the answear is yes, them Dawgs are going to git after it. Look, we may have a few less options than most years but it’s the DAWGS we’re talking about. We don’t re-build, we RE-LOAD.

I predict our 6th NATIONAL CHAMPTIONSHIP!

co dawg

August 4th, 2009
1:12 pm

atlanta gator…

notre dame has a 6 billion dollar endowment and it’s a private institution. trust me, if it comes down to $$, notre dame can and will compete. 500k buyout is nothing. notre dame has proven it will pay as well. weiss has been an improvement but still not worth that contract. and meyer has an ego. notre dame is the challenge. from the weather to academics to the unbelievable expectations. florida has high expectations but that’s only since the 90s. notre dame’s high expectations go back generations. the demise of the program is driving the fans absolutely mad.

anyhow, i’m really excited about the season. ready for the dawgs to silence ok st…again. i hear enough about the big 12 in colorado. go dawgs!

AC

August 4th, 2009
1:19 pm

Will UF still be the same without Harvin? I know that people say they have this quick back and this speedy reciever, but go back two seasons when UGA beat UF. UF’s offense was NOT the same without Harvin. He is a very special player. Perhaps even more important than Tebow himself.

[...] Five burning questions about the SEC East “Is Tennessee REALLY going to throw these rookie running backs into the fire right away? This much we know about Tennessee

Bill' Sass

August 4th, 2009
1:26 pm

Percy Harvin was no doubt a huge piece of the puzzle on offense last season. But we did put up 31 points against the best defense we played last year- Alabama- when he was out injured.