Danielson: No SEC team will go undefeated

New York–Gary Danielson is about to enter his fifth season as an analyst for the SEC game of the week on CBS. I caught up with Gary during a recent trip to New York where we were putting together a preseason show for CBS. I asked him for five good SEC story lines as we approach the start of the 2010 season.

1. Nobody in the SEC will go undefeated: People are saying there is a gap between Florida and Alabama and everybody else. I don’t agree with that. I think the league will be a little more compact this season because the middle has gotten better. Auburn, LSU, Arkansas and Ole Miss will be better. South Carolina will be better. Georgia will be better. Nobody is going to run away from it and everybody in the conference will lose at least one game. I think the SEC will be the only conference in the country where a one-loss team could reach the national championship game.

This could be a year where the SEC looks like the ACC because everybody has 1, 2, or three losses. People will say the whole league is down but just the opposite is true. Except for a couple of teams like Tennessee and Vanderbilt, the whole league is up.

2. Aaron Murray has a very good surrounding cast: I was critical last year when Mark (Georgia coach Mark Richt) didn’t give Murray some reps. I know it would have burned his redshirt year but I thought it was important to get him ready to play this season. I know he had some shoulder problems but I just think it would have helped him to play last year.

That said, he really has a lot of weapons around him what will help him as he grows into the position. He has what may be the best wide receiver in the country (A.J. Green). He has the best kicker (Blair Walsh) and the best punter (Drew Butler). I think with an experienced offensive line they can hide him enough until he gets more comfortable. If Georgia can get past South Carolina (Sept. 11) I think they have a chance to catch fire and make the Florida game (on Oct 30 in Jacksonville) really a high stakes game.

3. Can Florida stick with the spread after Tim Tebow? First of all, Florida has a lot of good football players. When you look at recruiting over a five-year period, which is what I do, Florida has been the best.

Now I’m not the biggest fan of the spread (offense). I know Tim Tebow’s version of the spread works in the SEC. But now you have to look at Florida with John Brantley as quarterback. The SEC is the closest thing to the NFL because of the size and speed of the defensive linemen. And Brantley’s too valuable to take 15-20 hits a game the way Tebow did. So how will this offense work for Brantley?

 I thought the spread peaked when Rich Rodriguez went to Michigan. Texas has dropped it. Alabama has shown that you have to have a tight end and a power rnning game. The big worry I have for Florida is what they will do on third and three.

4. South Carolina’s Stephen Garcia is not that far away from being a good SEC quarterback. His light flickers. I’ve seen that before. When I was doing Big Ten games Brian Griese (of Michigan) was not that well thought of and then all of a sudden the light went on late in his career. I’ve seen glimpses of what Stephen can do. He has the natural, raw ability but he has to earn the trust of Steve Spurrier.

We know that Steve is not the most patient guy in the world when it comes to his quarterbacks. But if you can earn his trust, Steve also understands that quarterbacks don’t play perfectly. He understands that you’ll throw the odd pass every now and then.  If he trusts you and you’re his guy, he’s a good coach to play for. But if he doesn’t trust you Steve tends to look for the other putter in his bag.

5. Why Alabama is picked to repeat despite losing nine starters on defense: First of all, they are loaded on offense: Heisman Trophy winner at tailback with a backup like Trent Ricahrdson. Good offensive line. Solid quarterback. They are loaded everywhere.

Secondly, it’s a little misleading to say they lost that many starters on defense. There were a lot of role players on that defense and a bunch of guys got playing time. (Defensive end) Marcell Dareus wasn’t considered a starter. The backup nose tackle (Josh Chapman) played a lot for Terrence Cody. (Linebacker) Dont’a Hightower comes back. They will miss the mental side of Rolando McClain but I think Hightower will be able to replace him physically.

But the guy they are going to have the toughest time replacing on the defense is (cornerback)  Javier Arenas. He was a smart blitzer. He had a great alter ego from that slot position which is a difficult one to play. He was a great tackler. If they can find a replacement for Arenas they will be fine on defense.

The real challenge for Alabama is that they’ve have gone two straight regular seaons going undefeated. That is so hard to do in this league. Who’s going to block the kick this year? Who is going to engineer the two-minute drive like they did to beat Auburn? It just seems like the clock is ticking against them. You can be the best team in college football and still not win the championship.

BONUS STORY LINE

The addition of Jeremiah Masoli at Ole Miss is a game changer: If he can get comfortable and take advantage of what Houston Nutt likes to do–which is run the ball downhill–he is going to make a difference.

They’ve got a great defensive front seven–really a legit SEC front. Houston’s always found a running game and so if he also has a running/passing quarterback it is definitely a game changer. Is it a game changer to win the Western Division? No but they could impact who does win the division.

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287 comments Add your comment

Nesbitt for Heisman

August 31st, 2010
6:45 am

Coolest in the Clutch

August 31st, 2010
6:45 am

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Nesbitt for Heisman
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Coolest in the Clutch

August 31st, 2010
6:46 am

Tech to unveil Nesbitt Heisman campaign TODAY !

Greensboro, GA

August 31st, 2010
6:47 am

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————————–
Nesbitt for Heisman
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Great Joke!

August 31st, 2010
6:48 am

Nesbitt for Heisman

Beautiful Eagle Creek

August 31st, 2010
6:56 am

`
I thought Todd Blackledge did a much better job at CBS.

Greensboro, GA

August 31st, 2010
6:58 am

There are no jokes from Greensboro, Georgia.

Joshua Nesbitt is by far the toughest QB in college football.

Best of Atlanta

August 31st, 2010
7:05 am

Danielson is a Big 10 guy from Michigan, who played at Purdue.
He really has a lack of knowledge concerning the SEC.

Tony Barnhart is the source for southern college football.

Marietta

August 31st, 2010
7:06 am

And the 2010 winner of the Heisman Trophy is…………………………..JOSHUA NESBITT of GEORGIA TECH!!!!!!

Charlie Bama

August 31st, 2010
7:07 am

Danielson is probably right. Tough game, tough conference. Kind of makes Bama’s 2009 undefeated season & resulting National Champs run even more special and more extraordinary than ever. Two things are for sure, though, for the 2010 season. Bama will see Gator in December (again). Auburn will lose four regular season games and is headed for Nashville’s Muzak City Bowl (Go Tigers!), and TN of KnoxVegas will win 5 games and it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch. Roll Tide. CB

Dooley the Vol

August 31st, 2010
7:15 am

Charlie, enjoy your time w/ CNS cause you know the Cowboys will come calling at years end.

Charlie Bama

August 31st, 2010
7:17 am

Dooley — Funny guy. Better pay attention to your own house and K-Ville city jail roster.

Dooley the Vol

August 31st, 2010
7:23 am

We know what we are w/ no unrealistic expectations, but we will rebuild and have a steady coach at the helm. Not a hired gun for the short term. Lets see Dallas vs Ttown, no contest.

Vikes

August 31st, 2010
7:29 am

Alabama lost 70% of their defensive production, that’s tackles. Say what you want, but that’s a HUGE loss. And Saban’s been the most inconsistent coach in America over his career, 6, 6 ot 7 win seasons, follows a great year with a lousy year 4 out 5 times in his career so far. Wake up, Alabama isn’t in it this year, but they had a good year last year, but this isn’t last year. McElroy will have to pass to win, teams will stack 9 in the box and dare McElroy, all 16 td’s of him, to win games. And he won’t. And you can double Julio.

Banjo Player

August 31st, 2010
7:31 am

You have say, either Georgia and Florida will struggle, or both won’t. The both face the same thing: 1) new QB with no starts 2) new defensive coach and system.

Charlie Bama

August 31st, 2010
7:35 am

Vikes: Can we revisit this in December after McElroy doubles his passing this year (and fyi, Julio is not the best reciever on the team, he’s only better than most others in the SEC). And the Ingram/Richardson duo stuns the SEC defenses every game, running wild over inexperienced D’s. Bama’s weakness will be kicking and special teams–And that’s why they’ll go to Hot-lanta Dome in Deccember with a loss. And who knows how that 2nd game against the Gators will turn out.

Banjo Player

August 31st, 2010
7:35 am

Hate to dissapoint the ‘experts’, but Richt will go undefeated in 2010. His head to head record is fantastic against everybody on the schedule except Florida, and he’ll find a way to win that one. The schedules right for Richt. He has the strongest team: sp teams, def, off. And Richt’s 7-1 against Alabama & Auburn, so he’ll win that SEC Champ game. And beat Oklahoma or Ohio St in the big one.

Charlie Bama

August 31st, 2010
7:37 am

BanjoBoy: Com’on. Just walk quietly to the nearest exit, before your buddies in white medical jackets arrive.

DawgByte

August 31st, 2010
7:39 am

Bama was given no favors from the SEC with six opponents having the bye before facing them…they will lose two games as a result. Florida could run the table but new DC, lack of experience in the D, and a new QB will cost them a game or two. UGA has Richt…even with a loaded offensive team that spells a couple of losses. The West is loaded overall so everyone of those teams lose a couple of games. The East is easy in comparison but missing an elite team this year. The SEC is down overall and will not have a National title contender this year unless UGA the team with by far the easiest schedule makes a good run (which due to Richt) is very doubtful.

Vikes

August 31st, 2010
7:40 am

Saban went 9-3 at LSU after his National Championship season. H’es already loading up for 5 years from now. He throws complete seasons for 1 good run per decade. He’s inconsistent. He’s not a true success. He has 4 great years in his 36 year career. Not impressed.

Banjo Player

August 31st, 2010
7:43 am

Football is a team sport. There are a lot of ways to win, lots of combinations, even with an inexperienced QB. this is not tennis or golf. Richt will find them, he’s the 3rd winningest coach in the NCAA, say what you want, he finds ways to win more games than just about anybody.

Banjo Player

August 31st, 2010
7:45 am

Story line: How will Brantley make it through the season healthy? He won’t. Count on it. He won’t make it healthy through October.

Charlie Bama

August 31st, 2010
7:45 am

Vikes: Ok, let’s pretend for a moment. Who would you say is a “true success” (since 2 NatChamps in within a decade doesn’t qualify in Saban’s case). Bear Bryant and, uh, who else? Remember, 2 natChamps in one decade doesn’t count.

Charlie Bama

August 31st, 2010
7:46 am

Banjo: Agree with your story line. Brantley looks fragile to me. Not sure he can take very many SEC hits in the backfield.

Ned in Smyrna

August 31st, 2010
7:51 am

Tony:

Do you seriously think Ole Miss will be better in 2010 than they were in 2009? Please recall that they went 9-4 in 2009. Having lost several key players (Snead, McCluster, Jerry, Hardy), I just don’t see them topping 9-4, even with the admittedly weak schedule.

I agree the addition of Masoli is a game-changer, but do you really see them doing better than 9-4 this year as a result? (And please remember this is a team that many picked to finish last in the SEC West, admittedly before Masoli was added but still.)

Thanks as always for the great analysis and commentary,

Ned

Vikes

August 31st, 2010
7:52 am

Saban has 4 great years in his 36 year career. 32 were not good. He had a LOT of 6 or 7 win seasons. Richt’s never had 1. Richt’s had 19 top 10 finishes in his 24 years. Richt’s in top 3 in win %, Saban’s in top 20.

Charlie Bama

August 31st, 2010
7:53 am

Vike: I see. You can’t answer the question. Ok, let’s move on….

Banjo Player

August 31st, 2010
7:55 am

Brantley’s either going throw 15 interceptions, or he’s going to be sacked 25 times like Tebow was. I’m guessing he’ll opt for sacks, but he’s not as mobile as Tebow, so he’ll be sacked 30+, if he survives all 30 sacks without a major injury, which he won’t. The spread’s dead, you can’t risk your QB, ask Texas.

Vikes

August 31st, 2010
7:57 am

Anyone who defines success as having 4 great years out of 36, doesn’t understand success. If you’re truly great, you’ll be great more than 11% of your seasons.

30-24 Dawgs - We Run This State!

August 31st, 2010
7:58 am

Speakin’ the truth Tony, if Dawgs make it out of Columbia with a W then they could be 8-0 headed to Jax-vegas!

Banjo Player

August 31st, 2010
7:59 am

Did you know Urban ain’t had an RB get 1000 yards since 2006? How’s that going to help out a QB with 0 starts? The spread is dead.

Charlie Bama

August 31st, 2010
7:59 am

Vikes: Ok,We get it. Saban and U. Meyer are bad coaches because they both won NatChamps twice in a decade. CMR is the power of stats that no one (NO ONE) watches/goes to football games for, so he’s a great example of a successful coach. Move on.

Beast from the East

August 31st, 2010
8:00 am

Danielson’s assessment looks pretty accurate to me.
1…I don’t believe anyone will make it through the SECundefeated this year.
2…Murray will need to grow up fast and learn to manage the game. If he becomes a “gunslinger” like some have described him, then he’ll put an untested defense in some bad spots.
3…Florida’s offense has been changed to resemble what they ran in 2006 with Chris Leak. We’re more concerned with the D than the O.
4…Spurrier gets more upset with mental mistakes than bad throws. If you can’t read the defense and know where to go with the ball then you’ll likely be on the bench.
5…As far as Bama, they will be very good (again) but with the schedule they have I expect them to drop at least one game. Their run the last 2 years has been very impressive.

Masoli…..who cares. He should not be allowed to play college ball.

Only a couple of days left!
GO GATORS!!!!!!

Vikes

August 31st, 2010
8:02 am

This year, teams iwll make Florida & Saban do what they fear: double best receiver & throw it 40 times a game to beat them. Neither can do it.

5IML

August 31st, 2010
8:03 am

Charlie,

Don’t waste your time debating Vikes. He/She is a troll who uses several other names (e.g. Patrick Sulley, Simple Simon, Q Dog).

Beast from the East

August 31st, 2010
8:04 am

Vikes, Banjo Player,(aka Simple Simon),
Glad to see you’re up early this morning.
Have a great day!

Saban envy

August 31st, 2010
8:04 am

Vikes I’m sure you think Iran is a better country than the US…keep talking because any football expert would call you a complete moron. Keep telling yourself that Chizik is a better coach and everyone will keep laughing at you.

Vikes

August 31st, 2010
8:04 am

you’ll get how good Coach Richt is after this season if you ain’t figure dit out by watching his 2002 & 2007 teams. And you’ll get how bad Saban is this year and how lucky Meyer’s been with Strong & Tebow. this year will seperate the true successes from the flukes and the Georgia guy will come out on top.

[...] Gary Danielson on Stephen Garcia:  “His light flickers.” [...]

Beast from the East

August 31st, 2010
8:06 am

Vikes,
I think you’re right. Saban’s terrible and Meyer has just been lucky.
Richt is DA MAN!!!
Now, can you just go away? LOL!!!!!!

G Mack

August 31st, 2010
8:07 am

Saban Envy/Beast from the East/5IML/Charlie Bama (all your other fake handles–could it be 1 person?)

We get it. You have a lot of fake handles and like to blog to yourself. Enjoy the rest of the day blogging to yourself under all your fake handles.

Clue:
Look for handles that Bash Richt & Georgia. Dead giveaway.

TonyBFan

August 31st, 2010
8:08 am

What does Florida do on third and three? Seriously? They run the ball! The spread has many different variations and is at heart a running offense. There are multiple backs in the backfield when shifts to a more single wing type set-up (which Florida has run under Urb on occassion). A two back set with a qb gives multiple run options. No big deal. I hate… HATE Florida, but you have to give the devil his due, Urb is one of the best coaches around and there’s a solution. Believe it.

King Gator

August 31st, 2010
8:09 am

Vikes, not that GA can’t have a great season, but if you somehow think CMR is way better than Saban and Urban you’ve been sniffing the “red panties” too long. Go Gators!

destin dawg

August 31st, 2010
8:10 am

Can’t wait to see our rejuvenated Grantham “Junkyard dawg”… aggressive Defense.. with our kickers… Belin helping coach Special teams…. offense can be conservative… Run the ball !!!! roll out pass to our great TE’s… control the clock… a few long balls to AJ , Durham or Brown.. we have the players and a more reasonable schedule… Go Dawgs !!!!!

TONY B ROCKS

August 31st, 2010
8:11 am

poopdawg

August 31st, 2010
8:11 am

A 1 lost SEC team will not make it this yr to the title game. Too much has been promoted for Boise ST (4) and TCU(6). One of those teams will get in unless 2 teams from the big conferences go undefeated. I don’t agree with it but listen to ESPN, and look at Boise and TCU’s scheudule. Tony i agree Arenas will be hard to replace, not bad for a 2 star recruit.

Charlie Bama

August 31st, 2010
8:15 am

G Mack: Hi. I’m Charlie Bama and I’ve never used another handle. Doesn’t make sense to me. My opinions are my own. And I still say Saban and Meyer are great coaches, and I have more fun watching them coach than I do calculating CMR’s stats that lead to ….. Shreveport.

destin dawg

August 31st, 2010
8:19 am

Parity this year.. will be fun to watch.. everyone will lose a couple… Go Dawgs !!!

D Fence

August 31st, 2010
8:20 am

Danielson is usually much more right than wrong so it should be an interesting year for the SEC.

A one loss SEC team should make the title game every year. Period. I think the trackrecord speaks for itself.

Tony Barnhardt

August 31st, 2010
8:20 am

Well now.. What can I write about today that is something new, something fresh? Ummm.. I got it!! SEC football. I never write about the SEC!! How can anyone claim I am a SEC and UGA homer when I have never written about the SEC!! Take that you stupid bloggers!!