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

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

August 31st, 2010
8:22 am

agreed, SEC teams have gotten better, faster and tougher over the past few years. I highly doubt anyone will go undefeated this year. Both Murray & Brantley are going to hit with reality very fast. It’ll boil down to who can handle the pressure the best.

destin dawg

August 31st, 2010
8:22 am

last UGA vs. Ala. game (2007?) I won $100…. just sayin……..

3rdn8

August 31st, 2010
8:23 am

I agree with Beast on all five of his (last) points.

I do think Bama will lose at least one (that’s a far cry from declaring Saban a bust….who posted that?).

excuse me, I’m still laughing…………….

I also think Florida will look a lot like 2006 (i.e. solid) with Leak – a big problem for them will be no Tebow for critical 3rd downs.

But with all of the predictions being bandied about on this last week of August, one big wild card is missing; INJURIES. I remember Shula’s second season at Bama. Never saw so many crutches on a team’s sidelines in my life. The SEC should be close races in both divisions; injuries will play a major role in determining the outcome.

Charlie Bama

August 31st, 2010
8:24 am

destin dawg: You bet on Bama in the last UGA v. Bama game?

17 of 20

August 31st, 2010
8:28 am

You guys do not need to worry about John Brantley; his teams will win two SEC championships 2010 & 2011

Bama Tide Rules

August 31st, 2010
8:30 am

What’s Gary D been smoking? This Bama team may be better than last year! Florida’s way down and no other SEC team can come close to Bama’s talent. Bama runs the table easily and beats Ohio St. in the BCS title game for #14! Mark it down–this bama team is going undefeated!

K Jack

August 31st, 2010
8:33 am

runnwild

August 31st, 2010
8:35 am

All this discussion about what Saban did before mean nothing. These same people said 2009 would be a down year because Saban had never had back to back 10 win seasons, guess that logic was wrong. He has never had the facilities, the backing or the talent he has at Alabama and that is what is different. If the Dawgs are happy not winning anything of consequence, then you have the right coach. Personally, I hope you keep him.

Old Gold

August 31st, 2010
8:35 am

Nesbitt will get hurt in the second game.

[...] can read the full article here. Tags: Aaron Murray, Stephen [...]

3rdn8

August 31st, 2010
8:39 am

re: Danielson.

Contrary to what a lot of my fellow Bama fans believe, I think Danielson is the best in the business. He an Blackledge are Big 10 guys, but both are very good at what they do. That’s not to say that I agree with everything they say. All I ask from a commentator is that they present well thought out opinions. Both do.

Mikey in the SAV

August 31st, 2010
8:39 am

Gary D- I agree- but a one loss SEC team might have a tough time getting in due to the love being given Boise State. We all better pull real hard for Va Tech….

What dawg?

August 31st, 2010
8:44 am

Nesbitt has issues with accuracy. I don’t see him winning any Heisman.

destin dawg

August 31st, 2010
8:47 am

2007 UGA 26 to Bama 23 ??? YES !!!! $100

3rdn8

August 31st, 2010
8:50 am

comparing coaches…….

lies, damned lies, then statistics.

Let’s face it. The SEC is packed with great coaches/staffs. If you don’t believe me, just check the payrolls. Comparing Saban with Bryant is like comparing Aaron and Ruth. Both were solid coaches, and both dealt with their own set of problems. Saban has a pretty good resume’. Look at his whole body of work: Toledo, Mich State, LSU, (we’ll skip Miami) and Bama. I was not a huge fan when he came, but have to admit he is impressive. I don’t see Bama slipping as long as he stays on the job. That’s not to say that I expect an undefeated season/championship every year.

Richt is a solid coach…..again look at his resume’. Can’t believe all of the press putting him on the hot seat. Georgia has a legit chance to win their division. They also have a legit chance to win it all.

The same can be said for the coaches/staffs and teams such as: Auburn, Florida, USC, LSU, and Arkansas.

That’s why I tune in every week.

runnwild

August 31st, 2010
8:51 am

hate to tell you destin dawg, 2007 wasn’t the last time the dawgs played bama? does blackout in athens ring a bell?

Pago Pago DAWG

August 31st, 2010
8:52 am

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just beat UT/UK/UF in one year?

Tomsjeep88

August 31st, 2010
8:55 am

Danielson is okay, but he’s teamed with the insufferable Verne Lundquist. Tough to watch and listen to.

RxDawg

August 31st, 2010
8:57 am

1. I agree, it’s hard to see an SEC coming out unblemished. It will be a sad sad day if the voters put an undefeated Boise St in the BCS game over a 1 loss SEC champion. The schedules say no way, but the media has been pushing the idea ever since last season ended.

2. I’m really excited to see what UGA’s offense can do. If Murrary is good, this offense has the potential to be one of UGA’s best ever.

3. I said this a few blogs back, but I think Florida’s offense will be a more risk/reward type of offense. They will be less likely to methodicaly move the chains, but more likely to hit some homeruns. Besides, they were fine with Leak I’m sure they will still be good with Brantly.

4. Why do I feel like I’m the audience in a magic show. While the magician is distracting me with this hand (Garcia isn’t good, we might start Conner, blah blah blah), I feel like his intent is in the other hand (Garcia will be fine). In other words, I’m not buying this smoke and mirrors act.

5. Bama’s team is good enough to win the SEC again. There is no doubt about that. However, they have two things going against them. They have to get hungry, and they have to fend off other team’s hunger. That will be harder to do than it sounds.

Bonus: I might eat some crow on this one later, but I think Masoli will hardly be noticed. His name will fade by mid season.

3rdn8

August 31st, 2010
8:57 am

Tomsjeep88

I like Lundquist. I can put up with the occasional blunder, he makes the game fun for me.

TommyJack

August 31st, 2010
8:59 am

Danielson does a good job. He did butcher the last play in the TN/AL game, however.

3rdn8

August 31st, 2010
9:03 am

RxDawg

I tend to agree with your assessment of Masoli. If I’m not mistaken, Ole Miss is going in with a fairly inexperienced OL. Masoli hasn’t played against DLs that were as fast, or as deep.

Ron Mexico

August 31st, 2010
9:05 am

I love that you’re touting Murray’s “weapons” as being the kicker and punter. That’s like bringing a knife to a gun fight.

K Jack, if you read Mandel regularly, you’ll see he said that Florida will win the East, lost to Bama in the title game, and be by-passed for 2nd place UGA for the BCS slot. Kind of the way it happens in the Big 12, when the conference champ game loser doesn’t have enough shine to pull a BCS bid after a loss…

vols-in-tears

August 31st, 2010
9:07 am

I very much agree with two points:

1) The loss of Arenas is, by far, the biggest shoes to fill for Alabama. He was a game changer, especially on special teams. Arenas – like Skylar Green at LSU – was very much a prototypical “Saban” player. Alabama has plenty of talent to fill the other losses on defense, but who can do everything that Arenas did?

2) Ole Miss is really being sold short and Masoli changes a lot. First, the schedule has never been more kind to Ole Miss (no UGA, Florida or Carolina in the east) and no big non-conference game (the rebs have dropped a non-conference game for the past 8 seasons). Ole Miss opens as gently as you can in the SEC and they will have time to find an identity. My guess is that Rev. Nutt will get to nine wins for the third straight year.

gatorhead1013

August 31st, 2010
9:07 am

The NCAA is going to need to rule Masoli eligible before he can be a “game changer”.

Brantley for HeI2man!

Charlie Bama

August 31st, 2010
9:08 am

destin dawg: 2007 was NOT the last UGA-Bama game. Mine your mind! In 2008, Bama stomped UGA (had’em 31-0 at halftime on national broadcast. Whew!). Remember the Blackout Bust? Wardrobe Malfunction was more like it.

mozactors

August 31st, 2010
9:11 am

So Vikes, let me get this straight, Saban became a head coach when he was 21 years old?

3rdn8

August 31st, 2010
9:13 am

Darius.

A key to Bama’s defense is M. Darius, It looks as if the NCAA is going down to the wire in deciding his fate. Last year they cleared Jones and Ingram hours before the first game, but J. Harris was suspended for six weeks.

If Darius suffers a similar penalty, he will miss one on the more crticial phases of the season. That will put more pressure on the secondary, which is the weak link going in.

Charlie Bama

August 31st, 2010
9:14 am

mozactors: Vikes didn’t know math would be involved. 2 NatChamps Saban + 2 NatChamps Meyer = 0. 100’s of great recruits + plenty of opportunity = CMR < Shreveport. FUNNY!!

McDawg

August 31st, 2010
9:15 am

without Arenas Bama does not run the table

3rdn8

August 31st, 2010
9:16 am

vols-in-tears

I agree 100% on Arenas. He was my personal MVP last year. I think two or three different Bama players will have to fill those shoes.

Also….just goes to show how accurate those four and five star recruit rankings really are.

RxDawg

August 31st, 2010
9:17 am

Exactly 3rdn8. He’ll be pretty shocked and stunned when a 270 pound DE chases him down and drives him into the turf like tackling dummy. Not to mention the LB coming in right behind him.

robodawg

August 31st, 2010
9:20 am

Excellent rundown, Mr. CFB. It’s gonna be a great season for the SEC.

Charlie Bama

August 31st, 2010
9:21 am

3rdn8: Amen on the accuracy of multiple ’star’ recruiting and the resulting class rankings we all love to hate. A good coaching staff (especially position coaches) can make a five-star out of any eager kid who has the speed & stength, regardless of the team or conference….

Dawgs Rule!

August 31st, 2010
9:24 am

The dawgs have the best punter in the SEC! That could be the difference. Dawgs on top in 2010!

T3

August 31st, 2010
9:24 am

This sounds more like Tony’ usual SEC-biased interpretation
of Gary’s thoughts, rather than Gary’s actual sentiment.

Predicted Finishes:

SEC WEST
1. Bama: 12-0 (Sorry Tony aka “Gary’s opinion”)
2. Arkansas
3. Auburn
4. Miss State(Very close 2009 losses to Florida, LSU,
and a beatdown of Ole Miss mean good things in Starkville)
5. Ole Miss (Nutt is really desparate to have signed Masoli)
6. LSU: Say goodbye to Les Miles and probably John Chavis too

SEC East
1. USC: (Spurrier “threatened” USC Admin over recruiting and admission standards. USC Admin rolled the dice and its now DO OR DIE time for Darth Visor and EVERYONE in Columbia knows it. The SEC EAST is their’s for the taking).
2. Florida: Tebow, Harvin, Spikes and many others are gone. A new OC & DC and new QB? Way too many BIG changes for Florida to repeat in the East.
3. UGA: 6-6, with losses to USC, ARK, MissSt, Florida, Auburn, GT.
4. Kentucky:
5. Tenn: A Disaster waiting to happen
6. Vandy: A Disaster thats already happened

Sam Robards, Dawg Fan

August 31st, 2010
9:26 am

1. I absolutely agree with the point that no SEC will go unbeaten. I think too many teams have too many question marks going into the season for any one of them to go unbeaten.

2. Call me crazy, but I have a feeling UGA’s going to win the SEC this year. I’m not saying they’ll be undefeated (see point 1) or go to the National Championship, but I think things click faster than people think en route to an SEC Championship and Sugar Bowl win.

3. I don’t see how UF can keep the spread with Brantley, either. Brantley’s still not a spread guy. I think it’s kinda funny that UGA has a QB who’d be ideal for a spread playing in a pro set while UF has a QB playing in a spread who’d be ideal for a pro set. But still, if UF alters it’s offense to resemble a pro style-ish set, I don’t know that UF has the running back talent to pull it off. Don’t get me wrong, Rainey & Demps are good running backs, but they’re scat backs meant to run the sidelines. They aren’t built to go between the tackles the way Percy Harvin was. Now Emaneul Moody (spelling?) is, but I’m not sold on him as being that good. At any rate, I think the UF offense struggles early for these reasons (I also don’t think Steve Addazio is that good an OC, look at their offensive production PLUMMET between ‘08-’09).

4. I don’t think Steven Garcia is that good, and I think SC acts as a statement game for this UGA team … a POSITIVE statement. ‘Nuff said.

5. Alabama’s picked to win the SEC because they won it last year. ‘Bama proved last year that defense wins championships (you think they beat Tennessee with their offense? Think again. They were also lucky to get outta Auburn unscathed, but I digress). I don’t care how much talent they have, when you have to replace 3/4 of your defensive starters, you’re going to take a hit. And, in ‘Bama’s case, I think it’s going to be a big hit.

Bonus: Massoli will help Ole Miss win a couple games, but he’s not gonna be a game-changer. You see how he did against those big, corn-fed defensive lineman of Ohio State last year? He’ll face big boys like that EVERY WEEK in the SEC. Also, with the whack-job head coach in Oxford, they’ll win 8-9 games and call it a season.

3rdn8

August 31st, 2010
9:27 am

Defending the title (Saban refuses to accept that concept).

Bama doesn’t have to win fourteen straight games to win another championship. They just have to win the next game.

jumbeauxtiger

August 31st, 2010
9:29 am

Danielson does a good job and is one of my favorite analysts.

I agree that I don’t see any SEC team going undefeated. I think this the year a SEC team doesn’t make it to the BCS title game. I see Bama going 11-1 and the Gators 10-2.

Murray is in a similar situation as Jefferson at LSU. Jefferson has more experience but both need a running game to have a chance of success. UGA’s OL has been touted as one of the best in the SEC but preseason injuries could be a factor. LSU’s OL was lousy last year and must improve significantly if the Tigers are to challenge Bama.

There is no doubt Brantley can’t take the hits that Tebow did. Meyer is a smart coach and no doubt has revised their offense to fit Brantley’s strengths. I see the Gator defense as more of a concern than the offense.

Garcia has the talent to be an excellent QB. This may be the year he is consistant. He will have to be to get by the Dawgs on 9/11.

Bama has had a great run the last 2 seasons. Arenas was an outstanding player and certainly was a weapon as a returner and will be missed. It’s rare for a team to start off at the top and finish there. That said the Tide is still the team to beat. It was fun for me when LSU was ranked number 1 during the 2007 season so I know Bama fans are excited.

Geaux Tigers
Go SEC

npgator

August 31st, 2010
9:33 am

Florida won’t use the spread the way we did with Tebow so you folks need to take that right out of your minds. T3 – USC = no chance at winning the east.

3rdn8

August 31st, 2010
9:33 am

Sam Robards, Dawg Fan

re: your Point (3)

I think Florida may be better on offense this year. I’m a big Tebow fan, but think Meyers was too – to a fault. I think he placed too much of the load on Tebow last year. That showed up in Atlanta. Bama was able to contain the guy for most of the game, and UF had no answer.

I don’t see Meyers making the same mistake twice. I think many more guys will shoulder the load, and UF will be harder to stop.

jlc

August 31st, 2010
9:34 am

Gary is indeed a midwest guy, but a pretty good dude overall. I played golf with him once and took him to the woodshed. Good guy though.

TruthbeKnown

August 31st, 2010
9:37 am

I recently attended a Florida practice to see what all the hype around Brantley was about…here’s what I saw. Brantley is a good passer…good not great….Florida’s running game is average at best for an SEC team. The team appears to rely on a number of trick plays and misdirection in running their offense….which in the SEC isn’t gonna cut it over a season. I believe their defense will have to carry them this season.Their defense is full of talented players however they appeared to be undisciplined. During a scrimmage I saw at least five late hits and players jumping off sides many times…and players out of position on a number of plays.Look for Florida to lose at least three games this year…the talents there but they no longer have Tebow to ‘take charge” and pull them out of close games and Brantletly didn’t appear to be a “take charge” type player …….it just isn’t gonna happen. Mixing in the five/six new coaches they have on staff and the continuity from past years isn’t gonna be there….Meyer’s not that good…Look for either S.Caroilina or Georgia to win the SEC East. ..both will beat Florida…… Looks like the jeans wearing mullet heads are in for a disapppointing season.

3rdn8

August 31st, 2010
9:39 am

jumbeauxtiger

I’m guessing things are going to be noisy in Baton Rouge on November 6. That field will be no place for the faint at heart.

BG

August 31st, 2010
9:40 am

Bama will rule the SEC again this year. UF will lose 2 or 3 games. Mark it down!

redneck 61

August 31st, 2010
9:44 am

Alabama will lose 1 maybe 2 games this year.

JMac12203

August 31st, 2010
9:46 am

hey Destin dawg, you are like most UGA fans – that is, you have selective memory. The Tide rolled in on the dressed for a funeral Pups in 2008. You do not remember the bad times , just the good ones.
IF the pups go 8-4 this season consider it a great season, because it could be mush worse, but not much better.

3rdn8

August 31st, 2010
9:46 am

How does Bama stop Arkansas?

I look for Mallett to pick our secondary apart. I think the way to beat Arkansas is on offense. Long sustained drives that eat clock not only keep Mallett on the sidelines, but keep him from getting in rhythm.

I don’t see anyone stopping that guy on the field.

SCboy

August 31st, 2010
9:49 am

UGA will lose in Columbia by a significant margin if there are not a lot of suspensions for USC. But the Dawgs will rebound to win 9 games. No SEC, though.

5IML

August 31st, 2010
9:51 am

Even though Julio is returning punts, and Trent is returning kickoffs, it will be impossible to replace Arenas. But then again, the critics said it would be impossible for BAMA to replace 2008’s departing offensive players.

I’m tired of watching replays on CBS and ESPNU. Thursday night, I welcome you.