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

3rdn8

August 31st, 2010
9:51 am

does anyone know how to spell “rhythm”?

5IML

August 31st, 2010
9:54 am

3rd,

We will beat them the same way we did last year: The offense will build an early lead. The defense will then blitz on every play. Mallett will be beaten into submission.

Harry Houdini

August 31st, 2010
9:55 am

Gary Danielson has super-powers.
He can read the future.
Yea, right.

T3

August 31st, 2010
9:56 am

Likely 2010 BCS-NC game:

Alabma(13-0) vs. Iowa(12-0)

Alabama is loaded with “almost” everyone back.

Iowa is loaded with EVERYONE back.

Several consensus NFL draftees chose to return to Iowa for 2010 for what they expect will be a BCS Title run.

If Iowa QB Stanzi can stay health ALL year,
they will steamroll every team on their way to 12-0.
Iowa will easily shut out at least 5 teams during the season

They will beat Bama in an EPIC game.

DawgMike

August 31st, 2010
9:57 am

SC winning the SEC East?
now that;s a good one T3 !

Mrs. Ferentz

August 31st, 2010
10:00 am

Kirk Ferentz is a sissy.

LOL

August 31st, 2010
10:02 am

Funny article! The SEC is up??? Now that is FUUUUNNNNNNNYYYY! Bama has to replace 9 staters no matter how you spin it. The SEC let 6 teams have a bye before Bama. UF has a new DC, New QB, 7 new defensive starters…simply can’t be as good! Neither of the SEC’s elite two will be as strong. LSU and UGA both have inferior coaches with great talent. But coaching counts even in a down year for the SEC neither of those programs will go undefeated due to weakness at the top. UT is WAY DOWN! Fact is this is likely the weakest the SEC has been overall since UGA played Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl. BigXII, Big X and even the ACC are likely stronger than the SEC this year.

jumbeauxtiger

August 31st, 2010
10:02 am

3rdn8,

November 6 will be a great night indeed. Bama brings more fans to Death Valley than any other team so I know they have alot of fun there.

LOL...

August 31st, 2010
10:04 am

Damn Tony… you are the biggest SEC HOMER alive… and stop dying your hair !!

Nesbitt for Heisman

August 31st, 2010
10:05 am

Georgia Tech has a great chance to go undefeated,
with Joshua Nesbitt at the helm.

3rdn8

August 31st, 2010
10:06 am

jumbeauxtiger

I have that one circled. I’ve been to several Bama-LSU games at Bryant-Denny, but have never made it to Baton Rouge. I’m looking for tickets.

I just hope the fans from both schools are a little more civil this year, but ain’t getting my hopes up.

Helmet Head on riding the Short Bus

August 31st, 2010
10:09 am

How does anyone write that a 9-2 regular season and a bowl win is a down year.

A down year is when you are Pre-Season No. 1 and Predicted to Win the SEC and finish 2nd in the East Division.

Some moron wants to count a coaches win while an assistant at FSU as winning percentage?

Get off the crack pipe and smoking that weed listed as “Richt”.

I actually know the Murray Family, and this kid is the real thing. He is tough and is a winner. However the inexperience and speed is going to hurt him for a while in the conference games.

Lets also revisit some wrinkles from the past: Joe Lee Dunn and NOW Gus Malzahn.

When Joe Lee brought his wild line em everywhere, come from anywhere defense, it took most schools a couple of games against this defense to defeat all the angles and coverages. Now Gus Malzahn will be in his second season at Auburn and as he has done before( but now with better talent) he calls plays by feel and situation. You will see many many teams be able to stop alot of the misdirection and stay disciplined against this offense the second time around. This will make Auburns year a little longer than many Auburn fans want to realistically accept.

Lets all get into the second and third weeks of the season and see where our teams are and the injuries hampering our schools.

Good Luck everyone….4 days and 2 hours for Saturday games and 2 days and 9 plus hours for Thursdays game….

Bama Tide

August 31st, 2010
10:15 am

This bama team will not lose a game—-too much O and tons of new talent on D. Saban–best coach in America, hands down.

3rdn8

August 31st, 2010
10:15 am

Playmakers

If you look at personell changes on the Bama roster this year, a few names jump out.

Bama lost a number of their playmakers from last season.

Arenas has already been discussed – the guy had more big plays than I can count.

McClain was the heart and soul of the defense.

Reamer was a solid performer at LB all year.

Jackson and Johnson at CB were good enough man-to-man to allow K. Smart to insert several blitz packages.

Tiffin was solid at PK

Fitzgerald was a solid punter. I thought his open field tackle on Demps changed the mo’ in the SECCG.

Selmon – no one ever talks about the LS. Selmon was a great one. I don’t recall a bad snap all year, and he was an outstanding cover guy.

These are my big question marks. How soon Bama fills those slots will make or break the season.

T3

August 31st, 2010
10:22 am

Regarding a likely Alabma vs Iowa BCS-NC Game,
here are the 2 key “benchmark” games:

September 11: Penn State at Alabama

October 2: Penn State at Iowa

We’ll see how good Bama and Iowa are
with the outcomes of these 2 games.

Gatorzone

August 31st, 2010
10:22 am

This is hilarious! You UGA fans act like Florida should not even be in the top 10 this year! To hear you tell it their offense will be unable to move the ball without Tebow and their defens is nothing but a bunch of walkon scrubs! Apparently, the rest of the educated nation disagrees with you since they are starting the season #4 in the country! Also, all you guys saying Brantley is not going to hold up are crazy. He will not be asked to take the hits Tebow took. Lastly, his arm is much stronger and more accurate than Leak’s was and you see how that worked out for Florida.
This year Burton will play the same role Tebow played on 06!

Gators will be in the SEC championship game again this year! Count on it!

how2fish

August 31st, 2010
10:23 am

Charlie Bama while I think the Tide will again be a really good team,whether or not they can repeat is no given..6 bye weeks will hurt and injuries are everyone’s concern every year. Nesbitt for Heisman the Bugs have a excellent chance to go undefeated ?? Only if the drop the UGA game.and Nesbitt will never win the Heisman never because the Bugs would have to be undefeated for him to have a real shot.That being said the season is upon us best wishes to everyone until you play UGA. Here’s hoping the injuries are at a minimum and the games are all exciting . Go Dawgs!

5IML

August 31st, 2010
10:23 am

3rd,

I agree with all those points except for Reamer. He had a lot of heart and smarts but he was a liability. When he was in the game, teams schemed to get him in coverage or in space then take advantage of his limited athleticism (in comparison to BAMA’s other LB’s). Watch the SECCG, in particular. Texas also got him on a couple of plays. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated his grit but he will be the least missed from your list.

UGAlien

August 31st, 2010
10:24 am

17 of 20: “You guys do not need to worry about John Brantley; his teams will win two SEC championships 2010 & 2011″
———-

Hahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahaha……hahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Oh my.. that was a good one, 17.

3rdn8

August 31st, 2010
10:24 am

Penn State

Watching a pre-season practice can be very deceiving. The Big 10 network aired an hour long practice session at Penn State last week.

I have a lot of respect for JoePa, and the PSU program. But watching their OL go through its paces led me to conclude that they would have a losing season in the SEC. They are painfully SLOW.

PSU can coach ‘em up, but they can’t coach speed.

3rdn8

August 31st, 2010
10:27 am

5IML

I agree with your assesment that Reamer will be the easiest to replace on that list. But I still contend that he was a solid performer all season. He did get burned on a few plays, but so did Mark Baron.

5IML

August 31st, 2010
10:27 am

3rd,

I watched that same PSU special. In the limited drills shown during the special, their quarterbacks looked horrible. Maybe they were just nervous in front of the cameras. If so, can you imagine who they’ll do in front 101K BAMA fans during a nationally televised night game?

Beautiful Eagle Creek

August 31st, 2010
10:28 am

*
Gary Danielson has never been undefeated in his life.

Beautiful Eagle Creek

August 31st, 2010
10:28 am

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Beautiful Eagle Creek

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10:28 am

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Beautiful Eagle Creek

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Beautiful Eagle Creek

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Beautiful Eagle Creek

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Beautiful Eagle Creek

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Beautiful Eagle Creek

August 31st, 2010
10:29 am

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Beautiful Eagle Creek

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Beautiful Eagle Creek

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3rdn8

August 31st, 2010
10:30 am

5IML

yeah, I didn’t mention the QBs. They did look bad. I hope JoePa has a good season (bouncing back from a loss in Tuscaloosa), and calls it a career.

bare necessities*

August 31st, 2010
10:32 am

Joe Paterno is a GREAT man.

3rdn8

August 31st, 2010
10:34 am

bare necessities

no argument here.

HugoStiglitz

August 31st, 2010
10:37 am

I would agree. I dont think the SEC will have an undefeated team. I dont think the Big 10 will either. It may open things up for a team like Boise to get into the MNC if they win on Monday.

SEC Psychic

August 31st, 2010
10:37 am

I like your enthusiasm Bama Tide, but settle down. Saban is always tenacious.. until he wins the cup. After that, he lets his focus wonder (ie: LSU in 04′). No, I’d bet Alabama will go 10-2 this year. Perhaps losing to Penn State or Florida, with a dark horse possibility being Arkansas. And, they’ll make it to Atlanta, but they will lose to the Georgia Bulldogs.

Gatorzone

August 31st, 2010
10:39 am

Every year it is the same. UGA fans predict the demise of Florida.

Will you guys ever learn? UF will continue their dominance of UGA!!!

Gatorzone

August 31st, 2010
10:39 am

Enter your comments here

PMC

August 31st, 2010
10:40 am

The thing is looking at the schedule. Who is going to beat Alabama?

There’s no one you can pick right now on paper who is even close.

Certainly no one in the west. Arkansas and Auburn can’t stop anybody. LSU (is coached by Les Miles) and really isn’t all that good. Ole Miss doesn’t have enough weapons (at WR) and not much depth.

Florida is as talented but they have too much turnover in thier program to beat Bama this year.

Alabama will be undefeated at least in the regular season once again.

how2fish

August 31st, 2010
10:40 am

Gatorzone from the post I’ve seen at least half of the UGA fans know the same thing I do that the Gators are the team to beat for the East and that will be a tall order..I think your missing the point because so many folks think the Gators are a little down due to new DC and starting QB..no one with a shred of sense is thinking the Gators are suddenly a weak team.if they stay healthy the Gators will just get stronger as the season goes forward..but are they quite as strong starting the season this year as last year.no they just can’t be..are they still the proven team to beat in the East without a doubt in my mind.

G8R GRAD

August 31st, 2010
10:56 am

Tony:

“The big worry I have for Florida is what they will do on third and three.”

Answer: Trey Burton

T3

August 31st, 2010
10:57 am

The most likely undefeated teams at end of 2010 regular season:

1. Iowa
2. Alabama
3. Miami
4. Oklahoma

T4

August 31st, 2010
11:01 am

THE MOST LIKELY UNDEFEATED TEAM =

1. GEORGIA TECH

3rdn8

August 31st, 2010
11:04 am

season in a nutshell

SEC – There are at least seven teams that could make it to Atlanta.
Big 12 – with the rise of Nebraska, and TA&M, this should be that conferences’ best entry – top to bottom.
ACC – solid conference….assuming UNC can still field a team.
Big-10 – OSU, Wisconsin and Iowa can play with anyone.
WAC – Boise State gets to prove themselves against VaTech, and Oregon State.
PAC-10 – USC should be as good as they come. But with the sanctions, look for Oregon or Stanford to rise to the top.

My point in all of this is…..any of the top teams can walk away with it on any given night. I personally think the SEC plays the best overall brand of football, but all it takes is running into a team with a hot-hand (see Utah in the 2009 Sugar Bowl), and not bring their own “A” game.

It would be intersting to see how all of the “Predictor’s” pre-season predictions played out in 2009.

how2fish

August 31st, 2010
11:06 am

T4 thanks that’s the funniest thing I’ve read all week !

Gen Neyland

August 31st, 2010
11:07 am

Garcia is still Garcia until he proves otherwise. He’s remained a ‘project player’ over his term of college eligibility that all of a sudden is expected to awake his Senior year and carry his team. Garcia just hasn’t been able to string together enough pizazz to convience me 2010 will be his shining moment Saturday after Saturday. He is one of the best hot-cold guys I’ve ever seen. Too bad Spurrious can’t tell which Garcia will suit up on any given gameday…Garcia’s receiving corp may save his rear…

404

August 31st, 2010
11:09 am

how about uga winning the sec-east?

now thats down right hysterical !!

3rdn8

August 31st, 2010
11:12 am

PMC

I disagree with your comment on Auburn not being able to stop Bama. I’ve watched the replay of last year’s Iron Bowl twice (my wife is threatening to take away my remote if she sees it on again), and I get nervous every time.

Auburn’s defense played well enough to beat anyone that day. Josh Byne was a consensus All-American that day. A couple of bad plays by Chris Todd kept Bama in the game, and they were able to win late. I can’t imagine how gassed their defensive line was on that last drive.

AU will be better/deeper on both sides of the ball in 2010. Better strap ‘em on tight when you play AU this year.