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.

Please follow me on Twitter:

www.twitter.com/MrCFB

287 comments Add your comment

T3

August 31st, 2010
11:12 am

#1 SEC Defensive strategy against UGA: KO Murray.

No Murray. No chance.

T5

August 31st, 2010
11:20 am

ga tech undefeated?… bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah-hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

PMC

August 31st, 2010
11:22 am

3rdn8 That was one of the best football games all of last year. I expect it to be VERY entertaining again this year. Unfortunately I think it’s going to be a little too much for a very good Auburn team to beat them on the road. We’ll see. Maybe the new QB will be the difference this year. Good luck to the tigers.

kaput

August 31st, 2010
11:22 am

When Chris Leak won the title in ‘06, the Gators didn’t have near this amount of offensive talent – not even close. The running backs were average, the wide outs were better than average and the offensive line was above average. This version of the UF’s offense features a lot more speed and more talent, it’s not close. The offensive line is very, very good. The running backs are explosive and talented. And John Brantley can make throws that Leak only dreamed of.

They may not go undefeated, that’s always tough to do, but to somehow disregard what has happened over the last few years (i.e., Meyer, UF’s offense) is just bizarre.

UF will be very, very good on offense. And defense too.

And the next time somebody starts to say that Georgia has the best special teams in the country, ask them why they finished so low on kickoff and punt coverage units – it’s about more than gross average.

3rdn8

August 31st, 2010
11:23 am

T3

I agree with your assessment re: Murray. One of the big keys for UGA (I think) is how well their RBs block. UGA is going to have to keep players in the backfield to pick up blitz packages (they have enough skill at WR to make this work). Their OL looks solid. If their backs can help keep Murray’s pants clean, UGA should be able to move the chains.

UGAlien

August 31st, 2010
11:28 am

404, I think the word you were looking for was ‘hilarious’ and not “hysterical”. Hysterical means uncontrollably emotional. But, you may be right, a lot of people will be uncontrollably emotional when Georgia wins the SEC East because that will undoubtedly put them in the NC game.

3rdn8

August 31st, 2010
11:30 am

Bet your finger….

does anyone remember the SNL skit called “Bet your finger”? A contestant puts his finger in a device that whacks it off if he misses the question – sometimes it misfired before the question was sked.

That’s how I feel about this season. There’s about eight games on Bama’s schedule where I’d be afraid to bet my finger……and I’m an optimistic guy

ADMAN

August 31st, 2010
11:33 am

You Bama fans need to throttle it back a little bit…let your teams actions on the field of play speak for you. Let the Florida fans act like the pompous asses(they can’t help it it’s inbread in them) ….
I’ll bet the house right now that Georgia Tech doesn’t even come close to winning the ACC….I don’t care how good Nesbitt is…the rest of Tech’s team won’t be able to prop him up throughout the season…Tech will lose 4-5 games…sorry Tech fans your team is simply not as good as you think they are. Bama will win the SEC and Georgia and Auburn (Auburn will upset Bama) will be the surprise teams. Both will go to a major bowl…..Look for Florida to show up in the Outback bowl with three loses (Georgia will beat the Gators this year)……. T3 what are you smoking? Your posts are so full of BS it’s comical..How old are you ?..eleven, twelve? …..Let the games begin!

UGAlien

August 31st, 2010
11:35 am

T3, Georgia’s backup to Murray is a 6′3″, 215 lb, 4-star QB, so Georgia will be just fine at that position regardless. But Murray’s pretty tough. His leg was broken during a game in October 2008. He recovered quickly enough from that to lead his team to a State Championship in December of that year.

G8R GRAD

August 31st, 2010
11:36 am

On the Sports home page of the AJC.com is the headline: “Will an SEC Team Go Unbeaten”
And beneath it, pictures of Saban, Richt and Miles.
Classic.
Ain’t it great to be a Florida Gator in Bulldog Country!

Otto

August 31st, 2010
11:37 am

Bama can have a perfect regular season. The offense returns most of the starters and they do not turn it over, further the keep the ball for large chunks of time.

If the offense creates 5+min drives killing the clock and resting the young defense, and further giving the coaches time to coach up players with less experience it is a big advantage.

Also I think the defense returns enough playing even if not “starters”.

Arkansas has made mistakes and has been very weak on defense. Chances are Ark. turns it over and Bama’s big OL is having their way the entire 2nd half with 2 great RBs having a great day.

Auburn will be tough as usual and would love for the odds to run out against them.

LSU IMO continues the slide.

Bama biggest problem is Penn St early, teams can gel strangely early on. and likely facing UF twice. It would not surprise me for Bama and UF to finish with 1 loss each, losses being to each other.

DawginLex

August 31st, 2010
11:42 am

I do not think Tech or UGA can afford to lose their starting QB.

T3 predicting 6-6 for UGA is comical and typical Tech.

UGA won’t win less than 9 games this year.

The key to the whole season is the SC game. It will set the tone. I could see UGA winning the SC and Ark games and then going down to MSU and getting upset. MSU has a D-line that is very good. QB is the question for them.

UGA will destroy UT in Athens. The Colorado game will be fun but will end up UGA by 10. UK in Lexington will be a potential trap game before the Florida game but they have a former walk-on starting on the DL.

I see 7-1 or 8-0 heading to Jacksonville. Florida will be 7-1 also.

9-3 or 10-2 is my prediction. GT and UGA should have the same record when they meet.

If VT beats Boise and GT, they could go to the BCS title game.

T3

August 31st, 2010
11:42 am

ADMAN said:

“I’ll bet the house right now that Georgia Tech
doesn’t even come close to winning the ACC.”

“Tech will lose 4-5 games.”

ADMAN, Go ahead and put your house keys in the mail,
and call a moving van.

November 13th

Clemson at FSU

Miami at GT

Miami & GT will both be (10-0) when they play on Nov 13th.

Winner of these two games will be ACC Division Champs.

Gen Neyland

August 31st, 2010
11:43 am

The SEC tie-breaker format will rule these pages by the end of NOV…

Otto

August 31st, 2010
11:44 am

kaput I agree on UGA’s special teams. Last year, yhe kicker were great, the coverage was horrid. The new coaches will change the schemes alot.

UGA will improve during the year but the young QB and new scheme on defense will show up for some mistakes. The saving grace is the S. Car has the NCAA all over them, UT has nobody returning on OL, UF has new coaches and QB, and UK has some new coaches. I still expect UGA to drop 1 maybe 2 of the games with Miss St, Ark, or S. Car. and again to UF.

Eddie and the Southern Cruisers

August 31st, 2010
11:44 am

Auburn will need Cameron Newton more than Ole Miss will need Masoli
Alabama will need Hightower Healthy more than USC will need Garcia
Georgia will need a Healthy Murray more than Florida will need an Average Brantley
Arkansas will need Mallett to stay upright all year or down goes the Hawgs
LSU will need someone who can spread the offense out or down goes the season
Ole Miss will need to play good defense because the Offense will goes as far as Masoli takes them
Tennessee will need a miracle to finish 500 or better
Vanderbilt will lose at least 3 games by 28 points or more
Miss. State will upset at least 2 teams this year.
If Florida can not run the ball consistently, 2 losses by game 10 of the season
UGA’s defense will give up more than 18 points a game.
UGA’s offense will score 18 points or more a game.
USC’s defense will be pretty good, and keep USC in some close games
Tennessee will be handed two years of probation and loss of scholarships, Kiffin will get hammered by the NCAA and USC will be forced to relieve him of his duties within 18 months.
Kentucy will suprise many with a few tight games along the way and win at least 7
Auburn will have a sophomore jink season under Chizik
Malzahn will be named a head coach in Division I by Bowl Season
Notre Dame will win 7- to 8 games and the Catholics and Beano Cook go wild
LSU will be more than happy to send Les Miles north.

Tim Brando never learns to shut his mouth and keeps rambling on……
Kirk Herbstreit finally shows his Ohio State LEANINGS….until Terrell Pryor goes down with an injury

3rdn8

August 31st, 2010
11:45 am

G8R GRAD

I have worked in south Florida for the past ten years, so feel your pain. They decorated my desk with Orange and Blue, and put lubricant in my telephone ear piece. I’m still looking for the guy who spiked my coffee with a chocolate-laced substance. He owes me for a laundry bill.

GT Fan ...

August 31st, 2010
11:48 am

Answer to point #5 Mr B ….
Because all you “experts” are friggin idiots.

Good DAY!, sir

G8R GRAD

August 31st, 2010
11:51 am

According to an article quoting Coach Meyer this morning, he’s most concerned about our offensive line.
In particular, he (Meyer) was concerned about the left tackle position with both the starter (Xavier Nixon – knee) and his backup (Matt Patchan – wrist).
Not good news considering those are the guys protecting Brantley’s blind side!

CMS

August 31st, 2010
11:52 am

There’s no way GT loses 4-5 games this year. They’re better than that. Eventhough UGA may not like him, Nesbitt has the skills to take them to a high stakes bowl game. H’s the pride of Greene County and he’s representing us quite well.

JMac12203

August 31st, 2010
11:52 am

UGAlien, let me ask this….. How many stars did Joe Cox have, and we all know how that worked out. Your backup has never been on a college field much less taken a snap. He has more to learn than Murray. 8-4 AT BEST, more than likely 7-5 with losses to either SC or Ark, Missy St. or Kty., Florida’s annual beatdown, Auburn and the season ender as GT, in their new home of Athens, knocks the pups down yet again.

GT Fan ...

August 31st, 2010
11:53 am

Fellow GT fans … quit posting idiotic “GA wins/loses at least 6 games” comments.

Take a look at 2009 vs 2010 … NO OK State or LSU. These 2 are replaced with Colorado & Miss St. Should be 2 W’s for GA which would equal 10 wins. GA just can’t lose games like SC, ARK, AUB, GT, or less than 10 wins comes into play. But definitely not 6 only! And A.M., as a RS Fresh, is better than Joe Cox IMO.

T3

August 31st, 2010
11:54 am

VT-Boise could be decided by a last minute FG (or miss).
Too close to call IMHO.

GT will beat VT in Blacksburg by 14+.

VT 9-3 at best, with at least 2 losses: GT and Miami.

IMHO, VT has ZERO chance at ACC Title.

DawginLex

August 31st, 2010
11:56 am

jmac Joe cox threw 17 interceptions. Our turnover ratio was minus 16 for the season. If Murray can reduce the interceptions to 10 or under and our new defensive scheme forces turnovers, we can at least get the turnover ratio to even and that is a 16 turnover improvement.

Despite all the turnovers and penalties, UGA still went 8-5 and came close to going 10-3(KY and LSU). Clean up the turnovers and penalties and UGA can win 9 or 10 even with a RS freshman QB.

UGAlien

August 31st, 2010
11:57 am

Eddie Gatorboy said: ” Georgia will need a Healthy Murray more than Florida will need an Average Brantley”. I know Fla recruited Murray really hard so you assume that he’s the only real gun on UGA’s squad. Well, Georgia has a couple other blue-chips waiting in the wings. The name Christian LeMay ring a bell? It should… Fla recruited him hard too.

G8R GRAD

August 31st, 2010
11:58 am

3rd:

Apparently, I’m a glutton for punishment, I attended three years of graduate school in Alabama and you know how crazy those folks are!
Hang in there.
BTW:
Where in S. FL?

3rdn8

August 31st, 2010
12:00 pm

G8R GRAD

Boca Raton

T3

August 31st, 2010
12:01 pm

The 2010 Arron Murray “hype” sure does sound a whole lot

like the 2009 Joe Cox “hype.”

G8R GRAD

August 31st, 2010
12:01 pm

BTW, 3rd, the “Bet Your Finger” bit was classic!

G8R GRAD

August 31st, 2010
12:02 pm

“The Mouth of the Rat?”
No wonder!

UGAlien

August 31st, 2010
12:03 pm

T3, I don’t know where you were getting your “Joe Cox hype” but it wasn’t from Bulldog people. He was a 5-year senior and the only thing we had. No, I’d say the Aaron Murray hype is equal to the Matthew Stafford hype.

DawginLex

August 31st, 2010
12:04 pm

Joe cox threw 25 TD passes. There was no doubting his ability to pass and read a defense. He made too many stupid decisions and forced things over the middle when he should have thrown the ball away.
He should have played more in 2006 and gotten more game experience.

Helmet Head on riding the Short Bus

August 31st, 2010
12:05 pm

UgAlien…I did not know Christian LeMay was on UGA’s squad this year? When did that happen?
Did I miss that…?
The other quarterback on the depth chart is a true freshman.

ADMAN

August 31st, 2010
12:05 pm

T3 ..You’ve definitely confirmed my belief…you are at least eleven years old….At least I have a house to bet my keys on…that tralier you live in doesn’t have any keys does it?…I’ll bet you were the same idiot who said Tech would be 12-0 last year…how’d that work out for you?…..nice loss to the Dawgs….(Tech held to 204 yards rushing- 150 below their season average) ….way to get your asses handed to you by Iowa in the bowl game…..Either Miami or Florida State will win the ACC…Tech will be out of it before the season is half over…T3 you can bet your trailer keys on that.

RxDawg

August 31st, 2010
12:05 pm

Alien, LeMay isn’t a Dawg yet. I wouldn’t exactly brag about him to our rivals. That chicken hasn’t hatched yet.

DawginLex

August 31st, 2010
12:07 pm

I’m hoping for Murray’s sake that the first game is a blowout. It will also allow Mason to get into a game.

I’m hoping that Mason is a quick study. He has a lot of ability but is unfortunately, a true freshman.

JMac12203

August 31st, 2010
12:07 pm

Yeah, but they are still counting on a starter and a backup that has NEVER taken a snap in a college game. I realize that both are very good and will eventually be ok, but gambling that 2 untested, untried QB’s can play well enough to get more than 7 or 8 wins AT THE MOST is, well, kind of foolhardy. As I said earlier, an 8 win season should be considered a great season. 9 wins is not reachable unless you can win the Music City Bowl.

3rdn8

August 31st, 2010
12:07 pm

G8R

I moved back to Alabama earlier this year, and am getting reacquainted with my fellow Bama loonies. There (as you know) are an equal number of AU loonies here.

I’ve found that moving over to the left shoulder of the road is the best way to avoid trouble.

Anonymous

August 31st, 2010
12:07 pm

T3 = premature ejaculation

UGAlien

August 31st, 2010
12:07 pm

Eddie, how many handles are you going to be today? Helmet head is the forth I have counted. I’m sure there are more.

DawginLex

August 31st, 2010
12:08 pm

jmac,the SC game holds a lot of keys to the success of the season.

G8R GRAD

August 31st, 2010
12:10 pm

3rd:

Continuing with the masochistic theme: I married an Auburn grad!
WHAT was I thinking?
Nice girl, it’s just so hard to keep shoes on her feet!

3rdn8

August 31st, 2010
12:14 pm

G8R

We’re pretty much in the same boat. I have three AU grads in my immediate family. My oldest son has completely blocked out the past two years, and only talks about Cadillac Williams.

My wife and I are hoping that the new meds help.

JMac12203

August 31st, 2010
12:15 pm

Even using Stafford as a comparison, where did that take you?? An SEC championship – NO; A An East title – NO. Just what was Stafford’s legacy??? He was the QB of a team that won the PRESEASON NC, won their first game, dropped to #2, won their second game, dropped to #3, then got absolutely embarrassed by Alabama. What else did he accomplish?? He had the distinction of being the QB that led the pups to 42-45 in his last regular season game. Yes, he got the big money from the Lions, which I believe now they see was a mistake, but other than that, what did he accomplish???

UGAlien

August 31st, 2010
12:15 pm

Lunch time. Gonna find a panini with my name on it. BBL.

3rdn8

August 31st, 2010
12:18 pm

guess I’d better call it a day.

enjoyed talking football with you folks.

HAGO G8R

G8R GRAD

August 31st, 2010
12:18 pm

I don’t know, 3rd, your boys were lucky to get out of Auburn alive last year!
Having that #1 target on your back makes for a very long season.

G8R GRAD

August 31st, 2010
12:20 pm

Showing my ignorance here, but what does the acronym “HAGO” stand for?

Saban's Law

August 31st, 2010
12:21 pm

With Saban running things in Bama, florida will not be winning any more titles anytime soon. He’s built a monster over there and the tide will rule the SEC for years—take it to the bank.

3rdn8

August 31st, 2010
12:21 pm

“Have a good one”

and I agree about the target on our backs.

“Potential is the heaviest burden in life”

– Dandy Don Meridith