Thursday, July 02, 2009

2009 SEC East Football Preview

College football is roughly two months away. Even so, us, the obsessive fans, are already beginning our predictions and speculations on every possible thing.

Come on don't lie. You already know how each player will do on every team and how many yards so-and-so will rush for and how awful so-and-so will be, right?

Today I am going to touch on each team in the SEC. This is short and sweet and basically I want to get out the single biggest question the nation of college football will have about this team.

I will continue my college football preview as the summer progresses.

SEC East

1. Florida: Fresh off the 2008 BCS National Championship (second in three years) the Gators are the clear front runner for the 2009 title. All 11 starters will be returning to the defense and on offense a guy by the name of Tim Tebow will be back as well. The underlining question for the Gator unit is can they keep the same intensity and repeat? The nation knows Florida is for real and it's that bulls eye on their head that will cause Urban Meyer's crew to never take an opponent softly. Without Percy Harvin, now a Minnesota Viking, how will this Florida offense do? Will it plug someone else in and continue to pound their opponents or will the loss of Harvin be bigger than anyone imagined? Only time will tell.

The Florida Gators have a lighter schedule compared to past years meaning a repeat is a strong possibility. With that said there still are some games that Florida has circled. October 10th Florida travels to Baton Rouge to play LSU (this game shall be known as Judgment Day) and October 31st Florida will play the Georgia Bulldogs.

Can Florida trip up in these games? You betcha. Going into Tiger Stadium on Saturday night is by no means easy, and a deep rivalry, like the one with Georgia, can always swing either way. Any chance for a hiccup game against an opponent you would never think would give Florida trouble? Can't see any, but look for Troy, September 12, to score some points. Sure they'll lose 50-26, but Troy scores.

2. Georgia: Going into the 2008 season the Bulldogs were a National Title contender. There was a lot of talk that 2008 would be the year that Coach Mark Richt finally put it all together and wins a title. Well, things went bad before you knew it. They lost to Alabama 41-30. (It was 31-0 at halftime.) Then, November 1st Florida flat out embarrassed UGA by winning 49-10. Finally, Georgia Tech mounted a second half comeback to beat the Bulldogs 45-42. After the season Matt Stafford and Knowshon Moreno leaft for the NFL and Athens, Ga. is left in the dust....

...or so we were led to believe.

The three losses last year for Georgia were painful and this 2009 squad wants to prove to the nation Richt's team is back. Georgia will make noise, but the main question is how will new quarterback senior Joe Cox do? If Cox can grab the reins of the season early on Georgia could be a sleeper in the SEC. Whatever you do watch the Florida/Georgia game this year. Georgia fans are still pretty angry about Florida running up the score in last year's 49-10 slaughter. Don't think the Georgia players will not be pumped for that game?

3. Tennessee: If you like football and do not know who Lane Kiffin is than I can pretty much assume you live under a rock. New Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin has already made his impact on the SEC...and he is yet to coach a game. First it was the snagging of coaches from other SEC teams, then it was the accusations against Florida coach Urban Meyer, then it was the building up of an under-the-radar recruiting class by grabbing studs like Janzen Jackson and Bryce Brown at the last minute, and finally it was the recruiting violations. Kiffin has a big task in rebuilding the UT football program, but it will need time. The main thing is how successful will the Vols be in year one? Let's put it this way, if the Tennessee Volunteers finish with 8 or 9 wins you can sure that Vol Nation will be foaming at the mouth on the potential this coach has. How will this team do once it really starts recruiting?

Do not get your hopes up because Tennessee will be annihilated September 19 at The Swamp against Florida. But, look for Tennessee to pull off at least one upset in these three games.

October 10 Georgia
October 24 @ Alabama
November 14 @ Ole Miss

4. South Carolina: Steve Spurrier did not arrive in Columbia, SC last night. In fact this will be the Old Ball Coach's 5th year with the Gamecocks. With a 28-22 record critics begin to wonder will Spurrier ever build a team for South Carolina that will be stronger than one or two games over .500. Coming back this year for the Gamecocks will be Stephen Garcia who has the poetential to be the best QB Spurrier has ever had at South Carolina. The biggest issue for this team will be replacing the top three playmakers on both sides of the ball, including cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, safety Emanuel Cook and linebacker Jasper Brinkley on defense. After a spring practice where Spurrier left in frustration due a poor performance by the team one has to think if this South Carolina team will ever leave the land of mediocrity. With a schedule that includes games at Georgia, Alabama, and Tennesse, and home against Ole Miss and Florida don't look for that to change.

5. Vanderbilt: The Commodores 2008 season was one of the most incredible of the year. Not only did Vandy finish with a 7-6 record (4-4 SEC), the Commodores also won their Music City Bowl game against Boston College 17-16. Coach Bobby Johnson continously gets applauded for turning around a football program that has always struggled in the SEC. Main question is can Bobby Johnson and his crew keep this going into another year? The team returns 19 starters, not including former QB Mackenzi Adams. In steps Larry Smith who started the last two games of the year. Even with games at LSU and Florida, and home against Georgia and Ole Miss, the Commodores should still be able to enter bowl season for the second consecutive year. But keep in mind that in the history of Vanderbilt football (119 years) never have the Commodores gone to bowl games in consecutive seasons.

6. Kentucky: Last year's Kentucky team surprised a lot of people, myself included. One year after losing lightining-in-a-bottle Andre Woodson the Wildcats were still able to get into the bowl season. QB Mike Hartline came into the position last year with a lot of pressure, but remarkablely was able to guide Kentucky to a 7-6 record. Even better the team beat East Carolina (an early season sleeper) 25-19 in the Liberty Bowl. Much like Coach Bobby Johnson of Vanderbilt, Coach Rich Brooks of Kentucky is faced with the pressure of keeping the momentum going. The best thing happening to the Wildcats is the team will go back to running a similar offense to when Woodson was still in town. Last year the team strayed away from it because a new QB was in town. As Brooks says passing works best for the Wildcats. Despite a promising outlook for the offense the biggest issue for Kentucky will be the defense and its consistency. Cornerback Trevard Lindley is an All-American prospect, but will he be enough to get a fourth straight bowl game? Doubt it.

Up next SEC West...