Talking points entering SEC Media Days


South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier will be among the coaches talking Wednesday in Hoover, Ala.

Doug Finger/Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 12:03 a.m.

Taking a look at some talking points entering this week's SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala.:

Facts

SEC Media Days

On TV: 2-7 p.m. on ESPNU
Wednesday's lineup: Arkansas and Florida (2-4:50 p.m.); South Carolina and Mississippi State (4:20 p.m.-7 p.m.)

Five guys under pressure

1. Mark Richt — He's been on and off the hot seat over the past few years. He's back on it now after last year's disappointing 6-7 season that ended with an embarrassing 10-6 loss to Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl . The ‘Dogs need a big-time turnaround season, or Richt is in deep trouble.




2. Gene Chizik — After coaching Auburn to the national title last season, the expectations are way up there now for AU football. But will the Tigers be able to contend again (even in the SEC race) without Cameron Newton and Nick Fairly?

3. Jordan Jefferson — Many are predicting the Tigers will win the SEC and move on to become the league's next national champion. A lot of those glowing predictions are based on the belief that Jefferson is a much-improved quarterback. If he falters, LSU's title hopes could go down the drain.

4. A.J. McCarron or Phillip Sims — The Tide is loaded with talent and expected to be a major player in the SEC and national championship races. But one of the question marks is quarterback, where a new starter takes over. Whoever the new guy turns out to be, the pressure is on to effectively manage the offense.

5. John Brantley — After his dismal debut as Florida's starting quarterback last season, the fifth-year senior has a second chance to find his groove under new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, who has worked wonders with QBs wherever he's been. If Weis can't fix Brantley, maybe it can't be done.

Robbie Andreu's SEC predictions

East

1. Georgia

2. South Carolina

3. Florida

4. Tennessee

5. Kentucky

6. Vanderbilt

West

1. Alabama

2. LSU

3. Arkansas

4. Auburn

5. Mississippi State

6. Ole Miss

SEC champion: Alabama

Pat Dooley's SEC predictions

East

1. South Carolina

2. Florida

3. Georgia

4. Kentucky

5. Tennessee

6. Vanderbilt

West

1. LSU

2. Alabama

3. Arkansas

4. Auburn

5. Mississippi State

6. Ole Miss

SEC champion: South Carolina

Preseason coach of the year

Andreu: Mark Richt has the perfect quarterback (Aaron Murray) to run his offense at Georgia and the Bulldogs' overall high talent level will come into play this season, especially on defense. Richt and the ‘Dogs are overdue for a big season — and this is the year it happens.

Dooley: Steve Spurrier has won this honor before and he has the weapons to do it again. Spurrier has done a wonderful job at something he had a reputation for not caring about — recruiting. The Gamecocks are the most talented team in the East.

Preseason player of the year

Andreu: South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore is going to follow his super freshman season with an even better sophomore season. This special player is obviously driven to greatness. In the offseason, he made himself bigger, stronger and faster. Watch out.

Dooley: There's a reason why we picked Trent Richardson as the best player in the league this summer. Actually there are a lot of them. He's going to get a ton of carries behind a great wall of blockers and the Tide will be a run-first offense.

NEWBIES

Newcomers to watch in the SEC

Steve Shaw: Bobby Gaston was transparent when he was supervisor of officials for the conference. Rogers Reddding was tight-lipped. Let's see how the new boss handles controversial calls.

Charlie Weis: So much was made of his hiring and he will be a lightning rod for opinions. Weis shouldn't be judged for what he does in his first year, but he will be. Can he revive John Brantey?

Isaiah Crowell: A lot of hype came his way during the offseason and then Georgia running backs began dropping like summer raindrops. Let's face it — Georgia will only go as far as this five-star back can take them.

Steve Kragthorpe: If LSU has a good offense, there is no reason why the Tigers can't win the national title. Enter Kragthorpe, who was a train wreck at Louisville but has a brilliant offensive mind. Let's see what Les Miles let's him do.

James Franklin: It seems like an impossible task to win at Vandy, but Franklin is already making some noise in recruiting. Winning four or five games would be quite an accomplishment in his first year.

PUNT, PASS OR COACH

Ranking the SEC coaches based on their college playing careers:

1. Steve Spurrier: Won the Heisman Trophy. End of discussion.

2. Joker Phillips: Had 75 catches and nine touchdowns as a Kentucky receiver.

3. Les Miles: Standout offensive lineman for Michigan.

4. Will Muschamp: Went from walk-on to a starter at Georgia.

5. James Franklin: Set seven school records as a quarterback at East Stroudsburg.

6. Dan Mullen: All-conference tight end at Ursinus.

7. Bobby Petrino: Played quarterback at Carroll College.

8. Mark Richt: Mostly a backup quarterback at Miami.

9. Nick Saban: Undersized defensive back at Kent State.

10. Derek Dooley: Went to Virginia as a walk-on receiver and earned a scholarship.

11. Houston Nutt: Coaching change at Arkansas pushed him to Oklahoma State.

12. Gene Chizik: Practice fodder at Florida.

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