SEC Media Days: Day 3 capsules
Published: Thursday, July 18, 2013 at 5:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 18, 2013 at 5:11 p.m.
Coach: Les Miles, ninth season (113-42 overall, 85-21 at LSU).
Last year's record: 10-3 overall, 6-2 in the SEC (T-2nd in the West). Lost to Clemson 25-24 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Fans' expectations: The Tigers had Alabama down late in last season's game in Baton Rouge, but let the Tide off the hook. That won't happen this season. The rebuilding Tigers will take down Alabama in Tuscaloosa and roll to the division title. Zach Mettenberger has starred coming into his own at quarterback and the young Tigers will be fast and athletic — and dominant — on defense.
Realistic expectations: This LSU team has more question marks than any in perhaps the past five years. Mettenberger still lacks consistency in the passing game, tailback Jeremy Hill is in limbo with his legal issues and the Tigers must replace their entire defensive line and star linebacker Kevin Minter. And the schedule is tough, with LSU having to go to Georgia, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Alabama. The Tigers have been picked to finish third in the West, which seems about right.
Quotable: “We're looking forward to the challenge, to be honest. Our culture is, bring it on. It's what we do. We look forward to lining up against the best in the East and the best in the West. I like us in any game.”
— Les Miles
Coach: Mark Richt, 13th season (118-40, all at Georgia).
Last year's record: 12-2 overall, 7-1 in the SEC (T-2nd in the East). Defeated Nebraska 45-31 in the Capital One Bowl.
Fans' expectations: After coming up only yards short of beating Alabama in last season's SEC Championship Game, the 'Dogs will finish the job in Atlanta this December, knocking out the Tide and advancing to the BCS Championship Game. Led by quarterback Aaron Murray and tailback Todd Gurley, the offense will be unstoppable. The defense is young and inexperienced, but the Bulldogs are fast and athletic, and coordinator Todd Grantham will put the players in a position to make plays.
Realistic expectations: Georgia will have one of the most potent offenses in the nation, one that should pile up huge numbers, especially by Murray. But the reality is, Murray and the 'Dogs have had problems consistently moving the ball against the league's better defenses. The early schedule is tough, with games against Clemson, South Carolina and LSU in the first four weeks. The young defense could be very good, or very average.
Quotable: “I think our team is one that has a lot of questions. Because of the questions, it's created a lot of excitement. It's created a lot of energy.” — Mark Richt
Coach: Nick Saban, seventh season (169-72-1 overall, 63-13 at Alabama).
Last year's record: 13-1 overall, 7-1 in the SEC (1st in the West). Defeated Notre Dame 42-14 in the BCS Championship Game.
Fans' expectations: Alabama had only one misstep last season on its way to a national title, losing to Texas A&M in Tuscaloosa. There will be no missteps this season. The Crimson Tide have shown the past two seasons that it has the players and the coaching, and that when it is focused and ready to play, Alabama is unbeatable. Quarterback AJ McCarron could have a Heisman Trophy-like season and he's surrounded by dynamic skill players. Nick Saban's defense will be like it always is — among the strongest in the nation.
Realistic expectations: Alabama has to do some rebuilding on both lines of scrimmage, but the Tide have the talent on the roster to be just as strong up front as it was the past two championship seasons. If Alabama wins at A&M on Sept. 14, the Tide are looking at a 12-0 regular season. The weapons are there on offense (McCarron, wide receiver Amari Cooper and running back T.J. Yeldon) and the defense will be strong. And then there's the Saban factor.
Quotable: “I read and I hear how you all make predictions on what's going to happen in the season. It seems almost a little crazy to predict what's going to happen. I think it's crazy to speculate.” — Nick Saban
Coach: James Franklin, third season (15-11, all at Vanderbilt).
Last year's record: 9-4 overall, 5-3 in the SEC (4th in the East). Defeated North Carolina State 38-24 in the Music City Bowl.
Fans' expectations: The team that went so long without making it to a bowl game now expects to go every year. This season is no different. The Commodores return 14 starters from last year's nine-win season and Vandy has gotten consistently stronger on both lines of scrimmage the past two seasons. Jordan Matthews is a big-time receiver, there's lots of potential at tailback and the defense should be sound.
Realistic expectations: The Commodores have no experience at quarterback, little experience at tailback and some questions on both lines of scrimmage. Vandy has improved each season under Franklin, who has worked wonders, but it's doubtful this team can match last season's nine-win total with a question mark at quarterback.
Quotable: “(Austyn Carta-Samuels), he's a great quarterback. I've said it before, I think he's going to be one of the best quarterbacks in this conference by season's end.” — Senior All-SEC wide receiver Jordan Matthews.