SEC Media Days moves back to Hoover, Ala., starting Monday and that means The Gainesville Sun’s two veteran sports writers will be there with laptops and tape recorders.
In preparation for Monday’s opening salvos at the annual clambake, Pat Dooley and Robbie Andreu will make their predictions for how each division will finish up with the caveat that they can change their minds as we get closer to the season.
Here’s how Dooley and Andreu will vote this week:
1. Georgia: It’s the predictable prediction. The Bulldogs still have the best roster in the East even though they appear more vulnerable than last year, especially with the attrition at wide receiver.
2. Florida: Speaking of attrition, I give you the Gators. There is still a lot of talent at the skill positions, but this team will only go as far as its offensive line.
3. Missouri: I’m on the Tigers’ bandwagon for several reasons, one of them being how they were unaffected by the transfer portal even with a bowl ban (it’s being appealed). If Kelly Bryant transitions smoothly at quarterback, watch out.
4. South Carolina: Like the team, hate the schedule. It will be really interesting to see how QB Jake Bentley plays after an uneven junior season.
5. Kentucky: There won’t be a huge fall, but I think the Wildcats take a small step back this year.
6. Tennessee: The Vols are slowly building something, but there is still a long way to go. On the other hand, they have eight home games and a soft non-conference schedule.
7. Vanderbilt: This could be the end for coach Derek Mason, who has done a good job in a tough situation.
1. Alabama: You would think all of the turnover on the coaching staff would catch up to the Tide, but maybe that’s why they went so soft with their schedule this year.
2. LSU: The word out of Baton Rouge is that the new offense is going to mean a different look for the Tigers. It seems like we’ve heard this story before.
3. Texas A&M: The schedule is brutal, but the talent is there to make a run at the West in coach Jimbo Fisher’s second season.
4. Auburn: Just can’t trust these Tigers. They seem to have the roster to compete, but who knows what a loss to Oregon early could do to the fragile psyches on the Plains?
5. Mississippi: The Matt Corral Era begins in earnest. The quarterback may be erratic at times this season, but he gives the Rebs a chance.
6. Mississippi State: This might be the best sixth-place team in a division in college football. So the Bulldogs have that going for them.
7. Arkansas: There are teams in this conference that could easily go 10-2 with the Razorbacks’ schedule. Arkansas isn’t one of them.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at email@example.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.
Georgia: Kirby Smart has turned the Bulldogs into the Alabama of the East. This may be the year Smart takes down his old boss in the SEC Championship Game.
Florida: Given all the departures and some setbacks in recruiting, there’s been a negative vibe around the program, so this is a shaky pick.
Kentucky: The Wildcats have lost their most dynamic players on both sides of the ball, but coach Mark Stoops has built this program the right way.
Tennessee: I have a feeling the Vols are going to be a whole lot better than most are anticipating.
South Carolina: This is a talented team, led by a very talented QB, but the schedule is an absolute bear.
Missouri: Mizzou seems to always get the most out of its talent, so this should be another dangerous Tiger team.
Vanderbilt: Landing in this spot — again — doesn’t mean this is a bad team. The Commodores have some dynamic offensive weapons and should be fun to watch.
Alabama: That beatdown at the hands of Clemson has surely knocked some of the swagger out of the Tide, right? Nah.
LSU: The Tigers, again, are one of the league’s most talented teams. But they’re not quite good enough to get over the Bama hump.
Texas A&M: Jimbo Fisher is a heck of a coach, and he has enough talent and an experienced QB to make Alabama and LSU nervous.
Auburn: With a new starting QB, there are concerns about offense. But no worries on defense, where the Tigers are loaded, especially up front.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs should be more proficient on offense in coach Joe Moorhead’s second season. Defensively, MSU might take a step back after losing all that elite talent.
Mississippi: Surely, the Rebels have to be better on defense. But then they’ve been saying that in Oxford for the past two seasons.
Arkansas: The Hogs should be better in year two under offensive-minded coach Chad Morris. But probably not significantly better.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.
SEC Media Days
UF coach Dan Mullen, quarterback Feleipe Franks, defensive lineman Jabari Zuniga and running back Lamical Perine will represent the Gators in front of more than 1,200 credential media members in attendance at Hoover, Ala., and a national TV audience.
Florida will make its rotation through the SEC Media Day floor by participating in multiple interviews with various media outlets from 3:30 to 6 p.m. ET. Mullen will take the podium in the main media room at 3:30 p.m. today and it will be aired live on the SEC Network.
Robbie – though I’d concede that this isn’t your father’s UGA, I won’t quite think they have risen yet to being the “Bama of the East”. Yes Kirby can recruit and yes this roster has tons of talent and yes Jake Fromm is a great QB, but UGA hasn’t really won anything yet, certainly not consistently. So let’s not anoint them as the second coming of Bama.
That said, I like the Gators’ chances in the East. CDM is recruiting much better (yes, I know, we need some five stars) and I”d put his game planning and game day X’s and O’s right up there with anyone, especially Kirby. I agree with Pat that the OL is the key to this year’s team. But from what I have seen out of CDM and Staff, I wouldn’t count us out of Atlanta just yet.
I know the larger point is that you’d want a 5* over a 4*, and on the average, that’s true, but look at what we’ve done with our last few 5* recruits:
Ivey – never reached expectations, started a lot, but didn’t even get drafted
Jefferson – performed better than Ivey, but never started over 8 games in a season and didn’t get drafted
Tabor – was All-SEC a couple of times and a 2nd-round pick…that’s good, but not elite
Hargreaves – consensus All-American and 1st round pick…THAT’S what should happen
K. Taylor – was never THE starter at RB, wound up a 6th-round pick after leaving early…pffft
So the Gators really only HIT on one out of our last five 5* recruits. That’s a lack of player development and/or lack of continuity (Muschamp/McElwain/Mullen). Florida will always get talented-enough players, we just have to DO something with them.
And it’d be nice if IMG Academy, in our own back yard, wasn’t a breeding ground for Alabama. Mullen needs to start there.
IMG’s proximity is irrelevant. They aren’t Florida kids.
Maybe, but that’s irrelevant and not his point. Just sayin’.
I have the same feelings about everyone giving UGA just a little to much credit. Just like Clemson being better than BAMA. Ya they won last year but Clemson played no one good all year, so they walked into the Championship better rested then any other team. Remember they got real lucky against Syracuse IMO. UGA same MO they played a rebuilding SEC East that was so bad that UK was contending for the title. So if the SEC East improves which it looks like it is, I believe UGA will have more trouble getting through it. We are also less favored against LSU a team we beat last year then we are against UGA. So, I’m thinking they think we have better chance this year than last. Who knows what’s going to happen but all I know is GO GATORS!
My take away? We’ll see. GO GATORS!
I believe that we are as good as any other team in the East, if not better. Besides we have two bye weeks which can only help with attrition. The O-line and Franks need to work as a well oiled machine to make this vehicle run. If anything we still have CDM and crew and that is good enough for me to hang my anticipation on. GO GATORS!!!
I know we all see things thru orange and blue glasses, but I guess I give UGly more credit than most. They won the SEC and were one 2 & 26 in overtime away from winning a national title 2 years ago. Then last year lost one SEC road game to a top 10 team, before being beat in the SEC title game. While they’ve still not won a NC since 1980, the last 2 years would be impressive in Gainesville 😎
You’re right Sparky, about giving UGA its due props. And so is Ed when he says, with conviction, that we’re as good as any other team in the East; the only problem with that is that on that certain date in Jacksonville, we have to be “better” than them. So are they good? You bet they are — real good. Are we good? You bet your ass we are, and we should be getting better all the time. Will we be better than they are by the time we play?
Like I said before: We’ll see.
If I had to guess, and that’s all anybody is doing right now, I say YES. But if we don’t turn out to be on that date, I guar-en-damn-tee y’all — it won’t be long before we are. GO YOU GO GATORS!
I’m with you Sparky. UGA does deserve credit, and with a veteran QB back and tons of talent, they should be #1 in the East until someone knocks them off.
Sparky they do deserve props as they beat us twice in a row and that stings me to the core. When I look at the history of these teams in the early days they owned us. From the mid fifties to the mid sixties we had turned a corner but the total wins to loss ratio was still awful. The tide turned for the next twenty years. Then SOS rolled into town and the ship was righted and stayed that way with the Gators. from 1990-2010 we lost three games!!!! ..and made great headway in taking the overall lead. They have us by 9.
Rog brings up a good point. UGA hasn’t won when it mattered. 2018 Lost to LSU, AL, Tex, 2017 AUB and AL. Not saying that we did either as we had a horrible 2017 and a surprising 2018. Jim is on it with too much credit. UGA is beatable last years loss was painful (I was there) but there was too many mistakes made by a team that hadn’t fully bought in to the changes that had been made. I am not saying if they had bought in we would have one but I think the score would have been much closer. If we played them again after the team got their collective sh– together things might have been a little different. UGA has out recruited us according to the ranking metrics. They have done this many times before and we beat them in TWLODCP.
I am ok with reporters dogging us and having no faith. Including the ones on this site. If I were a player it would be fuel to my fire. If I were CDM (I am not) I would use that as motivation in proving the media wrong (ESPN 2006,2008,2018) This can be done in a positive way without flaming out.
OL is a genuine concern but they will get better under fire (hopefully sooner than later) We will scheme early to take pressure off them until they are ready to play brute force OL. There are tons of plays I can think of that do this so we won’t be a one trick pony.
Lastly the word I hate to use -injuries- if we can keep these to a minimum we will do well.
Schedule is a little tougher this year but if the team can start where they left off and we shouldn’t have a sophomore season from our coach as he is a veteran.
All should be exciting in the SWAMP and AWAY this year.
Right on, 65. In other word, you bet your bippee!
Pat, your Alabama comment makes no sense. It’s just lazy. Alabama scheduled easy 4-6 years ago, predicting they’d have a lot of coaching turnover? C’mon, man.
Here’s my take; It will be all up to Franks! If he plays like he did the last 2 games and the Bowl we will be in contention. If he plays like the few games before that ,we will have a tough year. We have the receivers and Rb’s. Franks must run with conviction and throw with accuracy and timing, look off DB’s and know what the defense is doing. Im sure, if the OL is porous, mullen will call plays that get the ball out fast so that weakness will be negated. Its all up to our QB. I believe he will make it or break it. I think our defense will be championship caliber. I believe the Miami game will show us what kind of season to expect by showing us what kind of QB he will be this year.
In thinking thru all the moving pieces involved in success or failure in the SEC……pretty complicated at that……it really does come down to this. That is, it really is an either-or situation in which one of three QBs is the lynch pin.