The SEC has dominated nearly everything in college football during the last several years. The conference has won the last six national championships, produced two of the last three Heisman Trophy winners and currently has six teams in the AP Poll.
When discussing college football, you can't go anywhere without hearing how awesome the SEC is. Did I mention that the top two teams in the AP Poll are teams from the SEC, and that the conference is really good at winning football games?
Well, with all of the positives and things to be proud of, there are also things that haven't gone according to plan. Yes, believe it or not, the SEC is not perfect, and there are some disappointments that we can talk about as well.
Here are 10 of the biggest flops in the SEC in the 2012 college football season so far.
When Trent Richardson left for the NFL draft, running back Eddie Lacy was expected to take over as the lead rusher. He had been productive as a backup the last couple of years, which left many in Tuscaloosa feeling confident that he had the goods to produce as a full-time back.
In the first three games, Lacy has only rushed for 126 yards, averaging just 42 yards on the ground per game. He has scored four touchdowns, but a majority of the big plays are coming from true freshman T.J. Yeldon, who is averaging over six yards a touch.
Lacy has begun the season sluggishly, and if the Crimson Tide expect to win another national championship, the junior running back must produce at a higher rate.
The secondary of the Florida Gators is young but now he's also more experienced, as many key contributors from a year ago have returned. The cornerback tandem includes two sophomores, while the safety positions are occupied by two upperclassmen.
This is a unit that was ranked third in the SEC last season, allowing only 166 yards in the air a game. This season, a total of 227 passing yards are being allowed, which is 10th in the conference. In the Week 2 matchup against Texas A&M, freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel was able to complete 76 percent of his passes for 173 yards.
The good news is that the secondary is allowing less than 56 percent of passes to be completed, but if Florida is going to become a true contender, the defense has to step up.
Remember all of the hype surrounding quarterback Kiehl Frazier back in the offseason?
Now you barely hear about the sophomore quarterback, as many are beginning to jump on the Everett Golson bandwagon instead.
Now Auburn has many issues besides just the quarterback position, but Frazier was supposed to provide a spark on the offensive side of the ball. Instead, he is barely completing 50 percent of his passes, is averaging less than 150 passing yards a game and has thrown three interceptions more than touchdowns.
He often looks lost on the field and makes boneheaded decisions with the football.
It is still not time to give up on the young quarterback after just three career starts, but Frazier seems to be more of a project than anyone had expected.
LSU has two of the best defensive ends in the country in Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery. They both are true pass-rushers and they both get off the ball quicker than anybody.
And while we know what they are capable of, neither of them has gotten off to a terrific start during the 2012 season. Combined, they have generated one sack, 15 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss. Sophomore defensive end Jadeveon Clowney from South Carolina has better numbers in the first three games by himself.
We know it is only a matter of time before these two studs turn it up, but the pass rush of the Tigers has to improve, as they are entering the heart of the SEC schedule.
When quarterback Stephen Garcia couldn't seem to stay out of trouble last year, Connor Shaw stepped in and played well. By the end of the year, he had completed 65 percent of his passes, produced 22 total touchdowns and helped lead the Gamecocks to an 11-win season.
Many believed that, with a whole offseason to prepare, the dual-threat quarterback had a chance to really blossom into a star this year. Having a full year under his belt and a healthy Marcus Lattimore in the backfield, Garcia seemed to be on the right track heading into 2012.
Instead, he looked terrible in the season opener against Vanderbilt and has been dealing with an injury to his throwing shoulder. According to the Associated Press, he is expected to return for this week's game against Missouri (h/t ESPN), but we aren't sure what to expect moving forward.
It was just a couple of months ago when Knile Davis said he was still the best running back in the SEC, as reported by Edward Aschoff of ESPN.com. Keep in mind that he said this after missing the entire 2011 season with an ankle injury.
After just three games, Davis is averaging a whopping 3.5 yards a carry, has two touchdowns, and has not produced one run over 20 yards on 54 carries.
There are currently 13 SEC running backs that have more rushing yards than Davis, and 10 have more than two rushing touchdowns.
There is little doubt that Davis is one of the better NFL prospects with his skill set.
Still, because of his lack of production early on, he has yet to show that he is one of the best backs in the conference.
Speaking of the Arkansas Razorbacks, we have to include the rest of the bunch in another slide. No, Davis is not the only one that is going to shoulder the blame. This is a squad that was expected to compete with teams such as LSU, Georgia and Alabama for an SEC title this season.
Who knows where this program is going to end up?
Coach John L. Smith has filed for bankruptcy according to the Associated Press (via ESPN). The offense is ranked 13th in the SEC—averaging just 359 yards a game—despite having some of the premier offensive weapons in the country. And the defense is beyond brutal, allowing over 430 yards a game to opposing teams.
There is no telling what is going to happen to this team moving forward, but I'm sure it won't be pretty.
If you follow recruiting closely, you would know that running back Keith Marshall was one of the most highly recruited players of the 2012 class. And once starter Isaiah Crowell was dismissed from the program, many liked the former 5-star recruit’s chances to become an instant impact within the Bulldogs offense.
Instead, freshman Todd Gurley has been the workhorse for this Georgia offense, rushing for 276 yards and scoring four touchdowns. Marshall, on the other hand got off to an extremely slow start before having his breakout game against FAU last week. (This isn’t exactly saying much.)
As somebody who was as highly recruited as Marshall was, and who looks like he is going to be a key part of this offense, the rookie must produce more consistently.
Speaking of highly recruited players, there was no player that schools were drooling over more than wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. The 5-star recruit had offers on the table from every school imaginable and turned them all down to stay close to home in Missouri.
Despite being 6'6" and being able to run a 4.4, Green-Beckham has produced just five catches for 39 yards and zero touchdowns in the first three games. With the offense that Gary Pinkel runs, there is no excuse for not getting this kid more involved in the passing game.
It doesn't matter if we are in the SEC or not—there aren't many defenders that have the height or speed to keep up with this freshman.
Give the kid the football!
The SEC is known for its great defense, which is a key reason for the six consecutive championships. Last year, the conference had a total of five programs inside the top 10 in total yards allowed.
However, this season, it is a completely different story.
There are a total of five programs that are allowing over 400 yards of total offense, while five other teams are allowing over 300 yards of offensive production. In case you are wondering, that means as of right now, only four SEC defenses are ranked inside the top 25.
Defenses such as Auburn, Arkansas and Tennessee—units that were supposed to be improved in 2012—have failed miserably.
Of course, there are your typical great defenses, such as LSU and Alabama, but there are many units that have not played SEC football in the first few games of the season.