SEC Football Q&A: Could Florida Be the SEC Favorite Heading into 2013?
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Every Thursday on The SEC Blog, we will feature questions from the Bleacher Report inbox, Twitter and email. Q&A got pushed back to Friday this week due to travel.
Do you have a question for next week's Q&A? Send it to SEC lead writer Barrett Sallee via the B/R inbox, on Twitter @BarrettSallee or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You've got SEC questions, and I've got SEC answers. Thank you, everybody, for your questions this week. And if I didn't get to them this week, they are still saved and will be used in the future.
And we're off:
@barrettsallee How possible is it that Florida could be the SEC favorite next year?— Robert Ashe (@ROASHE1974) December 28, 2012
It's not out of the realm of possibility, but I don't think it's likely either.
Florida will be in the mix for the national title, but unless all of Alabama's draft-eligible underclassmen declare (including C.J. Mosely and AJ McCarron, both of whom have already said they are staying), head coach Nick Saban leaves for the NFL, the recruiting class suddenly falls apart and running back T.J. Yeldon develops "fumblitis," the Crimson Tide will be the favorite.
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports
The reason is simple. Alabama had a ton of turnover after last season and didn't miss a beat. Unless there's even more turnover, the Crimson Tide will continue to move full steam ahead.
That's not a knock against Florida. The Gators are a quarterback away from becoming a juggernaut, and with a full offseason as the unquestioned starter, Jeff Driskel will certainly have the opportunity to become a threat in the passing game before the start of 2013.
But as is the case with Alabama, a lot will depend on which Gator underclassmen declare for the NFL draft.
@barrettsallee what are your early predictions for UGA in 2013?— Josh Hall (@JoshHall88) December 28, 2012
It will be more difficult for the Bulldogs to win their third consecutive SEC East championship in 2013 considering all of the turnover that is expected on defense.
Georgia will be replacing its entire starting secondary, two of its three starters on the defensive line and likely underclassmen studs Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree from its linebacking corps.
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That's a lot to overcome for any team, particularly one that also could be losing its quarterback should Aaron Murray decide to leave for the NFL as well.
The schedule is difficult out of the gate, with games at Clemson and vs. South Carolina to start the season. That's not the most ideal situation for a team that is going to enter the season with several question marks. Throw in a home game against LSU, the traditional neutral-site game versus Florida and a road trip to upset-minded Tennessee, and it's going to be hard to call Georgia the favorite in the East.
With that said, the Bulldogs have recruited well over the last few years and winning it wouldn't shock me. I'll just have to see the new-look defense before I believe in it.
@barrettsallee 2. RE: AU: With all of the high experience assts, does Malzahn have enough experience to create/control a cohesive staff?— Erik (@gothlaw) December 28, 2012
Yeah, he absolutely does.
When Gus Malzahn left Auburn for the Arkansas State head-coaching gig, there was some question whether he was better suited to be a coordinator or a head coach.
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He answered that rather quickly, leading the Red Wolves to a 9-3 record and the Sun Belt title.
Since he got the head job at Auburn, he has been a different coach, according to Jay G. Tate of AuburnSports.com (subscription required). He's more assertive, more authoritative and shown the desire and ability to lead in the short time that he's been back on the Plains.
That's good news for Auburn, because he has already surrounded himself with a veteran staff with defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, co-defensive coordinator Charlie Harbison, assistant head coach Rodney Garner, offensive line coach J.B. Grimes and secondary coach Melvin Smith.
It's not a question of whether he has the experience to manage the assistants. It's whether he has the ability. So far, it looks like he does.
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