Every SEC School's Biggest Weakness Heading into 2013
Let's talk about the SEC for a minute.
No, not about the conference dominance—that topic has been belabored to the point it's like a cow's cud at this point, chewed, regurgitated and re-chewed.
The conference is the best in the nation—there is no arguing the point—but every team in the conference has cause for concern heading into 2013, although at varying levels.
For instance, Steve Spurrier is more concerned with finding a real linebacker than he is with his linebackers finding real girlfriends, while Les Miles must try and figure out how to play defense minus his most productive linemen—and their backups.
But those two aren't alone; read on for a list of every SEC team's Achilles' heel.
Alabama Crimson Tide: Defensive Inexperience
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Who are we kidding?
The Tide have the talent to make a run at the three-peat, led by linebacker C.J. Mosley and quarterback A.J. McCarron.
But if there is reason for concern, it lies mostly on the defensive side of the ball, where LB Nico Johnson, DT Jesse Williams, CB Dee Milliner, DE Quinton Dial and S Robert Lester are all departing.
That said, Nick Saban has managed to recruit at a ridiculous rate of success, and the Tide are stacked with young players loaded with potential.
By season's end, this defensive unit will again be one of the best in college football, but it could take a few games to jell.
Meanwhile, Chance Warmack's belly has decided to forgo its senior season, as well.
Arkansas Razorbacks: Offensive Inexperience
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Welcome to the SEC, Coach Bielema, where the competition is fierce, and you inherit an offense bereft of just about all talent.
The Razorbacks have issues on defense, including the loss of two starting linebackers.
But the offense is a mess, with quarterback Tyler Wilson, running backs Knile Davis and Dennis Johnson, wide receiver Cobi Hamilton and guard Alvin Bailey all departing to play on Sundays.
Arkansas had enough trouble winning games this season, with plenty of experience filling the skill positions.
Although Bielema will have some interesting young talent with which to experiment, the inexperience with which he has to contend is going to be much to overcome.
Auburn Tigers: Quarterback Inconsistency
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Gus Malzahn inherited a mess at the quarterback position.
The Tigers started three guys at the position last season, none of them being what could be considered efficient or effective.
Kiehl Frazier, Clint Moseley and Jonathan Wallace combined for 15 interceptions to only eight passing touchdowns.
There are some gaps on the defensive side of the ball, but this has got to be the most disconcerting lack of talent on the Plains.
Playing in the SEC West, with defenses such as LSU and Alabama to face, Malzahn has got be wondering how in the world he is going to make this position produce at all.
Florida Gators: Running Back/Tight End
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Will Muschamp's squad is filled with holes in 2011, many of them thanks to departing underclassmen on defense.
But it has to be the offensive side of the ball, and specifically replacing Mike Gillislee that will cause concern for Muschamp and his staff.
Gillislee was the most effective rusher the Gators had in 2012, rushing for nearly 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Couple his departure with the loss of tight end Jordan Reed, the team's leading pass-catcher in 2012, and quarterback Jeff Driskel does not have much help going into 2013.
Without Reed, somebody will have to step up and make some big catches.
We could see Driskel revert to 2011 form in 2013, through no fault of his own.
Georgia Bulldogs: Safety
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Losing Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree and John Jenkins will have a huge impact on the Bulldogs' defense next season, but it will be the loss of both Baccari Rambo and Shawn Williams that will be felt the most.
Both players are NFL-caliber talent, who were big contributors for Mark Richt's defense in 2012.
The two combined for over 170 tackles last season, and the next three options to replace them at the safety positions have less experience than a college freshman entering the dorm for the first time.
The offense is going to be excellent and put up a ton of points, but with all the losses on defense, it will be difficult to slow any opposing offense.
Kentucky Wildcats: Everything
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Pick a position, any position, and the Wildcats will probably struggle at that position in 2012.
Years of losing have left this program struggling to compete in the best conference in the nation, and it's doubtful that even a Stoops can help it at this point.
Head coach Mark Stoops is stepping into a mess, and he needs to fill plenty of gaps to help the Wildcats compete.
One of the most glaring deficiencies is at defensive end, where the Wildcats lost both starters, and now have no ends on the roster who have registered a sack.
That might be a great place to start working for Stoops, but it will only be the beginning.
LSU Tigers: Defensive Line
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Les Miles, for all his eccentricity and lack of clock-management skills, has done an excellent job recruiting, at least on the defensive side of the ball.
However, sometimes things just don't work out quite right.
Such is the case in 2013, when both Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo have departed, along with three of their immediate replacement options at defensive end.
A position of strength is immediately reduced to the biggest question mark on the team.
Now Miles has to find a way to replace two of the best defensive ends in college football, as well as multiple other defensive starters.
Somewhere, Ethan Hunt is chuckling because he just turned down this mission.
Mississippi State Bulldogs: Secondary
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Dan Mullen is having a hard time getting his Bulldogs' squad to the top of the SEC standings.
The loss of three starters from his secondary, including the best player on the team, is not going to make his task any easier.
Not only is stud corner Johnthan Banks gone, his counterpart at the other corner position, Darius Slay, will also be playing on Sundays and safety Corey Broomfield has also departed.
The Bulldogs struggled to finish .500 in the SEC in 2012, and with that much talent and experience gone from the last level of the defense, will struggle to match that mark in 2013.
Missouri Tigers: Middle of the Defense
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If you really want to narrow it down, it's going to be the gap left by all-everything tackle Sheldon Richardson.
Richardson finished '12 with 10.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, a blocked kick, three forced fumbles and seven quarterback hurries.
Those are phenomenal numbers for a defense tackle.
Replacing that production will be key if Missouri hopes to compete on any level in the conference in 2013.
With several power rushing attacks in the SEC next season, Richardson's presence in the middle of the defense will be sorely missed.
Ole Miss Rebels: Turnovers
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Quarterback Bo Wallace was a pleasant surprise for the Rebs in 2012, and he demonstrated that he is loaded with potential.
He also demonstrated the propensity to make some very bad decisions, which does not bode well for his rap sheet.
All kidding aside, Wallace tied for the nation's lead in interceptions, tossing a whopping 17 throughout the course of last season.
The Rebels return experience at nearly every key position, and Wallace will undoubtedly be better this season than last. Even so, if that number is not cut at least in half, Wallace and his picks will be the squad's biggest concern.
South Carolina Gamecocks: Linebacker
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There are some questions on the offensive side of the ball for Steve Spurrier and his staff, but there is a position that is a glaring weakness heading into 2013.
While Jadeveon Clowney leads a defensive line that will again be excellent in 2012, the next layer of defense is going to be eerily bereft of familiar faces.
The Gamecocks' top five linebackers, Shaq Wilson, Reginald Bowens, Devonte Holloman, Quin Smith and Damario Jeffery have moved on, and left behind a huge amount of production to replace.
No confirmation yet on whether all of their girlfriends are actually real people.
While replacing one or two of them might not be an insurmountable task, five is a huge number, even for a wizard such as Steve Spurrier who doubles as a magician on weekends.
Tennessee Volunteers: Passing Game
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It's not just the loss of quarterback Tyler Bray that's got to be concerning for Tennessee fans.
Whoever takes over for Bray has limited options to target in the passing game.
Cordarrelle Patterson, the most dynamic player on the team, will not be around, nor will Justin Hunter, who was the second-most productive receiver on the team.
On top of that, the third-leading receiving option, Zach Rogers, is also gone.
That's 151 catches gone, along with the guy who threw the majority of those passes.
The offensive line is a position of strength, and will pave the way for a solid rushing attack, but the skill positions that the passing game relies upon will be hurting.
Texas A&M Aggies: Inexperienced Front Seven
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Let's start with the obvious loss, that of Damontre Moore.
Moore was the Johnny Manziel of this defense, performing ridiculous feats and racking up insane numbers on his side of the ball.
Now he's gone.
On top of that, linebackers Jonathan Stewart, Sean Porter and Steven Jenkins have all moved on, and will have to be replaced.
The offense is going to be great, with Manziel at the helm again and plenty of talent filling in around him.
The defense, however must fill some gaps, especially along the defensive front in order to remain competitive.
Vanderbilt Commodores: O-Line Inexperience
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Both running back Zac Stacy and quarterback Jordan Rodgers are gone, but there are already able replacement ready to step up in Brian Kimbrow and Austyn Carta-Samuels.
In front of those guys, however, there are some major questions.
Both starting guards on the offensive line, Ryan Seymour and Josh Jelesky, have departed, and will have to be replaced for this offense to enjoy any level of success.
In a conference fraught with talented defensive linemen, this is a huge concern.