SEC Football: Power Ranking the Most Talented Offenses of 2013
The conference that prides itself on defense boasts some of the best offensive units in college football for 2013.
With Texas A&M's high-powered passing attack, Alabama's well-oiled rushing attack and Georgia's balance between the two, the SEC is downright exciting.
But of all of these exhilarating offenses, which unit is the most talented?
With Alabama losing most of its hog-mollies upfront and Texas A&M losing Ryan Swope, does that open the door for Georgia to leapfrog both teams in offensive talent?
Poor Kentucky. 2012 was none too kind to the Wildcats.
Kentucky ranked at the bottom of the conference in average points scored per contest with 17.9 and that ultimately led to the Wildcats 2-10 record.
Don't expect the offensive woes to disappear immediately under new head coach Mark Stoops. Stoops is a defensive-minded coach that isn't getting a whole lot of firepower back on offense.
Leading rusher Raymond Sanders returns, but Kentucky still needs to find a quarterback capable of winning. Because neither Maxwell Smith, Patrick Towles nor Jalen Whitlow impressed last season, the Wildcats riding Sanders and Jonathan George all season is more than an assumption.
Here's the bad news—the Arkansas Razorbacks no longer have Tyler Wilson, Dennis Johnson, Knile Davis, Alvin Bailey, Chris Gragg or Cobi Hamilton.
The good news? Well, the Arkansas Razorbacks are under new leadership with Bret Bielema (seems to be the reccuring theme for these weaker offenses).
Bielema likes to pound the rock, and he'll have to find a way to turn Jonathan Williams into a superstar in this league, much like he did Montee Ball and James White in the Big Ten.
Is Williams as talented as Ball or White? Eh, he can be.
Williams is a 6'0", 205-pound 4-star recruit that rushed for 231 yards as a freshman. Because of all the losses, Bielema gets the unpleasant task of trying to rebuild with very few toys in 2013.
Rebuilding is the motto for Vanderbilt in 2013, or at least it should be.
Look around. You'll notice there's no Jordan Rodgers or Zac Stacy in sight. For Vanderbilt fans, a cold, unsure feeling just made the hairs on their arm stand.
But hey, James Franklin's got this, right? After an 8-4 season in his second year as head coach, there's no need to doubt him now.
On the bright side, Franklin keeps the best wide receiver in the SEC in Jordan Matthews. All Franklin has to do now is find a quarterback who can get him the ball.
Who knows where the Auburn offense picks up in 2013? Who knows if it even will?
With Gus Malzahn as head coach, there's reason to be optimistic. Like the previous three teams, Auburn needs to find a quarterback.
The Tigers' quarterback play in 2012 was dreadful. Kiehl Frazier assumed the starting position last year, and he lost it after 753 passing yards, two touchdowns and eight interceptions. His replacement, Jonathan Wallace, was better. But like Frazier, he failed to throw more touchdowns than interceptions.
Tre Mason, who rushed for over 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns, reappears in the backfield this fall. But Mason is without his partner in crime, Onterio McCalebb. Malzahn has his work cut out for him, but if he can do as good of a job coaching as he did recruiting, Auburn becomes competitive again.
Well this is unfamiliar.
Tennessee presented one of the most explosive offenses in college football last year with Tyler Bray, Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter. That trio no longer exists in Knoxville.
Justin Worley has the jump start on gaining the starting position at quarterback in 2013 because of his experience and familiarity with the program. However, Butch Jones brought appeal to the university by landing quarterback prospects Joshua Dobbs and Riley Ferguson.
The future is bright, indeed. Keep in mind that the Vols return their top two rushers from a year ago in Raijon Neal and Marlin Lane, so it's not that big of a stretch to think Tennessee brings back that explosiveness again next season.
Stay healthy, James Franklin, stay healthy. This is the key to a successful Missouri Tigers season.
If Franklin can stay healthy, this club competes in the SEC East. Why? Well, Gary Pinkel surrounded Franklin with playmakers.
Playmakers like Marcus Lucas (509 receiving yards in '12), L'Damian Washington (443 in '12) and Dorial Green-Beckham (395 in '12) are all itching to break out. All three wide receivers will be more effective with Franklin taking the snap.
It all starts and ends with Franklin for the Tigers in 2013.
8. Mississippi State
Mississippi State scored big when they kept offensive lineman Gabe Jackson and leading rusher LaDarius Perkins. This sets them up for another solid year in the SEC.
Dan Mullen inherits an experienced club and success is inevitable. But how much success can Mullen and Mississippi State have? Have they peaked already?
That all depends on Tyler Russell. Mississippi State fans better hope Russell plays like he did during the regular season (2,897 passing yards, 22 touchdowns and six interceptions) and not how he performed in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl (two touchdowns and four interceptions).
Talent and experience tend to mix well together and that's exactly what Mississippi State has on offense in 2013.
Losing Jordan Reed and Mike Gillislee is going to hurt without a doubt, but there's still plenty of playmakers to go around for the Gators.
But more importantly, Muschamp retains his dual threat quarterback in Jeff Driskel. Driskel showed promise in 2012, but his struggles were well-documented in the stat book. In fact, the Gators were last in the SEC in passing yards per game with 146.3.
Improvement is expected of Driskel. Add in the fact that Muschamp keeps all-around athlete Trey Burton, wide receiver Quinton Dunbar and breakout offensive lineman D.J. Humphries and it's safe to say that the Gators improve from being last in the conference in passing.
Will the hire of Cam Cameron as new offensive coordinator add a much-desired freshness to the LSU Tigers offense?
It's no secret that LSU's offensive attack has been stale, with very little quarterback development to show because of it. However, Zach Mettenberger showed glimpses of greatness in games against Alabama and Mississippi State.
Cameron should be able to work with those glimpses, especially with the weapons in his newly acquired arsenal. Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham flank wide again in 2013, while Jeremy Hill awaits the handoff in the backfield.
Hill is one of the best running backs in the league with a combination of speed and power that rivals T.J. Yeldon and Todd Gurley. Considering that Tigers' entire right side of the offensive line is staying put, grown man football stays intact for LSU.
5. Ole Miss
You've changed things, Hugh Freeze. There's no going back now. Let's take a head count, shall we?
Returning starting quarterback? Check, I see Bo Wallace's long locks over there.
Returning starting running back? Yes sir, Jeff Scott's doing his best Flash impression.
Returning starting wide receiver? Well yeah, it's hard to miss Donte Moncrief. Defensive coordinators certainly know he's still around.
See the trend? Freeze's offense has talent for days and it's only getting better with the addition of highly touted prospects Laremy Tunsil (OT) and Laquon Treadwell (WR). Watch out for Ole Miss.
4. South Carolina
Quarterback play is what gives South Carolina a slight edge over Ole Miss.
You see, Wallace is a durable dual threat quarterback with great playmaking ability, but Steve Spurrier has two quarterbacks in Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson that are more than capable of getting the job done.
Just look at the Gamecocks' last victory against Michigan in the 2013 Outback Bowl. Shaw led the team with 224 passing yards and two touchdowns, but Thompson stepped in and delivered the game-winning touchdown pass to Bruce Ellington with 11 seconds left.
Oh and by the way, Ellington returns to the offense next season too. "Bruuuuuuuce!" Might as well get used to hearing that all season.
The ol' ball coach can easily get something cooking with this bunch.
The best running back in college football plays in Athens.
Todd Gurley is a freak of nature. Running backs like Hill and Yeldon possess a rare mix of speed and power, but Gurley is the epitome of that combination. It's what allowed Gurley to rush for 1,385 yards and 17 touchdowns as a freshman.
Herschel Walker reference anyone? Eh not today, not yet anyway. Joining Gurley will be Keith Marshall once again in the backfield, as well as the captain of this team, Aaron Murray.
Murray returning for his senior year puts this offense over the top. Something to keep an eye on as well is the growth of offensive tackle John Theus and wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell. Georgia is every bit as talented as Alabama and Texas A&M on offense.
AJ McCarron reached superstardom last year.
What separates Alabama from LSU in the SEC West is the quarterback development. Nick Saban and Alabama has done it, LSU has not.
McCarron is the prime example. In the 2013 BCS National Championship Game against Notre Dame, McCarron capped off his spectacular season with a 264 passing yards and four touchdowns against the Irish, finishing the season with 30 touchdowns and only three interceptions.
The sensational freshman running back Yeldon rejoins him in the backfield, as well as freshman wide receiver Amari Cooper. McCarron's poise and leadership, mixed with the talented youth, lessens the losses on the offensive line.
1. Texas A&M
It's Johnny's world, we're just living in it. Come on, the biggest reason the Aggies have the most talent on offense in the SEC involves one player.
The reigning Heisman trophy winner enters his sophomore campaign as the most polarizing college football player in America. Don't think so? Just view his Twitter page.
But there's a reason Manziel gets this much attention. It's his 3,706 passing yards, 1,410 rushing yards and 47 touchdowns with nine interceptions that makes him buzzworthy. Led by Manziel, the Aggies led the SEC in points scored (44.5), rushing yards (242.1) and passing yards per game (316.5).
He may have lost Luke Joeckel, but First Team All-SEC offensive tackle Jake Matthews and First Team Freshmen All-SEC wide receiver Mike Evans coming back softens the blow. It's scary to think Manziel has all of these weapons, and that's what helps Texas A&M remain the top offensive threat in the SEC.