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@BarrettSallee who's your way-too-early pick for biggest potential sleeper and biggest potential underachiever for 2014?— Tim Cottrell (@timcottrell7782) February 7, 2014
I'll go with Florida, simply because I love the hiring of Kurt Roper as offensive coordinator and I'm not as down on quarterback Jeff Driskel as others.
Injuries played a part in Florida's struggles last season, but the outdated philosophy of placing an emphasis on time of possession doomed the Gators for failure before the injuries started mounting. Roper was brought in to ramp up the offense, implement his no-huddle scheme and get the most out of a Gator receiving corps that's been a sore spot ever since head coach Will Muschamp took over prior to the 2011 season.
He'll implement more zone read into the scheme, which fits Driskel's skills. Driskel isn't exactly Johnny Manziel out there, but he can run more than he did under former offensive coordinator Brent Pease. Couple that with a scheme that should generate more space for Florida's athletes outside and a turnaround into a competitive football team is likely.
As far as underachiever, I'll go with Alabama.
That's not to say the Crimson Tide won't be competitive. They will be. Possibly even "great."
But anything short of an SEC championship and a playoff spot will be unacceptable in Tuscaloosa, and I just don't see it with this team.
There are still concerns at cornerback, roster turnover in the front seven and it has become abundantly clear that head coach Nick Saban has become frustrated with hurry-up offenses, which are only becoming more prevalent in the SEC.
Alabama has the running game and four of the last five national title-winning quarterbacks have been first-year starters, but I'm not sold on Jacob Coker transferring in and become as efficient as his predecessor AJ McCarron.
@BarrettSallee Over/under: 9 wins for Ole Miss this season?— Tim Mann (@Tim__Mann) February 7, 2014
Under, but just barely.
I like Ole Miss a lot and will love Ole Miss if it can find a between-the-tackles running back to take some pressure off quarterback Bo Wallace. The offense is dynamic and the defense is ultratalented and getting an injection of talent again with the nation's No. 15 recruiting class, according to 247Sports.com.
But that schedule is tough.
Boise State in Atlanta, Alabama, at Texas A&M, at LSU and home versus Auburn will all be tough games, and that doesn't include a tricky game at Vanderbilt, and home dates versus Tennessee and Mississippi State.
Ole Miss will be competitive and dare I say "good," but will need a lot of breaks to get to 9-3 during the regular season. A seven- or eight-win regular season would still signify progress for head coach Hugh Freeze and, perhaps more importantly, signify stability within the program.
@BarrettSallee Who, of the SEC coaches, is the Honey Badger Coach - in that they are entrenched and just don't care what others think?— Andy M. Johnson (@GeorgiaGunOwner) February 11, 2014
After this whole "10-second rule" controversy, I'm not sure any coaches truly care what other people think.
But without a doubt, the coach who just doesn't care what others think is South Carolina's Steve Spurrier. Whether it's his seemingly never-ending jabs at Clemson's Dabo Swinney, calling out negative recruiting by a Big Ten school or his annual ritual of bringing up Georgia's typical early-season suspensions, the Head Ball Coach is the best in the country in front of a live microphone.
He's earned it, too.
Spurrier led his alma mater Florida to its longest period of sustained prosperity during the 1990s, which included the 1996 national title. He then repeated the feat at South Carolina, winning 11 games in three straight seasons—the first 11-win seasons in school history.
He's a winner on the sidelines and at press conferences, because he just doesn't care.
Never change, Head Ball Coach. Never change.
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.
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