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@BarrettSallee does UGA really have a discipline problem or are they just stricter/more transparent than other schools?— Chase Paris (@chaseparis) February 20, 2014
This is in obvious reference to former Georgia safety Josh Harvey-Clemons, who was dismissed from the program this week for an unspecified violation of team rules.
Harvey-Clemons had been suspended twice previously, the second one costing him four games for what Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported to be a second violation of Georgia's drug-use policy. It's fair to say that Harvey-Clemons has a discipline problem.
Where the program as a whole is concerned, that's a different story.
Georgia's policy on substance abuse is stricter than most other policies in the SEC on the first and second offenses, which cost athletes 10 percent and 30 percent of their seasons, respectively. I pointed out last year that most programs have permanent suspension on the third offense, but Georgia gets a disproportionate amount of attention for its punishment on first and second offenses.
That's it. That's really all there is to it.
Do other programs have players who get into trouble? Absolutely. It happens everywhere. Georgia's policy just lends itself to more visible problems.
@BarrettSallee Will bama lose to LSU, Ole Miss and a wildcard next year cause of new QB and struggle against mobile QBs?— Bryce Donker (@Bd4Lsu420) February 15, 2014
Ole Miss? No. The Rebels will be competitive in games this season, but until they can establish the run between the tackles, I can't trust them to beat elite teams consistently quite yet.
LSU? Maybe. That game being in Death Valley certainly helps, but my opinion of LSU depends on what specifically offensive coordinator Cam Cameron does to that offense, which will likely feature a dual-threat quarterback in 2014.
Add in Auburn to the mix and the wild card you spoke of—perhaps in a bowl game—then yeah, I conceivably see three losses as the absolute floor for Alabama in 2014.
That'd have much more to do with the Crimson Tide struggling against mobile quarterbacks than their own signal-caller, though.
Whether it's Jacob Coker, Cooper Bateman, David Cornwell or somebody else, Alabama will still be a run-first, play-action team—even with new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin in the mix.
Four of the last five national-title-winning quarterbacks were first-year starters—the one returning starter was AJ McCarron—and seven of the last 10 starting quarterbacks in the BCS National Championship Game were first-year starters.
It's a non-issue—especially for a team like Alabama that has a small village of superstars at running back.
@BarrettSallee will Auburn's linebackers/secondary see a boost in Ellis Johnson's 2nd year?— Micah Long (@micahlong) February 21, 2014
At linebacker, yes. In the secondary, maybe.
Kris Frost had a fantastic showing in the BCS National Championship Game loss to Florida State, notching seven tackles and looking like a star in the process. If he can be consistent, he'll join Cassanova McKinzy—who led the Tigers with 75 tackles in 2013—in that linebacking corps.
Frost's inconsistency prevented him from beating out Jake Holland as a starter last season. Another year in that system should help remedy the issue.
As for the secondary, well, that could be a different story.
Chris Davis became an Auburn legend with the 109-yard missed field-goal return for a touchdown to win the Iron Bowl, but he was only decent in coverage. Can Jonathon Mincy step up or will a reserve—including 247Sports.com 4-star signees Stephen Roberts, Nick Ruffin and Kalvaraz Bessent—step up this summer? That remains to be seen.
Auburn may be set with junior college early enrollee Derrick Moncrief replacing Ryan Smith at boundary safety. Having a good idea of how that battle will shake out after spring practice will be key for its evolution.
The Tigers will never have a top-tier defense. They don't need one. Statistically, they're going to give up yards because the nature of the offense puts the defense out on the field for longer periods of time each game.
All they have to do is be opportunistic and force mistakes to be successful.
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.