SEC Football Q&A: Rhett Lashlee or Kirby Smart, Gators vs. Vols and Maty Mauk

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterMay 9, 2014

Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.
Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.Associated Press

You have SEC questions, and I have SEC answers. Thank you for your questions. If I didn't get to them this week, they will be saved and used in the future.

And we're off! 

@BarrettSallee More likely to be a HC first, Rhett Lashlee or Kirby Smart?

— Mitchell Tate (@Mitchell_Tate4) April 25, 2014

I like Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, and I think he's going to be a head coach sooner rather than later. But Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart has been on the fast track to head coaching superstardom for a few years now, and it wouldn't surprise me if he gets a big-time head coaching job following the 2014 season.

Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.
Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.USA TODAY Sports

To a point, Smart and Lashlee are both fighting the same battle as assistants. They're working for head coaches whose strengths bleed over into their respective responsibilities as coordinators. But Smart has been doing it much longer and much more consistently than any coordinator in the country.

His Alabama defenses have finished in the top five nationally in total defense in each of his six seasons as defensive coordinator and first nationally in 2011 and 2012.

The only way I see Smart sticking around as Alabama's defensive coordinator for much longer is if he has been or is promised the head coaching job (either publicly or privately) once Nick Saban retires.

If that's the case, he'll probably have to say no to several high-profile teams making him big-time offers before taking that step.

Lashlee is on the same track, just a few years behind. If he wants to jump and be a head coach at a smaller school, he probably could do that after this season. Or he could sit around, continue to work with Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn and wait for the "big one."

Talk about a "rich man's problem," both literally and figuratively.

Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee.
Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee.USA TODAY Sports


@BarrettSallee Florida vs Tennessee in Knoxville this year. Way WAY too early gut prediction. Who has best shot to win?

— Patrick (@patrick1016) April 21, 2014

Florida, but it won't surprise me if it's close.

Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper.
Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper.Phil Sandlin/Associated Press/Associated Press

I love the hire of Kurt Roper as Florida's new offensive coordinator and the potential dual-threat quarterback Jeff Driskel has in his system. The running back corps, which is led by sophomore Kelvin Taylor, is stacked, and there are some decent pieces at wide receiver, including sophomore Demarcus Robinson.

Tennessee has a ton of weapons, too, and that game being in Knoxville will certainly give the Vols a chance. But who's going to block for the eventual starting quarterback? That's the matchup to watch, and right now, it's no contest. Led by "Buck" linebacker Dante Fowler Jr., the Gators front seven is stacked, and I don't know if the Vols can hold up against that group.

On top of that, the Gators have a bye week leading up to the trip to Knoxville while Tennessee will be coming off of a road trip to Georgia. 

Give me Florida...close.

Florida QB Jeff Driskel.
Florida QB Jeff Driskel.Phil Sandlin/Associated Press/Associated Press


@BarrettSallee Maty Mauk going to be able to do enough to make Mizzou a winner?

— Dan Irwin (@danirwinsports) May 6, 2014

I don't want to dodge the question, but I just don't know yet.

Maty Mauk was solid in place of James Franklin last year but only completed 51.1 percent of his passes (68-of-133). Now, he has to win without his top running back and his top three receivers from last year, including Dorial Green-Beckham, who was dismissed in the middle of spring practice.

Missouri QB Maty Mauk.
Missouri QB Maty Mauk.Tim Sharp/Associated Press/Associated Press

Head coach Gary Pinkel knows how to get the most out of his pieces on offense, but the centerpiece of that offense was supposed to be DGB. Now, it's back to the drawing board.

Because of that, I wonder what Missouri's offense will look like. Will it go back to the 2011 form when it finished ninth in the nation in rushing offense (243.46 YPG), or will Mauk air it out?

Mauk can lead Missouri back to the Georgia Dome and the SEC East title, but there is too much uncertainty in that offense right now to really have a grasp of what it will look like.

Missouri QB Maty Mauk.
Missouri QB Maty Mauk.USA TODAY Sports


Do you have a question for next week's Q&A? Send it to SEC Lead Writer Barrett Sallee on Twitter at @BarrettSallee

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All recruiting rankings are courtesy of 247Sports, and all stats are courtesy of