We are less than a week away from SEC Media Days, which means the football season is just around the corner.
Which players will make a run at the Heisman Trophy? How will Auburn's defensive line look? Will Texas A&M actually field a defense?
Find out in this week's Q&A, which was moved up a day to Thursday this week.
@BarrettSallee Will Brandon Harris or Leonard Fournette ever be heisman finalists?— maxtoscano (@maxtoscano1) July 3, 2014
The common assumption is that the more likely candidate of the two would be running back Leonard Fournette. After all, he was the No. 1 overall player in the class of 2014 and has drawn comparisons to former Oklahoma running back and 2004 Heisman finalist Adrian Peterson.
Harris making it to New York City is much more likely.
That's not a knock against Fournette. The Heisman has just evolved into a very quarterback-centric award over the last 14 years. Only two running backs have won the award since 2000, with one of those being former USC running back Reggie Bush, who had to give his back.
Sure, Auburn's Tre Mason and Boston College's Andre Williams made it to New York last year. But they were absolute workhorses in offenses with quarterbacks who put up solid numbers (especially Auburn's Nick Marshall) but didn't have the video game numbers Heisman voters typically like.
Harris will have bigger numbers and more responsibility, which means he's more likely to get Heisman love.
I love his ability to create behind the line of scrimmage, throw his receivers open and stretch the field with his arm. Plus, he has the ability on the ground to be a difference-maker on read options, designed runs and when his protection breaks down.
He won't put up Johnny Manziel-like video game numbers, but they'll be flashy nonetheless. Plus, he's on a team that routinely contends for the division title. That's a recipe for Heisman success.
@BarrettSallee Montravius Adams, Elijah Daniel, and Carl Lawson (injured). Who leads Auburn in sacks and with how many?— Mitchell Tate (@Mitchell_Tate4) June 27, 2014
If Carl Lawson is healthy, Carl Lawson—with double-digit sacks (12).
Since that's sort of up in the air now after the rising sophomore defensive end underwent knee surgery this offseason, I'll go with fellow sophomore Elijah Daniel with 7.5.
I love what Daniel brings to the table. The 6'2", 263-pounder played well as a rotational player last year, notching three tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks playing end and dropping down to tackle in passing situations.
That's exactly why I think he'll have a big year this year. His versatility will make him an important piece of the puzzle and will put him situations where he can and will thrive.
Even if Lawson is out or limited, Auburn will have a bunch of guys sacking the quarterback. Daniel, Adams, LaDarius Owens, Ben Bradley and the entire Tigers defensive line is incredibly deep and incredibly versatile, which means it'll be in the backfield quite a bit in 2014.
@BarrettSallee where does Texas A&M's defense rank (in the SEC) at the end of the season?— Say Say (@TwerkCity) June 27, 2014
Let's see, 15th out of 14 teams?
But seriously, it's not going to be great. The front seven is a massive question mark, and the secondary, even though it is a veteran group that includes Deshazor Everett and De'Vante Harris, is a sieve.
The Aggies really need to find a star in the front seven, and it could be true freshman defensive end Myles Garrett. Whoever it is, the Aggies need to get pressure with four and let the secondary take advantage of those mistakes generated from pressure.
The silver lining for Texas A&M is that it doesn't need to have a great defense to win; it just needs to be opportunistic. Getting pressure with four and forcing turnovers is exactly why Missouri was successful last season, and the Aggies can follow that same blueprint.
It's just not going to happen on that level, though.
Texas A&M's defense will finish 12th in the SEC in total defense this year. That would be a marked improvement but still not good enough. Not at all.
Do you have a question for next week's Q&A? Send it to SEC Lead Writer Barrett Sallee on Twitter at @BarrettSallee. If your question wasn't answered this week, it has been saved and could be used in the future.
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 CFBStats.com.
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