SEC West Prediction and Analysis. Can Alabama Repeat?

Michael TaylorContributor IJuly 20, 2009

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 20:  Defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois #90 of the LSU Tigers celebrates after defeating the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 20, 2008 in Auburn, Alabama. LSU defeated Auburn 26-21.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Alabama Crimson Tide: (10-2, 7-1)

The offense only returns four starters from a unit that averaged 30.1 ppg (63rd in nation). Greg McElroy, who has sat on the bench the last two years learning the system, will replace John Parker Wilson. Their running game should be fine with Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, and Roy Upchurch. We all know Julio Jones is a stud and Colin Peek, who transferred from Georgia Tech, is expected to have a good year at the tight end position.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Tide return nine starters from a unit that allowed just 14.3 points per game (7th in nation) and 263.5 yards per game (3rd in nation). Their biggest loss was safety Rashad Johnson.

Biggest question mark: Offensive line

Biggest asset: Nick Saban  

Ole Miss Rebels: (10-2, 6-2)

The Rebels are bringing back nine offensive starters from a last year's Cotton Bowl team. Jevon Snead is being looked at as a possible first round NFL draft pick, and Dexter McCluster should be making defenders miss all year long. The loss of Michael Oher should hurt but it wont be devastating.

The defense returns eight starters, which include Peria Jerry, and Kendrick Lewis. Hopefully, last years experience will pay off because Ole Miss had one of the worst defenses against the pass in 2008.

Biggest question mark: Defensive secondary

Biggest asset: Jevon Snead

LSU Tigers: (9-3, 5-3)

Les Miles and the Tigers return seven starters on offense, including running back Charles Scott who rushed for 1,174 yards last season. Jordan Jefferson will step in at the QB position and he'll be throwing to one of the SEC's best, Brandon LaFell. Richard Dixon has proven to be a solid tight end as well. They'll replace two offensive linemen.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Tigers return six starters that allowed 24.2 ppg (56th in nation). The secondary should play well with guys like Chad Jones, Jai Eugene, and Chris Hawkins. Up front will be the big question mark because they are only returning one of four starters.

Biggest question mark: defensive playmakers

Biggest asset: running game 

Arkansas Razorbacks: (7-5, 3-5)

The Razorbacks return seven starters on offense, which includes one of the best running backs in the SEC, Michael Bush. Ryan Mallet, the Michigan transfer will step in at QB and being throwing to one of the best TE in the country, DJ Williams. The offensive line returns three of five starters. They should be able to put up plenty of points this year.

The defense is up in the air at this point. They are returning nine starters from last year's team that gave up 31.2 ppg (93rd in nation). They return their entire front seven and hopefully last years rough times translate into more success this year.

Biggest question mark: defense

Biggest asset: Offense

Auburn Tigers: (6-6, 3-5)

Auburn returns seven players on an offense that finished 99th in passing. It looks like the winner of that position will be either Kodi Burns or Chris Todd, again. They have capable running backs in Ben Tate and Mario Fannin but without a passing game it's hard for them to get going. They return three offensive lineman, including Center Ryan Pugh, who is one of the best in the SEC.

They also return seven starters on defense. Defensive End Antonio Coleman will anchor the squad with his passing rushing ability. Overall, they have to improve against the run and force more turnovers.

Biggest question mark: QB play

Biggest asset: Linebackers

Mississippi State Bulldogs: (4-8, 1-7) 

The Bulldogs brought in new head coach Dan Mullen of Florida, but he wont turn things around this year.

Biggest question mark: The whole team

Biggest asset: Running back Anthony Dixon.


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