SEC Football Roundtable: Meyer, Kiffin, and Spurrier Outside the Box

Gage Arnold@GageArnoldCorrespondent IAugust 4, 2009

Well, well, well, the college football season is upon once again.  With only 30 days until we officially kick off the 2009-2010 season, it is time to get back on track and find out what is going on around arguably the nation's toughest conference. 

So let's just get right into it.

I will break down each SEC team and give a few updates on things recently going on with the university this offseason as well as one question mark facing each team.

Hope you enjoy it.

Alabama Crimson Tide

The Tide come into this season rolling after a fantastic offseason where coach Nick Saban racked up the No. 1 recruiting class for the year and then began to dominate again by adding a few more early signee's to this year's class.

So 'Bama looks to again be stocked with a boatload of talent, but whether that can be turned to success on the football field remains to be seen.

Saban didn't lose many star-powered seniors as Rashad Johnson, Andre Smith, and Glen Coffee all graduated, but have backups eager to take their spots for their time to shine.

The one question between Alabama and another national championship remains the quarterback position.  Will Greg McElroy and his 20 career pass attempts really be able to handle the pressure and produce?  If he can, then 'Bama may find itself in a place similar to last year.  But if not, the Tide could be much more similar to Saban's first year in Tuscaloosa.

Arkansas Razorbacks

Year Two of the Bobby Petrino reconstruction is now under way.  Petrino has had a good bit of success as he led the Razorbacks to a huge win over LSU to claim the Golden Boot for a second straight season.

They again recruited quite well with a top 25 class and are still lurking and slowly building a solid program under the radar.

The biggest question remains whether Ryan Mallet will come out with flying colors as well as if the defense can improve from last year and be the "X-Factor" for the Hogs.  If so, then they could easily be looking at a solid bowl with the only place to go but up for next season.

Auburn Tigers

Auburn's offseason has been to that of a Steven King book.  Lots of odd happenings and still no true solution in the end.

The Tigers dismissed Head Coach Tommy Tuberville this offseason in an unprecedented move and proceeded to fill his spot with Gene Chizik, who led his Iowa State Cyclones to the cellar of the Big 12 division for three straight seasons.

Personally I never liked the hiring; you have to show success and potential to survive in the SEC.  If you have not tasted this, then you will never be able to reach it.

My question regarding the Tigers is, on the offensive side of the ball, can they really produce?  The Tigers had a horrible showing under Tony Franklin and it never seemed to get any better.  If it does, then we may see a completely new Auburn team.

Florida Gators

Well, what a surprise.  Tim Tebow actually turned out to be a pretty good quarterback after all.  So, after the Gators captured a national championship, they began to get even better as they added more and more solid recruits, and truly didn't lose much of anything on either side of the ball.

That, along with Urban Meyer signing a six-year, $54 million extension to stay in Gainesville, only bodes well for the Gators, as it quickly kills any talk of Meyer leaving for Notre Dame, his so-called "dream job," after the season is over.

So the question simply remains, can they repeat?  The talent and everything needed for winning football is there, but if they are not mentally prepared for every game, then one day a team could truly get lucky and that could be it.

Georgia Bulldogs

Well, after another typical offseason of success and silence for the Dawgs, they come back out for another year of SEC Football with a defense that is arguably one of the best in the nation.

They come in returning almost their whole defensive unit, and look ready to take the SEC by storm, which should be good while their offense gets up to par after the loss of Matthew Stafford andKnowshon Moreno

The Dawgs' question remains fairly simple and yet so difficult.  How do you replace the production of Stafford and Moreno?  If they can get good production out of Caleb King and Co., then I see another good year with a possible championship in the distance in the coming years, but if not then, that definitely stunts the teams growth for sure.

Kentucky Wildcats

In all honesty it has been quite the quiet offseason for the 'Cats this year.  They truly haven't gone out and made any "stunning" moves and really haven't done anything on the recruiting front to blow you away either, but they steadily are hanging in there.

Quarterback Mike Hartline comes back from last season to possibly start, and if he can, that would open up receiver Randall Cobb for full-time receiving duties, where he flourished last season.

The question here is, how does the defense hold up with the losses of Jeremy Jarmon and Myron Pryor on the defensive line?  If they don't replace them steadily, then expect a big drop by the 'Cats in '09.

LSU Tigers

As the sands of time keep moving, so do the LSU Tigers.  While this deep theological reference has nothing at all to do with the Tigers, it remains true that they do keep their recruiting machine so the talent is still flowing.

The Hat, Les Miles, looks to bring this team back to it's 2007 Championship form and it shouldn't be too long as they should compete for the SEC West title pending the growth of Jordan Jefferson at Quarterback.

My question is whether or not the offense continues to click.  If Jordan Jefferson and Charles Scott continue to dominate, then we should be seeing more and more of these Tigers.

Mississippi State Bulldogs

Wow, where should we start?  Um, the Bulldogs aren't what you would associate with the word "good."  While it isn't that they are bad, it's more that they have nothing to be excited about, except for maybe one thing.

So one year after their heroic run with wins of Alabama and other SEC powers, they come down to earth and Sylvester Croom is out with Dan Mullen coming in.  Mullen is the former Gators offensive coordinator and should bring a highly successful spread offense to Starksville as well as a bit of change.

This team has a lot of work to do and their question will be, can Mullen handle the beginning steps of rebuilding this team?  If so, then these Bulldogs won't have their day at first, but in time they can bring in their players and definitely compete in the SEC.

Ole Miss Rebels

So where did these guys come from?  I mean, completely out of the blue, the Ole Miss Rebels took the world by storm and finished with a 9-4 mark while beating eventual National Champion Florida and then Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl.

Jevan Snead came out with fire and dominated the SEC to show he is in fact here to stay.  Snead produced leadership as well as amazing quarterback skills to give theRebs a good shot in the SEC West next season.

So, where do they go from here?   The question with the Rebs is whether or not the defense will step up in containing opposing offenses.  The offense can carry them, but if they truly want to be great, then that defense needs to be better than last year.

South Carolina Gamecocks

So Steve Spurrier didn't vote for Tim Tebow?  While this little tidbit was a popular topic of offseason talk, in my mind, it really doesn't matter and was just another instance of the media blowing another story out of proportion.

But the Gamecocks are ready to go and, trust me, talent alone is not an issue.  The 'Cocks return another solid offense and defense as Stephen Garcia returns to quarterback and looks poised to tear it up this season as well as Eric Norwood, who is an absolutegamebreaker on the defensive side of the ball.

There are a lot of questions, but whether or not Stephen Garcia, as well as the offensive line, produce remain the biggest ones.  If they do, then easily this team will be competing for many years to come, but just as easily, they could have another season like last year.  So Garcia's growth is what this season hinges on.

Tennessee Volunteers

While I could go on and on about Tennessee's offseason, I will try and keep it short as I can.  The Vols have gone through a lot of change as Lane Kiffin was brought in to take over for Phil Fulmer and this change has brought both good and bad.

The good is the hype that now surrounds the program, as they have added top prospects like Bryce Brown, Jacques Smith, and Markeith Ambles.  But the bad is how awful Kiffin has been with the media and how many enemies he has already made.  But as I said, it could be worse.

So their question applies to all parts of the team right now.  But the biggest one is whether or not the Vols will gain a solid quarterback in recruiting.  If they do, then they will be set for years to come, but if not, then I can see "Fire Kiffin" signs rising in the stands this November.

Vanderbilt Commodores

Well if it isn't ol' Dandy Vandy.  The pride of the Southland (not really).  But on a serious note, this team made some huge strides this past season and that included making it to a bowl for the first time since the Aztecs ruled, and I'm not talking about San Diego State.

Vandy behind Bobby Williams is ready to produce, while, albeit not at a championship level, they are slowly making their way there and before too long they will be sneaking up on some teams.

Their question is simply defense.  Will it produce like last year and be consistent?  I would love to see the 'Dores produce like last year, but if the defense lets up even an inch, then they may not see a bowl this season.


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