Defense wins championships, and it all starts up front. The SEC lost a ton of talent on the d-line, and many teams will be getting a face lift in the trenches.
There's no doubt that this is one of the toughest units to rank since it holds significant question marks for 2010.
Not to worry, there will be plenty of pass rushing, run stopping, and back breaking hits to go around once again.
Alabama finished with the best team and the best defense, but do they have the best defensive line for 2010? Find out inside.
Tennessee showed bright spots up front at times, but if the bowl game was any indication of how the run defense would look in 2010, it wasn't pretty. Losing both DT's hurts, especially with one being Dan Williams, one of the big names from the SEC.
Chris Walker is a force off the edge and will look to anchor the Vols defense, coupled with some surprising young talent that is ready to flourish early under Derek Dooley.
They were an underrated unit in 2009, and being ranked at nine may be underrated once again.
Pernell McPhee returns to a Bulldog unit that ranked eighth in rush defense in the conference but finished at 11th in sacks.
If they want to get to the next level, they've got to get more pressure on the QB. McPhee will need help from DE Brandon Cooper, as well as someone to step up into the vacated DT spots.
Adrian Davis and the big Malcolm Sheppard were huge players for the Hog D-Line last season, and they leave a significant void. However, the 6'5" Jake Bequette returns following a sensational sophomore campaign at DE.
Arkansas will need to improve its run defense, and they brought in some young talent this season that could look to contribute as soon as 2010.
SEC sack leader Antoine Coleman is clearly a huge loss, but this year's Tiger d-line may actually be better off in 2010. They'll have significant depth compared to last year, even with the loss of Coleman and DT Jake Ricks.
Corey Lemonier and Jeff Whitaker should be major players as freshmen on an Auburn defense that should be much improved compared to last season.
Getting pressure on the QB will not be a problem for the Bulldogs this year; Junior DE Justin Houston will take care of that.
The problem could lie within the middle, where the Bulldogs lost their anchor in Jeff Owens, as well as two other contributing tackles.
UGA will debut their new 3-4 defense under Todd Grantham in 2010, and whether or not it will pay dividends remains to be seen.
Mark this down: USC will make some noise in 2010.
This unit could be ranked higher in my opinion, but there are some inconsistencies that kept that from happening. They lose dual threat Eric Norwood and DE Clifton Geathers, but they have experience and returning starters in the middle and off the edge.
Senior DE Cliff Matthews is one to watch. He may be the SEC Breakout Player of the Year in 2010.
LSU knows how to play defense, and they really know how to stop the run.
This year could be a little different, however, as the Bengal Tigers lost their cog in Al Woods and Charles Alexander as well as their threat off the edge in Rahim Allen.
If we know anything about LSU, it's the fact that they know how to reload on defense. Look for DT Drake Nevis to step up and have a breakout year and DE Lazarius Levingston to rush the quarterback with authority.
Losses galore headline the Rebel D-line; however, they have some experienced guys who already have significant playing time under their belt.
Kentrell Lockett should step in and fill the departed Greg Hardy's shoes and look to shore up the Rebel defense in 2010. Senior tackle Jerrell Powe will help tighten up the Ole Miss defensive line that should have three seniors in the starting lineup.
Another team that stockpiles talent, particularly on defense, is the Florida Gators. Gone are sack machines Jermaine Cunningham and Carlos Dunlap, but back are Omar Hunter and Terron Sanders to lock down the middle.
Florida will once again be tough to run on in 2010, though there are many questions that await the Gators at linebacker and in the secondary.
No team lost more from its defense in the SEC than Alabama did, but bringing in top recruiting classes for the past few years should help offset that. Mammoth DT Terrence Cody is gone, as are DE's Brandon Deaderick and Lorenzo Washington.
Josh Chapman should step into Cody's place, and Marcell Dareus is as good as they come in the SEC at DE. There should little to no fall off on the Alabama defensive line in 2010.