SEC East Predictions 2010

D MarlerContributor IJuly 9, 2010

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 21:  Head coach Mark Richt of the Georgia Bulldogs against the Kentucky Wildcats at Sanford Stadium on November 21, 2009 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images



If you find yourself reading this article, particularly if you are on my blog , I hope you’re not thinking “Oh Jesus, is this guy going to try to write football articles again this year? I hope he took some classes.” Because I would just be devastated.

I need to shake off the dust and knock off a little rust so I might miss a few early, but by the end of the year, I hope to be more popular than Doodle Jump.

I have put off writing this article for a month, trying to convince myself that Georgia would dethrone Florida this year in the SEC East. Florida lost a lot of talent, but they’ll bring back more. They’re kind of like a regenerative monster. Georgia has ten offensive starters returning.

It’s a shame one of them isn’t at quarterback. South Carolina can be summed up in two words: Stephen Garcia.

Vandy could actually make a move to overtake Tennessee as the perennial power in the state. They won’t, but they could. I’ve been watching Tennessee long enough to remember when Gen. Neyland was a private (I’m lying about that part) and I have never seen them lower. Joker Phillips has a once in a lifetime window to make an immediate ascent, and entrench himself into, the number three coach's position in this division.

1.  Georgia - What the hell, I've convinced myself. They have 10 offensive starters returning. Trinton Sturdivant, Kris Durham, and Bruce Figgins have all mended or been forgiven, and Ben Jones, Cordy Glenn, and Clint Boling form an imposing left side of the offensive line—especially when Bruce Figgins lines up strongside beside Boling.

Washaun Ealey and Caleb King will be running behind that and the punishing blocks of Shaun Chapas and will be pounding it down people’s throats early and often. When freshman QB Aaron Murray is turned loose, he has elite passcatchers in AJ Greene and Kris Durham. Orson Charles is a special talent at TE and is absolutely punishing after the catch. Rantavious Wooten and Tavarres King round out a solid offense.

There are just enough potential stars in UGA’s defense to manage wins. Branden Smith (who could turn out to be a very smooth punt returner), Brandon Boykin, and Bacarri Rambo have enough talent to not allow long gains—which leads to the most important player on the Georgia squad this year: Drew Butler.

If the defense can keep them out of the end zone, this kid can flip the field. If the offense can get it far enough on the other side of the 50, Blair Walsh can stick it through the uprights.

Look for Georgia to wear down defenses with ball control offense, play enough defense to win games, exit September with three wins, and take this division by the slimmest of margins.


2. Florida - Post Tebow. Yes, we’ve all heard that Brantley is good but let’s not kid ourselves—that other kid was special.

Florida, you haven’t exactly lost your mojo but you did lose a bunch of talent. For God’s sake, you’re down to one Pouncey.

You play Alabama and LSU from the West but the rest of your schedule offends me, just as it did last year when you only played one ranked team (LSU) in the regular season. Any year that you get to play Vandy and Kentucky and Tennessee and Miami, OH and the University of South Florida, you shouldn’t also get to play Appalachian State, that’s all I’m saying.

Yeah, I know they beat Michigan. So could me and my niece. Aaron Hernandez was a huge loss.


3. South Carolina - I’ve enjoyed watching Steve Spurrier at South Carolina. We’ve gotten to know just how good he is at coaching. This isn’t Fun ‘n Gun anymore. Hell, sometimes it’s not even fun. I would hate to have Stephen Garcia as my best option as QB. He reminds me of Robert Marve. I get the impression that both of them would enjoy hanging out with Ken Stabler, if you know what I mean.

Spurrier desperately needs a QB and just can’t seem to get the right guy to Columbia. Kenny Miles, Jarvis Giles, and hopefully, Marcus Lattimore, will be running behind a veteran and a pretty good offensive line. Alshon Jefferey is a rising star and Tori Gurley can keep opposing defenses from the double team.

Defensively, South Carolina gets a boost from MLB Rodney Paulk being granted a sixth year of eligibility. Cliff Matthews and Stephen Gilmore will play until the last echo of the whistle. With a little luck, a turnaround year from Stephen Garcia, and a serious splash from last year’s No. 1 high school running back, Lattimore , the Gamecocks could contend for the Division crown.


4. Kentucky - When I was a freshman Psychology student at Georgia State University (Go Panthers!), I learned about “recency ” and “primacy.” For the most part, people remember the first and last things you do or say. The middle part, they just sort of glaze over.

Kentucky kicks off the 2010 season with Louisville, Western Kentucky, and Akron. They finish the season with Charleston Southern, Vandy, and Tennessee. Throw in the two SEC West opponents of Ole Miss and Miss. State and Joker Phillips, in his first year, could win eight or nine games. You know they’ll try and run him for president if that happens, right?

Seriously though, the man inherits some impressive talent and I like the offensive assistant coaching trio of Larry Brinson, Randy Sanders, and Tee Martin.


5. Vandy - This is a very young team and will be led by Warren Norman. Coach Johnson has his hands full and will earn every penny of his salary this year. SEC West opponents LSU, Arkansas, and Ole Miss will be difficult to beat, as will Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Kentucky, and Tennessee.


6. Tennessee - I’m sure I will get some grief for placing Tennessee last in this division and I honestly don’t care. Any university who would hire and keep Lane Kiffin deserves whatever they get.

How could you not see that coming? They have no experienced QB, no experienced offensive linemen and I’m pretty sure no Colquitt. I will pay attention to Tennessee again when they have proven that they are no longer a traveling carnival.