It is only the second week of the season, and yet we have learned a lot about the SEC East. The SEC East is not going as many preseason experts predicted. Things are already getting interesting for some teams and scary for other teams. Who is the new favorite to win the SEC East? Who was the most over-rated in the preseason? Who is going to go to Atlanta? Here is how things are falling into place early, and why Steve Spurrier is smiling.
After the first two games, it is pretty evident that the South Carolina Gamecocks are the best team in the SEC East at this time. They have been solid on both offense and defense. Could this finally be the year that Spurrier's team gets to Atlanta? It is looking that way. Can the Gamecocks stay focused for the entire season? Can they handle Alabama and Arkansas? These appear to be the main questions for South Carolina at this time.
The Florida Gators were over-rated going into this season. It seems that everyone just gave the Gators a pass and assumed that they would win the SEC East. Not so fast! In the first two games, against what should have been tune-up games for Florida, the Gators have not looked sharp. The offense has been sluggish to say the least. If it were not for their opponents' mistakes the Gators could very well be 0-2 right now. If they had this much trouble with Miami O and South Florida, one has to wonder how they will fare against Alabama, South Carolina, or even Mississippi State.
Georgia's offense may be missing A.J. Green, but their defense is missing something more much important - fire and enthusiasm. During both of the Dog's first two games, the defense has seemed to lack the aggressive, ball-swarming instincts that one sees in a good SEC defense. There were many instances of Georgia defensive players not giving it their all on the field. Although this has not been evidenced in the final scores, it is a problem, and will become more of a problem if it isn't addressed immediately.
Kentucky is average. We really won't know what the Wildcats are made of until they play Florida, but the way Florida is looking, that could be an interesting game. Both teams could be undefeated when they meet in the Swamp. If Kentucky beats the Gators, they should have a very nice season.
Vanderbilt was picked to be last in the SEC East, and it appears that this is still a safe bet. Although the Commodores did look better than many expected in the first week, they still look like the worse team in the conference this year. Vandy could still pull off the "unbelievable" upset this year if any of the other teams completely overlook them, but I wouldn't bet the house on it.
Tennessee had it's troubles with player discipline before the season started, and Dooley is still struggling with player discipline. The problems with discipline have been off the field so far. At first with criminal activities, and then in the showers. Yes, in the showers! It appears that SEC in Tennessee means "Soap Every Corner." It is going to be a long, hard season for Tennessee, but at least the Volunteers will be clean, well they will be clean if they listen to the coach's instructions as to how to shower. Wow, the Big Orange fans have to be hanging their heads!
From what we have seen so far this season, every team in the SEC West could give even the best teams in the SEC East a good game. The SEC East is quickly becoming the weak arm of the SEC. Florida and South Carolina seem to be the best of the East, and it would appear that both of these teams would have problems beating Alabama, Arkansas, or LSU. They would also have their hands full with Auburn, MSU, and Ole Miss. The SEC East stock is dropping fast this season. Is the SEC in danger of having one strong division and one weak division, just like the Big 12?
Even if Florida beats South Carolina, they will still be hard pressed to go to Atlanta. The Gators do not look strong enough to beat Alabama, LSU and MSU in a three week, back to back stretch. South Carolina will definitely not go undefeated, but they do have a more forgivable schedule than the Gators. The SEC East championship may come down to the South Carolina vs Florida game, and unless something changes, South Carolina appears to be the better team.
None of the SEC East teams seem to have a high-powered offense. It may very well be the case that the team with the best defense will get to Atlanta. So far, that appears to be the South Carolina Gamecocks. If the South Carolina offense continues to improve, they have a great shot to get to the SEC Championship game. I do not think they will win in Atlanta, but it does appear that they have the best chance of getting to the big game.
Well, I guess that is still something that the Gators can take comfort in after losing three games during the 2010 season...