NCAA College Football 2011: Ranking the SEC Offenses
The SEC will provide plenty of flash on offense this year, but the league is lacking great quarterbacks.
Georgia's Aaron Murray, Florida's John Brantley and Arkansas' Tyler Wilson are the elite of the division, but other than Murray, none of these three players have had a huge impact yet.
And if this conference lacks quarterbacks, it surely makes up for it at the running back, wide receiver, and the offensive line positions. The conference is loaded with skill players, and with the great defenses in the SEC, this should make for one exciting season.
In the following article, I will rank and analyze the SEC offenses.
Strength: Warren Norman
Vanderbilt returns most of their starters on offense, including the entire offensive line. The experience will help, but the real star of the offense will be junior running back Warren Norman. Before he got injured last year, Norman had over 450 yards and four touchdowns.
Weakness: Offensive line and quarterback
Even with its experience, the offensive line is still one of the worst in the conference. Senior quarterback Larry Smith has been inconsistent over the years. Smith and the offensive line will be the key for Vandy’s season.
Who to look out for: Warren Norman
Keep your eyes on Norman. If he can stay healthy, he’ll be the Commodores' biggest threat.
Strength: Offensive Line
The Wildcats have four of five starters returning on the offensive line, but unfortunately for the Wildcats, that’s about it.
Weakness: Passing Game
Kentucky’s offense will be run by junior quarterback Morgan Newton, and with no returning starters at wide receiver, the Wildcats’ passing game will struggle.
Who to look out for: Raymond Sanders
Wildcat fans expect big things from sophomore running back Raymond Sanders, and with the third best offensive line in the SEC, Sanders could carry the Wildcats to another Bowl game in December.
10. Ole Miss
Strength: Offensive Line and Brandon Bolden
Like the Wildcats, the strength of this Ole Miss team will be the offensive line. Big junior right tackle Bobby Massie will lead the big veteran group up front.
Unlike Kentucky, the Rebels have a star running back returning in Brandon Bolden following a productive junior season.
Weakness: Skill Positions
Bolden will have to carry the offense with a lot of new faces at skill positions. The new quarterback and lack of returning wide receivers won’t help the Rebels' cause in the SEC West.
Who to look out for: Brandon Bolden
Ole Miss will go as far as Bolden can take them.
Strength: Skill Players
Let’s face it: senior quarterback John Brantley and the Florida offense were a disappointment last year. Luckily for Brantley, a number of familiar faces are returning and will have a great offensive coordinator in Charlie Weis to work with.
Look for senior running backs Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps, and wide receiver Deonte Thompson to help Brantley out.
Weakness: Offensive Line
The team's offensive line is one of the weakest in the SEC, so sophomore right guard Jon Halapio and junior right tackle Xavier Nixon will have to anchor down.
Who to look out for: Quinton Dunbar
Sophomore wide receiver Quinton Dunbar will be a playmaker for the Gators and may make a name for himself this season.
Strength: Gus Malzahn and Michael Dyer
Gus Malzahn is a genius, and sophomore running back Michael Dyer is talented enough to carry an offense, but they'll need some help in a loaded SEC West.
Weakness: Too many new faces
They have a lot of new faces on offense and other than Vanderbilt, Auburn will have the worst offensive line in the league.
Who to look out for: Trovon Reed
Freshman wide receiver Trovon Reed will have to make an immediate impact to keep the defense from loading the box. Reed was a highly-recruited receiver, and like Dunbar, will make a name for himself.
7. Mississippi State
Strength: Skill Players
Senior quarterback Chris Relf has a lot on his plate, but he won’t have to carry the burden all by himself. The Bulldogs have one of the best receivers in the SEC in junior Chad Bumphis and also have a great running back in senior Vick Ballard.
Weakness: Chris Relf
The Bulldogs' most glaring weakness is the inconsistent play from quarterback Chris Relf. If Relf can consistently make big plays, this offense will put a good amount of points on the board this year.
Who to look out for: Vick Ballard
Ballard had a coming out party in the Bowl game against Michigan last year, and I look for him to pick up where he left off.
Strength: Tauren Poole and Tyler Bray
The Volunteers have a good running back-quarterback tandem in senior Tauren Poole and sophomore Tyler Bray. Bray threw 18 touchdowns, while Poole rushed for 11 a year ago.
Weakness: Wide Receivers
Inexperience at the wide receiver position will hurt the Vols, but I’m not sure it will hurt them too badly. Sophomore Justin Hunter will have to be that deep threat he was last season, and sophomore Da’Rick Rogers will need to produce more as well.
Who to look out for: Tyler Bray
You always have to be cautious of a sophomore slump, but Bray will avoid it and have a good year.
Strength: Aaron Murray
The Bulldogs have the best quarterback in the conference in sophomore Aaron Murray. Murray threw for over 3,000 yards including 24 touchdowns as a freshman. Look for Murray to avoid the sophomore slump as well.
Weakness: Running back
The inexperience at the running back position could hurt Georgia. Bulldog fans are thanking the good Lord for the arrival of freshman Isaiah Crowell after Washaun Ealey left the team. Will Crowell be another freshman sensation like Marcus Lattimore?
Who to look out for: Aaron Murray
This guy is a stud and can make plays with his arm and feet. As long as Georgia has him, they can compete with anybody.
Strength: Everything but QB
The Tigers have the second best offensive line in the SEC, have talent at running back and have talent at the wide receiver position. Look for sophomore running backs Spencer Ware and Michael Ford along with freshman running back Kenny Hilliard to break a few on defenses this season.
Weakness: Jordan Jefferson
This was the easiest weakness to pick out of all the SEC teams. Senior quarterback Jordan Jefferson is talented but makes careless throws and plays way too inconsistently. Jefferson is the key to how great this LSU team will or will not be.
Who to look out for: Rueben Randle
If Jefferson can get him the ball, the guy will wow you. Randle will provide that deep threat the Tigers need to keep defenses from concentrating on the run.
3. South Carolina
Strength: Alshon Jeffery and Marcus Lattimore
These players are the real deal. Jeffery will probably be the first SEC offensive player taken in the draft next year, as he has all the tools to be a star at the next level. Lattimore is like a piece of iron. The Gamecocks will soften defenses by pounding the rock with him. He also gets better as the game goes on.
Weakness: Offensive Line
This is the biggest question mark for the Gamecocks. The offensive line will have to step up to provide stability for the offense. Speaking of stability, was senior quarterback Stephen Garcia suspended this week?
Who to look out for: Marcus Lattimore
It won't matter whether it's Garcia or sophomore quarterback Connor Shaw taking snaps from center as long as Lattimore is getting the ball.
Strength: Offensive Line and Trent Richardson
This is the best offensive line/running back tandem in the SEC. The Crimson Tide has the best offensive line in the SEC, and depending on who you ask, Richardson is the best running back in the SEC. The Tide also has senior wide receivers Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks returning.
Weakness: A.J. McCarron
Sophomore A.J. McCarron is the new quarterback, so there are questions. All he has to do for this offense is manage the game and the Tide should be fine.
Who to look out for: Barrett Jones
Junior right guard Barrett Jones will be the best offensive lineman in the SEC at the end of the year.
Strength: QB, RB, WR
Everyone has high expectations for junior Tyler Wilson as the team's new starting quarterback. Wilson won't be thrown into the fire, though, because he has the best wide receiving core in the nation.
From seniors Greg Childs, Jarius Wright and Joe Adams to junior Cobi Hamilton, this Arkansas squad will give defensive coordinators fits. The talented junior running back Knile Davis will also keep defenses honest.
Weaknesses: Offensive Line
Considering how great the skill players are, the offensive line has to be the team's weakness. It’s not a bad group, but they certainly aren't among the elite of the conference.
Who to look out for: Joe Adams
Childs will get the attention of the defenses best cornerback every week which leaves Adams with favorable match-ups. Adams is a great punt returner as well.