College Football 2011: Preseason Favorites for the All-SEC Offensive Team
There are few things more exciting than watching a potent SEC offense play football.
Who are the best of the best offensive stars for 2011?
Offense dictates the game of football at all levels, a new trend in the sport. Notice that it's always the weathered analysts like Mike Ditka who claim it's still a gritty game about playing defense and running the ball.
That's a bonus in the college game. An athletic quarterback with great offensive linemen can surge his team to the National Championship with solid backs and receivers.
Before you dive into the list, you need to know that I substituted a third wide receiver rather than a second tail back. Who (besides Urban Meyer's Florida Gators) uses two tail backs at once?
So where can you see these guys on Saturday? Here's my 2011 preseason All-SEC Offense.
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I'm going to introduce the All-SEC offensive line as a unit because they mean next to nothing alone; they are a unit and must go in as a unit.
The fact that I've little-to-no technical knowledge on how to guard the sidestep of a right guard is irrelevant.
Take note of these players' age because that's perhaps the most important characteristic of a top lineman: experience.
OT: Bradley Sowell, Ole Miss Rebels. If you want to know how big the senior tackle from Mississippi is, just look at Albert Haynesworth; they're the same height and weight. At 6'7", Sowell is a man amongst really, really big men. I expect to see Sandra Bullock win another undeserved Oscar for Sowell's movie in a few years.
OG: Barrett Jones, Alabama Crimson Tide. When a guard produces two of the country's top running backs in the same year, you know he's good. Guards are essential to inside running, and Alabama's backs are quite adept at attacking that way. The junior will be on most All-SEC lists both this year and next year.
C: Williams Vlachos, Alabama Crimson Tide. The center of the best offensive line in the SEC (and perhaps the country) will always get my vote. The center is the leader of the unit, calling out assignments and gluing the two sides of the line together. Vlachos has both the talent and the experience that comes along with three years of playing time.
OG: Cordy Glenn, Georgia Bulldogs. Glenn's also a senior. At 6'5" and 348 pounds, he's battled-tested, beefy, unmovable and extremely intimidating. Nothing more needs to be said.
OT: JuWuan James, Tennessee Volunteers. Go ahead and call it hometown cooking because this pick is partially that. But it's also a speculative selection for the future. James is only a sophomore and was fantastic as a right tackle for the Vols in 2010, where he started each and every game. Expect to see him in the experts' list for the next few years.
TE: Orson Charles, Georgia Bulldogs
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It's time for Orson Charles to live up to the hype with which he came into college. The highly-recruited wide receiver was quickly shifted to tight end at Georgia once they saw his powerful frame.
To be honest, I can't give you any stats that support Charles' naming to this list. He's full of potential, but that's really it.
Charles only has 49 receptions in two years as a Bulldog. He'll need to reach that total in just one season if Georgia hopes to contend for the SEC East title in 2011. Charles is going to have plenty of chances with the departure of A.J. Green and Kris Durham, the top two pass-catchers from 2010.
WR: Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina Gamecocks
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Alshon Jeffery was last year's most prolific SEC receiver despite the fanfare for Georgia's A.J. Green and Alabama's Julio Jones.
So if Green and Jones were both (rightfully) selected in the top six of the 2011 NFL Draft, what does that mean for Jeffery who's entering his junior year at South Carolina?
It means that if he has as good a year as I think he will, he'll be another top-five pick.
His 1,517 yards receiving in 2010 was tops in the SEC. Jones was second with nearly 400 less receiving yards. Jeffery was tied for first in the conference with nine touchdown catches as well.
Jeffery was the best receiver in the SEC last year. His biggest competitors for that title in 2011 are gone, and I see no reason whatsoever that he'll do anything but perform better this season.
WR: Greg Childs, Arkansas Razorbacks
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Before his injury in late October, Greg Childs was having a spectacular season for the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Even though he missed the last five games of the season, Childs was third on the team in receptions, third in yards and tied for first in touchdowns.
If not for the injury, Childs would have most assuredly replaced Kentucky's Randall Cobb on most 2010 All-SEC Offense second-team lists.
Ryan Mallett, last year's quarterback, was a prolific passer and gave Childs many chances to succeed. After seeing the way new starter Tyler Wilson performed against Auburn in support of Mallett, there's little doubt Childs will get the same amount of chances.
The only question is if his injured knee will be fully heeled. If so, Childs will have another great season.
WR: Justin Hunter, Tennessee Volunteers
The name you might've heard, but definitely should get used to hearing is Justin Hunter.
The tall, long wide receiver developed quick chemistry with the Tennessee Vols' Tyler Bray when the new quarterback took over the team after halftime of the 2010 South Carolina game.
Hunter's not Randy Moss. I'm not about to say that.
But his style of play is nearly identical. Hunter rarely goes over the middle, instead using his long legs and tall frame to spread the field and make leaping catches, usually for touchdowns.
In fact, in his limited 16 catches last year, Hunter scored seven times. That means that more than 40 percent of his catches were touchdowns.
Extrapolate that percentage out to 50 or 60 catches...
RB: Knile Davis, Arkansas Razorbacks
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Probably a big surprise to a lot of you, Knile Davis of the Arkansas Razorbacks earns the running back spot on my team.
Remembers, this isn't a list of the most impressive or most fun to watch; this is about past production and current status.
In other words, Marcus Lattimore, the SEC's best NFL running back prospect, doesn't deserve to get in over Davis. This is in no way, shape or form is a slight against Lattimore, whom I love. It's actually huge props for Davis.
Davis ran for a SEC-best 1,322 yards in 2010 and also added 13 rushing touchdowns. His 6.5 yards per carry was nearly two more than Lattimore's 4.8. Keep in mind that Davis also played for a pass-first offense.
He needs to become more active in the passing game in order to reach his full offensive potential. Davis managed only one receiving score last year, which means he has a ton of room for improvement.
QB: Aaron Murray, Georgia Bulldogs
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I'm gushing over Aaron Murray like middle Tennessee radio is gushing over Vanderbilt's new head coach James Franklin. Just Google him. They're losing their minds over his 0-0 record.
But anyway, I think Murray is one of the most impressive quarterbacks in the country. He solidified a traditionally shaky position at Georgia last year as a freshman and is now the best quarterback in the SEC.
Any debate? No? Thank you.
Murray will have to prove his worth in 2011 due to the loss of his top two running backs and top wide receiver.