Written by Christopher Anderson Owner/Publisher
The staff at HogSportsTalk.com recently released our 2009 SEC East Predictions
1. Florida (12-0 Overall and 8-0 SEC) - It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that on paper the 2009 Florida Gators should win the SEC Eastern division, SEC championship, and BCS National Championship.
In fact, Tim Tebow returning with eight starters is not the reason we are picking them either...to win the EAST. We did say on paper, remember?
However, the defense with 11 returning starters is the biggest strength of this football team. Middle linebacker Brandon Spikes had 93 tackles last year and will be the leader of the defense this year as well.
We are certain the Gators will win the East and go back to Atlanta, but we are not so sure they will beat Alabama this year. The first real test for Florida will be a pair of home games versus Troy and Tennessee.
The next two games will be on the road against Kentucky and LSU. The Tigers will give them a good run, but Les Miles will fall short in the end.
The next home game versus Arkansas could be a 2008 Ole Miss all over again unless the team is highly focused. MSU in Starkville and then Georgia in Jacksonville will prove to be a tough contests in the next two weeks.
The month of November will be a little easier on Urban Meyer with games against Vanderbilt, South Carolina, FIU, and Florida State.
The Bottom Line - The Florida Gators will blow through the 12-game schedule, but the jury is still out on the SEC Championship and the BCS National Championship.
Will Congresswoman Corrine Brown once again "Gradulate Corch Urban Meyers" for another national title?
We don't know, but "One, two, three, four, five, that Tim Tivo don't take no jive!".
GO GATORS! We like Congresswoman Brown BTW!
2. Georgia (8-4 Overall and 5-3 SEC) - The Georgia Bulldogs are the hardest team for us to predict in the SEC this year. Obviously, they did not live up to the high expectations last year and to top it all off they lost some crucial offensive players.
Not only did they lose Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno, they lost a great receiver in Mohamed Massaquoi.
On defense Rennie Curran is the top returner. The linebacker tallied 115 tackles, ten tackles for loss, three sacks, and 14 quarterback hurries last season for the Bulldogs.
The 2009 schedule is an interesting one. The Dawgs start the season at Oklahoma State and the Cowboys are supposed to have one of the best teams they have had in years.
Besides, OSU's coach is a MAN...he's 40!
The next game is against South Carolina at home and then Arkansas on the road in Fayetteville.
Then two home games versus the Arizona State Sun Devils and the always-tough LSU Tigers. Georgia goes back on the road with two games against Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
They play Florida next in Jacksonville and that game is always pivotal in the East. Three home games versus Tennessee Tech, Auburn, and Kentucky are next before the season finale at Georgia Tech.
The Bottom Line - The Georgia Bulldogs have to replace some great skilled players and the roster is full of great talent, but it's going to be tough especially at quarterback. Like we said, this team is hard to predict. They could be 9-3 or end up 7-5 so we went with the middle.
3. South Carolina (7-5 Overall and 3-5 SEC) - Does Steve Spurrier still have what it takes to coach a nationally competitive team? Will he ever get USC to a BCS bowl?
These are some of the questions we have asked ourselves about the ole ball coach. In the past it seemed as if the highly touted quarterback recruits in the country wanted to play under Spurrier, but has South Carolina really had a clear-cut starter since he arrived as the coach in Columbia?
Hopefully, that will change this year with sophomore Stephen Garcia from Tampa. Last year, Garcia was 65-122-8 with 832 yards passing with six touchdowns while sharing playing time with two other quarterbacks.
Seven starters return on offense and six on defense.
Two road games start the season with trips to N.C. State and then an SEC East matchup at Georgia. The Gamecocks play host to Ole Miss then Kentucky before hitting the road again and traveling to Alabama.
It's Vanderbilt at home next before road trips to Tennessee and Arkansas once again. Finally, USC ends the season with home games versus Florida and rival Clemson.
The Bottom line - The ole ball coach is going to have to stick with one quarterback to maintain stability because what he has done in the past is not working at South Carolina. We think it will be another average season for the Gamecocks.
4. Tennessee (6-6 Overall and 2-6 SEC) - Is Lane Kiffin crazy like a fox? Does he create some of this madness to garner attention for his new program?
Probably so, but he sure has done and said some stupid things since his arrival in Knoxville. In fact, we have a thread at HogSportsTalk.com called the "How will Lane Kiffin mess up today thread". An interesting read no doubt.
One thing he has done right that we are sure about is hire an all-star staff that starts with his father, Monte Kiffin. The last time Monte Kiffin was a college defensive coordinator was in 1979 at Arkansas, but rest assured his Tampa-Two scheme will convert nicely from the NFL to college.
We believe the Vols will struggle this year making the transition with a new coach/philosophy, even with eight returners on offense. The non-conference schedule doesn't look too bad with the exception of UCLA coming to town in Week 2 and that will be a game that reveals just how good or bad the Vols are going to be.
SEC road games against Florida, Alabama, and Ole Miss will be tough. SEC home games versus Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt will test the rookie mettle of a young coach.
The Bottom Line - What identity will this team establish early? Making a bowl game or not will depend on it. We think Kiffin will succeed, but it may take him a year or two to get there.
5. Kentucky(5-7 Overall and 2-6 SEC) - The Kentucky Wildcats took a huge blow on defense when DE Jeremy Jarmon was recently found ineligible by the NCAA for using a banned substance.
We do not condone taking substances that are banned, but given the case in this situation we feel the NCAA instilled a very harsh penalty taking away an entire year of eligibility.
With the loss of Jarmon the Cats only have four returning starters on defense. The front seven are extremely thin and the young guys need to grow up fast.
Only one player returns in the secondary and UK has to find replacements quick.
However, the offense returns nine starters including every skilled player from last season. Quarterback Mike Hartline needs to step up and play better than he did last season if Kentucky is going bowling again.
The first part of the schedule is brutal with home games versus Louisville, Florida, and Alabama. Next, the Wildcats go on the road to face South Carolina and Auburn.
The following three games are at home versus UL Monroe, MSU, and Eastern Kentucky. Then it's back on the road versus Vanderbilt and Georgia.
Finally, the Cats play Tennessee at home in what may decide a bowl game for either team.
The Bottom Line - If the Wildcats are going to attend another bowl game this year the defense will have to grow up fast and play lights out. The offense is the strength for Rich Brooks this year.
Again, the NCAA messed up with Jeremy Jarmon. He is a good kid!
6. Vanderbilt (4-8 Overall and 1-7 SEC) - Bobby Johnson may be the best football coach in the SEC with what he has accomplished at Vanderbilt.
Last year the Commodores started hot, but cooled off by the end of the season to finish 7-6.
However, Vandy pulled out an impressive Music City bowl win versus Boston College 16-14. With eight returning on offense and nine returning on defense you would think we had the Dores finishing a lot higher, but we do not.
Have you seriously studied their SEC schedule closely? It's a monster!
The second week of the season Vandy travels to LSU and then hosts MSU, Ole Miss, and Georgia at home.
Then they go on the road again to face South Carolina and Florida followed by another home game versus Kentucky.
The season ends with a trip east on I-40 to Knoxville to take on the Vols. The offense will have to replace a quarterback and several key receivers.
However, a bright spot is the offensive line, where every starter returns. The defense is anchored by linebacker and All-SEC selection, Patrick Benoist.
The Bottom Line - Vandy has a tough SEC schedule and will need some big breaks to return to a bowl game.
We hate to give them this many SEC loses and hope they prove us wrong! We really like and respect Bobby Johnson!
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