Monday we gave some questions for the ACC teams as we enter spring football. Today we look at the SEC. There are obvious questions at every school with the departure of some great players. But there is an influx of new coordinators in the league and of course two new teams. Keep an eye on quarterback play in the spring. This is a leadership position and the team who has a guy who can go through spring and gain his team's confidence has a chance to be good in 2012.
Georgia- I think Todd Granthams defensive unit, bolsterd by the return of Jarvis Joneshas a chance to be one of the best in the country in 2012. The focus will be on developing a consistent healthy running back rotation. The Dogs want to be balanced and Crowell disappeared during critical times due to injury. In Georgias four losses Isaiah Crowell averaged 49 yards per game.
South Carolina- There is many things the Gamecocks would like to resolve in the spring including the new defensive coordinator and how he will be different than Ellis Johnson. But for my money Steve Spurriers team needs to upgrade its passing game. Now that Connor Shaw is the guy and Alshon Jeffrey has left for the NFL, look for Spurrier to diversify his vertical game. Depth behind Lattimore is important as well. Connor Shaw completed 74 of his passes in the 4th quarter.
Florida- The Gators break in a new offensive coordinator in Brent Pease and he will have an interesting quarterback battle. Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel will battle it out as the Gators must improve their overall offensive production. The defense will be strong in 2012 and looks to add depth in the spring and potentially run more 3-4. The Gators were last in the SEC in turnovers forced with only 14.
Vanderbilt-James Franklin will look to capitalize on a solid first year by giving the reigns in the spring to Jordan Rodgers. He is very athletic and that will serve him well, but look for Franklin to get the interceptions down and the touchdowns up. In the Commodores seven losses Rodgers had only four touchdown passes and seven interceptions.
Tennessee- Derek Dooleys team was solid on defense and his passing game is very solid with Tyler Bray healthy. So how did this team lose seven games? I think it starts with the mentality of the program. He needs to work on the teams Swag and get their confidence back. The Vols have talented players who have played enough that they need to win some game. The hot seat is there whether Barbara Dooley wants to acknowledge it or not. Tennessee was last in the SEC in rushing and averaged just 2.76 yards per carry, this will be the spring emphasis.
Kentucky- It seems like every spring we are looking at the quarterback position in Lexington. This is very important to the direction of Joker Phillips program. They were able to beat Tennessee without a quarterback, but they need to establish a guy in the spring. Maxwell Smith and Morgan Newton will compete for the starting job. The Wildcats were last in the league in scoring offense at 15.8 points per game.
Missouri- First the Tigers need to adjust to the defenses and schemes they will see in the league. They did have success against Oklahoma who has SEC caliber defensive talent. The Tigers have a young team returning with 11 offensive starters. Missouri returns their quarterback James Franklin and led the Big 12 in rushing last season. The Tigers were also third in the Big 12 and 30th in the country in rushing defense, which will serve them well inside the SEC.
Alabama- Anytime you when a championship and lose some great players your coach has to guard his team against entitlement. The tide will be very good again this year but must see Eddie Lacy grow into the back that Ingram and Richardson have been. That may be a tall order so look for the Tide to focus on depth at running back (Dee Hart could be healthy) and the passing game. I think AJ McCarrons performance in the bowl game should give Nick Saban confidence to let him open it up in the spring. Eddie Lacy was 9th in the SEC in rushing last season and averaged over seven yards per carry.
LSU- I blogged about this a week ago, but they need chemistry. Zach Mettenberger needs to step in like hes been there his whole life and they go man go. The defense will be great but the offense needs and identity. We know they want to be physical but there may be two or three games where they need to showcase the passing game. The Tigers only threw the ball 279 times last season which was the least amount in the SEC.
Arkanasas- Its all about defense in the spring. I know the Razorbacks lost Jarius Wright and Joe Adams, but Bobby Petrino will just plug more guys in. They will also get Knile Davis back from injury to give them even better balance on offense. The defense is the key and the change was made before the bowl game and it looks to be headed in the right direction. The Razorbacks finished 9th in the SEC in total defense.
Auburn-The Tigers are putting in a new system on offense and finding the right quarterback will be the key. Kiehl Frazier and Clint Moseley should compete for the job under new offensive coordinator Scott Loeffler. The Tigers also must replace the number one offensive threat from last season in Michael Dyer. Last season Dyer was responsible for 1,242 yard of the 2,370 yards rushing which is 52 of their total. He also had 10 of the 29 rushing touchdowns (50).
Mississippi State- The Bulldogs need to figure out how to beat the good teams on their schedule. Dan Mullen has avoided the upsets in Starkville and beaten the teams he is supposed to beat. In conference play the Bulldogs are averaging a full touchdown less than their overall average. Tyler Russell will take the reigns as the go to quarterback in the spring and his progress is important. They must also replace the touchdown machine Vic Ballard at running back. Ballard had 30 of the Bulldogs 48 rushing touchdowns the last two seasons.
Mississippi-Hugh Freeze has a lot of work to do in Oxford. He would be well served to establish who is on his lines of scrimmage. The Rebels are traditionally a solid defensive unit, but in 2011 they were not good. Three years ago the Ole Miss defense finished 4th in the SEC, but the last two years 11th and 12th. Start on defense and then work your way to offense is the plan in Rebel country.
Texas A&M- The Aggies will be good on offense under new coach Kevin Sumlin and offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury. As a matter of fact the Aggies have been good on offense prior to their arrival, but can Sumlin fix the defense? The focus will be on the overall program and the ability to finish. Whether its a play, a series or a game, Sumlin will look to instill a tougher overall team as they head to the SEC. In Texas A&Ms six losses they gave up 38.5 points per game.