Coach34 SEC predictions for 2012

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It’s that time of year again. SEC football is here. Let’s take a look at how things should play out this year:

SEC West:

1. LSU- (8-0) simply put- the SEC’s most complete team. The nation’s best defense, a physical offensive line, good RB’s, talented QB and WR’s. Ol Lester has another chance at winning the national title. They have to go to Florida, Auburn, and UPig- but should be able to handle those trips. Bama comes to Tiger Stadium this year- look for Les to make it 3 wins in the last 4 vs Saban. Biggest Worry?- Mettenberger struggles at QB and turns the ball over in the passing game. 

2. Alabama – (7-1) The defending National Champs will be hell on wheels again in 2012. An experienced QB, a very good OL, good RB’s, and a physical defensive front make Bama one of the nation’s top teams once again. They are a little suspect at WR and a little green in the Secondary- but you can count on them to take care of business. Road games at UPig, Tennessee, and LSU are big stumbling blocks to overcome- but the Tide should win 2 of 3 and take 2nd in the West. Biggest worry?  The inexperience in the Secondary and WR cause the Tide to get off to a slow start and they drop Game 3 on the road vs UPig.

3. State- (6-2) 2012 proves to be the year that Dan Mullen breaks thru at Mississippi State. Mullen has his best defense to date since his arrival in Starkville, a veteran group of WR’s, talented RB’s, and a QB with a good arm and some experience. The schedule sets up perfectly for the Bulldogs, getting toss-up games Auburn, Tennessee, A&M, and UPig at home. State has been tough at home under Mullen, and with this group of Bulldogs- should be even tougher in 2012. State will have a top 3-4 scoring D for the 3rd year in a row in the SEC, and an improved offense gets them over the hump. Biggest worry? The offensive line. State’s interior OL will be very good but they have to get better play at OT. If they do, and the OL stays relative healthy, State’s offense will rank in the top half of the SEC. 

4. UPig-(5-3) The Pigs have a new head coach in John L. Smith, and that is a step down for them. It also hurts the offense not having Petrino’s input. They also have a new DC running the show this season. It’s still a very talented team in Arkansas, but it comes with alot of turmoil. Can Williams hold things together? I see a very good offense with an average defense. LSU and Bama are just better teams- but will have to play well to win in Arkansas. I also see the Pigs dropping their sandwich game to State in Starkville. Stuck in between SC and LSU, State nearly pulled this one off 2 years ago- losing in double OT. Biggest worry? Stability of the coaching staff, defense, and inexperience at WR. 

5. Auburn- (4-4) This is not a bad football team, but it has a tough schedule and alot of questions. New coordinators, a new QB with very little experience, and a very suspect Secondary. VanGorder is a very good DC and should make them better on defense- but how much can he improve the league’s 11th best D? It will take time for them to gel on offense with a new QB and a new system- and starting off with Clemson and State doesnt leave any room for error. Too much, too soon for the WarEagleTigerPlainesmen. Biggest worry? A new QB in a new offense. Counting his Sr year of HS, Frazier will be in his 3rd offensive system in 3 seasons. Thats tough for anybody to master.

6. Texas A&M- (2-6) This was a 6-6 team last year in a weaker conference, and they lost some talented players, including a 1st round draft pick at QB. In walks new coach Kevin Sumlin, who is a good football coach. But his transition with his team and to the SEC will be tough in the beginning. Biggest worry? Defense. They will have to get alot better on defense, especially with the offense they will run. 

7. Mississippi- (0-8) Hugh Freeze takes over in Oxford and has begun building his ministry of football. He takes over a team with a 14 game conference losing streak and no depth. He does have a few talented players spread throughout the roster, just not enough to win SEC football games. The Bears hope to end their streak this season, with A&M and Vandy being possible targets. Biggest worry? Injuries. Any injury to the OL or DL and things will get ugly fast for the Bears

SEC East:

1. Georgia- (6-2) Last year’s East champ should repeat in the weaker side of the SEC. They are good on defense, have one of the league’s best QB’s, and some good WR’s. They lost TB Isaiah Crowell this summer to stupidity and that could hurt the run game- but they still have some talented runners left. They have a soft schedule, dodging LSU, Bama, and UPig- giving them the advantage in the East. Biggest worry? Injuries to a thin OL- a couple of injuries here and they will drop down the standings.

2. Florida- (5-3) 10 starters return to what will be a very good defense. Where the Gators have problems will be on offense. Muschamp is trying to build a carbon copy of Nick Saban’s Alabama program in Gainesville. Any transition takes time, and the Gators have to recruit better on offense. Biggest worry? Inconsistent QB play and lack of playmakers on offense. 

3. South Carolina- (4-4) Spurrier’s group takes a step back after last year’s school-best 11 win season. They have a talented DL, but a very inexperienced Secondary. Offensively, RB Marcus Lattimore returns from an ACL tear. The jury is still out on how effective he will be- especially early in the season. QB Conner Shaw is a good one. Biggest worry? Lots of new faces on the OL, WR, and in the Secondary cause the Cocks to lose some close games

4. Tennessee- (4-4) Many around the nation are predicting the demise of Coach Derek Dooley. Can he answer the bell in 2012? He has a talented offense, especially at QB and WR. Can the run the ball better in 2012? Will the switch to a 3-4 on defense make them better? Lots of starters return and Tennessee should win at least 8. Biggest worry? Defense and will the team continue to play hard and with confidence after losing a game or two? 

5. Vanderbilt- (3-5) A veteran team with a new attitude. Coach James Franklin has brought some excitement to Nashville. 19 of 22 starters are either Juniors or Seniors. Jordan Rodgers and Zac Stacy lead a decent Commodore offense. This team has the potential to win even more than 3 SEC games this season. Biggest worry? Scoring enough points in big games.

6. Missouri- (2-6) People are expecting much more out of this team than I am. They have a decent QB in James Franklin and did bring in the top WR recruit in the country, but this team only brings back 2 starters on the OL and will now go against SEC defenses. Only 12 starters return and a move to the SEC = tough transition. Biggest worry? Offensive line adjusting to SEC defenses.

7. Kentucky- (0-8) only 11 starters return to a team that wasnt very good last year. They have a decent DL, but are subpar at every other position group. Biggest worry? Joker keeping his job.