rssBlog EntriesComments


Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Preview of the SEC- East

At the end of the 2014 season, everyone and his uncle was screaming that the dominance of the SEC had been broken. To listen to them talk one would have thought that the spell of the Ice Queen had been broken and the return of Aslan was inventible. Granted, the SEC didn’t do themselves any favors, they had a relatively poor showing. Then 2015 kicked off and the world was set a’right. In the bowls the SEC teams dominated their competition by going 8-2, and Alabama won the national championship, again. Which brings us to 2016;- will the SEC continue to be the toughest/ best conference in all of college footballdom? YES! Of course they will.

1) Georgia– The Bulldogs have a new coach, new attitude, and, let’s be honest, they are loaded. After another year of not winning the SEC east, 140and having some bad looking losses, like, losing to Florida, again, the powers that be let long time Coach Richt go back to Miami, and took on the mantra “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” So they hired Alabama’s defensive coordinator Kirby Smart. It’s expected that he’ll bring “The Process” that has worked so well at Bama to the hedges in Athens. The pressure is on Smart right away, it’s not like UGA has been losing. They’ve won 10 games a season four of the last five years, but Smart was brought in to win Championships. The Dawgs return one of the best running back corps in the nation. Nick Chubb will be making his return from a horrible knee injury and he’ll be backed up by Sony Michel, who distinguished himself last year after Chubb went down. The question will be at QB, where returning starter Lambert will be fighting off National High School Player of the year, Jacob Eason. This is the position that has got to show the most improvement. This does not look good for Lambert. The Receivers are a bit thin but the talent level they posses is through the roof. The offensive line last year never achieved that cohesive status. For the Dawgs to win the East they’ll need to correct this problem. Defense- wise, they have plenty of returning starters, lots of experience in the secondary and at linebacker. Defensive line is strong and capable with a mixture of veterans and newbies. Coach Smart is considered a defensive guru after his years at Alabama and is expected to make sure the Georgia Defense becomes a spitting image of the Tide’s defense. The SEC East has long been the lesser of the two SEC divisions, but they are playing catch-up and Georgia is leading the pack.

2) Florida– Coach McElwain made the Gators look like giant killers for the first half of the season last year. All was back to normal, winning, in 098Gainseville until starting QB Greier was suspended for using PED’s. Why was a quarterback using PED’s? No one knows, but he was. After that, Florida took a nosedive. They had already won enough to win the east and a trip to Atlanta for the SEC championship game, but they just couldn’t hang with Bama the entire game, and then they got trounced by Michigan in their bow game. Some say it was because Florida had no quarterback. I’m one of those saying this. Enter Transfer Luke Del Rio, son of Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio. This is going to make Luke’s third school where he’s tried and leave his mark. He started 2013 as a redshirt freshman at Alabama, then in 2014 he transferred to Oregon State, before transferring to Florida in 2015 and sitting out a year. His inability to win the starting job at Bama, and again at OSU has caused doubts about him at Florida, but he’s the best Coach Mac has to work with. IF he can achieve what Greier was doing last year, the team will be just fine. Running backs are in short supply, with Scarlett, and Cronkrite stepping up to the starting roles. They will also have Junior college transfer Thompson to become the bruising back they lack. The receivers for the Gators are set, led by Callaway who made himself a household name last year. Defensively they are a bit thin, they have good talent both returning and some promising new comers, but hey don’t have much behind the starters. The starters have to stay in shape and hope to not go down with injuries. Florida has beaten Tennessee, and Georgia, over the past years and they are perfectly capable of doing it again. Coach Mac has started something there in the Sunshine state and he’s building on it.

0813) Tennessee– Most people are picking the Vols to win the SEC East, and then go on and win the SEC title. Not buying it and it has nothing to do with my deep biases against ‘em. UT has yet to prove to themselves that they are winners. They haven’t beaten Florida in 11 years and haven’t topped the Tide in 9 years. When the biggest rivals have dominated a team that long it hangs over them like a dark cloud. Until they’re able to break that spell, they’re losers. The biggest reason for their short comings is that they don’t keep up with the bigger, faster, teams. By the time the fourth quarter rolls around, the Tennessee players are spent. This isn’t something new. QB Dobbs, the future aeronautical engineer, is a good QB and when he breaks from the pocket he’s always looking downfield for a pass. When he has to run, he’s good at that, too. His biggest problem is that he is not very consistent and tends to overthrow open receivers. The running backs are a force to be contained and should be the focus of this offense. The receivers are well balanced but unspectacular, not a ringing endorsement, but they are pretty good. The defense has top notch players all over the field and they do play very tough and will again. The problem is that they don’t keep it up all game and they have no depth to help them out. In spring training, 11 starters were kept out because of injuries, most of them were on the defensive side of the ball. Another note as to why UT is not the top pick is that fact there is a lot of bad mojo going on behind the scenes in Knoxville. They are the subject of a Federal lawsuit where they’re being accused of covering up sexual assaults by UT athletes, including football players, and coach Jones has been identified by a former UT player! This does not, will not, ever cause a program to succeed. Sorry, hype believers, but Tennessee will disappoint yet again.

4) Kentucky– After Tennessee the talent level drops quite a bit. UK has been steadily improving by playing lower ranked teams and padding their235 record. When they play some of the big boys, they have more confidence and actually think they can win. In the first half of the season they complied a record of 4-1;- second half of the season they went 1-5, missing the post- season by one game. This year they might get over the hump and play a game in the month of December. Or, they might not. The Wildcats have ditched the “Air Raid” type of attack by firing OC Shannon Dawson. Instead, Coach Stoops hired Eddie Gran and Darin Hinshaw, both formerly of Cincinnati. This might actually work. The Bearcats are a bunch of scrappers who make the big teams sweat and sometimes beat a few of them. If the Wildcats copy this trend, they’ll be a force in the East. Defensively, the Cats need help, stopping offensives was more of a thought than an actuality. They get a nice upgrade at linebacker with Nebraska transfer Courtney Love, the rest of the defense is young but they have experience from last year. Improvement is essential. The schedule delivers no cakewalks, but they should get over that .500 mark and go bowling.

5) Vanderbilt– Going out on a limb here by picking the Commodores. So why the trust in Vandy? Because I don’t think Derek Mason is a bad coach and the ‘Dores are not that far away from the Franklin coached days. First things first though, they’ve got to get a Quarterback who produces. Kyle Shurmur has the inside track and appears ready, willing and able. He is the son of former Cleveland Browns coach Pat Shurmur so he at least KNOWs what to do. Whoever the QB is, he’ll have good targets to throw to as top receiver Duncun will be returning after having and ACL injury last year. Here’s a news flash, Vandy just might have one of the top linebacker corps in the entire SEC. Yep, that last sentence was not a typo. These guys are good, and, if the front line can do their job, look for the defense to actually keep this team in games and provide them with a chance of winning. By the end of October the nation will know if Vandy will be going bowling.

6) South Carolina- There is little to no faith in new Coach Will Muschamp, at least here at CSF. The damage he left at Florida is quite 164unforgiveable. South Carolina is a team looking to regain its winning ways. They’ve only made it to the SEC Championship game once under Spurrier, but they were at least within reach of the East title most years. Last year the bottom fell out, Spurrier walked mid-season, and the Gamecocks were done. Now they’re a team and a coach both looking for redemption. Coach Boom, as he was called at Auburn, is supposed to be a defensive guru but he didn’t show that at Auburn, or at Florida, or at Texas before that. It’s on the defensive side of the ball where the Gamecocks need the most help. They have one impact player this year in LB Skai Moore, who decided to return for his senior season. After that the cupboard is a bit empty. Offensively they need a QB, Running backs, a couple of receivers, three new linemen and a tight end would be nice. I am not sure Santa has all that in his bag but what the heck, no harm in asking.

7) Missouri– Talk about the bottom falling out of an entire school, WOW! Coach Pinkel had nothing to do with anything that happened on that 198campus and the effects from it caused him to pull up stakes and pop smoke. He was out of there. Needless to say, the 2015 season was a wash for the Show Me State Tigers. Defensive Coordintor Barry Odom has taken over. Good Luck. The biggest star they have on offense will be wide receiver and Alabama transfer Chris Black. The QB and RB positions are basically filled by default because there isn’t a lot of competition for them. The Tigers were last in defense in the SEC last year and if they have any chance of winning enough games to make to the post season the defense is going to be key. They’ll do fine against Delaware State, but against the other East teams it’s questionable. If those type of games start to get out of hand by half time, they don’t have the ability to catch up. Not a lot is expect from Mizzou this year and small wonder as to why. Maybe they’ll start getting better in 2017.

Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Response

Please note: comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.