Published August 17, 2011 - 6:06am
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No one knows what is going to happen this year during the season, and it is crazy how a team’s season outlook can totally change in a matter of one practice, like with an injury to a dynamic running back like Knile Davis.
Here are three “on the limb” predictions for this coming year:
Best Running Back
When I think about the best statistical running back in the SEC, I think of no one else but Marcus Lattimore, and I have expressed what I think about Lattimore and his ability to totally change an offense, both in rushing and receiving. He did that for South Carolina.
However, my “on the limb” prediction for best running back after this season is Mississippi State’s Vick Ballard. He totally flies under the radar in Starkville. Ballard led the SEC last year in scoring, and he has virtually all the weapons around him to do it again this year. He finished just shy of 1,000 yards last season, and he has some unfinished business left in Starkville. The spread offense really caters to him because he has great vision to get to the second level of defense.
Best Rushing Offense
Many are pointing to Alabama to have the best rushing offense in the SEC. While I can’t disagree with their massive offensive linemen and their dynamic running back Trent Richardson, I think there is another team that will lead the league in rushing this season in the West.
I believe the best rushing offense in 2011 will be the Mississippi State Bulldogs. I think this offense returns a ton of skill guys in Chris Relf, Vick Ballard, LaDarius Perkins and Chad Bumphis, and all will run the football in one form or another. Relf can carry it 15-plus times per game, and Ballard could very well lead the SEC in scoring again, in addition to being a candidate for the best running back in the SEC. This team could average 220 to 230-plus yards on the ground per game.
Darkhorse To Win SEC
Call it my blue and orange tinted glasses if you would like, but I think the biggest darkhorse that truly fits an “on the limb prediction” to win the SEC this year is the Florida Gators. The best thing going for Florida right now is there is no dominant team in the East. While South Carolina looks to be the preseason favorite, they are not the overwhelming favorites.
If Florida can find a way to get to Atlanta, anything can happen.
John Brantley does return under new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, and I fully expect Brantley to play better this season than last. I think Weis will get Brantley to run eight to 10 plays very efficiently and effectively from different formations.
Florida will line up in multiple formations, but the plays should be very similar. Also, Florida will run, run, run if the defense is shutting down the offense.
Defensively, I love what Will Muschamp brings to the table, along with defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Quinn is a defensive line specialist, and I fully expect Florida to be pretty dirty in the trenches.
The deciding game for Florida will be the road trip to Columbia in November.
What are three on the limb predictions you have for SEC Football in 2011?