It’s Christmas time, and everyone has a wish list, including SEC football programs, right? Of course they do.
Here is the SEC West and their wish lists:
Alabama: Another Natty in Miami
Alabama playing for national championships has just become numb to hear. And once again Nick Saban and company will have a chance to hoist the hardware in Miami. Bama has won two national championships in the last three years, and they are trying to make history by being the only team in the BCS era to win back-to-back national championships. Florida, USC, nor anyone else has accomplished the feat, and the Tide are the predominant favorite to win once more.
Arkansas: Bret Bielema’s defense to bust a grape
The biggest impact Bret Bielema will have in his first season will be on defense. He brings an element of toughness, and he will improve the weak-minded defensive mentality in Fayetteville. The offense is losing several star players, and it will take some time to rebuild on that side of the football. But Bielema’s impact will be felt on the defensive side of the ball next season. The Hogs finished 12th in scoring defense and 12th in total defense.
Auburn: Bring the Wizard back to the Plains
The good news – the Wizard Gus Malzahn is back on the Plains. The bad news – he has a major rebuilding project ahead of him with the best team in the country still in the same state. Malzahn will work wonders on offense. We know that. However, on defense is where the tough job lies, with Ellis Johnson and Rodney Garner. Malzahn will have the offense scoring points, and he’s already proven that he can take down the defensive Wizard of Nick Saban and the Tide with the right personnel. Auburn fans are hoping the real Wizard makes his presence felt in year one.
LSU: Zach Mettenberger to live up to expectation
For six months in the offseason, we all talked about how good Zach Mettenberger was going to be, and how he was the missing piece to the national championship puzzle LSU was building. Guilty as charged. Mett never really got going like everyone thought he would. He finished with 2,489 yards, 11 touchdowns and six interceptions, but he completed less than 59 percent of his passes. He often overshot his receivers down the field. Things started to click against Alabama, but he looked like the same old Mettenberger against Arkansas. With Mett having a full year under his belt, it should pay dividends for the Tigers next season.
Mississippi State: Major defensive line help
State’s defensive line was pushed around the entire season. Before the season started, the position was considered a strength, but it was average at best against better offensive lines. MSU finished 11th in rushing defense, and they finished nearly last in the SEC in sacks with 18. Bigger, better offensive lines really had their way with this group, and they must improve quickly before playing Northwestern in the Gator Bowl.
Ole Miss: Robert Nkemdiche
One recruit doesn’t make a recruiting class, nor does it make a team. But Hugh Freeze has already hauled in the top JUCO player in DT Lavon Hooks, and now he still has the biggest fish in all of college football left in #1 prospect Robert Nkemdiche. For the last three years, MSU has had all the recruiting momentum, and now Freeze is the coach to play for in the state of Mississippi. Nkemdiche is an instant-impact player, and he would be really fun to watch lining up beside Isaac Gross and Hooks every play. Wow.
Texas A&M: NFL bound juniors to return
Offensive linemen Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews, along with defensive end Damontre Moore, all look NFL bound and future first-round picks in April’s draft. However, could you imagine if they returned for their senior season? I think Moore is as good as gone and will be a top-five pick, but Joeckel and Matthews both have younger brothers on the team who could keep them around a year longer. The Aggies would be delighted if these three decided to stick around.
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