Best offense in the SEC West?

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While the SEC is home to the top defenses year after year in college football, the league also features high-flying offenses that put crooked numbers in the stat sheets and on the scoreboard. And three of those teams – Alabama, Georgia and Texas A&M – all return star-studded talent.

So, which SEC West offense will be the best in 2013?

Texas A&M is quickly pointed out as the favorite, but should Alabama be considered the main contender?

There are way too many variables right now that we have to see play out during the season, but let’s take a look at the ceiling of each SEC West offense.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Last year’s offense: 4th in SEC
Why they could be the division’s best: Despite losing three O-line starters, Alabama’s offense will be back and better than ever. TJ Yeldon takes over the running back duties, and the most decorated QB in college football, AJ McCarron, will be throwing to what could be the best receiving cast of anyone in the country. This group is deep, talented and hungry to score every time they have the ball. Alabama could be the best and most balanced offense in the SEC.

Why they won’t be the division’s best: Although the skill position players return, losing three star O-linemen and the position coach could be a hindrance. Injuries also plagued the receiving corps last year, with Chris Black, Kenny Bell and DeAndrew White all returning from injuries. Without the nation’s top O-line, could AJ McCarron possibly be exposed?

Arkansas Razorbacks

Last year’s offense: 6th in SEC
Why they could be the division’s best: Bret Bielema and Jim Chaney have a veteran and very physical offensive line as the staple of the offense. Not only that, but RB Jonathan Williams is set to be a major factor as a breakout player, and incoming freshman Alex Collins could have a Gurley or Yeldon-type season. QB Brandon Allen will evolve as a passer, something he didn’t show in limited time last season.

Why they won’t be the division’s best: Arkansas’ offense scored 35 touchdowns in 2012, and only 13 return. In fact, it’s the lowest percentage of returners for offensive firepower in the SEC at 37.1 percent. Losing Tyler Wilson, Cobi Hamilton, Dennis Johnson and Knile Davis is loads of talent.

Auburn Tigers

Last year’s offense: 14th in SEC
Why they could be the division’s best: Auburn brought back Gus Malzahn not because of his head coaching experience, but because he runs one of the slickest offenses in the country. Malzahn could field a bunch of cheerleaders and score 28 point per game. Auburn has recruited well, but they just have yet to develop them. Malzahn could be that guy.

Why they won’t be the division’s best: QBs Kiehl Frazier and Jonathan Wallace have not proven they can run an offense, regardless if its Malzahn’s or not. Besides, the Tigers have few proven receivers and not enough depth to make big plays downfield. I’m not worried about the running game; it’s the passing game that needs all the attention and focus of offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee.

LSU Tigers

Last year’s offense: 10th in SEC
Why they could be the division’s best: Les Miles hired Cam Cameron to make his offense more explosive. Cameron is known for developing QBs, and that bodes well for an improved Zach Mettenberger. The rushing attack will be strong as ever, and WRs Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham could rise up NFL big boards in 2013.

Why they won’t be the division’s best: A potent passing game could once again hold back Mettenberger and the LSU offense from scoring many points. Besides, the O-line has a few holes that need plugging, and the offense’s best player in Jeremy Hill is currently suspended. Hill may not even return this fall because of legal issues.

Mississippi State Bulldogs

Last year’s offense: 7th in SEC
Why they could be the division’s best: The base offense for Dan Mullen returns with QB Tyler Russell, depth along the O-line and a deep RB corps. The weathered veteran Russell could close out his career on the highest of notes and continuing the excellent efficiency he portrayed throughout 2013. The running game will be strong with the three-headed monster of LaDarius Perkins, Josh Robinson and Nick Griffin, too.

Why they won’t be the division’s best: MSU lost nearly its entire receiving corps. Of the 28 TD receptions in 2012, only seven return, and the offense’s best playmaker in Chad Bumphis is gone. The offense was too lethargic down the stretch last season to be very optimistic to start 2013.

Ole Miss Rebels

Last year’s offense: 5th in SEC
Why they could be the division’s best: Hugh Freeze brought a different attitude to the Rebels’ attack. Ole Miss’ hurry-up offense scored 15.4 more points and ran a total of 189 more plays than in 2011. The offense returns 10 starters, including its top passer, pass catcher and rusher. The Rebels could have the SEC’s top WR in Donte Moncrief in 2013. This offense is back and we’ll see the difference a year makes this fall.

Why they won’t be the division’s best: As good as Bo Wallace was at certain times, he was a rollercoaster throughout the season. His 17 INTs have to improve if the Rebels want to even accomplish last year’s win total of seven. Defenses will be ready for Freeze’s no-huddle offense this year now they have seen it and have had an offseason to study it.

Texas A&M Aggies

Last year’s offense: 1st in SEC
Why they could be the division’s best: Oh, I don’t know. The Aggies return some guy named Johnny Manziel, who took the SEC and college football by storm and made history nearly every game. The Aggies led the SEC in scoring offense at 44.5 points per game and led the SEC in total offense, averaging over 558 yards per game. ESPN’s Andre Ware said Kevin Sumlin would change the SEC, but no one knew the effect his offense would have in the first season. The RBs are ultra talented, and the Aggies have one of the best WRs in the country in Mike Evans. I could go on and on about this offense.

Why they won’t be the division’s best: Losing tackle Luke Joeckel and center Patrick Lewis are big-time losses. Couple that with losing three proven receivers in Ryan Swope, Uzoma Nwachukwu and Thomas Johnson, and only Mike Evans stands out as a returner. Besides, won’t defenses be more ready to defend Manziel now that they’ve had an offseason to prepare and watch film?

Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

REFERENCES

COMMENTS

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  • During the Saban era, the Crimson Tide have been the kings of recruiting/reloading year to year. One of the biggest concerns offensively was to find suitable replacements for Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack, and DJ Fluker – not so easy of a task. Ryan Kelly will replace Jones, and is already on the preseason Watch List for the Rimington Trophy. It should also be noted that Kelly practiced with the 1st-string offense, while preparing for the BCS title game (Barrett was still recovering from injury. LT Cyrus Kouandjio will be joined by his brother, Aries, to hold down the left side of the line. Anthony Steen returns at RG, and a trio of behemoths (Austin Shepherd, Leon Brown, and Brandon Hill) will battle for the starting RT position. The O-line is definitely talented, and have adequate depth as most of the positions. The key is whether or not these new guys can gel before having to play Virginia Tech and Texas A&M in the first three weeks of the season. Mario Cristobal, former head coach at FIU and assistant at Miami, has been brought in to coach the O-line.

    AJ McCarron has been blessed with many weapons this year, including his star-studded WR corps. His #1 target, Amari Cooper, returns along with Kenny Bell, Kevin Norwood, Chris Black, and DeAndrew White, and Christion Jones. To add on to the already stacked depth, newcomers Raheem Falkins and Robert Foster could also make a serious impact.

    Another big loss from the Tide’s offense came from TE Michael Williams. Williams basically served as the Tide’s sixth lineman, and was also acceptable in receiving. His likely replacement will be Brian Vogler, a 6’7″ 260 lb Junior from Columbus, GA. He will definitely have heavy competition from Freshman phenom OJ Howard. If Howard can put on weight, and adapt to the system early, he could become a serious threat to the middle of the field. H-back is another point of concern, but I think we’ll see a combination of Harrison Jones (Barrett’s younger brother) and Jalston Fowler, who played the position often before his season-ending injury.

    It is finally TJ Yeldon’s turn to take the reigns as Alabama’s featured RB. But he shouldn’t look back because there are a stable of backs behind him that are eager to make a splash. Jalston Fowler and Derrick Henry are expected to also share time with the 1st-string. Dee Hart and Kenyan Drake also have experience in the backfield, and they will be joined by newcomers Altee Tenpenny, Tyren Jones, and Alvin Kamara.

    All and all, Alabama’s offense has the potential to be one of the most explosive groups that the Tide have had in a very long time. Offensive Coordinator Doug Nussmeier has already proven in his first year that he can produce a very efficient offense. I expect the same for the 2013 campaign. The keys to the offensive success will be for the new offensive line to learn to play as a single group and to perform up to their capabilities. AJ McCarron will also need to stay healthy, as his possible replacements are not quite ready for the big stage.

    • Well…umm….thanks for that compelling description of the Tide offense? Does ALL of that mean they are the best Offense in the west or was it just the longest FYI ever?

      • Sorry, I though that was a given.

      • Here, I’ll revise it. Alabama has the best offense in the West. They have a better QB (not athlete, but QB), better RB’s, and definitely better WR’s (you like Amari Cooper, right?). The O-line is new, but the talent is there. And that talent is better than the rest of the West. Every other West school has too many question marks to be considered the best. Ole Miss and LSU could be good, but they have to rely on unreliable (but somewhat capable) QB’s. Auburn wishes they had a reliable or capable QB. And A&M and Miss State wish they still had their WR corps from last year. Oh yeah I forgot about Arkansas. Just wanted to mention them so they wouldn’t feel left out.

  • I really wasn’t trying to be rude. My original post was just merely stating the playmakers for the offense, going into next season. I know it seemed like a simple breakdown of the cast, but I was trying to make the point that there’s a ton of talent in Tuscaloosa, more so than the other Western Division teams. A&M may challenge the Tide for best offense in the West (from an entertainment perspective), but I think this 2013 Alabama squad has a real legitimate chance of producing some incredible numbers.

    • You weren’t being rude…I was being a sarcastic ass…one of my many redeeming qualities…but all in fun I assure you. There’s no doubt Bama will have the firepower year in and year out….question is will they stay hungry?

      • If anyone can keep their heads on straight, it’s Nick Saban. There are still players on the team that were apart of the underachieving season in 2010. And every year since then, Alabama has had to go through a devastating loss during the season. It’s definitely relies on whether or not the team has proper leadership. During the Saban era, Bama has always had great leaders – Javier Arenas, Rolando McClain, Barrett Jones, etc. now it’s time for someone new to step up. The obvious choices would be McCarron and Mosley, but there are always some surprises. No team has ever won 3 consecutive national championships, so that alone gives grounds for motivation.

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