The SEC’s best offenses for 2013


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Ranking offenses can go a number of different ways. You can base teams off scoring offense or total offense, but it’s ultimately how many points you score that will make the difference. Would you rather have the most explosive offense or the most balanced offense? Doesn’t really matter as long as you win, right?

The offensive rankings are a simple algorithm based largely on projection and assumption. Scientific isn’t it?

Let’s go…

Most explosive

1. Texas A&M
2. Georgia

Texas A&M and Georgia will go toe-to-toe for the most explosive, highest scoring offenses in the SEC. Behind Johnny Manziel and Aaron Murray, these offenses will throw it all over the yard, but both have very deep backfields and great receiving corps. The Aggies scored 78 touchdowns last year, compared to Georgia’s 71. Don’t expect a drop off from either, assuming everyone stays healthy and eligible.

Related: The five toughest venues in the SEC for 2013

Perfect balance

3. Alabama

The Tide threw for 3,052 yards and ran for 3,185 yards in 2012, making for an unbelievably balanced offense. The epitome of the balance came against Notre Dame. Bama ran for 265 yards while throwing for 264 en route to back-to-back championships. AJ McCarron, TJ Yeldon and Amari Cooper lead the most balanced offensive attack in the country. Doug Nussmeier’s offense averaged of 38 points per game last season, the highest of the Nick Saban era. Would you rather be balanced or explosive?

A trio to watch

4. Ole Miss
5. Auburn
6. South Carolina

Ole Miss finished 5th in the SEC in total offense, up from 11th in 2011. It was a remarkable turnaround, and Hugh Freeze’s hurry-up was difficult for coaches to prepare for and adjust to. Bo Wallace has returning starters all around him, including a deep backfield and big-play receivers…The Gus Bus is back on The Plains, and Auburn’s offense should turn around immediately. Nick Marshall flashed big-play ability in JUCO, and the Tigers have a talented and deep backfield with Tre Mason and Cameron Artis-Payne. The running game could be great…Anytime Steve Spurrier is calling the plays, there’s a chance for a great offense. This should be Carolina’s best offensive line yet, and Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson have a cast of receivers, including Bruce Ellington, to throw to. Don’t forget the Gamecocks are 9-1 without Marcus Lattimore in the last two years, so the running game shouldn’t have a drop off. I like Carolina’s balance.

Related: Why Auburn will have the quickest turnaround

Next level trio

7. Missouri
8. Mississippi State
9. Vanderbilt

Mizzou’s offense went from 12th in total offense in the country in 2011 to 11th in the SEC in 2012. With a healthy O-line, James Franklin and Henry Josey, the Tigers should be better. Don’t forget about one of the most talented receiving corps in the SEC, featuring Dorial Green-Beckham. They just need someone to get them the football…Dan Mullen has to get back to running the football with his talented backs. State went away from the ground game down the stretch of last season. The offensive line should be strong, along with Tyler Russell. However, replacing the top three receivers could be more difficult than anticipated, particularly early in the season. Nonetheless, State’s offense has a chance to be better than last year’s…The Commodores replace QB Jordan Rodgers with Austyn Carta-Samuels and return a good O-line, three versatile running backs and a solid receiving corps featuring Jordan Matthews. Vanderbilt’s offense surprised last year, but they’ll be without WR Chris Boyd.


10. LSU
11. Florida

LSU and Florida both play punishing run-heavy schemes. Don’t expect that to change too much. Both offenses stand to take a step forward depending largely on the development of LSU’s Zach Mettenberger and Florida’s Jeff Driskel. LSU and Florida finished 10th and 12th respectively in total offense last season. But make no mistake about it — these two understand that winning starts on defense.

Related: Every SEC team’s schedule poster for 2013

New schemes

12. Arkansas
13. Tennessee
14. Kentucky

Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky are enduring scheme changes. The most significant is Tennessee, which is a historically pro-style offensive program. Butch Jones is installing the spread, and although Justin Worley got the nod for opening week, the bigger surprise will be who starts game two. Arkansas will have to lean on their good O-line, stable running backs and a ball-controlled offense. Kentucky switches to the Air Raid under Neal Brown. The evolution of all three offenses is a major storyline for 2013.

Photo Credit: Spruce Derden‚ÄìUSA TODAY Sports



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  • Jon, i like the way you do frame these levels BUT, in this case I’ve got to differ with you on who’s in each layer. Did the Tennessee that scored 48 points vs. Missouri all go out with the coaching staff? How can Alabama be below the top tier of offenses? I would call LSU execution light. Florida should be live by defense die by offense. Missouri gets a healthy Franklin back and two better trained subs, an all conference running back, and a the best receiver corp in the nation…so what is Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, and Auburn bringing that we know based on the same history will be above or even with Missouri? For example you can say South Carolina set a school record for consecutive completed passes last year, and they have the same quarterback.

    • I think an equally fair questions would be: what is Missouri bringing that we know based on the same history will be above or even with Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, and Auburn? Their one season of SEC-play in the books is mediocre at best. Mississippi State and Auburn can boast similar talent pools as Missouri and, like it or not, Vanderbilt has a boat-load of angst and swagger under Coach James Franklin that will make them competitive with every team they play. Based solely on past performance, ranking those three above Mizzou is fair. But, hey, I’m sure that Jon would welcome being proved wrong (as would I). I also disagree about Mizzou having the best wide receiver corps in the nation — Georgia is loaded, experienced, and battle-tested at the position, top to bottom.

    • Missouri has the best receiving corps in the nation? Did y’all sign Calvin Johnson off the waiver wire??

  • I get that Scott Loeffler’s offense was horrendous compared to… Well, every offense in the country last year. I’m sure that Auburn will be better offensively than 2012, but I’m not buying the return of Malzahn as some sort of offensive revolution. He was 8-5 in both 2009 and 2011. Better than 3-9, yes, but Auburn hasn’t lacked talent in quite some time; like Chizik, Malzahn has yet to prove he can amass a stellar winning record in the SEC without Cam Newton. Not saying he can’t, but 8-5 won’t keep a job on the Plains.

    • Remember. The 5th best offense in the SEC – scoring and total – in 2012 was Ole Miss (7-6). Auburn’s questions mark could fall more on defense, because they really struggled last year. Auburn’s offense should drastically improve though. When Malzahn took over AU’s offense in 2009, it was third highest scoring O in the SEC, averaging over 33 points per game. And that was with Chris Todd at QB.

      • Fair enough about 2009. Not sure I’d be as concerned about Auburn’s defense; Ellis Johnson knows how to coach up a defense for SEC-caliber play. If the personnel/talent is there, they’ll be good under Johnson.

        • Yeah. So, I’m optimistic about their offense, and you’re optimistic about their defense. Fair enough.

  • Jon, when are you going to rank the special teams players??

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