SDS published a pre-spring SEC Power Ranking way back in late February that mostly still rings true – post-spring or not. And no one really cares whether his or her team is ranked 8th or 13th, right? So, thanks to the Big 5, we don’t care who’s No. 6.
So much criticism and envy has been aimed towards Tuscaloosa for the Tide’s weakest schedule in the SEC, and everyone is trying to figure out how to slow Nick Saban and his troops down enough to keep them out of the championship picture for 2013.
It’s May, and that means there’s only about 113 days left until kickoff. It’s fast approaching, isn’t it? Let’s get down to business, so you can get your mind right:
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
If anything, Alabama strengthened their jugular hold on the SEC by escaping spring relatively healthy and building solid depth in the trenches. The offensive line started coming together, while new defensive linemen emerged. Will a veteran quarterback, a talented and deep running back corps and arguably the most explosive receiving corps allow the Tide to improve upon their 38.7 points per game? Defensive lineman Jeoffrey Pagan and corner Geno Smith will be two to watch on a loaded defense this fall. The Tide have all the ingredients to make it three in a row come next January.
2. Texas A&M Aggies
The offense led by Johnny Manziel will score in bunches, but the biggest worry is the personnel losses on defense. This spring saw young players stepping up for an entirely new front seven due to injuries to three starters. Manzel leads one of the deepest backfields in the country, and don’t think the receiving corps or the offensive line will take that big of a personnel hit. The defensive secondary should make great strides to become a top-five caliber pass defense in the league, but the defensive line still remains the biggest question on the entire team. Can the Aggies get enough pass rush?
3. Georgia Bulldogs
Georgia and Texas A&M are a lot alike. The Bulldogs could be the SEC’s highest scoring and most balanced offensive attack this fall. Led by Aaron Murray and Todd Gurley, Georgia can score 40 points per game or more. But the biggest questions remain on defense, replacing eight starters. UGA has recruited exceptionally well, and I actually like this defense to improve upon last year’s meltdown. Collectively, if the Bulldogs can stop the opponent’s running game, Mark Richt will be Atlanta bound once more.
4. South Carolina Gamecocks
Just because South Carolina is sitting at No. 4 on the rankings doesn’t mean you couldn’t make an argument as the No. 2 team in the league. Several have the Gamecocks as the East favorite, and this spring was all about building depth on defense. The offense will be fine, headlined by a potent rushing attack led by Connor Shaw, Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds, and we know the defensive line will cause havoc. The only thing I could see holding this team back is the inexperience on defense and the lack of leadership. We’ll know in week two against Georgia.
5. Florida Gators
Although the Gators lost two first-round picks on defense and five other starters, don’t expect a big drop off. In fact, Will Muschamp has recruited well enough to put together another top-five defense. But questions still remain on offense, and it’s valid to question just how much Jeff Driskel and the passing game improved this spring. Florida has an obvious lack of receivers, but the running game led by new starter Matt Jones will be stout. The Gators could win another 10 or 11 boring games in 2013.
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