Way too early SEC West predictions for 2014

sec-west-predictions

It’s never too early to look ahead to the 2014 season and make early projections, right?

Let’s gaze into the crystal ball and see what the way too early projections for the SEC West say:

Related: Early SEC East Predictions 2014

1. Auburn Tigers

Key returnees: QB Nick Marshall, RB Corey Grant, RB Cameron Artis-Payne, C Reese Dismukes, WR Sammie Coates, DE Carl Lawson, DT Ben Bradley, DT Gabe Wright, DT Montravius Adams, LB Roninson Therezie, LB Cassanova McKinzy, LB Chris Frost, CB Jonathon Mincy, DB Jermaine Whitehead

Key losses: RB Tre Mason, OT Greg Robinson, DE Dee Ford, MLB Jake Holland, CB Chris Davis, DB Ryan Smith

Buzz: Auburn loses Tre Mason, but they return a whole slew of talent, including QB Nick Marshall. The passing game has to evolve and progress, but the running game should be strong again. But the biggest reason I like Auburn in 2014 is because of the defense. The biggest impact defender will be gone in Dee Ford, but freshmen Carl Lawson, Montravius Adams and Elijah Daniel are going to be nasty. Couple that with returning the biggest impact linebacker in Cassanova McKinzy, hybrid Robinson Therezie and two secondary players in Jonathon Mincy and Jermaine Whitehead, and the Tigers’ defense should be an asset in 2014.

Related: SEC teams hit hardest by NFL Draft early entries

2. Alabama Crimson Tide

Key returnees: RB TJ Yeldon, RB Derrick Henry, WR Amari Cooper, WR DeAndrew White, TE OJ Howard, OL Arie Kouandjio, OL Austin Shepherd, DT A’Shawn Robinson, LB Trey DePriest, DB Landon Collins

Key losses: QB AJ McCarron, WR Kevin Norwood, OT Cyrus Kouandjio, OG Anthony Steen, DE Jeoffrey Pagan, DE Ed Stinson, LB CJ Mosley, OLB Adrian Hubbard, DB HaHa Clinton-Dix, DB Vinnie Sunseri

Buzz: Alabama loses arguably the greatest QB in school history in AJ McCarron and one of the greatest linebackers in CJ Mosley. Replacing McCarron is paramount to offensive success, but the Tide must fix other deficiencies as well. And fixing the cornerback play is just as crucial as replacing McCarron. The Tide will be stacked with talent again, and Nick Saban will try to mirror 2014’s team to the 2011 national championship team. But at this time, Alabama has a little catching up do to.

Related: 10 5-star recruits that didn’t live up the hype

3. Ole Miss Rebels

Key returnees: QB Bo Wallace, RB I’Tavius Mathers, WR Laquon Treadwell, OT Laremy Tunsil, DE CJ Johnson, DT Robert Nkemdiche, DL Isaac Gross, DL Lavon Hooks, LB Denzel Nkemdiche, LB Serderius Bryant, DB Tony Conner, CB Senquez Golson, DB Trae Elston, DB Cody Prewitt

Key losses: RB Jeff Scott, WR Donte Moncrief, OT Pierce Burton, WR Ja-Mes Logan, LB Mike Marry

Buzz: If there’s a year Ole Miss is going to contend with the SEC West, it may be next season. Much like 2013, the Rebels return several starters, including their quarterback, and Wallace has players around him in place to score points. With an added spring for development, Wallace needs to take his game to another level if the Rebels will contend. The defense, however, looks strong next season, with several returning impact players. This will be the second year for Hugh Freeze’s all-star recruiting class, and it needs to take a major step forward in development. Ole Miss could be a darkhorse contender next season, IF the quarterback play improves.

4. LSU Tigers

Key returnees: QB Anthony Jennings, OL La’El Collins, OL Vadal Alexander, WR Travin Dural, DE Jermauria Rasco, DE Danielle Hunter, LB Kwon Alexander, CB TreDavious White, CB Jalen Collins, CB Jalen Mills, DB Ronald Martin

Key losses: QB Zach Mettenberger, RB Jeremy Hill, RB Alfred Blue, WR Jarvis Landry, WR Odell Beckham, OL Trai Turner, DT Anthony Jennings, DT Ego Ferguson, LB Lamin Barrow, DB Craig Loston

Buzz: Much like 2013, the NFL Draft is hammering LSU. The Tigers’ offense will be without Zach Mettenberger, Jeremy Hill, Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry in 2014, and the offense will take on a different identity with Anthony Jennings. The two best impact defensive linemen in Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson are also gone, along with top linebacker Lamin Barrow and safety Craig Loston. LSU could take a small step back next year; no team that loses that much talent and experience simply reloads. There are still great players within the program, but the Tigers could win eight or nine games next season, in what looks to be a rebuilding year. LSU will be interesting in 2014.

Related: Zach Mettenberger is SEC’s 25th best player in 2013

5. Mississippi State Bulldogs

Key returnees: QB Dak Prescott, RB Josh Robinson, WR Jameon Lewis, TE Malcolm Johnson, WR Robert Johnson, DL Chris Jones, DE Preston Brown, DL Kaleb Eulls, LB Benardrick McKinney, LB Matthew Wells, CB Jamerson Love, CB Justin Cox

Key losses: QB Tyler Russell, RB LaDarius Perkins, OG Gabe Jackson, DE Denico Autry, LB Deonte Skinner, Nickoe Whitley

Buzz: This could be the year Mississippi State can win eight or nine games during the regular season. There’s a nice core nucleus of players returning on both sides of the ball that should make for a strong outlook in 2014, and this team wasn’t far off in 2013 to finishing much better. I really like the look and makeup of this team, and it’s going to come down to winning a few key games against teams like Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss and Texas A&M to see just how high this team can rise.

6. Texas A&M Aggies

Key returnees: OT Cedric Ogbuehi, C Mike Matthews, OG Jarvis Harrison, WR Malcome Kennedy, RB Trey Williams, RB Tra Carson, DE Julien Obioha, DL Gavin Stansbury, LB Darian Claiborne, DB Howard Matthews, DB Deshazor Everett, DB De’Vante Harris, DB Floyd Raven

Key losses: QB Johnny Manziel, RB Ben Malena, WR Mike Evans, WR Derel Walker, OT Jake Matthews, LB Steven Jenkins, DB Toney Hurd

Buzz: 2014 will be an interesting transition year for the Aggies. The much-maligned defense should get much better, while the offense loses QB Johnny Manziel and WR Mike Evans, which was a massive amount of production. The running game will be fine, and it will have to be better to help carry the load. I love the direction of the program, but for the short run, the Aggies could hit some minor bumps in the road. But, hey, nobody saw 2012’s incredible season coming either.

7. Arkansas Razorbacks

Key returnees: QB Brandon Allen, RB Alex Collins, RB Jonathan Williams, TE Hunter Henry, OL Brey Cook, OL Denver Kirkland, DE Trey Flowers, DT Darius Philon, LB Braylon Mitchell, S Alan Turner, CB Telvin Mitchell, S Rohan Gaines

Key losses: C Travis Swanson, WR Javontee Herndon, WR Julian Horton, FB Kiero Small, DE Chris Smith, DT Robert Thomas, DT Bryan Jones, DB Eric Bennett

Buzz: The reality of how tough it will be for Bret Bielema to build Arkansas back into a 10-game winner set in this past season. The Hogs won just three games and lost nine straight, including an eight-game SEC losing streak. The Hogs were SEC-worthy in the running game and along the defensive line. The good news is the running game returns, but the passing game has to get going. The defensive line should be strong, but Arkansas has to get bigger and better athletes at linebacker and in the secondary. The Hogs aren’t that far off, but bumpy roads could be ahead once again in 2014.

Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

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COMMENTS

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  • I’m okay with this. I expect better, but we just haven’t done anything so far to show that we belong to be higher on this list.

    • Feel like with the last two SEC games having us win after trailing in the 4th in both (first time ever we won one of those under Dan Mullen) that this team has learned how to win. I think it all rides on week 4 in Death Valley for us.
      if we win:
      1. MSU
      2. Auburn
      3. LSU
      4. Alabama
      5. That School Up North(love the #3 ranking in the article… all about the IF. Heck, if Bo Wallace is competent… hogwash. If any team’s qb makes a dramatic turn from Turnover machine to Superstar QB… they can jump. Just can’t factor the if happening in.)
      6. Texas A&M (show me you can play defense)
      7. Arkansas
      if we lose week 4:
      1. Auburn
      2. LSU
      3. Alabama
      4. MSU
      5. TSUN
      6. TAMU
      7. Arkansas

      Bring on the hate.

      • Haha. Thanks for the early morning laugh…..

      • I hope I didn’t just see Mississippi St above Alabama, Auburn, and LSU…

        • I said that “if we win” over the LSU game. I feel like that would be a huge momentum push for the MSU program and putting them above LSU after stating “if we win” is a shock than I hope you do re-read that. Also MSU lost to Auburn 24-20 on a TD with :11 to go in Auburn… We get them at home and coming off of a tremendous road victory in LSU would propel them to win against TAMU and Auburn at home. If we lose I see us to LSU I see us being a coinflip against that Auburn game. The rest of the schedule is pretty easy outside of (what I feel will be a down year by their standards) a tough road game in Tuscaloosa. Can never discount a rivalry game, but I don’t see us losing to TSUN either. So a win over LSU early and 11-1 is very obtainable and in today’s SEC that is usually good enough for #1 in a division.

  • I too am okay with MSU being picked where you have them due to past performance. This year will change that. I do have a disagreement with you on the ole miss pick. It just ain’t happening. Everyone thought they were going to be the greatest thing since sliced bread this year but we see how that turned out. As the year went on they regressed in my eyes and how their players acted towards their coaches on the sideline during the egg bowl was telling about the make up of that group of egos. I see it being: Bama, auburn, MSU, LSU, ole miss, a&am and ark.

    • I expect no different of a prediction from a MSU fan. But Wallace will have the off season to properly rehab his arm. And we won’t lose the Egg Bowl in Oxford with this team. His projections are spot on.

      • Good spin on why ole miss lost to MSU. If you want to go down that path then here it is. State beat you guys with a true freshman qb for 3 qtrs and a one armed heisman candidate for another. Get used to the fact that no matter how um fans spin it MSU is going to be better than um for the foreseeable future.

    • I see LSU dropping off somewhat, just because of the sheer amount of talent they have to replace…again. There’s an opportunity for both Ole Miss and MSU to jump into that 3rd slot in the West this coming year.

    • I realize that your a MSU fan, but if you really thought Ole Miss was going to be great this past yr, then your an idiot. Ole Miss was playing a ton freshmen. Ole Miss was going to be a good team but not great. I don’t know where you heard Ole Miss was going to be great. But this coming season Ole Miss is going to really good. They will be a lot better than MSU that’s for sure.

  • Hopefully Georgia can bring home the SEC East once again.. But honestly i dont think so. USC and TENN have good teams.. also you cant never rule out FLORIDA

    • That is interesting but we re talking about the west division here.

      • And unfortunately, MSU will always be at the bottom of the west division with their gimpy offense and lame coaching

        • Well, ga will always be middle of the east pack and will take their yearly beatings from Clemson and Carolina. Due to their gimpy overall team and bail bondsman coach.

        • Well then you’re certainly in for a treat next season. And lucky for you, our OC left for Texas and we have a HC that specializes in dual-threat QB’s. If you look up “dual threat” in the football dictionary, you’ll find a nice picture of Dak Prescott right next to Tim Tebow.

        • Dear God tell me you did not just compare Dak Prescott to Tim Tebow. I’ll see Tebow, RG3, Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, Marcus Marirota, Tahj Boyd… Not Dak Prescott. You don’t even know middle of the pack. We have won the SEC East 2/3 years and beat Carolina this year. You will continue be the bottom of the pack. Our “gimpy overall team” has a player in Todd Gurley that is better than anyone you have had in the last 5 years

        • You’re a little late to the party bro. Everyone’s been comparing him to Tebow. And as for Todd Gurley, was him him being injured why you almost lost to TN, lost to Vandy, and ultimately lost to Nebraska and went 8-5?

        • Have fun taking your yearly beatings from anyone half decent like LSU and Alabama

        • And I never said Georgia was a “gimpy overall team”

        • Ha then this “everyone” character is even stupider than you. Are throwing 10 Td’s and 7 picks Tebow like numbers to you? And oh well what was your record this year bud? I’d blame most of that on our defense and that is being worked out very nicely right now.

        • You’re forgetting the TD’s he actually RAN in. And I feel like our sophomore did pretty well under the circumstances. Unexpectedly being thrust into the starting position midway through the first game, battling the pain of his mother’s death and a potentially carrer ending nerve injury. I have nothing against Georgia, I don’t know why you’re hating on Prescott and State. The fanbase and team here believe this year’s going to be different. How about we actually wait and see what happens before we start judging.

        • I’m not rooting against him and I was unaware of the death of his mother. But I’m serious about the average numbers. And haha I’m not judging but I mean the offseason has to be somewhat entertaining right? There will be arguments and disagreements

        • hey, dawgman, I am just having fun with you about Georgia’s team and coach. I respect your coach and team as much as any team in the SEC. I have to tell you though that from your view of Dak Prescott is based on you not keeping up with Dak. I understand why just as I wouldnt’ know intimate details about a Ga player. That being said Dak was under a great deal of pressure this year and what our fan base (those that can put two sentences together) has seen has been the maturation of a player that basically started with the Carolina game. We lost that game with 5 turnovers by 17. however, we saw something in Dak that most haven’t and that is leadership and poise. That continued through the rough patch of playing Tex a&m, alabama and ark and ole miss back to back to back. the a&m game basically was a loss due to the same reason a lot of teams lost to them. Its called manziel. The bama game we were in and then the Ark/om overtime wins. Through that patch Dak grew as a quarterback and dealt with losing his mother, injurying a nerve in his throwing arm to miss the ark. and then the OM game which we all know what happened there. He single handedly beat OM coming off the bench to play the 4the quarter. If he continues to improve like expected and the job is his then he will hang some serious numbers up in ’14

        • Very true, DawgMan. That’s what I love and hate about it.

    • they are well coached but I don’t see GA winning at Missouri, or beating SC, or TN

      • What is it with everyone’s new infatuation with Tennessee? Keep in mind these Mizzou and Sc both have lost a ton of players to the NFL.

      • I am not promising anything but I could see Georgia beating Mizzou and South Carolina. Why not?

        • Let’s start with qb, you know there new gun better than i do so how will he be better than Mauk and TN quick somewhat dual threat? GA will certainly still have at least one of the top rushers in the nation. What specifically makes you pick GA?

        • A probable new and improved defense and a potent rushing attack.

        • Try to minimize the role Mason will have to play until he’s completely comfortable

        • that’s an interesting idea, could happen

  • Coming from an unbiased Georgia fan, I still see LSU being better than Miss St. and Ole Miss honestly… better coaching and a good running game no matter what. Bo Wallace will never be the guy Ole Miss fans, sorry. And MSU, neither will Dak Prescott

    • I agree with your unbiased Bulldog opinion (since Georgia isn’t even relevant to the West) about LSU having a better team and showing than Mississippi and MSU.
      I see it;
      1. Auburn
      2. Alabama
      3. LSU
      4. Mississippi
      5. Arkansas
      6. Mississippi State
      7. Texas A&M

    • Dawgman you touched on it but the question is “where are the great quarterbacks in the SEC 2014? ans. Missouri, Missouri, and then you have to start talking about the very good ones.

      • Mauk qualifies as a great QB? I was unaware. Personally I don’t think there is a quarterback in the SEC that is great yet. This season will be the time to show it

        • Dawg, you really have a good point. Mauk has too small a sample to rate a “Great”. I’ll back off slightly and say he looks like the best feet and at least one of the best arms in the SEC next year. If he looks only slightly better than he did in his less than 4 games, he will be approaching a great rating, in my humble opinion, but I have the advantage of having seen him practice a lot as well as play those games, and I studied his recruiting films to try to figure out what was different about his passing game than Franklin’s. The answer is a lot. Franklin threw one kind of ball very well and about a half dozen kind of balls average. Mauk has at least three kinds of deliveries that he knows better than most college qbs and he is only a soph. He also runs the ball smarter than one of Missouri’s better running quarterbacks all time. He is not great at everything yet however so I want to hear who you think the best one(s) are.

        • I haven’t seen nearly the amount of Mauk that you have thats true. The only time I watched him play was the Florida game and he played well. Personally, I want to say Mason will be good because I know he has a cannon of an arm but again the sample size is too small. There are so many question marks– Will Mason pan out? Is Dylan Thompson ready to play consistently? Mauk has a fairly small sample size against SEC competition. Prescott? Lol. Wallace? Not consistent. Bama? No clue, LSU, no clue, Driskel, lol. Potential wise, I’d put Mauk, Thompson, and Mason at the top honestly.

    • You are in the minority on Dak Prescott. He will put up some major numbers next year. However, I am ok with him flying under the radar so to speak.

      • Rriffe, I absolutely am not. Prescott’s numbers this year were nothing above average. Under the radar is where he will remain, so I’m glad you’re content with that

        • they were above average when you look at when he started playing regularly and with what he dealt. Numbers were not relevant to the maturation and growth he showed when forced into the role with russell getting hurt. All i ask is that you look at the total year for him. I believe you would have a different opinion about him if you did.

  • Auburn should have been 24 points better than FSU. Auburn had a spooky drop off against FSU. Oklahoma would have beaten FSU by 17pts, and Michigan St. would have beaten FSU in a close game and a couple of teams in the Pac 12 probably would have beaten FSU in close games. When you look at Auburn’s close game again Georgia and a numb Alabama, it is hard to believe Auburn will have it next year. On the other hand, when you look at Missouri and South Carolina’s bowl games, they still look hungry and ready to grow. The SEC west will lose at least 65% of it’s games against the SEC east next year. Watch for Arkansas to finish in the top 4, and the winner of the SEC west to have at least two losses in league play, probably 3.

  • There is absolutely no way A&M is jumped by MSU. It looks like nobody has paid any attention to recruiting and what has happened on the playing field. These guys writing for this site need to wake up. I wouldn’t be surprised if LSU takes another step back this year. They just lost 25 players to attrition this season. It is going to be extremely difficult to recover from that. I think it will be Auburn, Bama, A&M, LSU, Ole Miss, MSU, Arkansas.

    • Chill – Easy partner. You just lost the best player in CFB and arguably a top 3 WR and your left tackle. That’s three first-round picks. The O production will go down, and A&M had the worst defense in the conference. Recruiting has been impressive, but it’s all about development. I think the defense will improve a lot, but to say the offense will average 40 again is a bit presumptuous. Meanwhile, Miss State took the Aggies wire-to-wire at Kyle Field, and they return virtually everyone. That was the basic rationale, and if that’s irrational, then….

      • Tell him Jon. I think A and M will be better than some people are giving Coach Sumlin credit for. I think they will probably be around the same level as Ole Miss and Miss St. But Chill, you really have no reason to come in here blazing about being #3? Be real. Auburn, Bama are the top 2, and to say you are the next up over LSU, Ole Miss, and Miss. St is a bit of a stretch. No need to take shots as writers either. If you don’t agree with the opinion, just say so and explain why.

      • Well said Jon. I pick at these other fan bases a lot but try to be realistic about what really is going on. That being said, I like any other fan can see things through maroon colored glasses sometimes but try to be realistic. I may be proved wrong at some point but I feel that Dak Prescott and the nucleus that Mullen has coming back, and the player development that is being done with the current staff will allow MSU to take the next step in getting to be the program that Mullen is trying to create at MSU. I am not a dreamer that is naive in that we are going to win the division or anything but the next step for the program is to be regularly mentioned as a top 3 or 4 in the west and maybe catch some teams down and possibly compete for the trip to Atlanta. Stranger things have happened.

  • Very surprised Jon missed record setting kicker Zack Hocker in the key losses. Definately will be missed.

  • Talk about comedy…… these comments are hilarious! I enjoyed every entry and still I’m laughing. Can’t wait for more predictions SDS.

  • I know I will hear it from all angles but I honestly think this will happen. My rankings are not too farfetched if you have been keeping up with SEC football closely and with every team’s spring and drafts.
    1. Auburn- Iron Bowl will decide who wins west/ defense will be really good. Offense will still be explosive/ luck seems to stay on their side

    2. Alabama- they don’t rebuild they reload/ Coker will need a year to get comfortable, not much of a playmaker/ pretty familiar with Coker and his make-up, will be another McElroy at best with a little stronger arm if he even ends up being the starter

    3. Ole Miss- Egg bowl could very well decide 3rd place (crazy I know). OM will win because game is at their place . Also Ole Miss has some scary talent, underperformed last year IMO. If Bo Wallace can get it together and they find a RB to run through the tackles they could upset an Alabama or Auburn. *They get Alabama early in the season…just saying. Will need O-line to play better than last year.

    4. Miss. Stat- will never get respect because they are MSU but I’m buying what they have. Talent, experience, and depth…and confidence, they are expecting to win games this year. There is a reason all experts are high on Prescott -he’s that good, you will see. Will upset one or two teams this year even though I wouldn’t consider it as much of an upset as in years past.

    5. LSU- Lost a lot on both sides. Pretty much all weapons on offense are gone and Jennings just straight up isn’t very good. Fournette is young, inexperienced and cant do it all by himself. Never count Les out though.
    6. Texas A&M- we will truly see how valuable Manziel was… as well as Evans. Defense still wont be any good. With the MS teams being solid this year A&M will be only better than Ark.

    7. Arkansas- I feel like no one affiliated with that team or school likes BB nor do they have any confidence in him. QB situation is horrible. Brandon Allen does not have the talent to be a division 1 quarterback much less an SEC West QB.

    *Honestly I think you could flip a coin with Alabama and Auburn at 1 & 2 and also with Ole Miss and Miss. State at 3 & 4. Im sure a lot of LSU and A&M fans will never agree with this but that’s how I think( at this point anyway) it will end up. I have a feeling this year is going to be a memorable one with how wide open the West is. Feedback please, tell me what you think.

    • I respect how you automatically didn’t put Bama at the top, knowing their past…And to be honest if you really believe that a school with its best memory of going to a ball game is ringing a cow bell and that team is going to win the SEC WEST than you are a moron. The Sec is up for grabs, expect tennessee to be a threat in the long run.

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