The SEC will welcome at least three new coordinators for 2014. Alabama, Georgia and Florida all hired new coordinators to help guide and spark underachieving units.
Alabama hired Lane Kiffin as its new offensive coordinator; Georgia hired FSU’s Jeremy Pruitt as its new defensive coordinator, and Florida brought offensive coordinator Kurt Roper from Duke to develop the offense.
All three should bring their expertise and spark their position units, but which will make the biggest impact?
Let’s dig in…
Lane Kiffin, OC/QB coach, Alabama
Buzz: Once you get past the shock of it actually being “Lane Kiffin”, you will find a great recruiter, a QB developer and a competent play caller. That’s all he’ll be asked to do at Alabama, and that has very little to do with what he’s struggled with in the past. Nick Saban will move to an up-tempo offense next season, but that largely depends on the quarterback running the system. The running game will be very good with an electric and deep backfield, and receiving talent will be stacked to the brim. But, again, it all comes back to the quarterback. Whether there’s a signal caller already on the roster or whether that’s an incoming transfer, Kiffin will have his work cut out for him. Kiffin is going to make an impact, and he’ll cater his play calls to the strength of his quarterback, who may not even be on the roster yet.
Outlook: Wait and see compared to Doug Nussmeier
2012 Offense: 38.2 PPG, 206 rushing YPG, 249 passing YPG
Jeremy Pruitt, DC, Georgia
Buzz: Georgia hiring Jeremy Pruitt away from FSU is an absolute steal, and Pruitt is already making an impact on the recruiting trail. Several have speculated that with the addition of Pruitt, recruiting is about to dominate. My question is, when has UGA recruiting not dominated? They always sign a great class littered with top high school talent, but the biggest problem has been developing the players once they get on campus. That’s where Pruitt comes in. Pruitt had the nation’s top defense in 2013 at FSU, and he looks to make that same impact at UGA, although FSU’s defense had more overall sheer talent that Georgia’s has. It’s the same 3-4 system as Todd Grantham ran, but Pruitt will improve the play of the much maligned secondary. Overall, I think Georgia made the best assistant coaching hire in college football this coaching carousel, and his impact will be seen immediately against Clemson, even without safety Josh Harvey-Clemons.
Outlook: Best hire of SEC coaching carousel, will make an immediate impact
2012 Defense: 29 PPG, 148 rushing YPG, 227 passing YPG
Related: Early SEC East Predictions for 2014
Kurt Roper, OC/QB coach, Florida
Buzz: Kurt Roper is known as a QB developer first, and he’s also a strong coordinator, too. Roper is bringing an up-tempo offense to Gainesville, and that’s great news for Florida, because it fits the personnel much better. Roper may not have been the most desired coordinator Florida fans were hoping for, but with him being a quarterback developer, his impact should be obvious. Roper simply has to guide Florida’s offense to average 30 points per game, and with Will Muschamp’s defense, 30 points per game may give Florida nine or 10 wins. Sounds simple, right? Nine different SEC teams averaged 30 or more points in 2013. Jeff Driskel is the key to all of it. Florida has to get Driskel much more involved in the running game, and they have to find a homerun threat – somebody who can stretch the defense and make defenses respect the Gators’ offense. It’s Roper’s job to spark the SEC’s worst offense this past season.
Outlook: Offense fits personnel better than predecessors
2012 Offense: 18.8 PPG, 146 rushing YPG, 171 passing YPG