Can the SEC’s top offenses duplicate production in 2014?

NCAA Football: Missouri-Spring Game

The landscape around the SEC has looked different the last couple of seasons. Headlined by two programs winning each division that didn’t even make bowl games the year prior, defense took a back seat for really the second year in a row in 2013.

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Perhaps the biggest factor in the rise of SEC offense has been the veteran quarterbacks playing at an elite level, but with Aaron Murray, Johnny Manziel and Connor Shaw, among others, now gone, how will this affect the offensive numbers? It’ll be fun finding out.

As expected, the Aggies were the SEC’s most explosive offense last season, with SEC Champion Auburn right behind them. Missouri, Alabama and Georgia rounded out the top five, and Ole Miss was just on the outside looking in.

Can the top five offenses from last year duplicate their 2013 numbers? Let’s dive in.

1. Texas A&M Aggies
2013 total offense: 538.4
2013 scoring offense: 44.2
2013 yards per play: 7.34

Johnny Manziel’s gone. Mike Evans is gone. Jake Matthews is gone. That’s the bad news. The good news is that Kevin Sumlin’s offenses always put up big numbers. From Oklahoma to Houston to Texas A&M, Sumlin’s spread attacks are conducive for explosive and crooked numbers. The strength of the Aggies lies in the four-deep backfield and veteran offensive line, anchored by left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi. That’s the backbone, and it will allow either Kyle Allen or Kenny Hill to develop as a passer.

The receivers are loaded with talented pass catchers who could be game changers, and they just need some experience. Ricky Seals-Jones and Speedy Noil are two freshmen who should make Aggie fans giddy. Malcome Kennedy is the veteran of the group, and fans should be excited to see LaQuvionte Gonzalez, too. I do think the offense will put up better numbers than expected, but they likely won’t duplicate 2013’s numbers.

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2. Auburn Tigers
2013 total offense: 501.3
2013 scoring offense: 39.5
2013 yards per play: 6.92

Of all five offenses listed, Auburn returns the lone starting quarterback in Nick Marshall. Yes, the SEC’s Player of the Year Tre Mason will be playing on Sundays, but there’s quality depth to replace him with Cameron Artis-Payne, Corey Grant and Peyton Barber. And Auburn’s offensive line is loaded and ready to push around defensive linemen, led by senior center Reese Dismukes. The Tigers averaged over 328 yards per game rushing last season.

Auburn fans should be stoked about the passing game. With another year to develop, Marshall’s game should improve. Sammie Coates returns, and the Tigers added the top JUCO player in D’haquille Williams, who could be a monster. Early indications say that with Gus Malzahn as the X-Factor, Auburn’s offense should pace the SEC.

3. Missouri Tigers
2013 total offense: 490.7
2013 scoring offense: 39.1
2013 yards per play: 6.59

Mizzou surprised everyone by slicing and dicing up SEC defenses. Quarterback James Franklin, running back Henry Josey and receivers Dorial Green-Beckham, L’Damian Washington and Marcus Lucas are all gone. Of Mizzou’s 31 receiving touchdowns last season, just four return. On the bright side, the Tigers return a veteran offensive line, an emerging playmaker in Maty Mauk and a deep backfield led by Marcus Murphy and Russell Hansbrough. The roster is full of receivers, but we’ll have to wait to see which ones emerge aside from Bud Sasser and Jimmie Hunt.

Can the Tigers score nearly 40 points per game and rack up over 490 yards per game…again?

4. Alabama Crimson Tide
2013 total offense: 454.1
2013 scoring offense: 38.2
2013 yards per play: 7.15

Alabama’s 2013 offense was boringly effective. With AJ McCarron gone, FSU transfer Jacob Coker is the likely replacement. The backfield is loaded with TJ Yeldon, Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake, and the receiving corps is too, headlined by Amari Cooper. So, that leaves the offensive line, one of the more underachieving units Alabama had in 2013. Without Cyrus Kouandjio and Anthony Steen, we shouldn’t assume this unit will just skip a beat. Progress and improvement have to be made, and protection has to be much better than last season.

Even with an average offensive line, the Tide’s offense is still dangerous, with skill players everywhere. But it all comes back to pass protection and effective quarterback play.

5. Georgia Bulldogs
2013 total offense: 484.2
2013 scoring offense: 36.7
2013 yards per play: 6.66

With record-setting quarterback Aaron Murray graduated, senior Hutson Mason now officially takes the reins of a loaded offense overall, although he started the final two games. The Bulldogs have one of the country’s deepest running back corps with Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, even before they welcome in new five-star backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. The receiving cast is one of the best the conference has to offer with Michael Bennett, Chris Conley, Justin Scott-Wesley and Malcolm Mitchell, among others. There’s a nice mix of possession receivers and game-breakers.

The biggest question remains the offensive line. The Bulldogs lose three starters, including left tackle Kenarious Gates. John Theus is expected to slide over to left tackle, and the emergence of guard Greg Pyke was the story of spring practice. David Andrews returns to anchor the group as the veteran center.

Photo Credit: Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports



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  • The Auburn Tigers offense will improve but don’t tell Arky & bama. They’ll wanna change the rules again.

  • I’ll be surprised if MU doesn’t have a big drop off with everything they lose.

    • Weisbaden, Prepare to be surprised then. Mauk is better than Franklin, much more dynamic as a passer and a runner. Murphy and Hansbrough do not skip a beat at RB as they have both already put up big yards and are very experienced (and we will also play Steward a lot, who is a big and quick back). At WR, we are still very deep with Sassar, Hunt and White (all seniors) followed by Copelin, Moore and Brown/Blair (one of which will shed the red-shirt). We have not been weak at QB, RB or WR for over a decade, next year is no exception. Plus, our OL is very solid in the 2 deep. If our D is as good as the athletes on it, it is shaping up to be another special year for Mizzou. Schedule sets up pretty well for us. We will be in the hunt for the division again.

      • I don’t know what it is about Mizzou fans, but all of them seem to think Mizzou is going to be really good every year in the SEC. MIzzou has had one horrible and one really good season. MIzzou is going to have a drop off this season. They lost way to much, plus Mizzou benefited last season from the East being way down. Mauk better than Franklin? Mauk had a 51% completion rating and that isn’t very good. So if he is going to be better than Franklin, he has a long way to go, plus he is losing a ton of talent at WR. In order for MIzzou to compete for the SEC East every year, they are going to have to recruit a lot better than what they have been. The Mizzou coaches aren’t going to always be able to get the most out of their 3 and 2 star players.

        • Thanks for your wisdom…same wisdom we got from Ole Miss fans saying they were going to whip our ass last year. We’ve been hearing the same “you have to recruit better” crap for years from our opponents. Simply put, our coach does not recruit to the star rankings and has a very different analysis than many teams have. We will never will the recruiting rankings, and won’t even come close, but we will continue to win a lot of games.

        • EVERY year?? Our Mizzou team has had TWO YEARS! Sure, the first one was getting our feet wet in a brand new conference, AND enduring many substantial injuries to starters all over the field…most crucially our O-LIne! Completely obliterated early on! AND YET, the team still came within a play or two of going bowling (being 6-6). And you must not know anything about Maty Mauk if all you could toss out was a 51% completion rating when comparing him to James Franklin. When it comes to QB’s in college, a HUGE factor is their leadership ability. Franklin was a great young man & very good QB for Mizzou, & we are proud he played for us. But leadership was not a strong suit with him. A good example of high quality leadership is Mizzou’s QB of a few years ago, was Chase Daniels, who very often in a stellar career, kept his team’s fire burning either vocally or by on field play example. Mauk is basically equal to TWO Chase Daniels, with his more physical presence. And by “East being down”….do you mean Florida STILL not having any kind of offense? Or Tenn & Kentucky just sucking badly for the past 6-8-10 years? Or Georgia (who Mizzou BEAT on the Bulldogs own field) who had their QB hurt so Mizzou took advantage of them? OH WAIT…Mizzou’s QB was HURT TOO! Hmmm…. OR even a non-East team, Texas A&M (another Tiger victim..huge, as a matter of fact) who DID HAVE their outstanding QB Manzeil AND awesome WR Matt Evans, who both played the entire game? What “down” are you talking about? It’s college football… a bunch of kids….you never know who is gonna fire up & start pounding people… a la Auburn in ’13!

      • Bing…. people doubting Mizzou AGAIN! That seems to work out well for the Tigers, as all your words above are true. QB Mauk…MIGHT end up being the best QB ever at Mizzou! He only played 3 1/2 games last season and he played every minute of them like a seasoned veteran. Our RB’s are solid, experienced, quick, and have a nose for finding the first down markers in critical situations. D-Line is anchored by 2 more outstanding DE’s that are true “QB hunters/finders”, just like last year! I worry just a smidgen about the WR position. While I am glad the diva cancer known as DGB is gone, he would’ve made a huge impact in our offense again with the great “jump ball” ability in the end zone. But Pinkel & staff have created great depth at all positions the last 5 years & are now reaping the rewards of that, so I’m sure there will be 3 or 4 guys step up strong to fill any holes from the talented WR’s of ’13. Bottom Line…. your analysis of the ’14 ZouMen is the hammer….all the doubters are the nails.

        • Come on fellas. He did not say Mizzou would suck. He just stated that it might be a little foolish to not expect SOME dropoff from the outstanding production from last year. That is just like some of my foolish UGA fan brethren who were pounding their chests last year around this time about how much better the defense would be. You lost a ton of production. I will not claim to know every backup from Mizzou’s squad last year, but when you lose that much, it is to be expected. I will say, Maty Mauk does have alot of potential. He looked real good in his time last year. I hope Mizzou plays well this year, along with SC, UGA, and UF. We need the East to pick it up so we can actually get one of these SEC Championships. The west has owned it for too long now.

        • I just laugh at this prevalent attitude that we were sort of a one hit wonder. It’s naive. We may take somewhat of a “step back” meaning we may not win the division, but I cannot agree with a “big step back” and those that say it frankly don’t know our roster. We always heard we won the north in the Big XII when the rest of the division was “down”, as if we could not compete with their best. How many talked about Mizzou being “down” in 2012? Not many, it was just attributed to being in the SEC. If we stay healthy, we can win the division, same as UGA, UF or USC.

        • Bing, that “step back” is exactly what I mean. You will never hear me saying anything other. I am a Dawg fan through and through, and last time I checked we are 1 and 1 with y’all, with you having the last win, at our house. So, you wont see me talking any crap about Mizzou. I will, however, be chomping at the bit to see the UGA vs. Miz game this year, because i like our chances :). Wish y’all the best of luck. Oh, and Ole Miss…..they do suck.

      • I love Mizzou and I still felt good about their chances until they lost DGB. This offense depends on their wideouts to get open and catch the ball. At this point, there are no proven wideouts on the roster. The running backs left were back ups to Josey. Maty Mauk is the best player on the team IMO. But he can’t do it alone. Plus, the D-line is the only part of the defense that is proven at this point. They lost their best defensive players to graduation. On the bright side, Mizzou always seems to find players to step up and play at a high level after others leave. But until some wideouts show up and the defensive back seven proves itself Mizzou looks, at this point, weaker than last year.

  • Rebel fans are a joke at best. Classless. The reality is, til Ole Miss beats us they should stay outta our business. Mizzou had no problems beating them when we were big12 “nobodies” and didn’t miss a beat last year. 4 teams have NEVER went to the CCG…. Kentucky, Vandy, aTm, and Ole Miss. You guys are original charter members of the SEC, and haven’t won anything since the 1960’s or so. So yeah, I understand you stewing over the fact that Mizzou has achieved more in two years than Ole Miss has in fifty years. Get over it.,…. Notice.. Mizzou fans never bash Ole Miss in the blogs like our Rebel brethren do us. NO, we just watch u guys fall flat from preseason expectations year after year. We don’t bash positive articles written about other teams(unless ur the Gayhawks), we just want our own praise and respect. Also regarding recruiting…. yall better be lucky we don’t get 4-5 stars guys all the time, like the upper crust of this league does. I would argue that we would be a juggernaut if we did. Will this ever happen prolly not, but that’s ok. We have our own way of doing things around here, and yet we consistently rank ahead of our preseason projections and our recruiting rankings. (How can u discredit, this phenomenon?) The time has come for the SEC to recognize the outstanding pedigree of Pinkel’s player develpment program. Constant lack of national recruiting recognition/rankings = perennial OVER ACHIEVERS in the win/loss columns. The direct opposite has been happening in Oxford.

    • all good points. I wish we played y’all more often. I guess we’ll have to take the LSU vs UGA route and play in the SECCG

      • That would be awesome. I look forward to playing LSU too. I’m in BR all 4-5 times a year and love it down there. I love Illegal Burrito’s, btw. I’ve always wondered how we would stack up against the Bayou Bengals. If I remember right, we play yall in the next three years or so in Death Valley…Gotta experience that! But you’re right, I’d rather meet in Atlanta before then!

        • stack up against the LSU TIGERS? LOL … missu would get their ASSES handed to them ….I’ll pay to watch that game!

    • MR missu all day … you sir, are a PATHETIC, INSIPID DOLT. You’re getting a bit big for your britches because the East was down last year, so you start talking BIG SH*T. That’s so cute! (:eyeroll:) … Let’s just sit back and watch the season and see if your little fellas can bring it on the grid iron.

      GO REBS! *** FINS UP! *** WIN THE DAY!

  • Ole Miss fans think 9 and 3 is a “great year”…

  • wow, this story brought out the worst in SDS bloggers didn’t it ? To me it is clear that 5 from the East could win it. 4 of them could it with offense. 3 of them will have to do it with offense. In the SEC West 5 teams could win it. 4 of those could win it with offense. 1 will have to do it with defense. So there’s little room for Mississippi fans to dismiss Missouri….. and write this down, you heard it from the wolfman, for Missouri fans to be so sure that they can’t lose any single game by a score of something that looks like the score of the SEC championship game 2013. Here’s where the Missouri fans have it absolutely correct. Mauk will make some mistakes but he will smash Franklin’s offensive performance, and I’m a Franklin supporter. No single back on the team will be as good as Josey BUT the playbook for backs will be much better and the rushing attack will be near the top of the SEC in spite of Mauk throwing the ball a lot more. How many teams in the nation will be able to top Missouri’s 2014 attack?, not many. If you read the national sportswriting parrot talk, you will read even the worst copycats are starting to back away from the Missouri-no-receivers-2014 poorly informed blabber.

  • I think MIZZOU fans a little sensitive if someone is critical about any aspect of their team. Someone said “there may be a drop off at WR’. (which is true considering who’ gone) And, Holy Cow…….Here comes the insecure pack. It’s worse than saying something critical about Nick Saban or something? Truth is the have had a suck-ass year and took advantage of injuries and a down year in the East in 2013. USC beat them at home and Auburn beat them in Atlanta. So were they a good team? Of – course. Were they great? Far, far from it. And they better be able to “strap-it-on” year in and year out in the SEC. As for recruiting? The starting 11 on both sides of the ball on most theams in the league is really good. It’s depth that recruiting tends to pick-up. Ala LSU, ALA, UGA. So MIZZOU fans relaxe you guys just may need a hug.

    • Not accurate, but funny, thanks ADB. If you read my above comment, I do agree that some of the Missouri followers who wrote in here must be coming over from Rock M or espn. They may not be up to the SDS thinking yet but then same seems to go for other program supporters in this blog. Let’s hope that the thinkers improve and the grunters go back to the no-thinking-allowed pages. Now on your idea, I know you want Missouri to play worse football than your favorites but here are the facts: The worst injury report in the SEC 2013 was not as bad as the best week for Missouri in 2012, by your own definition that’s not a suck-ass year (finished 4th in the 7 team 2nd-best conference division in college football and beat a good Arizona State Pac 12 team along the way). Was there another football team in the best conference in college football 2013 that had to win there division without their starting quarterback, because I missed that? EJGaines was out for an extended period 2013 and then you contradict yourself by saying that depth is the winning criteria when nobody else in the best league in the nation had enough depth to stop Missouri in 2013 ???? Thanks for the smiles. Good luck to your team in 2014.

  • I read all the responses above. And I still think MIZZOU had a bad year in 12 and took advantage of a down and injured East in 13. They were beaten at home by USC and lost to Auburn on a nuetral field. Those are ALL facts. UGA Had 7 starters out when they played MIZZOU in Athens. I just think the outcome would have been much different with a healthy Georgia. That part is 45 years of opinion.

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