2014 is a new season, and that’s great news for four SEC offenses.
Florida, Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee all had rather forgettable years, as all four missed bowl games, and each are looking to turn the direction of the program around.
Having an improved offense would certainly help. Here’s a look at the four:
Scoring offense: 18.8
Total offense: 316.7
Florida had the SEC’s worst offense. Some of that was due to the Biblical amount of injuries the team suffered, including quarterback Jeff Driskel and backup Tyler Murphy, and the result of four wins left offensive coordinator Brent Pease without a job. But with the hiring of spread-minded Kurt Roper, the style of play should fit the Gators much better.
Roper should use Driskel’s legs much more, but the key may be the gelling of the offensive line. New O-line coach Mike Summers has to find five he’s comfortable with, and Florida needs key receivers like Demarcus Robinson, Andre Debose and Quinton Dunbar to have more effective seasons. Of course, having a pulse of a passing game would help. The Gators’ offense will improve, but the bigger question is just how much. Will Muschamp is banging on Roper’s door begging for 26 to 27 points per game, not even 10 more than they averaged last year.
Scoring offense: 20.5
Total offense: 341.3
Kentucky’s offense wants to throw the rock 40 times per game, but the personnel didn’t allow that to happen in 2013. With a quarterback battle ensuing in fall camp, Patrick Towles and Drew Barker remain the favorites to the land the job. Offensive coordinator Neil Brown not only needs a quarterback, but he needs receivers to emerge and the offensive line to pass block much better.
The good news is Kentucky’s backfield is borderline loaded. With Nebraska transfer Braylon Heard, Jojo Kemp and Josh Clemons, the Cats once again will have to lean on the running game. But finding a quarterback and a passing game will make the offense much better.
Will Max Smith find himself back in the quarterback rotation, or will Towles and Barker command the most snaps? We may not know until week one rolls around.
Scoring offense: 20.7
Total offense: 357.2
Where should Arkansas start? For one thing, they weren’t the worst offense in the league. That esteemed distinction belonged to Florida. The good news is Arkansas has the best backfield of any of the four teams listed, and many more throughout college football. With Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams – and an emerging Korliss Marshall – we know the running game will be there.
In order for the offense to take a step forward, Brandon Allen has to drastically improve, and receivers have to create some sort of separation past five yards. Allen’s second year in Jim Chaney’s offense should be better, but the Hogs need someone to emerge to become a go-to receiver and an explosive playmaker on the outside. Will Arkansas open the offense up anymore in Bret Bielema’s second year? They may have to in order for defenses to respect the passing game.
Scoring offense: 23.8
Total offense: 353.3
The once-giant program has been hibernating for three straight seasons without bowl game berths. Although Butch Jones is rebuilding the team and making tremendous progress, choppy waters lie ahead in 2014. Justin Worley and Josh Dobbs will battle this fall to be the starter, and at this point, Worley may get the nod. The backfield will be strong, headlined by Jalen Hurd and Marlin Lane. The receivers are loaded with MarQuez North, Josh Malone and Von Pearson, but the offensive line remains the biggest worry.
The Vols are the only team in 2014 having to replace every starter along the offensive line. Marcus Jackson, Dontavius Blair and Coleman Thomas are the best bets to become starters, but many details will work out during August’s fall camp. Skill position players are capable of making Tennessee’s offense explosive, but the O-line may hold the Vols’ offense back…and could even make the offense take a slight step back before moving forward.
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