Spring football is in the rearview mirror, and it’s already May 1st. Soon enough we’ll be dusting off the coolers and kegs and getting those drinking games fired up for Gameday on Saturday morning.
Here is your complete review of this spring in the SEC, as we look forward to the summer and start of the fall:
The SEC always displays how ‘big’ it is, and this spring season was unlike none I can remember. Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino managed to wreck his motorcycle, lie to his superiors and get fired all within a few days time. Petrino is one of the best play callers in the country, and the Hogs will feel his absence in that respect.
A team that was primed for a run at the SEC West was forced to regroup and make the right hire for the upcoming season and avoid losing as much momentum as possible. I believe the right hire was made in John L. Smith. Smith knows this team; he knows this program; he knows how to coach. This team might not take a giant step forward and reach its championship potential, but it will not regress either.
Other Notable News
There finally might be light at the end of the tunnel as to what the ‘playoff’ picture might look like. The SEC is the cause for the change, too. Eight- and 16-team playoffs have been ruled out, but the suits are working toward a four-team playoff for 2014. I’m not sure if it solves any problems, but it’s a step in the right direction. We’ll eventually get there.
Going For Seven
Above all, the SEC is going for No. 7. The SEC has won the previous six, and No. 7 is clear in their sights. Several teams are worthy of being in that discussion right now, namely Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, LSU and South Carolina.
The East Is Wide Open
You can make an argument for four to five of the East teams to win that half of the conference. And while you’ll have a better chance to argue your point when talking about the presumptive favorites (Georgia and South Carolina), it should be noted the East is seemingly wide open. Tennessee returns virtually everyone with a powerful offense, and the Gators return 10 starters on defense and not Charlie Weis. Don’t sleep on Vanderbilt or Missouri either, because they could slip up and beat the big boys on any given week. This will be a very interesting year.
For the most part, all teams stayed in tact in regards to injuries, but Florida BUCK (DE/LB hybrid) Ronald Powell will miss a portion of the 2012 season with a partially torn ACL he suffered in the Orange and Blue Game. The Gators need Powell, and many have said that Powell was growing up and becoming the player they all expected him to be; tough loss for a team that needs impact players.
Also, Missouri QB James Franklin had shoulder surgery but is expected to make it back in time for the season. If Franklin cannot play for any reason, it would be a major blow to Missouri and their first year chances to have an impact in the SEC East.
While Arkansas will miss Petrino’s play calling as a whole, the Hogs will have an on-the-field leader in Tyler Wilson to lean on. He is the top returning QB in the SEC next year, and I fully expect his numbers to stay around where they were last year, even with the loss of Petrino and three of his WRs. Wilson can make all the throws on the field, and I think he’s ready to take that next step in being one of the best QBs in the country.
It should be noted that LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu and Georgia’s Jarvis Jones are poised to have big years as well, and they very well could be in the Heisman discussion entering 2012. All three players should be healthy for fall, barring any unforeseen injury.
Both Missouri and Texas A&M will bring their spread offenses to the SEC next year. The only spread offenses that have succeeded recently in the SEC have been with either Tim Tebow or Cam Newton at the helm. And James Franklin is neither one, but he’s a very respectable player. Missouri will operate a more run-heavy spread offense, and the Aggies will run a passing version of the spread, as evidenced by Kevin Sumlin’s days at Houston. It will certainly be interesting to see how SEC teams handle both offenses.