Brand marketing does something more than create product loyalty. It provides a template by which a company’s employees operate.

In the football sense, it creates familiarity for fans and defines roles for coaches and players, and helps frame the narrative for the media. In evaluating teams, it helps to know what they’re trying to accomplish on both sides of the ball.

What are the specific tweaks in identity, through coaching changes or personnel, that will define every SEC East team on offense and defense in 2015? What is the core brand of every unit?

Glad you asked.


Offense: Pro-style

The Gators may finally get the chance to get into an offensive system and stick with it. The team may be two years away from producing a great SEC offense, mostly due to a lack of talent at key spots. But Jim McElwain is a proven offensive coach who will maximize his best players. Florida won’t be as bland, stubborn and conservative as it was under Will Muschamp or as wild and free as it was under Steve Spurrier. Expect a good run-pass balance that keeps the defense on its heels and takes advantage of the best matchups.

Defense: Attacking

If you could trust Vernon Hargreaves III and Jalen Tabor to lock down opposing receivers on an island, wouldn’t you be inclined to apply pressure frequently up front? Considering coordinator Geoff Collins also goes by “Minister of Mayhem” and virtually walks around with an IV drip of Mountain Dew and 5-Hour Energy, is there any doubt? Losing Dante Fowler Jr. early hurt, but the Muschamp era didn’t leave the team bereft of defensive talent.


Offense: Build around the backfield

The team may have trouble identifying a sure thing at quarterback, but that may not matter. New offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was too conservative in the NFL, but that may work just fine at Georgia. The Bulldogs return four starters from a tremendous run-blocking offensive line that collectively played above its talent last year, and Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and Keith Marshall represent a scary combo of running backs.

Defense: Get after your quarterback

Jordan Jenkins, Leonard Floyd and Lorenzo Carter could be this year’s version of Shane Ray and Markus Golden in the SEC East. Imagine if coordinator Jeremy Pruitt can find some way to get all three of them on the field at the same time. The Bulldogs are going to be very tough to play against if your team is trailing late in games. If UGA can get just adequate play out of the secondary, the pass defense is going to be a major asset.


Offense: Air Raid

The team loaded up on receivers in the 2014 class, collecting several touted players who should grow into viable pass-catchers for the system this fall. One of the problems is that quarterback Patrick Towles isn’t scaring anyone as a passer, and some of the team’s most exciting young talent is in the backfield with Stanley “Boom” Williams and Jojo Kemp. Can new coordinator Shannon Dawson find a way to stay within the system and still get the ball to his best players?

Defense: Versatile

The departing Alvin “Bud” Dupree is a perfect example: a defensive end with pass rush skills and an ability to drop back into coverage. Kentucky has recruited players with multiple skill sets, apparently so that the team can adapt its game plan to all sorts of different offenses in the SEC. (It’s not easy to face, say, Arkansas one week and Auburn the next. I know they’re both West Division teams, but you get the picture.) Jason Hatcher and Corey Johnson still give the team some ability along the defensive line despite the outgoing talent.


Offense: A strong running game backed by controlled chaos in the air

The team’s ground game, underrated in ’13, took center stage about halfway through last season and nearly produced two 1,000-yard rushers. With an interior line good at run blocking and Russell Hansbrough returning, that should remain the team’s strength in ’15. Now if only the team can get Maty Mauk to find a middle ground with his poor man’s version of Johnny Manziel and make better decisions.

Defense: Strong against the run

The average SEC fan doesn’t associate Mizzou with brute-force strength. And they’d be correct, at least outside of some linemen on both sides of the ball (did you catch Mitch Morse at the Combine?). The defense did more than give opposing quarterbacks nightmares last season. It made huge strides against the run. That should continue to be the case this fall with a group of defensive tackles and linebackers including Josh Augusta, Harold Brantley, Terry Beckner Jr., Michael Scherer and Kentrell Brothers. The team needs to reload at defensive end and on the edges, but it should be as stout as any inside.


Offense: Skewed toward the run

Last season was fun, what with quarterback Dylan Thompson needing to fire away to help the Gamecocks overcome shoddy defensive play. The team does return receiver Pharoh Cooper, but with a potentially dire situation at quarterback, he may have to line up behind center 10 times per game and throw to himself. Brandon Wilds spearheads a still-talented South Carolina backfield and should be among the SEC rushing leaders this fall.

Defense: Apply pressure up front

The team learned during last year’s debacle what happens if it can’t create any pressure with its defensive line. Tackling also was an issue for the 2014 Gamecocks. South Carolina would like to dictate the game more often when its defense is on the field, instead of being forced into a sometimes-hopeless reaction. Thanks to some junior college transfers on the defensive line and some budding standouts at linebacker, the Gamecocks will be in position to at least make an honest attempt at reclaiming its defensive identity in ’15.


Offense: Up-tempo, run-oriented spread

Josh Dobbs is the fulcrum in 2015. Sure, the team now has two capable running backs and a multitude of receivers (assuming some of them can stay healthy). But if Dobbs can convert his intelligence into football maturity, he’s got the athleticism and the pieces around him to morph into one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC. He could give a strong Nick Marshall impersonation that will have the Vols competitive in the SEC East as long as the offensive line improves.

Defense: Tough, deep defensive line

Not long ago, a four- or five-star early enrollee with ability would have no problem cracking Tennessee’s rotation at the position. But Kyle Phillips, Shy Tuttle and Andrew Butcher aren’t guaranteed anything, not with players like Derek Barnett and end/linebacker hybrid Curt Maggitt holding it down. The Vols’ defensive line can rush the passer and hold the point of attack with a wave of capable bodies, setting up the rest of the unit.


Offense: Poor man’s Stanford

Don’t expect new offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig to institute a major departure from the conservative philosophy head coach Derek Mason imported from Stanford, especially when the spring practice options at quarterback are so pedestrian. The team will rely on a power running game and two-tight end sets, leaning on the latter position both for blocking and in the passing game.

Defense: Lean on the ends and linebackers

The Commodores’ strength as a team, on either side of the ball, may reside here on the edges of the line of scrimmage. Caleb Azubike, who played defensive end and outside linebacker last season as a 6-foot-4, 270-pound junior, and Stephen Weatherly lead a decent group of pass rushers. Nigel Bowden, a redshirt freshman last season, led Vanderbilt in tackles and could be a future All-SEC performer. The secondary needs major work, but at least Mason has some assets in the front seven.