Every program has a reputation for playing a specific brand of football.

Still, that brand can vary more than you think year-to-year.

Just look at Florida, which went from Fun ‘n’ Gun with Steve Spurrier to a run-based spread offense with Urban Meyer to a more conservative, physical mindset with Will Muschamp. Now the Gators should deploy a balanced pro-style attack with Jim McElwain.

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

Glad you asked.


Offense: Balanced

With Amari Cooper gone, expect the Tide to go from force-feeding a top target to spreading it around in the passing game to several touted but inexperienced receivers. Alabama is throwing more aggressively than it ever has as a program, prying open the playbook with Lane Kiffin. Expect the team to continue to run the ball effectively. But even with another mass departure of bodies in the backfield, a healthy Kenyan Drake will give the team balance there, as well — in skill set and workload.

Defense: Experienced defensive line lifts all boats

With the exception of rotational defensive tackle Brandon Ivory, Alabama returns everybody who’s anybody along the defensive line in 2015. Jonathan Allen, Jarran Reed, A’Shawn Robinson, D.J. Pettway, Da’Shawn Hand and others will anchor this unit in the fall. With a collection of five-star cornerbacks the Tide needs to develop, new starters at safety and a linebacker corps that of late has become known more for big hits than for elite all-purpose play, the Tide’s strength up front should help out the entire defense.


Offense: A bullying running game that sets up play-action

Get this — at least two starting offensive linemen have lost a considerable amount of weight. Sebastian Tretola is down 46 pounds(!). But don’t expect the Hogs to shy away from a power running game behind what’s still a huge group of blockers. With two 1,000-yard running backs returning along with arguably the SEC’s best tight end, don’t expect new offensive coordinator Dan Enos to stray too far from last year’s identity.

Defense: Searching for leadership in a punishing front seven

Bret Bielema unleashed a shockingly good defense on the SEC last season, one that helped the team emerge as an undesirable opponent the second half of the season. But the unit’s three best players are gone. Bielema’s defenses have played physical, bruising football since before his Wisconsin days. Not that the team can’t rush the passer, but if you’re an offensive linemen, expect to be sore the day after you face this bunch.


Offense: Hurry-up read option with more effective downfield shots in the passing game

Don’t expect Auburn to abandon the read option with Jeremy Johnson at quarterback and the team’s top two tailbacks and award-winning center entering the NFL draft. But expect Johnson and Duke Williams to put many a defensive coordinator in a bind in ’15. Last year’s passing game was threatening, but often harmed itself as much as it harmed other teams. This year, coach Gus Malzahn should be free to attack defensive weak points fluidly depending on what defenses try to take away first.

Defense: Versatile

The Tigers brought in an excellent 2015 recruiting class, but can’t fix some defensive personnel issues overnight. Still, new coordinator Will Muschamp gets Carl Lawson back from injury, top-rated defensive end Byron Cowart could help right away and some smart schemes should help Auburn get much more pressure on opposing quarterbacks this fall. Auburn’s defensive linemen were versatile under Ellis Johnson, which should help. The team returns two solid senior linebackers as well, so Muschamp has some experience at key positions and should be able to adjust his schemes to specific game plans.


Offense: Run-heavy, but more ambitious

The Tigers will hand off to Leonard Fournette often, and wisely so, given the rising sophomore’s talent and the team’s lack of production at quarterback last season. But with such a strong corps of young receivers, each with their own strengths, coordinator Cam Cameron has to find ways to be more unpredictable and to get some of those receivers — Travin Dural and Malachi Dupre, especially — the football.

Defense: Reliant on a loaded secondary

LSU lost its best pass rusher to the draft in Danielle Hunter, though he didn’t produce All-SEC type numbers in 2014. That leaves the team searching for a few players who can get after the quarterback. But the back end of the defense is good enough to buy the pass rushers some extra time, even with Jalen Collins departing early for the NFL. Sophomore safety Jamal Adams could be one of the breakout players in the SEC. How will new coordinator Kevin Steele tweak what has been a base 4-3 defense with multiple sub-packages to take advantage of that talented secondary? Whatever the answer, the Tigers still have the players on the back end.


Offense: Run first, throw to De’Runnya second

Dan Mullen churns out 1,000-yard rushers like glazed doughnuts from Krispy Kreme. When the season starts, the Bulldogs will have a productive backfield, even without Josh Robinson. That means the Dak Prescott/running back dynamic that made the offense so good last season should remain as the nucleus, assuming the team can reload along the offensive line. When the team needs to throw downfield, De’Runnya Wilson presents a juicy target, assuming he’s going to work at his craft in the coming months and not stagnate and rely on his athleticism.

Defense: Aggressive with the front seven

Mississippi State’s secondary was its Achilles heel in 2014, and it may be even worse this season. The team lost major talent at every position, but Chris Jones, Beniquez Brown and Richie Brown give the team some ability in the front seven. New coordinator Manny Diaz needs to continue the Psycho Defense philosophy Geoff Collins took with him to Florida, as the Bulldogs need the group to force turnovers and mistakes to make up for a potential drop-off.


Offense: Looking for an engine

The Rebels have some terrific parts, especially at receiver, tight end and left tackle. The team needs a catalyst at quarterback, someone capable of utilizing all of those after-market parts. Oh, and an improved offensive line would help a shaky running game as well. But first thing’s first: can Chad Kelly be the man? If Ole Miss finds someone who can at least replicate Bo Wallace, it could be another great season in Oxford.

Defense: It all starts up front

Senquez Golson and Cody Prewitt are gone from the vaunted secondary. That will put even more emphasis on what could be the most intimidating all-around defensive line in the SEC in 2015, including Robert Nkemdiche, Issac Gross and Marquis Haynes. Equally adept at stuffing the run and getting after your quarterback, don’t expect a major drop-off from the defense that propelled Ole Miss into national contention at a certain point last season.


Offense: You can’t cover all of us

The Aggies lost Malcome Kennedy, but replaced him with five-star early enrollee Christian Kirk. But no matter how many passes there are to go around in A&M’s free-wheeling offense, Kirk may not get a huge role in 2015. That’s because the team still features Josh Reynolds, Speedy Noil, Ricky Seals-Jones, Edward Pope and Boone Niederhofer. With a more settled Kyle Allen at quarterback, don’t be surprised if the team throws for more than 4,000 yards.

Defense: Fast and athletic

Think Myles Garrett and Armani Watts. Right now this unit’s best asset is its youthful speed, not its physicality. Can John Chavis harvest an aggressive, contact-seeking mindset? Will some of the underclassmen (like Garrett) bulk up in the weight room to play better against the run? That will determine the success of the unit, but if we’re talking identity, it’s a bundle of fast-twitch muscles.