Kirk Herbstreit explains 2015 SEC predictions
ESPN College GameDay analyst Kirk Herbstreit predicted LSU and Tennessee will play in the SEC championship game, with LSU prevailing and landing a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Herbstreit also picked an off-the-radar final four of Ohio State, LSU, Oklahoma and Arizona State.
He joined Russillo and Kanell on ESPN Radio Wednesday to explain the rationale behind his SEC picks. Herbstreit was asked if LSU’s quarterback position concerned him.
“Of course, but that’s what interesting this year,” Herbstreit said. “If you look at the SEC West — I don’t know who you guys are favoring, but I can make a case for them and make case against them.
“If it’s Alabama, I’m terrified of their quarterback-wide receiver combination right now going in as they get ready for the season. If it’s Arkansas, I look at that schedule. Are they really ready to make a run with their schedule? At the end of the day, they might be the best team, in my opinion, as we sit here in August. But I don’t know if they can get through that gauntlet that they have to deal with. But you can go down the line — Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss. Is Chad Kelly going to be the guy this year?”
Herbstreit then explained why he chose the Tigers to win the SEC West.
“With Brandon Harris, LSU has to get more balanced,” Herbstreit continued. “Last year, they were very very predictable, very conservative running the football, and in today’s day in age, it’s not good enough. I’ve seen Harris throw and I think he’s got what it takes. It’s just a matter of whether or not he can read coverage or make good decisions and give them a threat throwing the ball down the field. Can you imagine if he does with the group of receivers they have, with that offensive line and that running back? LSU’s defense is always going to keep them in the game.
“[LSU pick] It’s just kind of a hunch. I think that Harris develops, and he, along with Leonard Fournette, it’s a pretty lethal combination.”
Herbstreit was asked who he has winning the East, and he said he was leaning towards Georgia at first, but he’s officially picking Tennessee.
“I liked what we saw of [Joshua] Dobbs last year. I think Jalen Hurd’s about to have a monster year. I think that through incredible recruiting efforts that Butch Jones has them back where they have some skill now in the secondary and at receiver.”
“The East is obviously a long way away from being the West, but I think that division winner will be whichever team will be able to stay the healthiest. Yeah, I’m giving Tennessee the edge in the East.”
Tennessee, ironically, is the most banged-up SEC East team entering the season, with season-ending injuries suffered to two offensive linemen Marcus Jackson (biceps) and Austin Sanders (biceps), along with defensive back Rashaan Gaulden (foot). Safety LaDarrell McNeil will also miss significant time with a neck injury.