A New Year's resolution for every SEC team
Welcome to the 2020s, where anything is possible for your favorite SEC team.
It’s a clean slate full of promise for everyone. Even you, Vandy.
As we close the book on the 2010s and head into a new year and a new decade, now is the time for resolutions. Resolution season often only lasts a couple weeks. The goal here is to have resolutions that last beyond the first few days of 2020.
Here’s a New Year’s resolution for every SEC team:
Alabama: Eat fewer cupcakes
Who doesn’t want to shed those extra pounds? All Alabama has to do is avoid eating cupcakes and it can get back the bod/résumé that it once had. That can happen in 2020 because Alabama opens against USC (not Duke) and it plays Georgia (not South Carolina). Granted, Nick Saban’s squad still has a cheat meal or 2 in there with UT-Martin and Kent State, but it has a chance to get back to the shredded former version of itself in 2020 with wins that actually yield gains.
Arkansas: Practice tackling more
Simple, right? It seems like something that would be important in football, and perhaps with a new coaching staff, that sort of thing is prioritized. Last year, it wasn’t. Well, at least not based on the results. The 2nd-worst Power 5 run defense didn’t exactly put the clamps on anyone. This seems like a good resolution for Sam Pittman and Co. to kick off the year with.
Auburn: Commit to Bo Nix running the ball
Do I think Nix could have run more? For sure. Do I think there was some skepticism down the stretch given Auburn’s limited depth at the position? Definitely. Do I think Gus Malzahn had some concerns about the true freshman quarterback’s ability to take hits repeatedly in the SEC? Absolutely. Consider that all the more reason to take a more run-heavy approach in 2020. Nix will have more depth behind him, a better understanding of the offense and perhaps that extra year in the strength program will allow for him to be better-suited to get more carries.
Florida: Lay low
It seems like whenever Florida gets some offseason momentum, it gets overshadowed by negative headlines galore. Whether that’s having a handful of players get caught up in a credit card scandal or having a 4-star early enrollee never play a game at quarterback because of sexual assault allegations, the Gators have a knack for killing positive buzz in the offseason with off-the-field behavior. That’s why the goal is to avoid that. Last year, Florida didn’t win itself any public support with the offseason it had. The goal this year should be to keep as low a profile as possible heading into what should be a promising Year 3 with Dan Mullen.
Georgia: Bring the offense into 2020
Sometimes, people resolve to ditch a dated wardrobe. Georgia’s offense is the dated wardrobe that needs to go. If you don’t believe that, perhaps you missed the SEC Championship. Alabama got with the times. Even LSU got with the times. The Dawgs need the spread attack to become more difficult to defend. Right now, they shrink the field for a defense too much. The scheme needs to be overhauled. It’s as simple as that. They have the personnel to make it work, but they just need the right offensive mind.
Kentucky: Travel more
Kentucky is the person who has a really nice house but doesn’t take vacations. Why do I say that? Because the Cats were 1-3 on the road this year. That lone road win was at Vanderbilt, which is essentially like saying you took a vacation when you drove 30 minutes to the family lake house. But Kentucky could gain that much more respect if it delivered an impressive road performance here and there like it did last year at Florida.
LSU: Take active steps to avoid a hangover
This is important advice to Louisianans that I probably don’t need to remind them about. A hangover could occur with a win or a loss in the national championship. It’s going to be awfully difficult to come down off the high that’s been the 2019 season for LSU. The desire to want to repeat this success isn’t a given. Will that same hunger and attention to detail be there after Joe Burrow and Co. leave? Knowing Ed Orgeron, that won’t be an issue. But still, the right hangover remedy will be needed in Baton Rouge.
Mississippi State: Be more decisive (at quarterback)
Making clear-cut decisions can be a challenge for people. In 2019, Joe Moorhead went back and forth with Tommy Stevens and Garrett Shrader at quarterback. The only consistent thing was that Keytaon Thompson wasn’t going to play quarterback. Stevens’ injury played a part in that, but starting the Penn State grad transfer and benching him mid-game for Shrader became all too familiar for MSU. The goal next year has to be to be decisive and stick with 1 quarterback. My guess is that’ll be Shrader, as long as he can avoid more practice skirmishes.
Mizzou: Make more of an effort to keep in touch with people close to you (the NCAA)
Mizzou could have probably sent a fruit basket and a Christmas card to the NCAA offices and avoided such a harsh penalty. Or maybe the NCAA is a big fan of chocolate turtles. Perhaps that would have gone a long way to reduce the sanctions following the academic fraud case. For all we know, MSU and UNC both sent the NCAA chocolates and greeting cards every day for years. Whatever the case, a little more sucking up to the NCAA would go a long way for Mizzou.
Ole Miss: Avoid potentially embarrassing situations
Whether that’s a fake dog pee celebration after a potential game-tying touchdown in the Egg Bowl or having a coach avoid getting seen enjoying Oxford nightlife with an alias of “Joey Freshwater,” this is important advice for Ole Miss as it ushers in this new era. To be fair, Joey Freshwater hasn’t been spotted on The Square yet. In other words, he’s already living up to this resolution. Now all we need for Ole Miss is to avoid viral ways to lose and just to be safe, let’s not allow Landshark Tony to be shown on national TV anymore.
South Carolina: Be willing to compromise more
Like, with a buyout. If it means paying $12 million up front instead of $20 million over the course of 3 years, take the opportunity. That’s just a hypothetical, of course. Nobody is expecting South Carolina to look for a new coach after next season, obviously. (Just kidding. They totally are. And if Will Muschamp is fired and a search begins, South Carolina might have to compromise on what’s sure to be a lofty list of candidates.)
Tennessee: Set realistic goals
Just the act of setting goals can be a New Year’s resolution. That seems like one that Tennessee needs heading into an offseason that’s sure to be full of hype. Why do I say they should be “realistic” goals? Because against Alabama, Florida and Georgia the Vols still went 0-3 with losses by an average of 27 points. Would they play those teams better if they met tomorrow? Absolutely. Does it mean that the Vols are suddenly going to win the SEC East? Probably not. Just be realistic, Tennessee.
Texas A&M: Don’t procrastinate (becoming elite)
I get that in this division, being great doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not an overnight fix to go from a 4-4 SEC team to a late-season division contender. But next year feels like A&M’s chance to take that next step in Year 3 with Jimbo Fisher. It’s the perfect opportunity for the Aggies to build momentum with a more favorable schedule and with the pieces that both Alabama and LSU will lose. Now that Fisher is set to have a veteran quarterback and multiple full recruiting cycles in the program, the Aggies will be the most popular SEC pick to become elite.
Vanderbilt: Get in (SEC) shape
It didn’t look like the Commodores could even stay on the field with SEC teams. A program in desperate need of getting bigger, faster and stronger should be in the gym beyond those first 2 weeks after the new year. Like every trainer always says, there’s no better time than now to get in shape/be relevant in the SEC.