Predicting the offensive MVP for every SEC East team in 2019
Nine SEC teams averaged more than 30 points per game last season.
Alabama paced the group, setting an SEC record for points (684) en route to averaging 45.6 per game. Three SEC East teams were among the top 5 scoring offenses.
Clearly, head coaches dig the touchdown.
With so many teams having so many playmakers, singling out one as an offensive MVP is an impossible task. Fortunately, I like a challenge.
Here’s who I think wins each SEC East team’s offensive MVP in 2019.
Florida: RB Lamical Perine
Do not underrate the importance of having a QB that safeties have to respect. Feleipe Franks’ right arm will keep 8 out of the box and give Perine the best chance to find running lanes.
He’s one of the best in the country at breaking 1-on-1 tackles, and we’ve seen what he can do if he finds a crease.
"THERE GOES PERINE!"
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) November 24, 2018
Here he goes again, against safeties 15 yards off the ball …
3rd and 20?
No problem for Lamical Perine.pic.twitter.com/A4Sn6pzhAb
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) December 29, 2018
Georgia: RB D’Andre Swift
I keep waiting for Kirby Smart to turn everything over to Jake Fromm. I thought it would happen after watching Fromm throw for 300 yards and 3 TDs against Alabama in the SEC title game. But Fromm still only threw it 34 times in the bowl loss to Texas, a game in which Swift was a non-factor and the running game went nowhere (30 rushes for 72 yards).
Here’s what I think Smart took out of those 2 losses to close 2018: Georgia fell to 0-4 when Fromm attempts more than 30 passes. I’d counter by saying he was their best offensive player during those losses, but clearly it’s not my call. He would average 30 throws in 2019 if I were directing Georgia’s offense.
Georgia is going to run it and run it some more. As options go, there aren’t many in the country better than Swift, who should get more carries this season and cruise to a second consecutive 1,000-yard season.
Kentucky: QB Terry Wilson
Watch Wilson warm up and tell me he doesn’t throw a pretty ball. If I had a dollar for every time I said that last season, I’d own 3 jet skiis instead of renting them a couple times a year.
Look at this throw against Florida. It’s beautiful.
— The Game Haus Sports (@TGHSports) September 9, 2018
The thing about defensive-minded head coaches like Mark Stoops is, they’re going to play it safe until they can’t anymore. For 3 years, Benny Snell provided the ultimate security blanket.
Wilson completed 67 percent of his passes last season, yet only attempted 20 per game. Sure, most were short and safe, which is reflected in his scarcity of completions of 30+ yards or more. Handing off to Snell was risk-free and generally successful.
I think we see the real Wilson in 2019. I know Lynn Bowden certainly hopes that’s the case.
Missouri: RB Larry Rountree III
If it isn’t Rountree, something went wrong in CoMo. There’s no way Barry Odom is going to ask Kelly Bryant to try to be Drew Lock and throw it 35 times a game.
Missouri will hand it off 35-40 times a game, usually to Rountree. He isn’t a candidate to go for 1,800 yards or necessarily lead the SEC in rushing, but he’s the surest weapon this new-look Tigers attack has.
South Carolina: RB Rico Dowdle
This is the toughest team to predict. Ideally, QB Jake Bentley stops throwing it to the other team, stays upright and throws for 3,400 yards and 30 TDs and is the easy MVP pick. Most of his success comes from throwing to proven WR weapon Bryan Edwards, also an MVP candidate. It all sounds somewhat reasonable … and then you remember the schedule and the hype surrounding freshman QB Ryan Hilinski.
All bets are off if Bentley struggles in the opener and South Carolina loses to North Carolina. The Gamecocks are favored, but Mack Brown is on the other sideline, not Larry Fedora. That difference alone is worth 7 points.
The Gamecocks face Alabama in Week 3. That’s no place to introduce Hilinski to life in the SEC. After that, if South Carolina is 1-2, or 2-2 with an 0-2 SEC start following a loss at Missouri? Will Muschamp will start looking to the future, just like he did when he inserted true freshman Bentley to rescue the 2016 season.
Even Dowdle is a risky pick. Twice he has led South Carolina in rushing, but he hasn’t proven he can stay healthy. Regardless, given what I think is going to happen to the QB situation, and how that might impact Edwards, Dowdle is the safest bet in an unsteady field.
Tennessee: LT Trey Smith
He’s the Vols’ Most Important Player, Most Valuable Player.
Not to overstate it, but he changes everything. Jeremy Pruitt hasn’t said it, and maybe I’m being overly optimistic, but it’s beginning to sound like Smith will return to the field in 2019 after serious health scares. His presence at LT allows everybody else on a young offensive line to live a more comfortable existence.
Darnell Wright and Wanya Morris are going to be outstanding, but true freshmen are true freshmen. Allowing one to move inside and the other to move to the right side, while learning from a projected first-rounder like Smith? That’s exactly how Pruitt drew it up.
Besides that, Smith is an easy guy to root for.
Vanderbilt: RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn
He might not play enough games to lead the SEC in rushing yards, but I feel safe in projecting that he’ll lead the SEC in rushing yards per game.
The only concern is whether he can handle a heavier workload while simultaneously being the guy defensive coordinators must stop. That’s a burden the SEC’s top backs bear. He had 157 carries last season, only twice topping 20 in a game.
You better wrap him up, though. One-third of his long runs (10+ yards) went for 30 yards or more. He led the nation with 6 runs covering 60 yards or more.