SDS Roundtable: What's the biggest camp question you had that wasn't answered this spring?
Each SDS roundtable discussion involves the SDS staff providing individual answers and comments to questions covering a wide range of sports and non-sports topics. In this discussion, we ask the question: What is the biggest question you had about a team, player or new coach that wasn’t answered this spring?
A bit of background …
Turnover is a fundamental part of college football, and spring ball usually provides us at least a glimpse of how these new head coaches, coordinators, quarterbacks and other new starters will look. Not this year. This year, we’re left with nothing but questions.
Jon Cooper, SDS co-founder
The biggest question for me is will Bo Nix take the next step in Chad Morris’ offense. Yes, it’ll be Gus Malzahn’s offense basically, but quarterbacks usually have big seasons under Morris’ watch. Nix has the talent to become the SEC’s top player at the position, and coming off a solid freshman season, it’s time for him to take a big step at the position.
Nix is a headsy player who limits dumb decisions, and having an offensive coordinator and quarterback coach like Morris should benefit him tremendously. Auburn will go as Bo Nix goes in 2020. His development is paramount to a successful season for Malzahn and the Tigers.
Connor O’Gara, Senior national columnist
The Tennessee quarterback battle is bizarre. Harrison Bailey goes viral every time he touches a football, Brian Maurer is trying to prove that he’s the quarterback of the future and oh, by the way, Jarrett Guarantano is the most experienced quarterback in the SEC. That whole dynamic would be strange enough without the new elephant in the room, this J.T. Daniels situation could be the fly in the ointment for all of those things.
How do Jim Chaney, Tee Martin and Co. handle all of that? It seems impossible that the Vols would open 2020 with all of those guys still on their roster. I don’t think spring would have necessarily determined the winner, but we at least would have been able to see some separation among that group ahead of a pivotal season in Knoxville.
Who are we kidding? They’re all pivotal.
Chris Marler, The SDS Podcast co-host
The biggest question I have is definitely QB related, but not from the school most people are talking about. I wanted to see how the QB race at Kentucky was going to play out. Terry Wilson got rave reviews from the coaching staff going into last season but was injured in the Eastern Michigan game. I think Wilson coming back from injury and going head-to-head with transfer QB Joey Gatewood, who a lot of people thought would be the starter at Auburn, will be one of the best storylines in the SEC offseason/preseason.
Michael Bratton, News editor
How the Mississippi schools are going to look under new head coaches.
Both have plenty of talent, enough to surprise in the SEC next season, aren’t facing total rebuilds, and are now led by head coaches with enough experience that each fan base should be confident that things can get turned around in a hurry.
I’m very interested in seeing what Lane Kiffin can get out of his quarterbacks — especially John Rhys Plumlee — and if he can develop Elijah Moore into one of the SEC’s best receivers. The defense might have a long way to go, but the Rebels shouldn’t have problems scoring next season.
Mike Leach added KJ Costello for a reason, but I was still interested to see how Garrett Shrader looked in the new Mississippi State offense, even if he doesn’t play much. More important, I was eager to see if we would be given a hint at Kylin Hill’s role in the system. Hill could be the best player on the team and his role should be the most important.
Mississippi State has suffered so much turnover at defensive coordinator in recent seasons, Bob Shoop sticking around for 2 seasons felt like an eternity. I’m interested to see how well Zach Arnett’s defense will work in the SEC.
Adam Spencer, Newsletter editor
The Missouri Tigers are in a strange situation with a QB battle and a new coach. Shawn Robinson (a transfer from TCU) is expected to win the starting job, especially after Connor Bazelak tore his ACL last year against Arkansas, but it’s not a given.
This spring was supposed to give new coach Eliah Drinkwitz his first look at the offense. Instead, we don’t know for sure when the Tigers will be able to get back on the field. How will that affect them in 2020? I’m a bit nervous about the lack of preparation time Robinson and Drinkwitz are getting.
Neil Blackmon, Florida columnist
The obvious one is what happens with Georgia on offense, but we’ve spent plenty of time and copy discussing that.
Let’s do the defending national champions instead. Yes, they return the best wide receiver in the country.
They also replace the best quarterback in school history.
It’s hard to replace a legend. Ask Auburn about replacing Cam Newton. Ask South Carolina about replacing Conner Shaw. Ask Florida about replacing Tim Tebow. Ask Georgia about replacing Herschel. You get the idea.
I’m sure LSU fans will spend the entire quarantine convincing themselves that they have quality answers. But the truth is the passing game guru is gone and so is the Heisman winning quarterback. Figuring out who plays behind him — and how much he can handle — is a question that I think defines LSU’s offseason.
Chris Wright, Executive editor
From Alabama to Vandy, every spring camp offers intrigue and insight. We just tend to focus on the questions that will most directly impact the SEC race and Playoff chase.
As such, I wanted to see Bryce Young. Nick Saban has put his trust — and his team’s fate — in the hands of a true freshman with each of his past 2 QB battles.
In 2016, he turned it over to Jalen Hurts.
In 2017, he benched Hurts and asked Tua Tagovailoa to rally the Tide in the national title game.
I liked everything I saw from Mac Jones last season. He basically threw one bad ball against Auburn. The other pick-6 was a fluke you couldn’t reproduce in 100 practice throws. Alabama’s offense wasn’t the issue last year. The defense was.
The defense appears to be healthy. Would Saban risk a somewhat safer but sure thing in Mac Jones and roll with yet another true freshman in Young?
The spring would have provided clues, just as the 2016 spring did when Hurts looked like the only QB on A-Day who wasn’t afraid to make a play.
Previous roundtable discussions:
- If you could change 1 thing about college football, what would it be?
- What are you watching right now?
- Who is your favorite SEC football player of all-time?
- What are your 3 favorite postseason moments involving SEC teams?
- Which 4 SEC athletes are on your Mount Rushmore?
- What is your most painful sports memory?
- The greatest team I ever saw …
- Which school’s all-time position group is the best in SEC history?
- Who are your way-too-early picks to make the College Football Playoff?
- If and when the SEC expands, which 2 teams should it add?
- Who is your pick to win the SEC East, SEC West in 2020?
- Who is your favorite player from every SEC program?
- Who is your favorite SEC personality to follow on Twitter?
- Which SEC program produced best pro sports duo?
- Which prop bet would you risk stimulus check on?
- Which former assistant is first to beat Nick Saban?
- Which SEC helmet absolutely needs to be redesigned?
- Which Day 2 or 3 SEC pick will have best NFL career?
- Which SEC player could go No. 1 overall in 2021?