Tuesday, August 28, 2007

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN 2007: THE SEC


1. The quarterbacks. Have there ever been so many untested and/or unproven quarterbacks in this many important places in the SEC? Matt Flynn at LSU and Tim Tebow at Florida will begin their first season as starters; they lead the preseason favorites in the SEC West and the SEC East, respectively. At Tennessee, there remains the question of whether Good Erik or Evil Erik will show up. At Auburn, you have Brandon Cox. Georgia's excited about the potential (and late-season performance) of Matthew "Keg Stand" Stafford. South Carolina starts Blake Mitchell ... eventually ... maybe. Arkansas has Casey Dick. Even Ole Miss and Mississippi State have questions under center. Is it going too far to say the team with the most proven quarterback is Kentucky?

2. Darren McFadden. Yep, he deserves an entry all to himself. Opinion is divided over whether Arkansas can overcome the Trouble in Nuttistan to at least remain relevant in the SEC West. McFadden could be the difference. Yes, he is a player that could single-handedly power the Hogs to respectability. If Dick turns out to be halfway good, they could be unstoppable. Whichever way Arkansas goes, McFadden might as well reserve a plane ticket to New York -- he'll at least be on the Heisman shortlist.

3. Year of the Underdog. This is particularly true in the East, where there might not be parity, but the gaps between the teams are not that large. In fact, you could make a credible case that the difference between Florida and Vanderbilt is smaller than ever -- and far smaller than the difference between LSU and Mississippi State. That means underdogs will ruin someone's season, and there could be a shake-up in the Big Three in the East. By the way -- don't count Bama completely out in the West. They've got talent. They just need to have their brains cleared of the Mike Shula neurotoxins.


She can help you, Nick.

4. No BCS title? It doesn't look like it this year. LSU will likely suffer its usual Les-plosions and lose two games. Florida can't make it out of the East undefeated. No one else looks like they can even dream about it. And the likelihood that there will be a one-loss SEC team that can get the breaks Florida did to overcome ESPN's USC/Big Ten/Big XII lovefest.

5. Coaches, coaches, coaches. Four schools now have coaches with national titles in their personal trophy cases: Florida (Urban Meyer), Tennessee (Phil Fulmer), Alabama (Nick Saban) and South Carolina (Steve Spurrier). Another can make an argument for having been robbed (Tommy Tuberville in Auburn's couldawouldashoulda 2004 season). And this Mark Richt character at Georgia ain't bad, either.

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