Every SEC team but Kentucky has completed spring drills and is getting ready to shut it down until August. But there are so many questions that still need to be answered in a league that will be going for its sixth straight BCS championship in 2011. Here are just 10:
1. Is there any team in America that is hungrier than
2. Is Georgia's Mark Richt officially on the hot seat? Nobody in Athens is going to call it that but this is clearly an important year for Richt to prove things are heading in the right direction. Richt has won 96 games and two SEC championships, but the last title came in 2005. He has beaten Florida only twice (2004, 2007) in 10 tries. Urban Meyer is gone but Florida appears to be reloading under Will Muschamp (a Georgia grad). There is a window of opportunity here because for the second straight year the SEC East is wide open. Richt needs to take advantage. One other thing: Richt cannot start 0-2 when Georgia opens the season with Boise State and South Carolina.
|Keep an eye on Zach Mettenberger at LSU, who could give the offense a change of pace. (US Presswire)|
4. Will juco transfer Zach Mettenberger give LSU anything that resembles a vertical passing game? If he does, LSU may be pretty hard to beat. Mettenberger started at Georgia and then went to Butler (Kan.) Community College where he threw for almost 2,700 yards last season. Now he is in Baton Rouge. Trust me when I tell you Jordan Jefferson is still going to be the starting quarterback when LSU opens with Oregon on Sept. 3. But Mettenberger could give the Tigers a change of pace and a legitimate downfield threat, which is something they haven't had since Matt Flynn led the 2007 Tigers to the national championship. The key to all this is new OC Steve Kragthorpe figuring out a way to get the ball to the fleet Russell Shepard in space. That dude has a gear that most folks don't have.
5. Can Charlie Weis work his quarterback magic with John Brantley? Weis spent the first part of the spring rebuilding Brantley's confidence, which took a pretty good beating last season from a frustrated Gator Nation. The best thing Weis can do for Brantley at this point is develop a power running game (which Florida has not had) and find a couple of great receivers (which Florida has not had since Percy Harvin left). Brantley did not have a good spring game (4 for 14) but the offensive line was depleted by injury. Brantley has an NFL arm but has yet to prove he can throw it consistently in a game. But if Weis can make Matt Cassel (27 TDs, 7 INTs) into a top-flight NFL quarterback, he can sure help Brantley.
6. Can Tyler Wilson keep the Arkansas offensive machine humming? Yes he can and yes he will. Wilson came off the bench against Auburn last season and threw for 332 yards and four touchdowns. He put Arkansas in position to win the game before the defense collapsed (Auburn scored 28 unanswered points to win 66-43). Arkansas had the best set of receivers in the SEC last season and that will be the case again in 2011 if Greg Childs completely recovers from a torn patellar tendon suffered last November. Childs, Joe Adams, Jarius Wright and Cobi Hamilton combined to catch 170 passes last season. They are all back. The Hogs will miss tight end D.J. Williams (54 catches).
7. Is Stephen Garcia going to return at
|Justin Hunter could become a real force for the Vols receiving corps. (US Presswire)|
9. Can Kentucky replace the big-play capability of Randall Cobb? An NFL team that doesn't have Cobb high on its draft board is really going to miss out. This kid did everything at Kentucky: Wide receiver (144 career receptions in three seasons), quarterback in the Wildcat formation (1,313 career yards rushing in 228 carries for a 5.75 average). He averaged 23.7 yards per kick return and 7.8 yards per punt return last season. He led the SEC and was No. 2 nationally in all-purpose yards averaging 184.3 yards per game. Then he turned pro as a junior. So the short answer to the question is "no." But the 'Cats can make a big step forward if junior Morgan Newton steps up and becomes the quarterback everybody thinks he can be. Newton was the Indiana high school player of the year in 2008 and was immediately hailed as the next Andre Woodson. Newton got on the field due to injuries and other issues involving starter Mike Hartline. Now Newton will be the starter. He has to raise the level of his game.
10. Are people sleeping on Dan Mullen and