Blog Entry

Preseason Coaches Poll Reactions: SEC

Posted on: August 4, 2011 2:42 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2011 4:49 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Whatever you think about preseason polls -- such as the USA Today Coaches version, released earlier today -- the one thing you cannot argue is that they don't matter. For Oklahoma and Alabama, the news became official today that if they win all their games this 2011 season, they will be in the BCS national championship game--no ifs, ands, or buts. And though they'll start the season No. 4, the same can now be said of LSU, since they'll face two of the three teams ranked ahead of them.

So with that fact about their importance in mind, it's time to break down where each of the SEC's 12 teams landed in (or outside of) the first Coaches Poll of the year, and decide whether the pollsters placed them too high, or too low, or just right:

ALABAMA (No. 2): So much for defense winning championships, apparently. The Tide allowed a full half-yard less per-play than the Sooners did in 2011 (ranking seventh in the FBS to Oklahoma's 33rd) and return 10 defensive starters, while Oklahoma has said good-bye to All-American safety Quinton Carter and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Jeremy Beal. There's also the little matter of Nick Saban's recent defensive pedigree over the much, much iffier Sooners'.

Given that Saban is still deciding between two inexperienced quarterbacks while the Sooners return Heisman candidate Landry Jones, we can understand the coaches' thinking here. But we don't agree with it.

Verdict? Even at No. 2, too low.

LSU (No. 4): It's not often you see the nation's 86th-ranked offense rewarded with the No. 4 ranking the following season, but such is the buzz surrounding the Tigers after their bludgeoning of Texas A&M in last year's Cotton Bowl.

But until Jordan Jefferson proves he's as improved as he appeared to be that night in Dallas and the new (and, unfortunately, newly reshuffled) offensive staff prove they're genuinely capable of putting all the Bayou Bengals' weapons to use, we're still foreseeing a lot of tight, competitive, coin-flip-style ball games. And as excellent as Les Miles is in those kinds of contests, that's still not the recipe for the one-loss season required to finish in the final top-five.

Verdict? Top 10 makes sense, but top 5 is too high.

SOUTH CAROLINA  (No. 12): There's no question that with Stephen Garcia back in the fold, the Gamecocks have the talent to live up to this lofty billing. And the schedule, while difficult, isn't that difficult; no LSU or Alabama means trips to Georgia and Arkansas are the trickiest dates on the slate. If Carolina can survive the week 2 trip to Athens, a 10- or even 11-win season beckons.

Of course, the Gamecocks have also been the kind of program that traditionally loses trap games like their roadies at Mississippi State or Tennessee, so it's also possible they drop three or four regular-season games and wind up nowhere near No. 12. Splitting the difference seems reasonable.

Verdict? About right.

ARKANSAS (No. 14): We'll make this simple: a talented, veteran defense opposite a Bobby Petrino offense featuring his long sought-after plowhorse running back and the nation's best wide receiving corps? They're going to be really, really good. 10-2 good, second straight BCS bowl berth good, we're thinking.

Verdict? Too low.

AUBURN (No. 19): As we mentioned earlier today, the old adage that you shouldn't drop the previous No. 1 until they lose might suggest the Tigers have been slapped in the face being as low as No. 19. And indeed, no defending national champion has been ranked this low to start the season since Minnesota went unranked in the 1961 preseason top 20.

But almost none of those defending national champions have faced either the kind of talent exodus the Tigers do or the savage slate that sees Auburn face all seven of the other SEC teams in the poll. If Gene Chizik can win the nine games that are likely necessary to finish the season in the top 20, he'll have done nearly as good a job as he did in 2010.

Verdict? It's a nice gesture towards the defending champs. But performance-wise? Too high.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (No. 20): Dan Mullen's Bulldogs will be good enough (and will have enough opportunity, with home dates against Alabama, LSU, and South Carolina) to impact the SEC race and make the top 25. They don't seem to have enough horses (particularly in a graduation-damaged front seven) to actually challenge for a title in a division as completely stacked as the West. 20 is jus tabout where we'd have them, too.

Verdict? About right.

GEORGIA (No. 22): Mark Richt's Bulldogs, on the other hand, are the SEC's biggest 2011 wild card. They might start 0-2 and collapse in an under-.500, Richt-finishing heap. They might start 2-0 and ride the league's cushiest schedule all the way to an undefeated regular season. (Seriously. Look at their slate and tell me which game after the Carolina tilt they won't be favored in if they can get past the Gamecocks.)

That would suggest a cautious 22 might be about right, but we're betting Richt has turned the tide with this spring's "Dream Team" recruiting class and the focus that comes with a make-or-break season.

Verdict? Too low. We think. Maybe.

FLORIDA (No. 24): It's easy to forget that for all of the disappointment and frustration of Urban Meyer's final season in Gainesville, the Gators still won eight games--and could have even snagged a few more if not for some unfortunate bounces against teams like LSU and Mississippi State. So even though we're firmly in wait-and-see mode where the John Brantley-Charlie Weis shotgun marriage is concerned, having the SEC's second-best defense from a year ago getting the added boost of Will Muschamp's arrival seems like reason enough to take a flyer on the Gators at the bottom of the ballot.

Verdict? About right.

THE OTHER FOUR (n/a): Tennessee pulled seven voting points to land in the "Others receiving votes" category at "No. 41" overall, with none of the other three SEC teams receiving even a token vote. We're surprised the Volunteers didn't get a little more love -- after their late-season surge in 2010, there was some measure of buzz pegging them as 2011 sleepers -- but after Tyler Bray's up-and-down spring, we don't blame the pollsters for their skepticism.

Verdict? About right.


Since: Aug 8, 2011
Posted on: August 8, 2011 11:22 pm

Preseason Coaches Poll Reactions: SEC

Wow, an intelligent conversation about football?  I'm in!!
No way do you overlook ANYONE in the SEC.  Eventually, the breaks have to swing your way.  That said, I think Arky is due.  I got my tix and will see the game in T'Town (as well as the LSU game).  3 way donneybrook (sp?) between BAMA, LSU and them Hogs!  Winner of the UF/UGA game from the east.  I think everyone has forgotten all the talent Urban stockpiled in G'ville.  A little D goes a long way and they have talent to spare on that side of the ball.  Just my worthless opinion!  Let's do this!!

Since: Sep 19, 2008
Posted on: August 8, 2011 12:01 pm

Preseason Coaches Poll Reactions: SEC

Why would anyone put Oklahoma at number one preseason? We all know that's not where their going to end up....Even IF they make it to the NC game, they're going to get the same SEC beat down they normally get.  Florida, Arakansas, Alabama, LSU, Auburn, hell even Tennessee would pound them AGAIN!

Since: Nov 12, 2006
Posted on: August 7, 2011 11:17 pm

Preseason Coaches Poll Reactions: SEC

Go Vols! The paradigm is about to shift.

Since: Aug 28, 2006
Posted on: August 7, 2011 3:53 pm

Preseason Coaches Poll Reactions: SEC

To the point,....these are all really good observations... wish all the comment strings were like this. 

SEC football is awesome.

Since: Aug 29, 2010
Posted on: August 4, 2011 9:48 pm

Preseason Coaches Poll Reactions: SEC

Auburn is getting that ranking from carry-over respect...that, and they still have Malzahn. Florida is going through so many changes that it will be a year or two before they resurface. Mississippi State actually scares me. Those boys know that no one is giving them a chance to pull off an upset. My boys better respect them going into the game. South Carolina will be good - in the East. After my Hogs beat them soundly at W.Bryce last season, I can't see them being better than us this year. UGA is my pick for the sleeper in the East. They have good talent and are playing with fire this season. Let's just say that I don't believe Jordan Jefferson can work any magic this year for LSU. He has been, in my worthless opinion, a drag on the LSU offense. Their defense is always good, but couple that with even a mid-level offense, and you have title hopes. Tennessee, well, I think they will be back in maybe three years. They are too good of a program historically to stay down. Ole Miss - Enjoy the heart and passion of Houston Nutt. You hired him. You live with it for a few more years. Alabama has some weapons this year. Until my boys beat them with Saban, I will have to sit here and just shake my head. No need to mention UK or Vandy. My Hogs have a chance to do big things this season IF THEY DON'T LOOK PAST ANYONE! I firmly believe the media will be talking about the LSU vs. Arkansas game after Thanksgiving because it will have national title implications one way or the other. We could both be undefeated going in!!!!!

BUT that will require a few lucky bounces our way. Worst case scenario, I see my Hogs going 8-4. Best case scenario, we hoist a crystal football in January.   

Since: Aug 4, 2011
Posted on: August 4, 2011 9:27 pm

Preseason Coaches Poll Reactions: SEC

Arkansas is definitely too low. However, I can see the validity of their ranking. They have both Alabama and LSU on the road. They may be talented on defense but have never shown to be great on that side of the ball.

I can see Auburn winning 7 games including the bowl but I don't see 9. Auburn has lost more scholarships in one year than most teams llse in two. They have recruited as good as anyone in the country but even with Cam Newton and Nick Fairly, there were 5 games last year that Auburn could have lost.

With a veteran O-line and Trent Richadson and Eddy Lacy at tailback, Alabama won't need a high-flying quarterback. The Alabama defense will be very, very good. If the d-line can overcome inexperience, it has the potential to be one of the best all-time.

LSU will also have a very good defense and have as good of talent as anyone. My biggest question mark for them is not Jordan Jefferson. The only thing Jefferson needs to do iis not turn the ball over and the defense will consistenly give the ball back to him. My biggest question is, who is going to replace Stevan Ridley and Patrick Peterson. I'll put it this way; I'm glad that game is in Tuscaloosa. The winner of that game will likely represent the west in Atlanta.

By the way, I'm new to the board. Look forward to reading you guys' opinions.

Since: Sep 3, 2009
Posted on: August 4, 2011 8:58 pm

Preseason Coaches Poll Reactions: SEC

I dont know if I would consider Arkansas better than or equal to South Carolina right now... we have a proven QB while they don't, we have a better RB, Alshon Jeffery is probably the best WR in the nation (along with several other quality WRs), and I would think our defense is slightly better at least.  I think both teams could be moved up 1-2 spots, but that is pretty damn accurate IMO... I think they will both be up in the top 10 throughout the season though, especially if Wilson can play like he did in the AU game through a whole season.

Since: Aug 18, 2010
Posted on: August 4, 2011 4:30 pm

Preseason Coaches Poll Reactions: SEC

I think that Arkansas is too low and Auburn is way too high as I see them going 6-6 at best.  Bama needs to find a QB or they will be too high, and LSU needs better QB play or they will be in the same boat.  Arkansas may be as good or better than both, and is surely as good as South Carolina.  The other three; UGA, UF, and MSU are all about even to me at this point.  Breaks could decide their fates.  It should be a great year in the SEC as long as at least one team from the East steps up. 

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