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SEC Football Preview 2021-22


College football has finally returned for the 2021-22 season and once again no conference can compare to the SEC. Alabama is coming off another national title and look to continue to dominate the college football world and the SEC. With the news of Oklahoma and Texas joining in the next couple of seasons the conference is really shaping up to add another level of dominance. LSU has enough talent and a familiar system returning to bounce back on the year. A&M will continue to grow under Jimbo Fisher. There is even a surprise team not enough people are talking about. Next week you guys will be getting early Heisman favorites, the top games to look forward to and then even playoff predictions but for now let’s get to the overview of each team. It is going to be a juicy one that you won’t wanna miss. Here We Go………

Alabama football SEC

SEC West

Alabama– Okay realistically no one thought this was gonna be a different choice right? As much as I would love to put my LSU Tigers here it just is too difficult to pick against Bama. They lose a ton of talent to the draft especially on offense with Mac Jones, Heisman winner Devonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle and Najee Harris among others all getting drafted in the first round. Big name 5 star QB Bryce Young takes over the reigns and has in my opinion even more talent than Mac Jones did. They have John Mechie waiting in the wings at receiver and Bama fans will tell you who is the most exciting receiver since Julio. The defense is always heavily loaded. They have probably the best coach in all of football in Nick Saban. Just too much in my opinion to see them letting their hold in the West go. They get LSU at home which is a big deal for that game. They do have to travel to the Swamp to play Florida and they open the season with Miami but both of those still can’t seem to get me to pick Bama not repeating in the West. Even with all the turnover on the offense this is a team coming off a title, a team that is always stocked with talent, and a defense which was very young a year ago now back and ready to roll. Record prediction- 12-0

LSU Tigers

LSU Tigers- MY LSU TIGERS. Man what a down year coming off the high that 2019 was. With so much loss to the draft and with opt outs it was bound to be a little bit of a struggle but I don’t think anyone expected 5-5. Either way the defense should be back to its usual self with the firing of Bo Pelini(thank god) and the offense was not really the problem last year. With Myles Brennan likely out for the foreseeable future the position will fall to Max Johnson. Johnson had separated himself apparently even before Brennan got the surgery, so doesn’t seem like this is even a move because of injury. Look for Max to establish what he was building on towards the end of last year with even a return to more of the 2019 offense than a year ago. Kayshon Boutte took advantage of Jamar and Terrace Marshall both opting out last year which allowed him to put up pretty good numbers, 45 recs for 735 and 5 touchdowns, including an SEC and LSU record for receiving yards in a game when he lit up Ole Miss for 308 yards and 3 TD’s. He is the LSU breakout star player for the year. Of course Derek Stingley patrols the secondary on the other side and everyone knows what he is capable of. Look for LSU to bounce back this year with their biggest test being traveling to Tuscaloosa for a matchup to most likely decide who represents the SEC West in the title game. Record prediction- 11-1

Texas A&M

Texas A&M– I almost had my first big shocker as I debated back and forth between Ole Miss and A&M here but eventually decided to stick with the Aggies and the better overall roster. This is a defense that despite losing Bobby Brown to the draft, returns a top 10 pick in the upcoming draft most likely in Demarvin Neal and return most of their defense that was the best in the SEC a year ago. Offensively is where Jimbo Fisher will have the biggest challenge as he has to replace the most successful QB since Johnny Football in Kellon Mond. Haynes King will take over the job with elite speed and a winning background in Texas football. He looked lost at some points last year even in mop up duty and struggled a bit in the spring game but still he will lead an offense that returns most of it’s skill players. The big issue will be the offensive line who loses 4 of the 5 starters from a year ago and a unit that has looked shaky at times got at least on paper worse. The athletic ability of King should be able to help out the o-line who also struggled in the spring game. King’s ability to use his speed and that tough, tough defense should be just enough to edge out Ole Miss for the 3rd spot in the West. Record prediction- 9-3

Ole Miss Rebels

Ole Miss– Maybe the first surprise of the preview as I have Ole Miss battling hard with A&M to finish behind LSU and Bama. Lane Kiffin returns for his second season in Oxford with a ton of offensive talent returning and a defense that should be better than the atrocious unit they were a year ago. Matt Corral returns to lead an offense that was definitely not the problem a year ago. This was the number 1 total offense a year ago in the SEC(yes even over the juggernaut that was the Bama offense) and returns most of it’s talent. Elijah Moore at receiver is a big loss for sure but when you return a QB that threw for 3000 yards and 39 TD’s then you will be just fine on that end. Not only is Corral returning but the offense gets back it’s two leading rushers, Jerrion Ealy and Snoop Connor, who combined with Corral ran for over 1,600 yards on the ground to lead the SEC in rushing as a unit. The defense from a year ago was atrocious as I mentioned earlier but you have to think a young unit will continue to grow and give the offense just a tad more help. As long as the defense returning can keep teams under 30 at least a couple of times then Ole Miss should cruise to 4th in the West, maybe even push for 3rd. But most definitely this is a team that will give the Big 3 in the division some trouble just based on the scoring ability alone. Record prediction- 8-4

Auburn Tigers

Auburn– The Auburn Tigers are a team that way underwhelmed a season ago. Bo Nix has not developed the way a lot of analysts and pundits thought he would, as he has struggled to consistently be accurate with the football and make the right decisions when he can’t run with the ball. He completed only 59% of his passes a season ago for 12 TD’s to go along with 7 ints. He is athletic but even that hasn’t worked well the last year and a half as he was held to only 338 yards on the ground, for an average of 3.8 yards per carry. He did score 7 TD’s on the ground but when your best attribute is your ability to be dynamic on the ground that’s just not going to get it done in the tough West. This is a defense that a year ago, while not terrible was not dominant enough to overcome the lack of offense. Unless Bo develops majorly as a passer or his weapons give him more help, it will be more of the same for Auburn this year. Record Prediction- 6-6

Arkansas Razorbacks

Arkansas– Arkansas is a strange team to judge. A young team that seems to want to play hard for their coach in Sam Pittman is a solid start. They are young all over the place but especially at QB as it will either be KJ Jefferson or Malik Hornsby but at the time of this article the Razorbacks are sticking with Jefferson to start. He has an ability to run the ball well but most show that he has the accuracy to compete at this level as on his career he is only a 48.8% passer. But he is young and has apparently shown a ton of growth in the department if you believe what you hear coming from camp. But he is behind a solid veteran group on the line who all 5 starters are returning. Trelon Smith returns in the backfield coming off 700 yards and a 5.5 yards per carry. He will be part of a rotation with a thumping back in Dominque Johnson and a speedster in Raheim Sanders. With skill positions for KJ to throw too the Razorbacks return talented tight end in Hudson Henry and a talented receiver group led by Treylon Burks who is probably a top 3 receiver in the SEC and is listed at 6’3 and 225 pounds. He will be a matchup nightmare for most corners in the SEC. On the defensive side of the ball they return 10 starters from a year ago with the defense being much better than the stats show. Barry Odom should be able to continue to expect growth and improvement on that side of the ball. Either way the offense should be talented enough with all the weapons and the defense should take enough steps forward to not finish in the cellar and maybe even jump Auburn. Record prediction- 6-6

Mississippi State Bulldogs

Mississippi State– After the opener a year ago MSU looked like the real deal especially offensively when they throttled the defending national champs in Baton Rouge. Little did we know that was as good as it would get for MSU and early signs of how leaky the LSU defense would become. The offense of MSU failed to move the ball through the air even with the air raid and the running attack was one of the worst in all of football. The offense also turned the ball over way too much. KJ Costello was replaced during the season by freshman Will Rogers who now this year is most likely to take over for the ineffective Costello. Their is a chance that Southern Miss transfer Jack Abraham also competes with Rogers for the job. Jaden Walley returns as the top receiving threat and he is expected to make a big jump after being one of the few to succeed downfield as a freshman. If the offense can not put such pressure on a defense that returns 7 starters then the unit could be sneaky good. The front 7 is the strength as they have many rotating linebackers to build around and a 300 lb hoss up front at nose in Jaden Crumedy, as well as a pass rush transfer from UCF in Randy Charlton. Still the offense has way too many question marks and the defense while better than stats show still is not good enough to bail out the offensive issues with turnovers and lack of threats. Record prediction- 4-8


Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia– Georgia opens the year with a tough matchup against Clemson that legitimately could be a playoff preview. After that though it is much more smooth sailing through their schedule. They avoid Bama or LSU during the regular season. Most likely they will run into either one in the SEC championship but even a two loss Georgia team with the two losses being to playoff teams would still find a way into the playoff. The offense averaged 32 points per game a season ago which is good but maybe not enough to contend nationally in the SEC. All that is expected to change however as JT Daniels will step in after a full offseason to take over the reigns. When he started games last year the offense really took off and now he will have had a full offseason under his belt. Watch out for this offense this year. They do lose George Pickens for most of the year if not all of it but still this is a team with plenty of weapons. Kearis Jackson returns and is expected to make another jump forward coming off his 515 yards a season ago. Arik Gilbert transferred in from LSU and is expected to add another weapon in the passing game. But the real threat is the offensive line and the running game which returns 4 starters on the line and it’s top 5 rushers from a season ago. Zamir White is the headliner coming off 780 yards and 11 TD’s on the ground. But there is so much depth behind him it’s crazy. It is Georgia after all and you can always expect them to have running backs for days. The defense was solid except for its two most important games of the year, which kind of was the problem. The secondary lost Tyson Campbell and Eric Stokes to the draft but got a big addition in the form of Clemson transfer Derion Kendrick. Tykee Smith also transfers in from West Virginia and those two are expected to once again form a stacked secondary. The pass rush was the leading rush in the SEC but lost a huge addition in Azeez Ojulari. They will need members of the defensive line to step up big time if they are to recreate the dominant force up front again. Most likely from the mega recruit that is Nolan Smith as he has developed as most thought he would into a freak off the edge. Even with all the question marks they avoid any major road games and only have to deal with Clemson and Florida. Expect this team to be in the top 4 again or close to it all year. Record prediction- 11-1

Florida Gators

Florida– Florida is needing to replace a ton of talent that left for the draft. On the offensive side they need to replace Kyle Trash…..errr I mean Trask. Kyle Pitts was maybe the biggest matchup nightmare in all of college football last year. Kadarious Toney and Trevon Grimes also leave the program for the draft. It’s a ton of talent to replace as evidence from the Cotton Bowl. Replacing Trask will be Emory Jones a very very highly recruited QB coming out of high school. He does have some college experience with 87 passes attempted in his career so he isn’t jumping into this completely blind. He has the running ability and arm to run the offense the way Dan Mullen wants. The receiving core is going to have to replace a ton of talent as mentioned earlier. It’s an unproven group with decent chances to break out. The group is led by 6’5 junior Justin Shorter who will need to finally realize all that potential he had coming into the program. The rushing threat will primarily come from Jones but the team does return options in the backfield such as Dameon Pierce, Clemson transfer Demarckus Bowman and former Miami transfer Lorenzo Lingard. The defense was not good last year at least for Florida standards but it does return a linebacking trio in Ventrell Miller, Mohamoud Diabate and Amari Burney. They also have one of the top cornerbacks in the country in Kaiir Elam, but the rest of the defense is either gone or worse in areas that they struggled in. So the offense will need to once again try and make up for the difference unless the secondary or the d-line make a huge jump. Record prediction- 8-4

Missouri Tigers

Missouri– This may come as another small shock at least to some. I have Missouri finishing just above Kentucky in the East. This is a team that doesn’t feature a lot of heavily talented recruits or big names, but they fight hard for their coach and for each other. They came into the year last year trying to implement a new system under Head Coach Eliah Drinkwitz and not even knowing who the starting QB was going to be. Despite that they put up 400 plus yards of offense in a COVID heavy season. This year that QB returns for another year(Connor Bazelak) and they have had a full offseason to really implement how they want to play. The receiver group is a veteran group with some decent size as the top two guys are Keke Chism(senior) who is 6-4 and Tauskie Dove(junior) is 6-3 and has a world of upside. Then they added Ohio State speedster Mookie Cooper in the transfer portal. The offensive line is a veteran group that will need some shuffling after losing Larry Borom at right tackle but it should be just fine. In the backfield you have two decent receiving options who are slippery runners in Tyler Badie and Elijah Young. They are missing the bruiser so look for someone to emerge on that front for the running game to truly get where they need it to be. The defense was not good last year so the coaching staff was shuffled as they brought in former NFL veteran Steve Wilks at DC. He has a very talented defensive line to play around with including All SEC pass rusher Trajan Jeffcoat. The secondary is a veteran group but lacks any playmaking ability which could hurt them in tight games when they need a turnover. I think the coaching staff will do just enough and the improved QB play and defensive schemes should be enough for a solid finish. Record prediction- 7-5

Kentucky Wildcats

Kentucky– Kentucky is always such a difficult team to judge coming into a season. They had decent hopes a year ago to only end up struggling to a 5-6 record overall and the least potent and efficient offense in the SEC. They went out and got LA Rams assistant Liam Coen, who is supposed to bring a more potent attack after learning under Coach Sean McVay. Penn State transfer Will Levis comes in to take over the starting QB job. He will hope to reignite a passing attack that as we said was the worst in the SEC a year ago. He will have some decent weapons to help him out in returning senior Josh Ali. The receiving corps also got another boost with talented weapon Wandale Robinson from Nebraska. I think the real weapon will be tight end Keaton Upshaw who led the team with only 3 receiving TD, but we are talking about a guy who is 6’6 245 pounds. So if this new attacking offense can develop the way they want it to watch out for Mr. Upshaw especially in the red zone. In the backfield Chris Rodriguez returns with 790 yards and 11 TD. The offensive line was the solid non leaky unit that they usually are and that shouldn’t change this year. The defense did not get to the passer well but they were a bend and don’t break type unit. They also led the SEC in taking the ball away which will be a big move if they can continue that success. But it will be hard to replicate as the defense lost a ton of major contributors, none more impactful than first round pick Jamin Davis. The ultra pass rusher Boogie Watson will be tough to replace as well since this was a team that already struggled getting in the backfield. All these factors on defense and improved play from Missouri means Kentucky finishes 4th. Record prediction- 7-5

Tennessee Volunteers

Tennessee– Year after year we hear all about Tennessee and how they should be quite good in the SEC. Year after year they disappoint. This was a team a year ago that was dead last in 3rd down percentage and an offense that scored about 19 points only once in the final 9 weeks and that came against Vandy. New Head Coach Josh Heupel comes from UCF and wants to bring a fast paced push the ball down the field offense. Joe Milton has been named the starter and struggled in his time at Michigan and it doesn’t get easier now that he is in the SEC. The running back tandem of Jabari Small and JUCO star Tiyon Evans does have potential to be dangerous though. Update they just ran all over Bowling Green. Even with the promising backfield and new head coach and offense this team will have to prove it is the real deal before I believe they are. The defense couldn’t rush the passer or stop the pass. It will need better performances all over the field but also have to replace Henry To’o who left for Bama. It’s tough sledding ahead for the new coach Heupel. Call me a doubter on this team especially this year. For these reasons I have them finishing fifth in the SEC east. Record prediction: 5-7

South Carolina Gamecocks

South Carolina– South Carolina just avoided finishing bottom in the East as this team looks to rebuild from the depths of the Underworld. This is an extremely young offense and an offense that struggled up front the most a year ago, especially in pass protection. Kevin Harris in the backfield is the best weapon this team has but unless he channels his inner Marcus Lattimore(what a shame those knee injuries were) then this offense could struggle again majorly this year. Under center is graduate assistant Zeb Noland. He last played at NDSU in a shortened season, throwing for 750 yards. He won’t have a ton of proven playmakers on the outside to help out the former grad assistant. The leading returning weapon is tight end Nick Muse as Shi Smith is now a Carolina Panther. The defense was loaded with potential a year ago but all hell broke loose as they allowed over 420 yards per game and over 36 ppg. The defense is transitioning to a 4-2-5 this year but it will have to work almost immediately to avoid another disastrous performance. Record Prediction- 4-8

Vanderbilt Commodorres

Vanderbilt– Oh Vandy…….. You guys are truly the Ivy League of the SEC and thankfully so because the football has been atrocious over the last 5 years. You do have a few promising bright spots that if groomed the right way by head coach Clark Lea and new offensive coordinator from the NFL David Raih then there is hope at the end of a very dark tunnel. Ken Seals as a freshman was about the only successful or somewhat successful part of the offense as he showed many promising signs. But in order to take the next step he must learn to go from promising to dangerous and open up the field as he averaged only 6 ypa a season ago, bottom last in the SEC. Cam Johnson, his leading receiver from a year ago, returns as well as deep threat Amir Abdur-Rahim. Re’Mahn Davis, who ran for over 1,000 yards at Temple as a freshman must find his way again after struggling last year. The defense was even worse than the offense which was hard to do. They didn’t get to the QB, stop the run or create turnovers nearly enough. The Commodores brought in new DC Jesse Minter from the Ravens and Lea is a defensive coach in nature coming from Notre Dame but the defense must show major major improvements to even consider jumping South Carolina. Record prediction- 2-10

Wow what a preview to start the year. I can genuinely say I made at least two surprising picks and then stuck to the big names for top finishes but still it just feels good to have college football back again and with FANS! Thank you all for sticking around through this huge preview and be on the lookout next week for Heisman favorites and big game breakdowns.