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SEC East College Football Conference review with Picks and Predictions 2011
It wasn't long ago that the SEC East was the best division in the SEC. Even though the West is clearly better, the East is still not to be trifled with! Although it was very down last year when South Carolina took the top spot, it appears that teams like Florida and Georgia will experience a resurgence in 2011. Let's take a look.
Georgia Bulldogs - HC Mark Richt could be on the hot seat after last year's 6-7 debacle that saw them lose to UCF in the Liberty Bowl. That should be all the extra motivation they need to play well. 5 starters are back on offense and 7 on defense. The WR corps lose super star AJ Green, but with NFL caliber TE Orson Charles stepping up they shouldn't fall off too much. Our favorite thing about this team is sophomore QB Aaron Murray. The kid is an absolute stud as shown by the 3,048 yards and 24-8 ratio he put up as a freshman. Look for even bigger and better things from the best QB in the SEC. The defense is particularly strong with a much improved line and 6 of 8 DBs back from a team that was +10 in the TO column last year. This team will be tough to beat in the East.
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South Carolina Gamecocks - We don't hope to offend any SC fans, but winning the East with a 9-5 record really tells everyone how down the division was last year. Spurrier gets back 13 starters from that team and brings n several talented recruits. QB Stephen Garcia has produced well in his time at SC and he has a great weapon in the SEC's top WR, Alshon Jeffery. TB Marcus Lattimore was a monster as a freshman and will do even better this year. The defensive line adds the nation's #1 recruit in Jadedeveon Clowney. The freshman has super star potential. CB Stephon Gilmore is back as the teams top tackler and leading interceptor. The Gamecocks are without a doubt a very strong contender in the SEC East.
Florida Gators - The days of this team dominating are gone for now, but with new HC Will Muschamp they might not be gone for long. OC Charlie Weis doesn't hurt the situation either. Last year finished a bad 8-5 under Urban Meyer. The offense gets back 6 starters and QB John Brantley will fit better in a Pro style system. If not, look for Muschamp to part ways with him quickly. The RBs look great with Jeff Demps back and Trey Burton backing him up. The LBs are the brightest part of the team with Jelani Jenkins entering his sophomore season. In 2010 he had 76 tackles. Things are headed the right way, but the Gators may not reach last year's mark of 8-5.
Tennessee Volunteers - HC Derek Doooley has a deeper team in 2011 with 13 starters back. Perhaps the most interesting player on the team is QB Tyler Bray. The sophomore stands 6-6 and weighs a hefty 210. He's built like former Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett and should be a top QB in the SEC. He will get help on offense from a much improved offensive line as well as 1,000 yard RB Tauren Poole. The defense appears a tad average, but the Volunteers figure to move way up this year if things go right.
Kentucky Wildcats - HC Joker Phillips did well to finish 6-7 last year and he gets back a strong team with 16 starters returning. Morgan Newton takes over for Hartline at QB. He did well in the bowl game last year as Hartline was suspended. Even still, he will have to prove he deserves the job. He gets a strong offensive line to play behind. The defense has its top 11 tacklers back. The Wildcats should be headed to a bowl game.
Vanderbilt Commodores - James Franklin takes over at HC and inherits 19 starters from a 2-10 team. They open the season against Elon and then take on a down Connecticut team. After that they play Ole Miss and later in the year Army comes to town. The season ends against Wake Forest. All of these games are winnable.
Additional resource - Betfirms SEC Preview
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