It’s January. What of it???
Tennessee fans are spectacularly tubularificly bedazzled over the recruiters for which their school is paying absurd amounts of money. I sure hope Kiffykins is a good field coach…cause if not UT will be the Clemson of the SEC, with a top-5 recruiting classes every year but nary a conference championship to claim. LSU fans are whining…haha, got you good you corndog-eating, cornheaded, corn-lovers! Ha…CORN! Auburn fans are eating lizards (WTF???).
We here at DCT got better things to do.
(If this were on paper, the ink words would be smeared due to the wet-dripping sarcasm of the statement above).
After the jump, DCT’s early, early, almost pointlessly early, picks for the SEC West in 2009. They are based on nothing but hunches, cough syrup, and maybe a little crack-smoke.
Realistically, any of the West teams could win the division in ’09, except Mississippi State. The Bulldogs will finish last, and that’s the only thing of which we’re certain. Rankings of the other five are almost a pure crapshoot, but likely Arkansas gets the shaft because the team, as a whole, is bad.
When most sane SEC fans begin making their predictions, Ole Miss will probably be on the top of most lists for the West. We place them at #2 for the raw hankering that somehow head coach Houston Nutt will botch something along the way.
As evidenced by the Sugar Bowl atrocity, ‘Bama’s got problems on the offensive line heading into 2009. The quarterback position is an unknown, but it’s pretty clear senior Greg McElroy will begin spring practice as the favorite to take the majority of snaps next season.
McElroy or Jackson? We are of no relation, sir.
Head coach Nick Saban has indicated that redshirt freshman Star Jackson is talented but might not be ready to be the starter. Also, there’s a reason McElroy started spring last year on the 4th string, and he ended up being the only backup to throw a pass in ’08. His signs of swift improvement caused Nick Fanuzzi to leave the team (as Fanuzzi was eventually demoted to the 4th spot behind Jackson as well). God help us if there is a “quarterback controversy,” but we believe Jackson may play a bigger role than just mop-up duty
The O-line might not be in too terrible a shape, however. The Sugar Bowl meltdown was due to some unforeseen circumstances, and with so much time between now and the first game of ’09, Saban will surely be prepared in that area.
And it’s not like The Tide’s young’uns on the offensive front are bad…they’re just young. The loss of epic TE contributors Nick Walker and Travis McCall hurts the team up front as well, but sophomore Preston Dial got plenty of experience last season, and he’s a solid blocker (and supposedly can catch some too).
The loss of Glen Coffee at running back is notable, but Mark Ingram, Roy Upchurch, and Terry Grant are nothing at which to scoff. And newcomer Trent Richardson‘s getting hyped…eh, we’ll see if he’s any good when he gets on campus…remember, anybody can race a train – the question is whether he ever actually beat a train in one of these sessions…sounds like media crap-hype to us.
As for wide receivers, Julio Jones is incredible, and if ‘Bama can bring in another big time receiver (Rueben Randle, Kendall Kelly, or both) to complement the WR recruits already committed, The Tide might have sophomores (Julio and Marquis Maze) and all freshmen leading the receiving stats category.
On defense, Alabama is solid again. We are convinced Saban could have all members of the Foot Clan playing defense, and they’d still be badass.
2. Ole Miss
The Rebels received good news last week when defensive end Greg Hardy announced he would be returning for his senior season in Oxford. Hardy was rode the pine at the beginning of the season due to a stress fracture in his foot suffered during spring, which led to surgery. He made the most of catching up, though, and in just nine games played in 2008, the behemoth sacked opposing quarterbacks 8.5 times.
Combine that with the addition of veteran SEC DL coach Terry Price, who flip-flopped with the Rebels’ former assistant coach, Tracy Rocker, due to the coaching turnover at Auburn, and Ole Miss looks to be solid again on the defensive front for 2009. In ’08, The Rebel D was the second best rushing defense in the SEC.
But the weakest area on defense for Nutt’s team was in the backcourt, and the Rebs ranked dead last in the SEC for passing defense. Leading tackler and interceptor, cornerback Kendrick Lewis, returns for his final season, but Ole Miss must improve on its pass defense for Nutt’s second squad to be one that contends for the SEC West.
While it loses a couple key offensive linemen, the Rebel offense looks to be razor-dangerous again, with Jevan Snead leading the onslaught that materialized midway through the ’08 campaign. At the end of 2008, Ole Miss looked to be at least the second-best team in the entire SEC. The success may carry over to 2009.
The only thing keeping LSU from slipping lower in our early predictions is the late-season play of sophomore-to-be Jordan Jefferson. In 2008, Coach AssHat proved what most had already suspected – that he lacks a chromosome – by not adjusting the offensive system to make up for the weaknesses of his freshman quarterbacks. But Jefferson caught on when he was given the chance, playing with reckless abandon, and he finished out the year strongly with a decent showing against Arkansas and a solid performance versus Georgia Tech in the Peach Bowl.
The best talent for a football team has finally run out for the Bengals, but AssHat has signed his fair share of pretty good players. So he should get by again based on talent alone, but this time ESPN and other entities that don’t pay attention to the facts won’t be as surprised that LSU finishes in the middle of the SEC West.
Looks like new head coach Gene Chizik is overhauling down on the Plains. Several players have left the team, prematurely declaring for the NFL Draft (CB Jerraud Powers), declaring for the CFL draft (we’ll surely see LB Tray Blackmon on 60 Minutes in about five years discussing how Auburn “done him wrong” by not really caring about his ejja-ma-cay-shun), and just flat-out giving up football (WR Chris Slaughter – loves the pot).
But Auburn should be alright and will probably be the team to upset one or two of the top-three teams in the West. If Chizik and new offensive guru Gus Malzahn can find a way to keep QB Kodi Burns as the lone starter, – and one that focuses on not trying to do too much – the offense will be pretty good. As for the major losses on defense, Chizik is one of the best defensive coaches the SEC has seen in a long time, and Auburn should be alright on that side of the ball as well.
Beside, it’s a free year for the Tigers, as nobody (especially AU fans) expects them to do much anyway.
Surprisingly, head coach Bobby Petrino had the Razorbacks looking decent by the end of last year. The team that got drilled by Alabama in Week 3 was a far cry from the team that upset LSU in Week 13 (yes, LSU was pretty bad, but Arkie came a long way). Unfortunately, his leader at quarterback, Casey Dick, is gone. However, Michigan transfer Ryan Mallett, who will be a giant junior standing six feet, six inches, is the probable starter for ’09. He’s supposed to be pretty good.
6. Mississippi State
For head coach Dan Mullen, it’s gonna be tough to get the Bulldogs outta the cellar. Almost any hire for MSU is a good one, although we personally believe Sly Croom would be a good head coach at any other school, but why did State hire this guy? He was offensive coordinator at Florida, but wasn’t Urban Meyer really the offensive coordinator?