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Southeast Conference Football

2009 Southeast Conference Football Preview

Eastern Division

1) FLORIDA-  Not only do the Gators return all eleven starters to a defensive unit that won a National Championship but all eleven backups, as well. The best of the bunch, All American LB Brandon Spikes, was the team’s leading tackler in ’08 and will front a secondary that led the nation in interceptions. On the other side, some guy named Tebow is the nation’s best player and operates in system perfectly suited to his talents. Even though the Gators will have to replace and, on the offensive line, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Florida doesn’t win its third in four years with Tebow taking home his second Heisman. Their first test will come at LSU on Oct 10 and the second on Halloween vs. Georgia.

2) GEORGIA- Even though it’s almost impossible to overcome the losses of players like Matt Stafford and Knowshon Moreno, the Dawgs may actually pull it off, thanks to five returning starters on the Offensive Line.  QB Joe Cox will rely heavily on WR  A.J. Green while the running game sorts itself out.  While head coach Mark Richt looks to tackles Geno Atkins and Jeff Owens to lead strong defensive unit.  They’ll be tested early, as they travel to Oklahoma State for their opener.

3) KENTUCKY- As the defense goes, so go the Wildcats.  Kentucky has NFL talent at MLB in Micah Johnson and CB Trevard Lindley; both seniors.  For the ‘Cats to go bowling, though, they’ll need a better season from QB Mike Hartline, someone to step up at RB and immediate help from a strong recruiting class.

4) VANDERBILT- The Commodores return 18 starters to a team that appeaed in a bowl for the first time in 26 years. Most importantly, each line is completely stocked with veteran players.  They’ll have to improve on their paltry offensive output in ’08 and may just do so behind Soph QB Larry Smith who emerged as the starter late last season.  Defensively, Vandy is led by CB Myron Lewis and LB Chris Marve. 

5) SOUTH CAROLINA- The Gamecocks ride into ’09 looking to ride their defense as far as it can take them.  Studs like LB/DE Eric Norwood and LB Rodney Paulk top the list, followed closely by DE Cliff Matthews and CB Akeem Auguste.  Stephen Garcia gets the nod at QB ; almost by default.  The ‘Cocks led the nation in interceptions thrown last season and may do so again if a questionable Offensive Line can’t protect Garcia.

6) TENNESSEE- It’s time for new coach Lane Kiffin to walk the walk after spending most of the last few months talking the talk.  He’ll have to do it with an unproven Jonathan Crompton at QB and Bryce Brown, a freshman, at RB.  The defense will give the Vols their best chance to win as All American S Eric Berry returns along with stud DT Dan Williams and LB Rico McCoy.

 

Western Division

1) ALABAMA– Despite the losses of QB John Parker Wilson and leading rusher, Glen Coffee, the Tide should again roll to the top of the SEC West standings on the strength of Nick Saban’s second straight, top ranked recruiting class. Glen McElroy steps into the void created by Wilson’s departure and will seek support from RB Mark Ingram, who set a freshman record for TD with 12. Terrence Cody and Rolando McLain lead nine returning starters on a defensive unit whose secondary is its only question mark. We’ll get an early idea about what kind of season it’ll be for Alabama in the September 5th opener vs. Virginia Tech.

2) MISSISSIPPI– The Rebels are the sexy pick to challenge in the SEC this year, ranked as high as sixth nationally by Sports Illustrated. Behind QB Jevan Snead, the offense averaged 30 PPG last season and returns most of its starters. The defense must overcome the loss of DT Peria Jerry and improve its secondary. Many point to the ’08 upset of Florida in Gainesville and the thrashing of Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl as reasons to expect big things. Maybe so, but bad losses at Wake Forest and South Carolina indicate that consistency is still a problem.

3) LOUISIANA STATE– QB Jordan Jefferson emerged as the starter late last season and carries the torch for the Tigers’ O into 2009. He’ll have premier talent to rely on in WR Brandon LaFell and RB Charles Scott. The big questions lie on the other side of the ball where the Bayou Bengals were extremely generous in ’08. A strong secondary led by CB Patrick Peterson and S Chad Jones will have to pick up the slack for a D-Line with three new starters.

ARKANSAS– The Hogs, in Head Coach Bobby Petrino’s second year, will look to QB Ryan Mallett, a transfer from Michigan, to lead the offense to the level of efficiency Petrino was known for at Louisville.  RB Michael Smith and TE D.J. Williams will be Mallett’s main weapons.  Their problems on defense, however, may be too difficult to overcome.  In an unforgiving SEC, nine returning starters from the league’s worst unit is not an ideal situation.

AUBURN- Good luck to new Head Coach Gene Chizik, who must make a quick impression on Tiger fans in order to make them forget his 5-19 record at Iowa State. That’ll be tough as an uncertain QB situation will be further complicated by the introductuion of the spread offense.  Look for Kodi Burns to start the year under center with RB’s Ben Tate and Mario Fannin carrying most of the load.  A highly rated recruiting class could help.

MISSISSIPPI STATE-  MSU joins the club of teams installing the spread offense.  In their case, however, they have Dan Mullen, one of its originators, as head coach. Mullen left Urban Meyer’s Florida staff to come to Starkville and may be the team’s only attraction in his first year.  A solid, if unspectacular, defense is led by LB Jamar Chaney and will have to step it up as the offense suffers the growing pains of Frosh QB Tyler Russell.

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SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE FOOTBALL 2009 SCHEDULES

ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE

Sept.5   Virginia Tech (Atlanta)
Sept.12  FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL
Sept.19  NORTH TEXAS
Sept.26  ARKANSAS
Oct. 3   at Kentucky
Oct. 10  at Ole Miss
Oct. 17  SOUTH CAROLINA
Oct. 24  TENNESSEE
Nov. 7   LSU
Nov. 14  at Mississippi State
Nov. 21  CHATTANOOGA
Nov. 28  at Auburn

ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS

Sept.5   MISSOURI STATE (Little Rock)
Sept.19  GEORGIA
Sept.26  at Alabama
Oct. 3   Texas A&M (Arlington, Texas)
Oct. 10  AUBURN
Oct. 17  at Florida
Oct. 24  at Ole Miss
Oct. 31  EASTERN MICHIGAN
Nov. 7   SOUTH CAROLINA
Nov. 14  TROY
Nov. 21  MISSISSIPPI STATE (Little Rock)
Nov. 28  at LSU

AUBURN TIGERS

Sept.5   LOUISIANA TECH
Sept.12  MISSISSIPPI STATE
Sept.19  WEST VIRGINIA
Sept.26  BALL STATE
Oct. 3   at Tennessee
Oct. 10  at Arkansas
Oct. 17  KENTUCKY
Oct. 24  at LSU
Oct. 31  OLE MISS
Nov. 7   FURMAN
Nov. 14  at Georgia
Nov. 28  ALABAMA

FLORIDA GATORS

Sept.5   CHARLESTON SOUTHERN
Sept.12  TROY
Sept.19  TENNESSEE
Sept.26  at Kentucky
Oct. 10  at LSU
Oct. 17  ARKANSAS
Oct. 24  at Mississippi State
Oct. 31  Georgia (Jacksonville)
Nov. 7   VANDERBILT
Nov. 14  at South Carolina
Nov. 21  FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL
Nov. 28  FLORIDA STATE

GEORGIA BULLDOGS

Sept.5   at Oklahoma State
Sept.12  SOUTH CAROLINA
Sept.19  at Arkansas
Sept.26  ARIZONA STATE
Oct. 3   LSU
Oct. 10  at Tennessee
Oct. 17  at Vanderbilt
Oct. 31  Florida (Jacksonville)
Nov. 7   TENNESSEE TECH
Nov. 14  AUBURN
Nov. 21  KENTUCKY
Nov. 28  at Georgia Tech

KENTUCKY WILDCATS

Sept.5   Miami (Ohio) (Cincinnati)
Sept.19  LOUISVILLE
Sept.26  FLORIDA
Oct. 3   ALABAMA
Oct. 10  at South Carolina
Oct. 17  at Auburn
Oct. 24  LOUISIANA-MONROE
Oct. 31  MISSISSIPPI STATE
Nov. 7   EASTERN KENTUCKY
Nov. 14  at Vanderbilt
Nov. 21  at Georgia
Nov. 28  TENNESSEE

LSU TIGERS

Sept 5   at Washington
Sept 12  VANDERBILT
Sept.19  LOUISIANA LAFAYETTE
Sept.26  at Mississippi State
Oct. 3   at Georgia
Oct. 10  FLORIDA
Oct. 24  AUBURN
Oct. 31  at Tulane
Nov. 7   at Alabama
Nov. 14  LOUISIANA TECH
Nov. 21  at Ole Miss
Nov. 28  ARKANSAS

OLE MISS REBELS

Sept.6   at Memphis
Sept.19  SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA
Sept.26  at South Carolina
Oct. 3   at Vanderbilt
Oct. 10  ALABAMA
Oct. 17  UAB
Oct. 24  ARKANSAS
Oct. 31  at Auburn
Nov. 7   NORTHERN ARIZONA
Nov. 14  TENNESSEE
Nov. 21  LSU
Nov. 28  at Mississippi State

MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS

Sept.5   JACKSON STATE
Sept.12  at Auburn
Sept.19  at Vanderbilt
Sept.26  LSU
Oct. 3   GEORGIA TECH
Oct. 10  HOUSTON
Oct. 17  at Middle Tennessee
Oct. 24  FLORIDA
Oct. 31  at Kentucky
Nov. 14  ALABAMA
Nov. 21  Arkansas (Little RoCK)
Nov. 28  OLE MISS

SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS

Sept.3   at N.C. State
Sept.12  at Georgia
Sept.19  FLORIDA ATLANTIC
Sept.26  OLE MISS
Oct. 3   SOUTH CAROLINA STATE
Oct. 10  KENTUCKY
Oct. 17  at Alabama
Oct. 24  VANDERBILT
Oct. 31  at Tennessee
Nov. 7   at Arkansas
Nov. 14  FLORIDA
Nov. 28  CLEMSON

TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS

Sept.5   WESTERN KENTUCKY
Sept.12  UCLA
Sept.19  at Florida
Sept.26  OHIO
Oct. 3   AUBURN
Oct. 10  GEORGIA
Oct. 24  at Alabama
Oct. 31  SOUTH CAROLINA
Nov. 7   MEMPHIS
Nov. 14  at Ole Miss
Nov. 21  VANDERBILT
Nov. 28  at Kentucky

VANDERBILT COMMODORES

Sept.5   WESTERN CAROLINA
Sept.12  at LSU
Sept.19  OLE MISS
Sept.26  at Rice
Oct. 3   MISSISSIPPI STATE
Oct. 10  at Army
Oct. 17  GEORGIA
Oct. 24  at South Carolina
Oct. 31  GEORGIA TECH
Nov. 7   at Florida
Nov. 14  KENTUCKY
Nov. 21  at Tennessee 

 
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