Going into the summer, what are the post-spring rankings for all the SEC teams?
Based on how good the teams appear to be after spring ball, welcome to the SEC post-spring rankings. The 2015 record is next to each team.
14. Vanderbilt (4-8)
Some offense, any offense, just a trickle of offense. The Commodores just aren’t that bad – defensively. The O, though, doesn’t have enough firepower yet to get over the hump. It’ll need to find something that consistently works in fall camp.
13. Kentucky (5-7)
All the excitement of a few years ago isn’t totally gone, but it’s starting to fizzle. The program really, really, really needs a sixth win and a bowl appearance. It’s going to be tough to get in an improved East.
12. South Carolina (3-9)
Could the addition of Will Muschamp – yeah, he really can coach, Florida fans – and freshman quarterback Brandon McIlwain make the difference? The Gamecocks weren’t that far off in several games last season, and now they have hope.
11. Mississippi State (9-4)
As always, everyone will see the Bulldogs as also-rans, and as always under Dan Mullen, they’re going to be dangerous. They just don’t have the talent, though, to make a whole bunch of noise in the East. They don’t have Dak, either.
10. Missouri (5-7)
The Tigers didn’t get much of anything out of the offense with almost no downfield passing production whatsoever. New head coach Barry Odom has the defense in place, but can he coax anything out of the O? Just a little tweaking will make a world of difference.
9. Auburn (7-6)
The Tigers might have taken a year off offensively, but the return of Carl Lawson to the defensive side, and with more options now for the running game, should mean a bounceback year.
8. Texas A&M (8-5)
The coaching staff needs a big year after all the quarterback drama. Trevor Knight, all you have to do is get the one-time hot program rolling again. No pressure.
7. Arkansas (8-5)
The Hogs won’t have the same passing attack, and they lose star running back Alex Collins, but they’re going to keep on pounding away. They need everyone to be healthy in the backfield, first.
6. Florida (10-4)
The defense should still be the same sort of killer that got the Gators to the SEC championship game, led by a secondary that might be every bit as good despite losing NFL Draft first rounders Vernon Hargreaves and Keanu Neal. The front seven will be a rock against the run, so if the offense can just get by and not screw up, there could be another run to the SEC East title.
5. Ole Miss (10-3)
Laremy Tunsil, Robert Nkemdiche, Laquon Treadwell. How do you lose those three first round NFL talents, and 13 starters on both sides of the ball, and be better? Hugh Freeze might have done it. Chad Kelly is a pro-caliber passer who’ll make everyone around him better, the defense is still going to be fantastic, and don’t dismiss the disrespect factor – the Rebels will be under siege this season.
4. Georgia (10-3)
Is Jacob Eason ready to be a superstar? If so, fall camp will be much easier for a Bulldog team already solid at quarterback. The lines need some more time, but the secondary should be a statistical monster and the running game will be stellar – especially if and when Nick Chubb’s knee is ready to roll. Kirby Smart is a phenomenal recruiter, so give it a year or so, but this year’s team is good enough to get to Atlanta in early December.
3. Alabama (14-1)
The defense is going to be phenomenal. Get ready for Tim Williams to be a college football household name as a pass rusher from an outside linebacker spot, while Reuben Foster will be the new starter on the inside. Everything else is in place – even after losing A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed from the front three.
The offense is the bigger issue with a real, live quarterback concern – they were all mediocre this spring. And yeah, the running game will be worse without Derrick Henry and Kenyon Drake. Fortunately, the receiving corps should be devastating if someone can feed the ball its way.
2. Tennessee (9-4)
So what’s missing? Joshua Dobbs is an elite quarterback with all the experience to carry the offense, but he won’t have to with four starters back up front, a receiving corps that has the look of something special – even if it has to play the part – and Jalen Hurd to pound away. Combine an improved offense with a defense that should be a killer – especially on the line – and this is the season when Tennessee finally plays up to its hype.
1. LSU (9-3)
Step One: The passing offense improved this spring. It’s going to take more shots down the field with a veteran quarterback in Brandon Harris to rely on more. Step Two: New defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s new style and 3-4 system should work better – the line is going to be a killer. Step Three: And it should probably be the first step, LSU didn’t lose a ton of key parts to the NFL this year.
That’s coming next season, but for now, LSU will start the begin the season with the best starting 22 led by the best one, or the best No. 7, with Leonard Fournette ready to carry the team on his shoulders when he has to. But he won’t have to do it as much this year with too much wide receiver talent, too much upside on defense, and too much experience across the board not to go into the fall No. 1.