Preview 2018: Previewing and looking ahead to the SEC season with the team rankings.
Preview 2018: SEC Team Rankings
This is NOT a prediction of how the teams will finish. They’re the rankings of how good the teams are going into the season.
Please scroll down for the SEC rankings done by total conference, ranking 1 through 14.
SEC Rankings: East
1. Georgia Bulldogs
Should be ranked here because … most of the East is still in rehab mode and the Georgia talent is strong enough to get over some key losses. The offense is loaded thanks to the great quarterback options and star receivers, and the secondary is as good as any in the league.
Should be ranked lower because … there are some big replacements to be made. You don’t get better by losing Roquan Smith, Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, among others, even with all of the great players coming back. Experience in some spots will be a slight issue.
2. South Carolina Gamecocks
Should be ranked higher because … in a year when most of the East is in transition, the veteran Gamecocks have enough experience and coaching to take advantage. The offense will be far more dangerous and explosive, and as always under Will Muschamp, the defense will be strong.
Should be ranked lower because … the offensive line isn’t going to be a negative, but it’s hardly going to be a force against the stronger SEC lines. The secondary has a few new parts and don’t have much in the way of star power.
3. Florida Gators
Should be ranked higher because … Dan Mullen is bringing in a more fun attitude and more of an offense. But the defense will be what carries the team – it should be the strongest in the East. The ends are great, the running game will be good, and it shouldn’t take that much of a tweak to get this all going again.
Should be ranked lower because … the quarterback situation is still iffy. Is Feleipe Franks ready to be the man, or is it really going to be Kyle Trask handling the Mullen attack? The offense overall should be better, but it’s not going to be SEC East title good.
4. Missouri Tigers
Should be ranked higher because … Drew Lock could be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. The offensive line is the best in the East, the special teams are fantastic, and the quarterback should be a difference-maker, even if the O slows down under new offensive coordinator Derek Dooley.
Should be ranked lower because … the secondary is still going to be iffy. It’s not like there are a slew of big-time passing attacks in the SEC, but the Mizzou pass defense doesn’t have the stars. Can the D hold up if the slower-paced offense isn’t putting up points in bunches under the new OC?
5. Tennessee Volunteers
Should be ranked higher because … Tennessee actually has some good players for new head coach Jeremy Pruitt to work with. The linebacking corps and the defense are a good place to start, and for the offense that had so many problems, at least there are quarterback options to play around with. But …
Should be ranked lower because … Keller Chryst and Jarrett Guarantano aren’t Jake Fromm and Justin Fields. After last year, the offense still has to prove it can do something positive. The line will be a work in progress around Trey Smith, and the running back talent isn’t anything great.
6. Kentucky Wildcats
Should be ranked higher because … Benny Snell and the running game will be a factor behind a good line with some all-conference talent. The defense has a few superstars – LB Josh Allen and CB Mike Edwards are big in the NFL scouting world – and the secondary will be among the East’s best.
Should be ranked lower because … the quarterback play and the passing game won’t be enough to help out Mr. Snell. There’s going to be a big problem if the ground attack isn’t working. Even with Ware, the defensive front isn’t a positive.
7. Vanderbilt Commodores
Should be ranked higher because … Kyle Shurmur is a good enough quarterback to win with. The defense has its difference-makers – the linebacking corps is particularly strong – but the fun will be had on the other side with the improved passing game.
Should be ranked lower because … not having RB Ralph Webb around anymore stinks. Shurmur is good, but the rest of the Commodore skill players aren’t going to scare anyone. The team can’t afford to have such mediocre special teams.