Stacked Again, SEC Won’t Be Cakewalk for Crimson Tide
Alabama coach Nick Saban was in an enviable — yet difficult — position last year.
Twice before, Saban had a chance to repeat as a national champion. He was unable to do so at LSU in 2004 and at Alabama in 2010. But he figured it out last season as the Crimson Tide became the first team to win back-to-back BCS national championships since the system was formed in 1998.
Alabama’s mauling of Notre Dame gave the Tide a third national title in four years. And with the talent returning, Alabama is not only the favorite to win the SEC again, but to claim yet another national crown.
It won’t be easy. The SEC has five other teams — Georgia, Texas A&M, LSU, Florida and South Carolina — that won at least 10 games.
In the West, Alabama will have to fight off rival LSU and the Aggies, the only team to beat Bama last year. A&M returns a prolific offense, led by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel. LSU must rebuild its defense and hope QB Zach Mettenberger plays well.
No other team in the West will contend.
Georgia has won the East two years in a row and is led by record-setting quarterback Aaron Murray and tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall.
South Carolina has beaten Georgia in each of the past two years, but hasn’t been able to regain the East crown it wore in 2010. Two capable quarterbacks and the nation’s best defensive player, Jadeveon Clowney, give USC a shot.
Florida bounced back from a 7-6 season to go 11-2 with wins over Texas A&M, LSU, South Carolina and Florida State. But the Gators must improve on offense.
Georgia lost 10 defensive players who made at least two starts. While the defense won’t be as stout, the offense should be outstanding. Murray, Marshall and Gurley are joined by a solid receiving corps and five offensive line starters.
Steve Spurrier has won 11 games two years in a row — a remarkable feat at a school that had one previous 10-win season. Quarterbacks Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson were effective last year, and the defense will again be solid.
Florida had the nation’s No. 5-ranked defense, but the offense was 104th. Quarterback Jeff Driskel showed flashes of brilliance but wasn’t consistent in the passing game, and the Gators lose
1,000-yard rusher Mike Gillislee.
Vanderbilt won nine games for the first time since 1915 but had just one win over a team with a winning record. Newcomer Missouri found the SEC too difficult to navigate. Tennessee and Kentucky are rebuilding with new coaches.
AJ McCarron has won two national championships at Alabama and had a sparkling 30-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio last season. He’s backed by a great running back, a solid offensive line and
a stout defense.
Texas A&M has the best chance to unseat Alabama, with the elusive Johnny Manziel and other offensive weapons. The Aggies host Alabama in what could be the SEC’s premier game.
LSU lost 11 players early to the NFL, but Les Miles still has enough talent to contend, if the offense improves. The Tigers have enough skill players to be productive, if Miles becomes less conservative.
Ole Miss overachieved last year. Mississippi State doesn’t have the talent to compete with the West’s elite. Auburn (0-8) and Arkansas (2-6) have new coaches.
Lindy’s 2013 ALL-SEC Team
|OFFENSE – FIRST TEAM||OFFENSE – SECOND TEAM||OFFENSE – THIRD TEAM|
|QB||Johnny Manziel||So.||Texas A&M||QB||AJ McCarron||Sr.||Alabama||QB||Aaron Murray||Sr.||Georgia|
|RB||Todd Gurley||So.||Georgia||RB||Jeremy Hill||So.||LSU||RB||Keith Marshall||So.||Georgia|
|RB||T.J. Yeldon||So.||Alabama||RB||Tre Mason||Jr.||Auburn||RB||Jeff Scott||Sr.||Ole Miss|
|WR||Amari Cooper||So.||Alabama||WR||Donte Moncrief||Jr.||Ole Miss||WR||Odell Beckham||Jr.||LSU|
|WR||Jordan Matthews||Sr.||Vanderbilt||WR||Mike Evans||So.||Texas A&M||WR||Malcolm Mitchell||Jr.||Georgia|
|TE||Arthur Lynch||Sr.||Georgia||TE||Rory Anderson||Jr.||South Carolina||TE||Trey Burton||Sr.||Florida|
|C||Travis Swanson||Sr.||Arkansas||C||James Stone||Sr.||Tennessee||C||Dillon Day||Jr.||Mississippi State|
|OL||Cyrus Kouandjio||Jr.||Alabama||OL||La’el Collins||Jr.||LSU||OL||Jon Halapio||Sr.||Florida|
|OL||Gabe Jackson||Sr.||Mississippi State||OL||Ja’Wuan James||Sr.||Tennessee||OL||A.J. Cann||Jr.||South Carolina|
|OL||Tiny Richardson||Jr.||Tennessee||OL||Chris Burnette||Sr.||Georgia||OL||Zach Fulton||Sr.||Tennessee|
|OL||Jake Matthews||Sr.||Texas A&M||OL||Anthony Steen||Sr.||Alabama||OL||Cedric Ogbuehi||Jr.||Texas A&M|
|AP||Marcus Murphy||Jr.||Missouri||AP||LaDarius Perkins||Sr.||Mississippi State||AP||Andre Debose||Sr.||Florida|
|PK||Carey Spear||Sr.||Vanderbilt||PK||Taylor Bertolet||So.||Texas A&M||PK||Zach Hocker||Sr.||Arkansas|
|DEFENSE – FIRST TEAM||DEFENSE – SECOND TEAM||DEFENSE – THIRD TEAM|
|DL||Anthony Johnson||Jr.||LSU||DL||Ed Stinson||Sr.||Alabama||DL||C.J. Johnson||Jr.||Ole Miss|
|DL||Jadeveon Clowney||Jr.||South Carolina||DL||Chris Smith||Sr.||Arkansas||DL||Kony Ealy||Jr.||Missouri|
|DL||Dominique Easley||Sr.||Florida||DL||Dante Fowler||So.||Florida||DL||Chaz Sutton||Jr.||South Carolina|
|DL||Kelcy Quarles||Jr.||South Carolina||DL||Denico Autry||Sr.||Mississippi State||DL||Bud Dupree||Jr.||Kentucky|
|LB||A.J. Johnson||Jr.||Tennessee||LB||Avery Williamson||Sr.||Kentucky||LB||Chase Garnham||Sr.||Vanderbilt|
|LB||C.J. Mosley||Sr.||Alabama||LB||Amarlo Herrera||Jr.||Georgia||LB||Steven Jenkins||Sr.||Texas A&M|
|LB||Denzel Nkemdiche||So.||Ole Miss||LB||Adrian Hubbard||Jr.||Alabama||LB||Curt Maggitt||Jr.||Tennessee|
|DB||Loucheiz Purifoy||Jr.||Florida||DB||Ha Ha Clinton-Dix||Jr.||Alabama||DB||Victor Hampton||Jr.||South Carolina|
|DB||Damian Swann||Jr.||Georgia||DB||Charles Sawyer||Sr.||Ole Miss||DB||Marcus Roberson||Jr.||Florida|
|DB||E.J. Gaines||Sr.||Missouri||DB||Andre Hal||Sr.||Vanderbilt||DB||Kenny Ladler||Sr.||Vanderbilt|
|DB||Craig Loston||Sr.||LSU||DB||Nickoe Whitley||Sr.||Mississippi State||DB||Deshazor Everett||Jr.||Texas A&M|
|P||Kyle Christy||Jr.||Florida||P||Cody Mandell||Sr.||Alabama||P||Michael Palardy||Sr.||Tennessee|