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Story Archives: Predicting the SEC West
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|Predicting the SEC West|
The most exciting question of this football season for SEC fans is who will win the SEC West?
In the years past, the SEC East has usually been the more competitive division.
However, that's just not going to be the case for 2010. The SEC East should be dominated by Florida, with their only two challenges in the east coming from South Carolina and Georgia.
South Carolina will be very good this year, and if Georgia can finally reach their potential they should be good as well.
In the SEC West, there are four teams that have a really good chance of playing in Atlanta come December.
The four teams are Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, and LSU.
Mississippi State will continue to rebuild under their great coach in Dan Mullen, while Ole Miss will try to fill some big holes in losing quaterback Jevon Snead and running back Dexter McCluster.
So what separates these four teams from the rest and makes the SEC West so exciting?
For one thing last year's national champion and reigning SEC Champions Alabama Crimson Tide are back with a vengeance.
The Tide lost some great players on defense in linebacker Rolando McClain, noseguard Terrence Cody, cornerback Javier Arenas, and free safety Justin Woodall.
Don't sweat it though, Alabama has one of the best coaches in the nation teaching high-level recruits how to become champions.
The Tide returns experience and explosiveness to their offense when senior quarterback Greg McElroy, sophomore running back Trent Richardson, junior wide receiver Julio Jones, and Heisman winning junior running back Mark Ingram make their way back onto the field.
I think it's safe to say Alabama will be loaded once again this season.
So how can any team in the SEC compete with that?
Maybe a team that has one of the best offenses in the nation can make things interesting down in Little Rock.
The Arkansas Razorbacks return one of the best quarterbacks in the nation in redshirt junior quarterback Ryan Mallet.
Mallet has a great supporting cast surrounding him in sophomore wideout Joe Adams and junior wideout Greg Childs.
Mallet will be joined in the backfield by sophomore running back Ronnie Wingo, Jr. who averaged 6.5 rushing yards per carry last season.
The Hogs have some questions on defense, but that prolific-style offense will keep them in the hunt for the SEC crown.
With four out of five offensive lineman returning and a favorable schedule, the Auburn Tigers can easily be considered a contender.
The Tigers have to go to Alabama, but get two weeks off before the game, and the Tigers only other three road games are at Kentucky, Mississippi State, and Ole Miss.
The Tigers' offense should be improved from last year with junior wideout Darvin Adams returning, along with sophomore running back Onterio Mccalebb.
The last case I make for the SEC West potential champion will be the LSU Tigers.
LSU has loads of talent on both sides of the ball, including two superstars on defense.
Preseason All-American senior linebacker Kelvin Sheppard and Preseason All-American junior cornerback Patrick Peterson will lead a very talented Tigers defense.
On offense, LSU has talent, but the questions lie at quarterback.
If junior quarterback Jordan Jefferson can limit his mistakes, make better decisions, improve his accuracy, and get the ball out of his hands quicker, the Tigers could have a special year ahead of them. But that's a big if.
If Jefferson comes through, all the pieces of the puzzle are in place for the Tigers to make another run at the title.
LSU is loaded at the wide receiver position with senior Terrance Toliver, sophomore Rueben Randle, and sophomore Russell Shepard.
The Tigers have to get better play out of their offensive line this season to create a running game for junior running back Stevan Ridley, senior Richard Murphy and true freshman Michael Ford.
The Tigers have what it takes to get back to the top, but they will need to get solid play from the quarterback position to compete.
Now it's time to predict the winner. This will be no easy task, as I've studied each team and know the possibilities for this football season are endless.
Even with a favored schedule, I don't think Auburn will win because they will have a new face at quarterback in junior Cameron Newton.
As great as Arkansas' offense will be this season, they have too many questions on defense and defense wins championships.
So I've gotten it down to two teams, the reigning champions in the Alabama Crimson Tide and the LSU Tigers.
The Tigers have questions at the quarterback position, while the Crimson Tide have some big holes to fill on defense.
One thing I learned over the years is to not go against Nick Saban, and I won't this time.
McElroy is a proven winner and Saban will fill those voids in the defense, I guarantee that.
LSU could be great, but the tendency of lack of discipline over the years makes me wonder if they can beat a well-disciplined and extremely talented Alabama football team.
One thing is for sure, it's going to be a great season and the SEC West winner will have earned their way to the SEC Championship.
Jake Martin is a summer intern with the Concordia Sentinel. He will be a sophomore at Nicholls State University this upcoming school year and serve as Sports Editor of the Nicholl's Worth, the school's weekly newspaper.
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