Very Early 2018 SEC East Predictions

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Very Early 2018 SEC East Predictions
File photo. A pylon in the end zone shows logos for both the Southeasten Conference (SEC) and the Florida Gators during the game between the Vanderbilt Commodores and the Florida Gators on September 30, 2017 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field in Gainesville, Fl. (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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Very Early 2018 SEC East Predictions

We are less than 100 days until the start of the 2018 season. It is usually at this point where everyone’s expectations are high. Whether it is National Championship hopes or simply making a bowl game. Once again this year the SEC is perhaps the toughest league in the nation. With that in mind let’s make some Very Early 2018 SEC East Predictions.

The Favorite

1. Georgia- Last season the Bulldogs came ever so close to their first national title since 1980. Jake Fromm returns at quarterback however Kirby Smart must find a way to replace Nick Chubb and Sony Michel in the backfield. D’Andre Swift is the heir apparent in the line of star running backs.

Another question on offense is what to do with Justin Fields? The top incoming dual threat quarterback in the country will be difficult to keep off the field. Following the spring game Smart said there was no quarterback controversy but a situation.

On the other side of the ball the Bulldogs lost quite a bit however a big drop off isn’t expected. Part of that is due to nation’s top rated recruiting class.

The Bulldogs head into 2018 as the solid favorite to repeat and make another appearance in the National Semi-Finals.

Two Possible Contenders

2. South Carolina- There are many who think Will Muschamp‘s club will not only challenge for the top spot but can win the SEC East. Senior Jake Bentley is back under center and a healthy Deebo Samuel will provide a boost to an offense that averaged only 24 points a game.

If the Gamecocks have a question mark it is certainly on defense where they must replace a number of starters. If fact not one player on the projected depth chart is a senior.

The SEC East title could be decided in Week Two as the Bulldogs come to Columbia. The winner there will have a major leg up on the road to Atlanta.

3. Florida- Dan Mullen returns to Gainesville where he was an assistant after nine years as head man at Mississippi State. The Gators are coming off their worst season since 1979 at 4-7.

Like many of the SEC East squads a big question mark heading into 2018 is who starts at quarterback. Feleipe Franks threw for 1,438 yards with nine touchdowns and eight interceptions. His major competition comes from true freshman Emory Jones the number five ranked dual threat quarterback in the class.

Following a down year by Gator standards Todd Grantham comes in as the new defensive coordinator. Defensive end Jabari Zuniga has nine sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss over the last two years. He can play a number of positions for Grantham. Defense may be the team’s calling card especially during the first part of the year.

As we continue with the Very Early 2018 SEC East Predictions let’s look at the squads which seemed destined for the bottom half of the league.

Teams With Some Work To Do

4. Kentucky- The Wildcats are looking for a third straight bowl bid under Mark Stoops. However they head into 2018 looking for a new quarterback. Gunnar Hoak and Terry Wilson are vying for the opportunity to replace Stephen Johnson.

Stoops says he may not name a starter until the opening game and even then both may play. Regardless who wins the job the focus of the offense will be Benjamin Snell Jr. The junior needs 1,412 yards to become the school’s all-time leading rusher.

On the other side of the hall the Cats return nine starters including potential first round pick Josh Allen. However the loss of Denzil Ware who decided to transfer creates a big void.

5. Missouri- The Tigers ran off six straight wins after starting 1-5 to make a bowl game. Drew Lock returning for his senior season automatically makes Barry Odom’s club significantly better. Lock has a great cast around him including running back Damarea Crockett and tight end Albert Okwuegbunam.

However the biggest issue for the Tigers is on defense where they finished 12th in the SEC in points allowed. It may be a situation where Lock is required to put up at least 40 points a game every night. In addition the Tigers start SEC play with Georgia at home followed by trips to South Carolina and Alabama.

6. Tennessee- The Butch Jones era ended in Knoxville following the school’s first ever winless season in the SEC. Tennessee decided to expand the Nick Saban coaching tree by hiring Jeremy Pruitt as their new coach. The former Crimson Tide defensive coordinator is tasked with bringing Volunteer football back to its glory days.

Questions abound with the Vols squad and none bigger at quarterback. Stanford graduate transfer Keller Chryst will be competing with Jarrett Guarantano and Will McBride for the starting job.

Given the success of Saban’s assistants it shouldn’t be long before Tennessee is back at the top of the conference.

7. Vanderbilt- Ralph Webb has graduated but Kyle Shurmur returns for Derek Mason’s squad. The senior quarterback threw for 26 touchdowns with only 10 interceptions.

For the Commodores to improve the defense is going to have to take a big step forward. However with the losses of many of their top players including Oren Burks that may be difficult.

Thank for checking out the Very Early 2018 SEC East Predictions here at Last Word On College Football. Is your team ranked too high or too low? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section or tweet me here.

Next time we will predict the SEC West and can anyone beat Alabama.

 

 

 

 

3 COMMENTS

  1. Kentucky has beaten USC 3 straight years. I’m not saying UK wins or even contends in the East, but the USC hype is baffling!

  2. Kentucky can’t beat Florida and most years Tennessee but has dominated USC the last few years. I think the USC hype is based on how they finished and who they have coming back.

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