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Pros & Cons: SEC East

Running down a couple SEC notes on the good and bad for the SEC East.



Pro: The direction of the Gators seems established for the Will Muschamp regime after a shaky first year. Defense is always going to be a strength, and this team will have one of the best secondaries in the country with Marcus Roberson, Jaylen Watkins, Loucheiz Purifoy and superfrosh Vernon Hargreaves. A big, experienced offensive line returns as well.

Con: Behind that line is where the questions start. Jeff Driskel was really inconsistent at times last year, and how much help will he have is Purifoy is his best receiver (the cornerback turned heads playing both ways this spring)? Mike Gillislee was a real bell-cow for Brent Pease's ground-and-pound offense. If stud recruit Kelvin Taylor isn't ready for that role, who on the team is?


Pro: When you consider just how good he was last year, Aaron Murray may be the most underrated quarterback in the SEC. Plus, he has Todd Gurley to hand off to and a host of talented receivers, including Malcolm Mitchell and tight end Arthur Lynch. All five starters are back on the Bulldog offensive line as well.

Con: Todd Grantham is basically completely rebuilding on defense, with just three starters returning. Sure, there are guys that saw a lot of time like Chase Vasser and Ray Drew. Plenty of talent on hand in the secondary as well with Josh Harvey-Clemons and Tray Matthews expected to become stars. But even with all of last year's starpower, the 2012 defense couldn't crack the SEC's top five. So what's in store for this bunch?


Pro: Mark Stoops seems to have generated some real enthusiasm in the Bluegrass State for football, and that's something that just hasn't happened since the Tim Couch days. He's also really hit the ground running in recruiting as well.

Con: He's got a lot of playing time to pitch to high schoolers, because Kentucky has one of the least-talented rosters in this league. Plus, a schedule that includes maybe one or two guaranteed wins.


Pro: Eight starters back on offense, including a senior quarterback, four offensive linemen, and one of the country's top receiver recruits from a year ago in Dorial Green-Beckham.

Con: Reality has hit this program hard, and a lot of things may have to change if Mizzou is going to have success in this league. The Tigers simply got pushed around a LOT last season, on both sides of the football. Gary Pinkel is going to have to toughen this squad up, or he won't get much of a shot at making a turnaround.

South Carolina

Pro: You ever heard of Jadeveon Clowney? Seriously though, the Gamecocks also return a senior quarterback and four offensive linemen. And for the first time in a few years, avoid any of the Western Division's top three teams.

Con: Steve Spurrier's done a good job of using spit and bailing wire to string together offense in the last few years without Marcus Lattimore. He has to be tired of it. Bruce Ellington is a good multi-purpose guy, but he's not exactly a go-to receiving threat. Likewise, there has to be questions on whether Mike Davis can handle a workhorse load.


Pro: I kind of hate to use the phrase "nowhere to go but up," but in the case of Tennessee, it seems apt, insofar as this is a program that is in some desperate need of some stability. Butch Jones, at least at the moment, seems to be providing that. He's winning a few recruiting battles and saying the right things. The Vols have eight starters back on defense, including stud linebackers A.J. Johnson and Curt Maggitt, and while there isn't much back on offense, there are four starting offensive linemen.

Con: There's not much else. Quarterback is unsettled, running backs and receivers are unproven, and the schedule features road games at Oregon and Florida in the first month. Plus a matchup with Western Kentucky that sounds a lot easier than it is.


Pro: The fact that Vanderbilt enters a football season with any expectations at all is a testament to the job James Franklin has done here. You expect the Commodores to compete with the SEC's middle of the pack and threaten at least one team in its upper echelon.

Con: But with just 13 starters back, it may be a bit of a rebuilding year in Nashville. Yeah, there are some playmakers around like stud receiver Jordan Matthews. But just six starters back on defense a new quarterback on offense, and no more of Zac Stacy's tremendous consistency to help out.