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How We Voted

Mississippi v LSU
Let’s get hyped for rankings
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

We here at ATVS spent the summer ranking each of the position groups of the SEC. It helped pass away the time in the long, interminable summer without actual football content, but it also gives us a relative power rating by adding together all of the scores.

There’s two ways to add the results, either the cumulative final rankings or by the total number of votes each team received at each position. I opted for option two, even though it made no difference in the final rankings. However, it does make the perceived talent stratification all the more clear.

Here’s how we voted:

RAW SCORE

QB

OL

RB

WR

DL

LB

DB

TOTAL

Alabama

17

16

17

5

4

6

6

71

LSU

12

7

4

20

15

17

9

84

Tennessee

13

16

15

37

20

15

23

139

Georgia

16

5

8

41

43

20

14

147

Ole Miss

4

37

33

17

26

39

33

189

Florida

39

34

36

33

25

18

15

200

Arkansas

22

20

31

13

30

37

53

206

Texas A&M

30

50

47

7

18

50

23

225

Miss State

42

29

38

24

40

30

43

246

Mizzou

52

56

52

51

11

9

22

253

Auburn

32

24

43

51

35

44

41

270

Vandy

56

48

24

39

45

29

35

276

Kentucky

43

33

16

28

55

55

50

280

S Carolina

42

45

56

54

53

51

53

354

The leader in each category is bolded, and the lowest (best) possible score is 4. That’s every one of us giving the team the top spot on our ballot. Only three units achieved this level of unanimity: Ole Miss’ QB’s, LSU’s running backs, and Bama’s defensive line.

We don’t have an SEC power poll this year that I’m aware of, or maybe my invite just got lost in the mail, so this is our preseason power poll. Let’s go down it team by team. In parenthesis, I’ll list their votes from each of us in this order: (Poseur/Billy/Paul/Jake)

1 Alabama (1st/1st/1st/2nd)

Alabama finished first in every single defensive category, which sort of helps out the whole ranking thing. We’re a little more skeptical of the offense, but Bama tended to get a lot of "benefit of the doubt" votes from all of us. I can’t imagine another team getting Bama’s vote totals with the same exact QB situation. It’s just that we all think it will work out because Saban will sprinkle a little magic Bama dust on it. BTW, Billy gave them the best overall score of 15. As there were 7 units, that means their average rank was 2nd. Damn. Bama is good.

2 LSU (2nd/2nd/2nd/1st)

Perhaps we should put Jake in charge of Delusional Optimism. Honestly, Jake gave Bama the same scores as Paul and I did, it’s just that he was much higher on LSU. But the big thing you can see is that LSU is the only team on the same plane as Bama. LSU and Bama also ranked 1-2 in both offense and defense. There’s just a massive gap in preseason expectations between these two and everyone else. Great teams embrace those kinds of expectations.

3 Tennessee (5th/3rd/3rd/3rd)

I’m the non-believer here. The big difference here is in our expectations for the defense. I was consistently harsher on the Vols on that side of the ball than anyone else, which makes sense as I rely more on the stats than the other three voters and the Vols ranked 8th in the SEC in defensive yards/play. My colleagues think Tennessee will have a top 4 defense, maybe even top 3. I’m more skeptical, as that will require a real leap in production. We’ll see. But I’ll believe the Vols when I see it.

4 Georgia (3rd/4th/4th/4th)

You can see going by the unit rankings, we disagree with Bill C’s tiers. He has three teams in top tier (Ole Miss being the third) and seven more in tier two. Our huge gaps in the rankings occur between our two-team Tier One and the next duad in Tier Two. Going just by unit rankings, this shakes out as different two-team races in each division, with the Western coupling scoring as the stronger pair.

5 Ole Miss (6th/6th/6th/5th)

The jumble begins here. Billy and I both scored Florida higher, but both Jake and Paul had the Gators two slots behind the Rebels. Ole Miss is buoyed by Chad Kelly, who gave the Rebels a huge lead all by his lonesome by lapping the rest of the SEC quarterbacks. Other than their wide receivers, Ole Miss ranked solidly in the middle at every other position group. They really need that passing game to be awesome to live up to their lofty early season ranking.

6 Florida (4th/5th/8th/7th)

We don’t know a damned thing about Florida. Just look at that spread in the voting. I have them 4th overall, primarily on the strength of an incredible defense, while Paul has them 8th, primarily on the weakness of their offense. To be honest, Paul wasn’t much of a believer in their defense either. It’s quite possible I am way too high on the Gators defense, but it was an elite unit last year and I think they can maintain that production. Clearly, others are taking that bet. Overall, we ranked them 4th on defense but 10th on offense, so there is a belief the offense will prevent the defense from delivering a good season to Gainesville. This also explains Tennessee’s national hype in a nutshell: no one thinks Florida is a threat. I’m one of the few that disagrees with that assessment.

7 Arkansas (7th/7th/5th/6th)

If only Arkansas had a back seven on defense. The Hogs rated strongly across the board, though not elite at nay position group but wide receiver. Add then they ranked dead last in defensive backs. On top of a bottom third finish for the linebackers, we can see the work cut out for Bielema. If he can find a back seven for his defense, Arkansas vaults up these rankings. As it is, they are in danger of getting torched by anyone with a functional passing game. Ole Miss fans are already plotting revenge.

8 Texas A&M (9th/8th/7th/8th)

You would think their offense would score much better, but their running backs and offensive line scored atrociously. A&M’s defense did pretty well, thanks to the existence of Myles Garrett. They end up solidly mediocre, thanks to some extreme highs (WR/DL) and extreme lows (OL/RB). It all balances out to average.

9 Mississippi St (10th/9th/9th/9th)

State isn’t horrible at anything, but they don’t seem to excel at anything either. This is just a good, solid football team that might pull an upset if everything breaks right, but otherwise is just hoping to extend their bowl eligibility streak. Maybe someone breaks out like Dak did two years ago. Probably not.

10 Mizzou (8th/10th/11th/11th)

Again, I’m the big outlier. Mizzou ranked 3rd in our defensive rankings and dead last on offense. The Tigers’ highest ranking at any offensive position group was 12th. Worse yet, that’s the highest vote they received on offense from any voter at any offensive position group. Their offense is putrid. If their defense is anything less than what it has been, which is near the equal of Alabama, this whole house of cards is going to collapse. I’ll defend my contrarian ranks on Florida and Tennessee, but here I think I’m betting the wrong horse. It’s far more likely the defense cracks under pressure, as that offense is going to provide precisely zero help.

11 Auburn (13th/11th/10th/10th)

Jesus, Auburn. What is wrong with you? There’s way too much talent on that roster to be down here, leading off our fourth tier. The only unit which earned a top half of the SEC ranking was the offensive line, and that was almost entirely due to Billy’s generous 3rd place vote. Auburn finished in the double digits in four of seven categories, and no higher than 6th in any one of them. They should not be this bad. I don’t get it.

12 Vanderbilt (11th/12th/13th/13th)

We didn’t have nearly as many "thank God for Vandy" comments this year. Sure, they finished dead last in our QB rankings, but they have pretty good RB’s and LB’s, which might keep their heads above water. They aren’t going to contend for the East or anything, but it’s not like you look at the roster and think that it’s hopeless. That’s progress from last year.

13 Kentucky (12th/13th/12th/12th)

Kind of like Mizzou in reverse, Kentucky ranked dead last in defense, but actually had a pretty good offensive rating. The QB is a mystery, but after that, the Cats boasted legit talent at the glamour positions and a near league average offensive line. There’s real potential to climb the rankings for Kentucky, particularly if I’ve missed the mark on Mizzou, if the defense manages to show any sign of life. 10th place is possible! Dream big!

14 South Carolina (14th/14th/14th/14th)

Ugh. They are the Purdue of the SEC this year. Just an extra level of awful. 0-12 isn’t in play due to an OOC schedule borrowed from Baylor’s playbook. But an 0-8 SEC season is a very real possibility.