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ATVS Roundtable: Predicting The SEC

We talk movers, shakers, risers and fallers.

Tennessee v Vanderbilt Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

We’re a week out from SEC Media Days and we’ll be bombarded by predictions, so let’s beat them to the punch. What are some of your predictions on how the SEC may play out this upcoming season? Teams you’re higher or lower on, players that might break out, what have you.


My probably not so bold prediction is that Tennessee will surprise in 2019. Georgia will run the East. They are simply far more talented than the rest of the division and return Fromm for another season, but I think Tennessee leaps up to where Florida’s been the last couple of years, which is just that solid, nagging East team that plays tough and physical and wins ugly. Tennessee returns the most of any P5 team in the country, and while yes, they haven’t been the most successful program in the world, experience can really take you places.

Which is also why I believe this may be LSU’s best chance to take the West since 2011. Bama is Bama and that will be a persistent nightmare, but this year LSU returns a gaggle of talent across the board. There’s spots to fill but the roster is in as good of a position as I can recall since that magical run in ‘11.

So staying on that hype train, player wise, I expect Burrow to really have a monster season. We saw flashes of it last year, but now with over a year in the program, a stupid talented supporting cast, and the influence of Joe Brady... it’s a nice confluence of events that should culminate in a really fantastic senior campaign. I think Jamarcus Russell & Matt Mauck’s LSU single season TD passing record (28) could be in reach.

In the rest of the conference, Keytaon Thompson seems a better fit for what Joe Moorhead wants to do, so that could be a head turner. Tyson Campbell at Georgia is now their lead corner, so expect the former 5-star stud to quickly become a household name. Everyone is gonna talk up Najee, but Bama is a spread passing team under Tua, so I think the receivers will be the stars there. I’ll also reserve a spot for {insert next in line Bama defensive lineman here}. Rakeem Boyd may give Arkansas some moments this fall.

I also can’t wait to watch Ole Miss, which seems like a star about to explode into a supernova in the worst possible way.


I just don’t see it with Tennessee this year. You have a good point with their experience, but last year...woof. A six-point win over Auburn is the only thing that saved 2018 from being a total disaster, and with bowl eligibility to play for they gave up 50 to Mizzou and 38 to Vanderbilt to close things out.

I think Florida and Texas A&M are in for rough records, but may actually get better overall. Florida gets a really talented Miami team looking to make a statement in week one, and has road trips to LSU, South Carolina and Mizzou on the docket. So maybe they have three or four losses, but with the way Dan Mullen is recruiting, they should be in good shape moving forward. A&M just has a complete murder’s row, but if Kellen Mond takes a step up they should be in really good shape for 2020.

But that said, I think they win one game to hang their hat on this year, and it’s in November when they take the trip to Athens. The Aggs catch Georgia right off the Auburn game, so either they get the Bulldogs in a body-blow situation, or sky-high off a huge win. Either way it’s a perfect trap game. And if Georgia drops another game and Florida (or Tennessee, if Dan is right) look like they’re starting to close that gap, I think some will start to wonder if Kirby Smart is missing his window.

Auburn is a very interesting wild card to me. I think they have a lot going for them in terms of a defense returning and a running game, which typically correlates better for their success on offense than a returning quarterback. But that early schedule is just so tough, and there will be very little patience if they start slow. And that kind of negativity really builds up and players will tune out a coach if they start believe he’s on his way out. A win over Oregon would be a good way to start.

Some players I’m watching for; Tommy Stevens as a transfer to Mississippi State, who has more of a background in Joe Moorhead’s offense; Rakeem Boyd at Arkansas is the kind of multi-purpose back Chad Morris can really feature; and it would not surprise me at all to see A.J. Rose put up some Benny Snell-like numbers at Kentucky — he averaged more than 6 yards per carry, has a strong running QB to pair with and an offensive line that lost some starters but has replacements that have been in the system.


I hate to say it, but I like the Auburn pick. They return a deep stable of runners, usually a good sign for success on the Plains. They still have the Georgia problem and a pretty brutal schedule as usual, but it’s not like they were awful last year. There’s a lot to build on.

Last year, the East was essentially a dead heat between five teams with Tennessee well behind and Georgia way ahead. Kentucky is almost certainly going to get worse this season, losing their best player by a wide margin on both sides of the ball. Mizzou last year went 4-4 in SEC play, losing to Kentucky and USC by a combined three points as well as losing to Alabama. Bama rotates off the schedule in exchange for Ole Miss. They’ve got a good backfield and one of the best defensive players in the conference in Cale Garrett. With Kelly Bryant transferring in, they won’t skip a beat at quarterback. They won’t win the East, Georgia is too good, but Mizzou could win 10 games.

And this probably merits its own column, but Texas A&M is going to disappoint. Trayveon Williams was such a huge part of that offense and they don’t have anything to replace him with. More importantly, A&M had a spectacular run defense last season, and there’s no way that repeats itself with nearly the entire front seven leaving campus. That’s before we get into their suicide schedule. A&M needs Kellen Mond to be spectacular, and I think that’s wildly overselling Kellen Mond. A&M won four games by a touchdown or less last year and that screams regression even if they were returning a bunch of talent. Which they aren’t. A&M’s best case for a big season is they got extraordinarily lucky against LSU last year, and that’s not the sort of thing that is repeatable. They are this year’s Auburn.


If we’re talking a bold prediction that I actually don’t think will actually happen: Bama already having a loss before they play us would be it.

A non conference schedule of Duke, New Mexico State and Southern Miss does not inspire fear. As much as Dan wants to talk up Tennessee, they aren’t beating Bama in Tuscaloosa. At South Carolina is not heavy work, Ole Miss and Arkansas suck so they aren’t losing those games either. At Texas A&M is interesting. If that gangly-ass quarterback they have actually improves they can pull the upset, I think, but I still wouldn’t count on it. I don’t see anything over than total domination over those first eight games therefore I definitely think them losing one of them is a bold prediction.


Georgia dropping one game they absolutely shouldn’t feels like something that’s ready to happen. They are obviously incredibly talented and they should have beaten Bama the last two years but it feels like they’re so fixated on that game and on getting back to that point so they can beat them again — much in the way LSU teams were against Alabama early in this decade — that I’ve got the feeling there’s one game in there they may gack. Perhaps it’s Kentucky, before a bye before Florida? Or maybe in Atlanta against a Tech program with a lot of swagger after two games against Auburn and A&M? But I see it coming

Beyond that I’m kind of interest in South Carolina. Muschamp’s done a better than expected job of stabilizing them and being solid as opposed to the mess they were at the end of Spurrier’s time. This year they’ve got a senior QB in Jake Bentley who’s put up some really strong numbers, a senior tailback in Rico Dowdie, and a senior receiver in Bryan Edwards who had a strong year last year opposite Deebo Samuel. On the defensive side they’re return T.J. Brunson, one of the more underrated linebackers in the conference, for his senior year. That’s a lot of senior talent and so I’m wondering if Muschamp may need a nine win season with a marquee win and they get Alabama, Florida, and Clemson all in Columbia. They’ll be sizable dogs in those games but those are chances for a big win. The rest of the schedule is pretty manageable though, so is a year where they win the seven they should lose the five they should enough? Or do they need a big one for him to keep his job/stay off the hot seat?


I really don’t think there is any surprises as to who is competing for the SEC title. Georgia just has way too much talent , and there is no one else that can contend. Florida will go only as far as Feleipe Franks can take them, which is not far due to a lot of key pieces gone on the defense. For the West, it’s going to come down to November 9th and if LSU can finally take that next step. I still think Alabama has the talent advantage and the game is at Tuscaloosa, but you never know in these matchups.

Players to watch for me are receiver Kendrick Rogers and tight end Baylor Cupp from Texas A&M. With Trayveon Williams gone, Fisher will have to rely on Kellen Mond to take a couple steps forward and those two are guys that can help that process out. I’m interested to see Joey Gatewood with Auburn. He has Cam Newton’s size and supposedly has good athleticism, so can Gus Malzahn find lightning in a bottle there? Jerrion Ealy will see playing time real quick, and like Maurice Hampton with LSU, gave Ole Miss fans fits about going the MLB route. Miami grad transfer Lawrence Cager is going to have to become a much larger part in the Georgia offense with Jeremiah Holloman getting kicked off the team. At 6-5, he provides a large target for Jake Fromm to find a comfort level with.


Texas A&M is dangerously close to not making a bowl, and it will come down to how good/healthy Muschamp’s defense is in mid November. Clemson, Auburn, Alabama, Georgia, and LSU are five losses and I see the Mississippi State and South Carolina games as relative toss-ups, especially if Moorhead fixes the offense in Starkvegas. Hell, Muschamp damn near beat them last year.

I don’t think A&M has the right mixture of talent and experience to win more then seven games. I’m selling the Aggies hard.


After what has felt like 17 years starting under center, I think Jake Bentley finally plays like a top-tier QB.

I would go far enough to say his play will propel South Carolina to leapfrog Florida for second in the SEC East, buuut they drew Bama as their SEC West game, so... aw shucks.

But regardless, Bentley has been up and down for three years now. He ended the regular season by just eviscerating a Clemson defense that then suffocated Notre Dame and Alabama, then got shut out by Virginia in the bowl game. Boy, that doesn’t make a lick of sense!

But I still think he’s been playing for too long to not make a serious case as one of the conference’s best QBs. With Bama, UGA and Clemson all on the slate, 9-3 feels like the ceiling for SCAR, and I think they could get there with Bentley.


After the championship game flop last season, it feels like Saban has finally found the breaking point of a revolving door coaching staff. Unfortunately, very few teams are anywhere near talented to take advantage of it. A&M might, MIGHT, have the personnel, but I’m not trusting Jimbo until I actually see it. And I’m never picking LSU to beat Bama again until after it actually happens. Maybe the game falling out of the CBS primetime window can break the curse. I don’t see the West changing at all this season, save for Arkansas becoming just a little less embarrassing and Ole Miss becoming a little more.

South Carolina is going to be the East darkhorse and probably very competitive, but I still think that division is UGA’s to lose. Gata aint gonna be ready for at least another year, though an embarrassing loss to them by LSU just seems to be our lot in life. I have no confidence UT will be anything but another tire fire this year, and UK’s regression should make that division a three-horse race very early.

So I’ve got UGA-Bama in Atlanta, and Bama moving on. Chalk, the BOLDEST of takes.


To me the only thing more frightening thing than a stacked Alabama team quarterbacked by the 1B best player in the nation, is a stacked Alabama team that got pantsed on the biggest stage. Maybe a trip to College Station or Auburn could yield an upset but I’m hard pressed to pick against an Alabama team with something to prove.

Auburn doesn’t play a single home game for the entire month of October, which could be daunting, but they play every game in November at Jordan Hare so maybe that balances each other out. I can’t get a feel for Auburn other than they’ll probably finish behind Alabama in the West, but so too will everybody.

It’ll make me sad to see it play out this way, but Kentucky almost definitely takes a step back this year. I don’t think they get swept in three games at Mississippi State, South Carolina and Georgia, but 1-2 seems inevitable.

I’m in the same mindset as everyone else in regards to Texas A&M. It’s a murderous schedule that looks like five guaranteed losses but weren’t we saying the exact same thing about LSU just last year?

And I’d like to see Arkansas’s Rakeem Boyd have a solid senior season. I have a soft spot for these Last Chance U guys what can I say.