The college football season is approaching fast and furious. The first game kicks off on September 2nd, which means only about a month and a half away from kick off. The rest of the sports world is pretty much quiet, so why not start some college football previews. This week we will start off with the SEC because the defending champs are there in Alabama. The SEC got back to winning the National title after a 2 year draught and should have another great shot at it again this year.
We have to start off in the SEC West for a few reasons. First off, Alabama is in the West and will look to repeat, and secondly it is probably the best division in college football. The only real threat to Alabama has to be LSU this year. LSU is loaded on both sides of the ball and have Tiger fans thinking National Title already. Actually this LSU team feels a lot like the Permian Panthers from Friday Night Lights. All their fans are predicting National Title or bust, Les Myles’ job is on the line, and they have star running back. LSU is hoping for a different beginning and ending to their season though. With all their hype I still can’t pick against Nick Saban and his Tide. Yes, they will have an inexperienced QB no matter if it’s Cooper Bateman or David Cornwell or Blake Barnett starting. Bateman, Cornwell, Barnett, who gives a shit? That has really never slowed down the Tide before and it won’t start this year. Yes, they also lost a ton of talent up-front on the defensive side of the ball, but guess what they recruit so well, they have a bunch of studs ready and waiting aka Da’Shawn Hand. Bama will still be loaded on that side of the ball and will still be carried by their running game. The Tide might not have their Heisman award winning running back anymore, but once again they re-load with two very good if not great backs in Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris. This dynamic duo should be just fine behind once again, a giant offensive line lead by LT Cam Robinson. So for all that talent in Baton Rogue, the boys in Tuscaloosa are as talented and will be ready to be the Panthers Dallas Carter.
Last year, I went with the Tennessee Volunteers to win the SEC East, and I probably was just a year ahead. They have a ton of talent back including their starting QB Joshua Dobbs and both of their stud running backs in Jalen Hurd and Alvin Karmara. The Volunteers also return 18 starters including those three, the overall depth and talent has improved through recruiting efforts, and the defense will take a step forward with new defensive coordinator Bob Shoop. This team should get to double digit wins and a shot at the playoffs this year. If they don’t reach at least the SEC Title game, there will be major changes coming in Tennessee. I also will be so pissed because that will be 2 years in a row they make me look like a jackass. It also helps that the East is kind of down this year, with Georgia getting a new coach in Kirby Smart, and once again a UF team that doesn’t have a whole of bite on the offensive side of the ball.
SEC Title Game- Alabama over Tennessee- It would a tough loss in the title game for the Vols because it would probably mean they get knocked out of the playoffs, but it would be another step forward for Butch Jones and this Tennessee program.
Offensive POY- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU-
I went with Leo in last year’s preview as well. I was right for most of the year until the Alabama game when he was shut down, and on the other side Derrick Henry took off. Hopefully, this year hopefully will be a full year of this monster. He really is a freak of nature at his build and he can still run that fast. Last year he ended with 1964 total rushing yards, 163.7 yards per game, and 22 TDs. With this being his last year at LSU with the draft on the horizon, look for him to take the next step in his game, and have an even better year.
Defensive POY- Myles Garrett, DL, Texas A&M
The kid is a stud muffin. He is coming off a 13 sack season, and like Leo it should be his last year at college. He is looking at a top 5 projection for the NFL Draft, so one more big year can only help solidify that. He has great speed-size combo that is ideal for the next level, and should have his way with OL again this year. 13 sacks will hard to replicate especially with more double teams for the junior, but anything in the double digits range will just do fine.
Breakout Player- Zach Cunningham, LB, Vandy/O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama-
I had a real hard time picking this one, so I went with a shared award. On one hand you have a Vandy LB that played great in his second year. ZC was 5th in total tackles and 7th in solo tackles in the SEC. That is pretty good with all the talent the SEC usually has at that position. On the other hand you have the uber talented TE out of Bama, O.J. Howard. The whole country has been waiting for him to shine, but really didn’t until the National Title game. He didn’t break over 70 yards all year, but in the Title game he just went for 208 on 5 catches. Yes, there were a few big plays that inflated that total, but people watching can’t deny his talent. As a senior he should be big presence on that team, especially with a new younger QB that will need a safety net.
Freshman of the Year- OT Jonah Williams, Alabama-
This big boy is listed at 6-5 and 288 pounds. He is a future starting LT for the Tide, but with Cam Robinson there now, it allows Jonah to slot in at the RT spot. The true freshman was starting there for the spring game so all indications suggest he will be starting up-front for the Tide in 2016. The O-line is always a key factor in how good Saban’s Bama will be with their elite running game. Last year it helped Derrick Henry win the Heisman and a Natty, let’s see if the big old (young in this case) mollies can make another Bama running back a stud.
Coach of the Year-Butch Jones, Tennessee-
Like I said above, Tennessee might have just been a year away. They have tons of talent and good recruiting classes to help reload when they lose key players. This has to be the make it or break it year for Jones in a good, but not great SEC East. His Vols better win or else he needs to get his resume out, but if they can rip off a 10 win season they could be a dark horse at a playoff spot.
This was the kick-off of our college football conference previews. Next week will be the Big 10 and talking if Ohio State will rule once again or is it the Wolverines time? Like always make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Bumble, and Instagram. COLLEGE FOOTBALL IS ALMOST HERE!!!!!!!
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : George