Two Dave's Pick The SEC

Preseason Edition


Welcome to Two Dave's Pick the SEC! September 3rd isn't too far off, and that will bring the topic of football back to rsfc. During the off-season, This Week In The SEC, featuring Mark Mitchell and J.J. Clyde joined us in what will prove to be the most thorough weekly analysis of SEC games. I could stop here to brag that *I* had the best record last year in picking SEC games, but I won't. I'd also like to throw in a special thanks to our Editor Wade Moricle, who fished out more typos than you would care to read.

In addition, the Guest Dave tradition continues. This years Guest Dave list includes:

  
        September 

        3       Tony DeMatio - andex@maple.circa.ufl.edu
        10      CANCUNASS 
        17      Bill Wagnon - wagnonb@ur.msstate.edu
        24      Fishin Buddy - charris@nickel.ucs.indiana.edu

        October

        1       James Carson - jcarson@hubcap.clemson.edu
        8       Jim Thomas - jct3@psuvm.psu.edu
        15      Phil Abashain - pa160578.utkvm1.edu
        22      Mike Dahmus - miked@vnet.ibm.com
        29      Andy Frakes - cp462@cleveland.freenet.edu   

        November

        5       Phil Harbison - harbison@zk3.dec.com
        12      Jeff Paddock - sinarjdp@admin.uh.edu
        19      Brent Peacock - bpeacock@afit.af.mil
        26      Jason Whitt - whitt@joe.math.uga.edu

        December

        3       SECC -  1 rep from each team in the game.

        Bowl Edition

        John Midtgard - mitgardt@math.ufl.edu

Swanger offers:

That Globe-Trotting Master Of Football Prognostication, David Magee, recently reminded me that it was time for me to get off my...well, get off my couch (yeah, that's the ticket) and come up with my preseason SEC rankings. Look Dave, everybody *knows* that Alabama and Florida are going to win the West and East, then Florida is going to cream the Tide in the SEC Championship Game in the Georgia Dome. Who cares about the rest of the league? You do? Oh, all right, here goes:

J.J.Foreword:

Well, when the two slave drivers told me to come up with an entry in their "Two Daves, a Mark, and a CA$H C0W Pick the SEC" (TDAMAACCPTSEC), I basically told them to go piss on a transformer and die. Mr. Swanger then informed me that they were there to help and that he would dispatch his cousin Giuseppe to my home to help me "clear my schedule." I now have loads of time on my hands and Giuseppe has been quite an "asset" around the house -- and it's amazing how little I really did need those pesky kneecaps. Giuseppe has even offered to sit over my shoulder and interactively edit my analysis. (Loser)

[ !!WHACK!! ]

OWWEE. Ugh.....Uh.....as I was saying, I'm glad to be on board. The Two Daves (and kinfolk) rule supremely. !Viva TDAMAACCPTSEC!!!!

Mark Mitchell

[ will join us later in the month ]


SEC Eastern Division


Florida

Swanger

Who else? Tennessee? Get real. Georgia? They might sneak up on the lizards this year (although, I doubt it), but one loss won't be enough to knock the Nimrods out of first place in the SEC East. Who else does Florida play? Auburn and FSU could be trouble. Then there are LSU, Kentucky, Vandy, New Mexico State - Geez, this schedule is nearly as wussy as Auburn's (I said NEARLY, John).

Steve "Visor-Boy" Spurrier has more offensive talent on his team than any team this side of, well, Tallahassee. His problem has traditionally been forgetting to work on defense until halftime of the 3rd or 4th game. Not this year, he claims. New defensive coach Bobby Pruett (from Tulane ... TULANE?) is supposed to take of all that. Maybe, maybe not. We'll have to see.

Still, when you average 100 points a game, you're going to win most of your games anyway. Last year the reptiles were 11-2 (with losses the Auburn and FSU) and demolished "We're Number #1" West Virginia 41-7 in the Sugar Bowl. This year should be at least as good. Barring injuries, they'll suffer at most one regular season loss and then cruise by Bama in the SEC Championship game in Hotlanta. If they manage to draw Notre Dame or Miami in the Sugar Bowl, they should win in a close game. 12-1, possibly 13-0 post-bowl record. Since Magee and Clydesdale are forcing me to make exact predictions (AND IF MY NUMBERS DON'T MATCH UP, *SORRY*), I will say:

Lizards 12-1, 8-0 SEC, plus a victory over bama in the SEC Championship Game

If Florida isn't the #1 team in the country at the end of this season, they should be pretty darn close to #1.

Magee

Florida will win it all this year, go ahead and put it in 3-inch headlines. What else did you expect me to say? SEC Champ Penn State only shows up for Bowl Games, but then again, so does Florida. Just ask Don Nehlen. After blowing New Mexico State clean out of the country to open the season, this somewhat young but talented team will kick every wimp's butt on their schedule. Tennessee and Georgia may threaten them, but that's about it. Terry Dean and Danny Woofer return as the best two QB's in the East, if not the conference. Jack Jackson and Chris Doering will catch everything thrown their way, including the SECC rings they'll get after pummeling Alabama in Atlanta.

Ron Geek? Gook? oh yeah, Zook is out as DC. But a load of talent returns, including CB Larry Kennedy. The D will be improved over last year. The kicking game will do well also. The Gators will go 12-1 (8-1) this year.

J.J.

The nimrods once again have the offense that everyone is aiming for. The difference this year? Supposedly, the new look and play of the lizzard defense. UF switches to their own special version of the 4-3 scheme this year and they think it's the missing piece to the puzzle. After October 8th, there will be no better description of the nimrod remnant than "puzzled." Weauxf. Players to watch: QB whomever-is- deemed-worthy-enough-that-week-by-visorboy; P Shayne Edge. Sizzling Pigskin Prediction >> 8-3 (6-2)

Georgia

Swanger

When UGA coach Ray Goff was playing qb for the dogs back in the 70's, he looked like a big clumsy bubba out there (not unlike now). He couldn't really pass, he looked like he was just fooling around. Yet, (here comes the cliche), he knew how to win. If he was in the game, Georgia had a good chance to win. I watched him fart around against Auburn back in the 70's. He didn't seem to have much talent, but he didn't make mistakes. When the game was over, Georgia had beaten the snot out of us (man, what a mess) and Goff had a hand in most of it. The guy was a winner, pure and simple.

So, why hasn't this winning ability carried over to his coaching? Hell if I know. When I heard that Georgia had hired him, I was worried, I thought UGA would be hell-on-wheels. Well, it has not happened yet, despite some decent games along the way. They have lost a lot of key players to pro ball. Maybe Goff does too good of a job recruiting.

Last year, Georgia didn't have any running backs after losing Andre Hastings and Garrison Hearst to the NFL and managed to squeak out a 5-6 season, playing WAY below their potential. If they had had one good running back (and a better attitude) they could have possibly won every game they lost.

Will this year be any different? Probably. Zeier will be back. He is a bona-fide great quarterback. Still, the Dogs have bama, Florida, Tennessee, and Auburn on their schedule. They should win one or two of these games, but not all. 7-4, *MAYBE* 8-3 and Goff gets to keep his job. Anything less and he is gone.

I'm going WAY out on a limb:

"You ain't nothing but a hound" Dawgs: 8-3, 5-3 SEC

Magee

Eric Zeier. That's about it, but that's about all they need. If he doesn't get it done, maybe he'll hire Ray Goff as his agent, because Goff will be canned (or caned, you take the pick). 7-4 (4-4) is about as good as this team will get.

J.J.

Zeier this, Zeier that. All it got the Dogs last year was 5-6 and Christmas with the family. Goff's big play in the offseason was to pull in Marion Campbell as the new DC. UGA was an atrocious 11th in total defense last year. If Marion makes any progress, and if a decent RB steps up, UGA should have a good year, including a win over at least one of three tough road games (fu, bama, auburn). Players to watch: LB Randall Godfrey; QB Eric Zeyarlathotep. Sizzling Pigskin Prediction >> 7-4 (6-2)

Kentucky

Swanger

I like Bill Curry, I really do, and I can understand him bolting from Alabama like he did (despite comments to the contrary, he was treated rather poorly for a coach that had a 10-2 season and a chance at the MNC in the Sugar Bowl). But to Kentucky? What in the hell was he thinking?

Last year, the Mildcats had a 6-6 record and managed a trip to the Peach Bowl where they lost 14-13 to Clemson. This was quite frankly better than I expected. They were a few seconds away from beating Florida. Has Curry turned the corner at Kentucky? Maybe. More likely, they are stuck on the corner. Qb Pookie Jones has left the team to play pro baseball. Still, there a few good players hanging around.

Obstacles: Tennessee, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Miss St, Louisville, Indiana.

Hell, I don't know, probably 6-5, maybe 5-6. Heck, it could be 4-7. Nahh, I'll be real optimistic and say 6-5 (3-5 SEC). I wouldn't mind if they did even better, like I said, I like Bill Curry...but Kentucky?

Magee

OH NOOOOOO!!! No more Pookie!! But, I assure you that UK will still pull some magic this year. I like Bill Curry more than any other coach in the East, and most of the West. I wish his Cats were ready for the SECC so he could humiliate Alabama, but they aren't quite there yet. Moe Williamson will run wild, but that's about it. 5-6 or 6-5, that is the question. I'll try 5-6 (3-5).

J.J.

The mildcats could show themselves to be real after last year's bowl season. Nahhh. Forget it. Although Mike Archer is making some very real strides as defensive coordinator (which is where he should have stayed all along at LSU I mean face it the guy is a looooser when it comes to *head* coaching ability I mean he has *no* personality, *no* recruiting ability, *no* knowledge of offense, and absolutely *no* leadership qualities I mean the guy is an A-1 gimp but I digress...) ... expect Curry to continue screwing around with the offense just enough to salvage a sub .500 year. Players to watch: RB Moe Williams; DL Howard hi-C Carter; Pookie Jones (in the farm leagues). Sizzling Pigskin Prediction >> 5-6 (3-5)

South Carolina

Swanger

Head Coach Sparky Woods has been replaced by Brad Scott. The Hippie (Steve Tanneyhill) will be back and he has a haircut. He won't be enough. Tennessee, Florida, Miss St, Georgia, Arkansas, Heck, maybe even lowly LSU will be too much for the cocks.

5-6, maybe 4-7.

4-7, 2-6 SEC

Magee

The Hippi meets a QB oriented Head Coach. Brandon Bennett meets a lot of would-be tacklers. The run sets up the pass, and the pass sets up the run. If these two work out USC could be bowl bound. After an up and down season, I expect USC to pull ahead and fast. Look for the Gamecocks to go 6-5 or maybe even 7-4. Best bet 6-5 (3-5).

J.J.

Brad Scott, FSU's offensive coordinator, finds himself being the big cheese in Columbia this year. What that means, I haven't a clue. Look for the offense to be slightly less predictable this year. Also look for Steve hippie-turned-buzzcut Taneyhill to continue his erratic week to week performance swings. Da Cocks could easily win 7 or 8 games, but I think they're more likely to lose 4 or 5 close ones. Players to watch: QB Taneyhippie; DB Tony Watkins. Sizzling Pigskin Prediction >> 5-6 (3-5)

Tennessee

Swanger

Beat Vandy, beat Kentucky, beat South Carolina. Yawn. Play Florida. Lose. Ditto to Alabama (ok, MAYBE they have a chance against the Tide...nah) Choke in bowl game. Finish with 9-3, 8-4 season. Fans still claim they're the best team in the country. Repeat next year.

8-3, 6-2 SEC

Magee

Yep, you expected to see them as #1. But Heath left without beating Alabama, and Peyton is just not quite ready for SEC action. Now that you are let down, I'll tell you that Tennessee will go 8-3 and lose to Penn State in the IYB. 8-3 (7-1) [1 to you know who].

J.J.

The Vols have loads of talent flooding into Knoxville but there is no place to put them. Look for the UT running game to kick back into high gear this year behind a behemoth offensive line. My sources tell me Jerry Colquitt is the man to beat out at QB. Believe it. He's not a Schuler but he'll carry enough of the load (read: hand off left, hand off right) to allow the defense to shine. THIS IS THE YEAR. UT will beat Bama in Knoxville. However, even I won't predict it twice in one year. If they can stave off those lovable Bayou Bengals, Bama will be back in New Orleans. Players to watch: WR Billy Williams; OL Bubba Miller; any other Bubbas on the team. Sizzling Pigskin Prediction >> 9-2 (7-1)

Vanderbilt

Swanger

Oh come on. They'll win a few games, they'll lose most of them. DiNardo will rant and rave that they are almost there, Tennessee will cream them. Another 4-7 season (1-7 SEC). I am possibly being far too generous.

Magee

Bwahhhahahahaahaha. The I-bone, sheesh, time for DiNardo to move on. The Commodedoors will go 3-8 (0-8).

J.J.

Highlight of '93: Defense set a school record with 29 sacks. That's it. Thank you for your time. Players to watch: LB Gerald Collins. Sizzling Pigskin Prediction >> 3-8 (0-8)


SYNOPSIS OF THE SEC EASTERN DIVISION PREDICTIONS


                    Swanger    Magee      Clyde    Mitchell
________________________________________________________________
Florida           | 12-1(9-0)  12-1(8-1)  8-3(6-2) 
__________________|_____________________________________________
Georgia           | 8-3(5-3)   7-4(4-4)   7-4(6-2)
__________________|_____________________________________________
Kentucky          | 6-5(3-5)   5-6(3-5)   5-6(3-5)
__________________|_____________________________________________
South Carolina    | 4-7(2-6)   6-5(3-5)   5-6(3-5)
__________________|_____________________________________________
Tennessee         | 8-3(6-2)   8-3(7-1)   9-2(7-1)
__________________|_____________________________________________
Vanderbilt        | 4-7(1-7)   3-8(0-8)   3-8(0-8)
__________________|_____________________________________________


SEC Western Division


Alabama

Swanger

No anti-woof, just fact. They've got talent, they've got depth and they've got Homer. They do have a decent schedule for a change and there will be several chances for the Tide to slip up. The team with the best chance at beating the Tide will be Tennessee (don't bet the farm); Auburn and Miss St. should have decent chances against bama, but had better score some points early before the Tide's superior depth wears them down. Finally, if Georgia has a running game this fall, Zeier and the Dogs could sneak up on bama. Bama's biggest obstacle could be "Mean" Gene Stallings' refusal to allow Homer Smith to completely run the Crimson offense. HEY GENE, BACK OFF AND GIVE THE MAN ROOM TO WORK! (what am I saying? I mean, hey Gene, don't let some outsider come in and take over the offense, make him pay his dues for a few years...)

Still, from here, the Tide looks like the team to beat in the West. Their regular season record should be 11-0 or 10-1, 9-2 at the very worst, almost certainly sending them to the SEC Tourney for the 3rd year in a row, and a major bowl after that.

Red Sauce Elephants: 10-1, 7-1 SEC (Loser in the SEC Championship Game to UF)

Magee

Ironic that number 2 shows up here, because he won't show up at WR,QB,HB,DE, or whatever else Stallings wanted him to play. The rest of the conference is glad to see him gone. So too are the Birmingham Police, The Alabama State Police, and the Alabama Department of Health.

Jay Barker is back at QB, coming off of an injury plagued season. Often Barker proves to be a winner, but this year, things will change. Homer is bringing change, and even though it is expected to be bring more passing to Bama, who's left to throw it to? Not only did most of the offensive line graduate, but most of the defense did too (or signed pro agent contracts in New Orleans). Michael Proctor is an All-SEC placekicker. Look for the Tide to go 8-3, thanks mostly to poor SEC officiating. 8-3 (6-2).

J.J.

Bama, Schmama, heave yourself [around> a yellow hamma. The Tide will be high this year! Look for the [the> Big 0 to be back in the Crims0n attack with the return of H0mer! D0H! [bowl] Homer will have loads of talent, yea, too much talent to handle! [and] The first "problem" will be how to juggle the threesome of studly [down] QBs: Jay "faster than Bob" Barker, Brian Burgdork, and Freddie [the] Kitchens (a favorite of Tiger fans). Testicle Tuesdays! This [hole] team is loaded! And they don't even have The Deuce anymore -- the [roll] epitome of "loaded." Players to watch: RB Sherman Williams; SS Sam [tide] Shade; PK Michael Proctor. SPP >> 9-2 (6-2) [roll!]

Arkansas

Swanger

Danny Ford's Hogmen should be ready to improve on last year's 5-5-1 record. They have two things working against them - their talent and their schedule. The Razorbacks haven't had a winning season since 1989 and the trend could continue this year.

Still, Danny is a good coach (despite rumors to the contrary on the internet) and should have his players ready. Despite a lack of depth, Arkansas has some decent starters returning from last year's team, a team that was more aggressive than it had any business being. They came close to beating Auburn last year, for example, and managed to bump LSU out of the Carquest Bowl with a late-season victory. They do have several defensive starters to replace though.

Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, Miss St and LSU are on the Hog schedule. That spells trouble (for the Hogs). 7-4 at the very best, realistically 6-5 or 5-6.

Pork Chops: 5-6, 3-5 SEC

Magee

Whoooo Pig, sooooooie. Whoops, Nolan and his thugs don't participate in football. Danny Ford and his thugs do. Barry Lunney at QB will be more impressive this year, along with J.J. Meadors. The OL is questionable for the Hogs, but give Oscar Malone a chance and he can do some things at RB.

On Defense, there's just not much to get excited about. They'll lose more games for the Hogs than the lack of "O" will. Special teams will be just that: special. The Hogs will go 5-6 this year, but don't worry, Danny's already started stocking up talent and next year the hogs will make some noise. 5-6 (3-5)

J.J.

The hogs are all poised to go ripsnortin' wild. Coach Danny "son, if you were to wake up tomorrow and find a new truck in your driveway, would you expect it to be a Dodge, Chevy, or a" Ford made steady progress with last year's marginal talent, and he looks to be going nowhere but up this year. But don't expect him to reach the moon. Arkansas should finish over the .500 mark by year's end, but thanks mostly to a putrid non-conference schedule (SMU,Memphis,Northern Ill). Players to watch: FB Oscar Gray; WR J.J.Meadors. SPP >> 6-5 (3-5)

Auburn

Swanger

Last year Auburn, led by first-year Head Coach Terry Bowden, was undefeated and untied and was clearly the top team in the SEC (unless you count Penn State). However, NCAA probation kept them out of the SEC championship game for a rematch against Florida (which may have been a blessing considering the injuries Auburn sustained in the Alabama game). For the past several months, Auburn fans have been floating on Cloud 9 because of last year's fantasy season, a season where *everything* went Auburn's way. Well gang, last year's 11-0 season is in Mark Mitchell's record books. It's nearly time to start over.

Stan White is gone as quarterback and no one is sure who will take over at qb this fall (except maybe head coach Terry Bowden). Pat Nix is a fan favorite because of his famous 4th and long TD pass he threw against bama last year. However, he looked somewhat ineffective (to put it kindly) in last Spring's A-Day game. Redshirt Freshman Dameyune Craig has tremendous talent but has little experience, plus he had a case of fumble-itis in the Spring game. He did make several beautiful plays. Bringing up the rear is Patrick Sullivan, who always looks good to me when they play him, but he hasn't played all that much.

Also gone is all-universe place kicker Scott Etheridge. Matt Hawkins kicked in the spring game; he was supposed to be perfect in practice. He missed a few chip shots in the game. Several players are gone due to grades and the police blotter. Calvin Jackson flunked out of school, but defensive back Fred Smith will return to take his place.

Working in Auburn's favor is their stunningly wussy schedule. Teams like NE Louisiana, East Tenn St, East Carolina and LSU are scheduled (just kidding JJ). Still, the Tigers have several obstacles. Florida is clearly the toughest team on Auburn's schedule. They are still smarting from last year's 38-35 loss to the Tigers. Other teams that could give Auburn trouble are Georgia, Alabama, Miss State. Heck, even Arkansas and Ole Miss could be dark-horse trouble. However, Wayne Hall is still in charge of the AU defense, which counts for a hell of a lot.

Can Auburn go 11-0 again this year? Maybe, but probably not. My guess is 8-3, give or take a few wins. Florida and bama will be hard to beat. Because of NCAA probation, Auburn will not go to a bowl this year.

8-3, 5-3 SEC

Magee

Probation or not, I say the Tigers will roll over almost everyone, including the Tide this year. No, they won't go undefeated, but they will indeed have another strong year. The offense will start slowly, but will progress quickly early in the season. Frank Sanders will be almost unstoppable, but the Tigers don't have a returning QB with any significant playing time. Pat Nix, Dameyune Craig, and Pat Sullivan Jr., will all see playing time this year, with Craig likely getting the final few starts. Losing Calvin Jackson to grades hurts bad, but 9 other starters returning on defense will help. Placekicking may be a problem with the loss of Scott Etheridge, but Terry "Helium" Daniel will lead the nation in punting this year. Look for the Tigers to go 9-2. Look for everyone else to "want to" be the first team to beat Bowden in Div 1A. 9-2 (6-2).

J.J.

P is for the Problems that ensnare us,

R is for us Ramsey-paying crooks;

O is for them Overeager

Boosters,

A is for the asterisks in our books;

T is for that putz-eyed slant who leads us,

Into battle for the Orange and Blue;

O is for ovations that receive us, ...for pounding

Nimrods into Brunswick Stew!

SPP >> 9-2 (6-2) (don't forget the asterisk)

Louisiana State

Swanger

I could be dead wrong about JJ Clyde's Alma Mater. They might catch fire and decimate the entire SEC West and cream Florida 58-3 in the SEC Championship game. I don't think so. Jamie Howard and Eddie Kennison aren't enough. No talent, no depth, no coaching (mighty tasty food at the LSU stadium, though)

Let's face it. LSU reeked last year (except in a few lucky wins, notably against Alabama). I don't see how this year should be any better. Texas A&M, Alabama, Florida, Auburn, Arkansas...plus Miss St is going to be pissed after last year's fluke loss to the Red Stick Tiggerz.

4-7, possibly 5-6. Anything better than this means God has left Notre Dame and has resettled in Baton Rouge.

kitty cats: 4-7, 2-6 SEC

Magee

Have I lost my mind? Nope. I've often said give Curley time and he'll produce. Well, he better, or he'll be hit by a screen door other than Josh Booty's. Jamie Howard is a good QB, and he has the premier return man/WR Eddie Kennison waiting to catch. The OL positions are suspicious , but if they can perform at all, Robert Toomer will run wild.

The Tigers defense is questionable again this year. 6 starters return, but who knows how they'll do. I think they'll step up and perform. The kicking game is getting better all the time for the Tigers. Walk On Andre LaFluer kicked LSU past Mississippi State last year, but I suspect he'll be back on the bench behind All-American Wade Richey. Look for LSU to go 6-5 (4-4).

J.J.

The Fighting Tigers. PURE GL0REE!(tm) The little man in my head who sounds like Charlie Mac keeps telling me that LSU will undoubtedly win every possible MNC trophy this year and crush the repturds into smithereens. He tells me this every August. I have no reason to doubt him. That said, I'll give some unbiased observations. DEFENSE: LSU got the better end of the swap with Baylor. Baylor's Def Coord, Pete Fredenburg, is now the Tigers' defensive tackles coach and mastermind of the 4-3. Phil Bennett moves to defensive coordinator. Baylor's new DC? Joe Bugar. BUUHHHHHWWAAAAAWHAWHAWHAWHA! SUCKERS!! LSU's defense may not be in the upper third of the conference, but don't expect it to suck quite as bad as it has. If they can just stop Arkansas' dreaded wishbone every third series, I'll be a happy man. OFFENSE: After Jamie Howard, the QB position gets as thin as Nyarlapdogtoady's hair. (just kidding big fella!) Loads of speed at WR and RB. If a solid group of young OLs emerge from the masses (big if), OC Lynn Amedee could have something decent. Players to watch: DEs Gabe Northern and James Gillyard; RBs Jermaine Sharp and Robert Toomer; PK Wade Richey; WRs Eddie Kennison and Eric Smith. Sizzling Pigskin Prediction >> 7-4 Record (4-4 in SEC)

Mississippi

Swanger

Ex-head Billy Brewer is gone due to NCAA problems (out with the trash, his wife said). The Rebels are in turmoil, coming off a lackluster 5-6 season. They have to play Auburn, Alabama, Georgia, Miss St and Florida. It doesn't look good for Ole Miss.

However, the Ole Miss strength last year was defense, they had one of the best in the nation. Their problem was offense. They didn't have one. Defensive coach Joe Lee Dunn will be the interim coach this fall until an AD is hired.

I don't know, I always thought if a team paid players, they should at least win some games out of the deal. Maybe with their backs against the wall, the rebels will bounce back this fall. I'll have to see it to believe it.

Ole Miss will be 6-5 at the best, probably 5-6 or 4-7.

Confederates: 5-6, 2-6 SEC

Magee

Kaboom. If you were listening this past year, that's what you heard coming from Oxford. The Rebels have had too much go wrong this off season to even think straight. Billy Brewer was fired, AD Warner Alford resigned. 3 of the best linebackers in the nation graduated: Gary Abide, Cassius Ware, and Dewayne Dotson. No-show QB last year Lawrence Adams was tossed to the defense and JUCO Josh Nelson given the reigns. Roell Preston at WR will be about the only exciting thing in the Rebel arsenal this year. True freshman RB Moine Nicholson may turn some heads too.

Last year's #1 defense is gone. Only LB Abdul Jackson, an all SEC LB, will be back in the front 7. Special teams are in the same boat. The Rebels will go 4-7 (2-6) at best.

J.J.

Ole Miss has had a rough offseason. They lost the Peyton Manning derby, their coach of 11 years, and, thanks to the NCAA, they're about to join the likes of ta+m, Auburn, and Washington. Dubious company, indeed. All that remains is an interim coach named, I believe, Joe Don Baker. Ole Joe better start walking tall. Ole Miss shows every indication of holding on to their offensive offense. True, they have a new OC and new JC transfer at QB, but this is still the same piece of offensive refuse. The Rebel O hovered around the bottom of the SEC last year while the defense led the nation in yards allowed. Ah-ha! A bright spot! Wee-wee! Oh... wait...the NFL took the two leaders off of that squad, LBs Dewayne Dotson and Cassius Ware. Players to watch: CB Alundis Brice; RB Artie Moore. Sizzling Pigskin Prediction >> 3-8 (1-7)

Mississippi State

Swanger

King Jackie's Mississippi minions slipped a bit last year after a few decent seasons. A 3-6-2 record by the Dawgs included a tie to lowly Arkansas State and a loss to LSU (oh, the humanity). There is no way in hell Jackie S. is satisfied with a 3-6-2 season and the rest of the league had better be ready.

The good news (or is it bad news) is that MSU returns 10 starters on offense. Derrick Taite appears to be the heir-apparent at qb for the dawgs. Running back Michael Davis will be back (he was 2nd in the SEC in rushing last year). Still, depth is a problem for King Jackie. Depth and the dawg schedule, that is. Florida is off the MSU schedule this fall, but Tennessee is in their place (I don't really see how Coach Sherrill can complain, though). Also, Auburn and bama come to town and should be trouble. Ole Miss, LSU and Arkansas could also be trouble, but probably won't be.

Still, this team won't be a pushover and should win several games and possibly go to a bowl. My guess is 8-3, maybe 7-4. Bama and Tennessee will be hard to beat and someone else should sneak up on the dawgs.

Okay, the Swang prediction is: 7-4, 4-4 SEC

Magee

Who can return 10 starters on offense and not win the West? That's right, Mississippi State. Although the Dawgs have the 2nd leading returning rusher in the conference, RB Michael Davis, a whole truckload of great wide receivers, and a huge offensive line (only 2 < 300 lbs), the 11th man who is not returning is QB Todd Jordan. Sophomore Derrick Taite will take over the QB position and leave a big question mark. In the few times he played last year, he showed spark, including leading a strong comeback against Kentucky that just fell short, and tying the game with Arkansas. WR Eric Moulds will play at a level not seen by a Bulldog WR in years. Another plus for the Dawgs is the fact that the entire coaching staff returns after learning the new offensive scheme from OC Bruce Arians last year. If Taite can step up and play well, the Dawgs will be the team to beat in the West, but don't expect it.

On Defense, MSU returns some fine talent. CB's Walt Harris and Charlie Davidson will both play at All-SEC levels. LB's Dewayne Curry and Reggie Wilson will join them. The question mark here comes in two places: 1) how will the team adjust to the 4-3 scheme, an 2) with one DL starter returning, can anyone step up? I think so. Jackie recruited two DL's from the JUCO national champs (NW MS).

Special teams were terrible for MSU last year. Ask Jack Jackson from Florida how bad they were. PK Tom Burke was solid, but graduated. Punter Todd Jordan is gone too. That leaves Andy Russ for both. I don't expect them to improve too much this year. Looks like a 7-4 year for the Dawgs. 7-4 (4-4).

J.J.

King Jackie may be trying to pick up where Ole Miss left off. No, not with the NCAA, although that is a looming possibility. Ole Miss has had the reputation of alternating good and bad years -- *really* good years and *really* bad. Miss State will be attempting to fine tune this approach come September. Coming off a 3-6-2 year, they're already halfway there! The problem may be with the offense, although the Dawgs are returning 10 starters there. (Why is it always a positive for a team to return 10 starters even if they went 3-6-2 last year?) Anyhoo... the lone vacancy is the QB position where two completely inexperienced sophomores will be battling it out. Don't expect a smooth running machine for the first few weeks. Man, I hate to see that. Players to watch: C Brian Anderson; RB Michael Davis. SPP >> 5-6 (3-5)


SYNOPSIS OF THE SEC WESTERN DIVISION PREDICTIONS


                    Swanger    Magee     Clyde    Mitchell
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Alabama           | 10-1(7-2)  8-3(6-2)  9-2(6-2)
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Arkansas          | 5-6(3-5)   5-6(3-5)  6-5(3-5)
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Auburn            | 8-3(5-3)   9-2(6-2)  9-2(6-2)
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Louisiana State   | 4-7(2-6)   6-5(4-4)  7-4(4-4)
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Mississippi       | 5-6(2-6)   4-7(2-6)  3-8(1-7)
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Mississippi State | 7-4(4-4)   7-4(4-4)  5-6(3-5)
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