The season is just a few weeks away and the 2011 teams have reported to get ready for the coming year. Can the SEC continue its streak of BCS championships? Will another surprise team rise from the pack and lead the conference? Can a player from the conference snag a third consecutive Heisman trophy?
The answer to all of the above is, “maybe.” There’s plenty of talent and reason to believe all will happen. There’s also enough talent spread across the conference to think it will not happen as the conference cancels itself out of those opportunities in the midst of stiff competition.
This article will take a look, team by team, at what the SEC East looks like for 2011 and make predictions for records. I will revisit this at the halfway point of the season and make adjustments to the predictions as the season progresses. Teams are listed in order of their 2010 finish.
South Carolina – 2010 Record: 9-5. Returning Starters: 13; 7 offense, 6 defense.
Reasons to Believe: The studs on offense are back for another round. So are some of the leaders from the defense. The Gamecocks also have a pretty favorable schedule in 2011.
Reasons to Doubt: Consistency has never been the hallmark of Steve Spurrier’s teams in Columbia and that was even a problem last year. For all their offensive prowess, the Gamecocks finished in the middle of the conference statistically. They’ll have to do better than that if they plan on a repeat trip to Atlanta.
Predicted 2011 Record: 9-3. The schedule helps a lot and if they are more consistent, the Gamecocks just might earn that return trip. But it won’t be easy.
Florida – 2010 Record: 8-5. Returning Starters: 11; 7 offense, 4 defense.
Reasons to Believe: Florida is loaded with talent. (Remember those three teams I said were virtually three-deep in the SEC? Well, Florida is one of them.) Will Muschamp and that defense shouldn’t really miss a beat and in fact, expect the blitz packages to become much more creative. Bringing in Charlie Weis to run the offense should really help improve what was easily the weakest link in last year’s squad.