In the last entry, the SEC East was examined. This article will take a look, team by team, at what the SEC West looks like for 2011 and make predictions for records. Teams are listed in order of how they finished in the 2010 season.
Auburn – 2010 Record: 14-0. Returning Starters: 5; 3 offense, 2 defense.
Reasons to Believe: Gene Chizik and company proved they could coach when they took Tommy Tuberville’s leftovers and went 8-5, then added one dynamic player and ran the table all the way to the BCS title last year. They’ve also blazed up and down the recruiting trail the last couple years. That makes Auburn young but very talented.
Michael Dyer is one of the top running backs in the league and he’ll be counted on this year in a major way. Offensive coordinator Gus Malzhan took a team that barely scored in 2008 and put them near the top of the league in 2009, so there’s little reason to think he can’t find a way to make this group click.
Reasons to Doubt: Inexperience and a tough road schedule means growing pains are in store for Auburn this year. Playing a lot of young guys in key positions bodes well for their future as there’s nothing like game experience to help a young team grow, but it usually means taking few on the chin as well.
Predicted 2011 Record: 6-6. Auburn may pull an upset in there and make it above .500 before a bowl, but the real key this year is going to be getting young guys experience to set up for the future.
Arkansas – 2010 Record: 10-3. Returning Starters: 13; 6 offense, 7 defense.
Reasons to Believe: That offense. Not only is the WR corps the best in the conference but RB Knile Davis is a real threat out of the backfield. New QB Tyler Wilson (who saw limited action last season) will have plenty of weapons to help him ease into the starting role.
Reasons to Doubt: As usual, the defense is the biggest question mark for the Hogs. The unit improved greatly from ’09 to ’10 but they’ll have to be even better if Arkansas has any plans to make it to Atlanta for the championship game.