With football season just weeks away, what can fans expect to see from the SEC this fall?
1. Rushing Yards
Last year, the SEC produced three players that rushed for over 1,500 yards—Alabama’s Derrick Henry, LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Arkansas’s Alex Collins. It was the first time in SEC history, and this year, they have a good chance to do it again.
While Henry and Collins have moved on to the NFL, Fournette remains at LSU, and he is said to be ready to break 2,000 yards this year. Also, now that UGA’s Nick Chubb is back in action, we can expect to see him hit at least 1,500 as long as his knee is fully healed. As for the third, Tennessee’s Jalen Hurd rushed for just over 1,200 yards, and Vanderbilt’s Ralph Webb reached over 1,100 yards last year. So if either of them are able to break that 1,500 mark, the SEC will see another anomaly rushing year.
2. Quarterback QuestionsWith a number of seniors graduating and moving on to the NFL, there are plenty of questions regarding who will be starting in this position for most of the SEC’s teams.
At Alabama, junior Cooper Bateman is favorited to start because of his experience, but David Cornwell and Blake Barnett are also solid options that might be utilized.
Damien Williams from Mississippi State returns from a redshirt season, but Nick Fitzgerald looks to be the starter this year. However, Mississippi State also has Elijah Staley.
John Franklin is favored at Auburn, but his selection is not final. Sean White and Jeremy Johnson remain in the mix, both of which could help improve Auburn’s offense.
At Florida with Treon Harris changing positions, Luke Del Rio, Austin Appleby, Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask are battling at camp to prove who can best lead the team. Currently, Del Rio looks to be the starter, potentially bringing some stability to Florida Gators’ quarterback position.
Five-star recruit Jacob Eason may take the starting position as a freshman for UGA, but Brice Ramsey and Grayson Lambert may receive the post as Eason gains some college playing experience.
Also, while Brandon Mcllwain may seem to have the quarterback position locked up, Perry Orth has been doing well in practice and may see more playing time.
Other teams, such as Arkansas and Kentucky, are trying to groom young, inexperienced quarterbacks into quality playmakers.
Essentially, the only SEC team without questions on their quarterbacks' experience and ability is Ole Miss, and Chad Kelly will most likely dominate the position in the SEC for 2016.
3. Nick Saban’s NameWhile Saban is often discussed whenever college football is discussed, expect to hear his name even more this year within the SEC.
This coaching legend now has three of his former assistant coaches serving as head coaches in the conference—Jim McElwain at Florida, Will Muschamp at South Carolina and Kirby Smart at UGA. While each of these coaches are talented in different ways, they will be living in Saban’s large shadow until they begin winning multiple championships of their own.
So, this year, prepare to hear his name come up in every SEC coaching conversation.