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cocky4ever

Ranking the SEC Offenses

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https://www.saturdaydownsouth.com/sec-football/best-offenses-sec-2018/

 

The SEC has seen an improvement of offense over the past couple of years, with more teams incorporating a wider variety of elements such as spread, zone-read, RPO, etc. Even traditional programs like Alabama and Georgia have opened things up a bit to provide different looks to opposing defenses.

In 2017, half of the league averaged 30+ points per game. They could match or exceed that number in 2018 given the amount of talent returning, particularly at QB, where the league hasn’t been this deep with talented passers in some time.

So how do the offensive attacks of the SEC rank heading into 2018?

14. Tennessee

2017 PPG: 19.8

2018 projection: Better

Why? Well, you have to think they have nowhere to go but up after bottoming out last season. Part of the reason for the abysmal performance on offense was subpar QB play, which they’re hoping will be remedied thanks to Stanford transfer Keller Chryst, who was 11-2 as a starter with a 19-6 TD to INT ratio. He’s a good fit for the pro-style scheme Jeremy Pruitt wants to run, and he’ll have a decent receiving corps, especially with Jauan Jennings (40 receptions, 7 TDs in 2016) back in the fold. WRs Marquez Callaway (24 receptions, 5 TDs in 2017) and Brandon Johnson flashed playmaking potential last year and will surely benefit from more stability under center.

As for running the ball, they’re going to miss John Kelly, who led the team in rushing yards with 778 (and 9 TDs), but there’s some intriguing options looking for their opportunity this year in Ty Chandler (305 yards, 2 TDs in 2017), Tim Jordan and Michigan State transfer Madre London. The offensive line returns star LT Trey Smith, but the rest of the line is a concern. There’s a bevy of former touted prospects up front, some with experience and others without, but they need to get more physical if they’re going to establish the power run game Pruitt wants.

13. Kentucky

2017 PPG: 25.5

2018 projection: Worse

Why? The Cats no longer have Stephen Johnson at QB, after starting the previous two years. While he was a good leader and was able to consistently make plays with his feet, he really struggled moving the ball through the air consistently. Who wins the QB battle this summer – Gunner Hoak, the better passer, or Terry Wilson, the better runner — will say a lot about what kind of offense they run this year. Whoever wins the job has to take advantage of the 8-man boxes they’ll be facing thanks to the strong rushing attack from Benny Snell and generate a more reliable passing attack for this offense to find more balance.

Fortunately, they return Snell, who was third in the SEC in rushing yards with 1,333 (5.1 yards per carry) and first in rushing TDs with 19. He’ll be running behind a relatively underrated line that has a lot of experience returning. The Cats will be able to run the ball, but can they throw the ball enough to balance out the offense and keep defenses honest? That remains to be seen.

12. Vandy

2017 PPG: 24.6

2018 projection: Worse

Why? Luckily, the Dores return QB Kyle Shurmur (2,823 yards, 57.9%, 26 TDs, 10 interceptions), who enters his fourth year as the staring QB after setting a school record for TD passes in a season. He made a lot of developmental strides from 2016 to 2017 but is still working on improving his accuracy (career 54.5 percent passer) to become a more consistent QB. WR Kalija Lipscomb returns after hauling in 37 receptions for 610 yards and 8 TDs last year, but they need to replace their first, third and fifth-leading receivers from last year, including Trent Sherfield, who led the team with 50 receptions for 729 yards. They need guys like Alex Stump, Chris Pierce and Donaven Tennyson to emerge.

The team is also without Ralph Webb, who led the team in rushing each of the past 4 years and finished as the school’s all-time leading rusher (4,178 yards and 32 TDs). The hope is that Illinois transfer Ke’Shawn Vaughn (1,024 yards combined in 2015 and ’16) and Khari Blasingame (596 yards combined in 2016 and ’17) can help replace the production lost from Webb. The line is very experienced with 4 starters returning.

11. LSU

2017 PPG: 27.2

2018 projection: Worse

Why? The offense could actually be better, depending on whether Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow (287 career passing yards) is the real deal. The problem is, we really just don’t know because he never played any meaningful snaps in Columbus, so we’re in wait-and-see mode with him. Luckily for him, he’ll have a pretty solid group of receivers to throw to led by Texas Tech transfer Jonathan Giles (69 receptions, 1,158 yards and 13 TDs in 2016) and a bevy of former touted prospects like Terrace Marshall, Justin Jefferson, Drake Davis and Dee Anderson.

At least when Leonard Fournette left after 2016, they had another rock star in the form of Derrius Guice waiting in the wings. Now with Guice gone, there’s not a proven back capable of replicating his level of production (2,638 yards 26 TDs combined in 2016 and ’17), so they’ll need someone like Nick Brossette (306 career rushing yards) or Clyde Edwards-Helaire (247 yards last year) to perform. The line is replacing C Will Clapp and G/T K.J. Malone but should be in pretty good shape. They were forced to play a lot of younger guys last year and that experience should serve them well in 2018.

10. Texas A&M

2017 PPG: 32.7

2018 projection: Worse

 

 

Why? Switching from a spread passing attack to the kind of pro-style scheme favored by new coach Jimbo Fisher is never easy and generally takes a year or two to get the right pieces in place to become effective, which is why I think the offense will take a slight step back in 2018, but there’s enough talent on hand for Fisher to keep things interesting. The most important thing for the offense will be settling on a QB between Nick Starkel (1,793 yards, 60 percent, 14 TDs/6 INTs in 2017) and Kellen Mond (1,375 yards, 51.5%, 8/6). WR Jhamon Ausbon (50 receptions, 571 yards, 3 TDs) will no doubt help whoever winds up under center. He’s a big and physical target poised for a big year.

The offense as a whole will be predicated off the rushing attack, which should be in good shape behind Trayveon Williams, a complete back who could really thrive in Fisher’s offense. He has combined for 1,855 yards, 16 rushing TDs and 39 receptions for another 283 yards the past two years and has a skill set reminiscent to Dalvin Cook, who was a star at FSU under Fisher. The offensive line is experienced in the middle but will be breaking in two new starters on the edge, which could spell trouble in a league as laden with pass rushers like the SEC.

9. Arkansas

2017 PPG: 28.8

2018 projection: Worse

Why? Similarly, to Texas A&M, Arkansas is making a drastic change in offensive scheme in which there’s not an abundance of personnel ideally suited for the new playbook. Still, Chad Morris is a very bright offensive mind who can always find a way to generate yards no matter the personnel, so there’s still reason for cautious optimism.

Cole Kelley, who saw some time last year filling in for an injured Austin Allen, is the favorite to win the QB battle, and while he needs to improve his touch and accuracy, he has enormous arm strength with the ability to drive the ball to all three levels. Leading receiver Jonathan Nance returns, as does Jared Cornelius, who missed most of last year with an Achilles’ injury.

The running game returns Devwah Whaley, who took a step back last year, his first as the primary ball carrier, but could enjoy a bounce back year in the new scheme, which should space out the front seven more to help create larger rushing lanes. The offensive line returns 4 starters, including All-SEC LG Hjalte Froholdt, but needs to replace first-round pick Frank Ragnow at center. The biggest question for the offense will be whether it can adapt to the fast pace that Morris is looking to run, which is a big part of his game plan.

8. Florida

2017 PPG: 22.1

2018 projection: Better

Why? Kind of like Tennesse, Florida has virtually nowhere to go but up on offense. With that said, this could be the most improved offense in the conference under new coach Dan Mullen, who has a strong history of developing QBs and reliable offenses.

Expect a tight battle between Feleipe FranksKyle Traskand incoming freshman Emory Jones at QB. Whoever wins the job will have a fantastic group of receivers to throw the ball to, especially now that transfers Van Jefferson (Ole Miss) and Trevon Grimes (Ohio State) have been declared eligible to play this fall. Along with Tyrie Cleveland, Kadarius Toney and Dre Massey, they have one of the best receiving units in the SEC.

Mullen always finds a way to generate a consistent and effective rushing attack, and the Gators have some weapons at RB with Jordan Scarlett (who rushed for 889 yards in 2016), Lamical Perine and Malik Davis, the latter two combining for 1,088 yards and 10 TDs last year. The line returns all five starters but the unit was a serious weakness last year, particularly in the middle. They need to drastically improve there for the offense to run on all cylinders. They’re strong at OT, however, with Martez Ivey and Jawaan Taylor, two guys with NFL futures.

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7. South Carolina

2017 PPG: 24.2

2018 projection: Better

Why? The return of electrifying WR Deebo Samuel (below) should do wonders for this offense, which drastically missed his playmaking ability when he went down in Week 3. The Gamecocks also return their first, third and fourth-leading receivers: Bryan Edwards, OrTre Smith and Shi Smith. This is a deep and talented receiving unit that will benefit from the continued presence of QB Jake Bentley (4,214 yards, 63.4%, 27/16 in 2016 and 2017), has quietly become one of the best signal callers in the SEC and could thrive in Bryan McClendon’s RPO-heavy scheme.

The rushing attack as a whole needs to improve after finishing last year 12th in the league in yards per game with 123. Unless someone emerges from the pack they’ll likely split carries between A.J. Turner, who led the team with 531 yards and 3 TDs and Rico Dowdle, who was third in rushing yards with 251. Both are all-purpose types who can also make plays in the passing game. The line returns 3 starters and a decent amount of experience, particularly on the left side, which is led by All-SEC candidate Zack Bailey at LG.

6. Mississippi State

2017 PPG: 32.0

2018 projection: Better

Why? The offense should really benefit from new HC Joe Moorhead, who should be able to unlock the keys to the missing passing attack the past few years. QB Nick Fitzgerald returns and should benefit greatly from the tutelage of the Moorhead, who masterminded the explosive Penn State attack the past two years. Fitzgerald regressed as a passer last year, but the arm talent is there, he just needs Moorhead to help clean up his mechanics.

The receiving corps should also be greatly improved with the offseason additions of Stephen Guidry and Devonta Jason. Jesse Jackson, the leading receiver last year, returns, as does Malik Dear, who missed all of last year with a torn ACL.

 

 

The rushing attack again should be very strong with a powerful duo at RB led by Aeris Williams (1,107 yards and 6 TDs) and Kylin Hill (393 yards and 2 TDs). Don’t forget a key piece to the success of this rushing attack comes from Fitzgerald, who ran for a combined 2,359 yards and 30 TDs the past two years before the ankle injury in the Egg Bowl. I’d be surprised if he had a similar workload this year (averaged more than 178 carries per season in that span), but Moorhead is too good of an offensive mind to ignore an obvious strength. The line returns 4 starters and is very strong up the middle, so expect a very strong rushing attack once again in Starkville.

5. Ole Miss

2017 PPG: 32.8

2018 projection: Better

Why? Jordan Ta’amu (1,652 yards, 66.5%, 11/4 in 5 starts) returns at QB and he should be even better after thriving down the stretch last year while filling in for Shea Patterson. A full offseason of working with the starting receivers and improving the timing will pay huge dividends. He also has the benefit of throwing to the most talented receiving corps in the country led by AJ Brown (75 receptions, 1,252 yards, 11 TDs). D.K. Metcalf and DaMarkus Lodge — who combined for 80 receptions, 1,344 yards and 14 TDs — shouldn’t be overlooked either and can win one-on-one opportunities. TE Dawson Knox will contend for All-SEC honors, as well.

Being able to run the ball is the big question after losing 1,000-yard rusher Jordan Wilkins. The hope is that someone from the pool of Scottie Phillips, Eric Swinney or Isaiah Woullard emerges to help balance the offense and take some pressure off the passing game and the defense.

Fortunately, they’ll have the benefit of running behind a very strong offense line that returns All-American candidate Greg Little at LT and a plethora of experience to the right of him, especially in LG Javon Patterson and C Sean Rawlings, each of whom should contend for All-SEC honors. This offense will be able to score on just about anyone through the air, but they’ll really be a force if they can generate some form of a rushing attack to balance things out.

4. Mizzou

2017 PPG: 37.5

2018 projection: Worse

Why? Mainly because we don’t know what the scheme will look like under new OC Derek Dooley, a 1styear playcaller. It’s also expected to incorporate more pro-style looks, which will slow the pace down from last year, so it’s unlikely the team will once again average 37.5 points per game. With that said, it should still be a potent group, led by QB Drew Lock (below), who set a league record last year with 44 TD passes.

Lock is being touted as a potential first-round pick next year and will have the luxury of one of the best deep ball receivers in the country coming back in Emanuel Hall, who averaged a whopping 24.8 yards per reception last year with 817 yards and 8 TDs. He’ll also have one of the best TEs nationally in the form of Albert Okwuegbunam, who led the team in TD receptions last year with 11.

They’re replacing Ish Witter (1,049 yards and 6 TDs last year) at RB, but there’s very high hopes for sophomore Larry Rountree III, who was second on the team in rushing last year with 703 yards and 6 TDs. Damarea Crockett, who surpassed 1,000-yards as a freshman in 2016, also returns, giving the Tigers a formidable tandem in the backfield. The offensive line returns all 5 starters and should once again be a strength. The talent is certainly there for this offense to be among the best nationally, but exactly how Dooley runs the offense remains to be seen.

3. Auburn

2017 PPG: 33.9

2018 projection: Better

Why? Jarrett Stidham is back and will be even better than he was in 2017. He was utterly electric in the final 9 games of the regular season, completing 68% of his passes for 2,054 yards with a 14/2 TD-to-INT ratio, with his team going 8-1 in that span. There’s no reason to think he won’t be even better in 2018, particularly with the return of Ryan Davis and Darius Slayton at WR. Davis set a school record for receptions in a year with 84 (815 yards and 5 TDs) and Slayton was a dangerous deep threat who averaged more than 22 yards per reception last year for 643 yards and 5 TDs. WR Nate Craig-Myers will have the best opportunity yet to finally make an impact after flashing tantalizing glimpses of his potential.

The run game is the biggest question mark after losing SEC OPOY Kerryon Johnson, who led the league in rushing yards last year with 1,391 and 18 TDs. They’re also working in numerous new starters on the line like, particularly the right side. With that said, this is Auburn, so you know there’s a 1,000-yard rusher somewhere on the roster, and it very well could be Kam Martin, who flashed game breaking speed in his limited role last year. And while the line is working in new starters, it’s not like they’re breaking in a group of high-effort, former walk-ons, either. There’s talent there, they just need enough time to gel and work out the kinks before a tough early season test against Washington.

2. Georgia

2017 PPG: 35.4

2018 projection: Better

Why? Though Georgia played a lot of seniors last year, the Dawgs also played a lot of freshman in key roles, and they’re only going to get better. QB Jake Fromm (2,615 yards, 62.2%, 24/7) returns after a terrific freshman campaign where he nearly led the Dawgs to a national title. He’ll be pushed by mega recruit Justin Fields. The receiving corps should also be better despite the loss of Javon Wims. Terry Godwin (38 receptions, 639 yards, 6 TDs), Mecole Hardman (25 receptions, 418 yards, 4 TDs) and Riley Ridley (6 receptions, 82 receptions in title game) all return, as does TE Isaac Nauta. They also added Cal transfer and former 5-star Demetris Robertson (50 receptions, 767 yards, 7 TDs in 2016), who was granted immediate eligibility.

The rushing attack is taking a big blow from the loss of Nick Chubb (4,769 career rushing yards, second all-time at UGA) and Sony Michel (3,613 career rushing yards, third all-time at UGA), but there are high hopes for younger guys like D’Andre Swift, who was electric in the time he did see on the field, finishing third on the team in rushing yards with 618 (averaging a shopping 7.6 yards per carry). Expect carries to also be distributed among the many very talented younger backs like Elijah Holyfield, Brian Herrien, James Cook and Zamir White. This is a remarkably talented group of backs. The line is losing All-American LT Isaiah Wynn but replaces him with Freshman All-American Andrew Thomas, who started all 15 games last year. LG Kendall Baker, C Lamont Gaillard and RG Ben Cleveland are also talented vets, though it remains to be seen how former 5-star Isaiah Wilson fares in his first taste at RT.

1. Alabama

2017 PPG: 37.1

2018 projection: Better

Why? This team was second in the SEC last year in PPG and should be even better with an improved passing attack under Tua Tagovailoa – assuming he wins the job, as many believe. He has good arm strength, touch and timing and is a gifted deep ball passer. He has a talented trio of WRs with the kind of speed that can take the top off a secondary and take advantage of those deep balls with Jerry Jeudy, DeVonta Smith and Henry Ruggs. He also has the benefit of a deep and talented group of TEs, led by Hale Hentges. Tagovailoa should unleash a passing attack in Tuscaloosa not seen since the AJ McCarron days, and that will provide great balance to an already elite rushing attack.

The Tide averaged 250.6 rushing yards per game last year and return All-American candidate Damien Harris, who might just be the best back in the country. He could become the first Alabama back with 3 consecutive 1,000-yard seasons if he stays healthy this year. They also bring back Najee Harris, the former mega recruit who averaged 10.7 yards per carry against the vaunted Georgia defense in the title game. The 6-2, 230-pound sophomore will get even more carries this year and provide an excellent pairing alongside the elder Harris.

The line will also be an elite unit, led by All-American LT and future first-rounder Jonah Williams. LG Lester Cotton and C Ross Pierschbacher are highly experienced vets with a combined 60 starts, and former blue-chippers Jedrick Wills and Alex Leatherwood, who looked strong as true freshmen last year, will hold down the right side of the line. This should be a very balanced, very dangerous attack.

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Looks pretty good but I think UGA may be a few spots too high, and I’d put both LSU and A&M above Arkansas. 

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Mizzou at fourth best offense in the conference is a joke. We're much more likely to have fourth best in the country than in the conference. 

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26 minutes ago, Mizzou_Fan said:

Mizzou at fourth best offense in the conference is a joke. We're much more likely to have fourth best in the country than in the conference. 

I think Mizzou’s stats last year were pretty inflated against bad teams. I know that can be said about any team in any given year, but if you look back there was a pretty big difference in stats between games for Mizzou. 

Against:

missouri state- 72 points 

SC - 13 points

purdue- 3 points

Auburn - 14 points

UK- 34

UGA - 28

idaho- 68

uconn- 52

UF - 45

UT - 50

Vandy - 45

Arkansas - 48

texas - 16

 

 

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1 hour ago, cocky4ever said:

Looks pretty good but I think UGA may be a few spots too high, and I’d put both LSU and A&M above Arkansas. 

Kind of blows the argument of a certain poster to have UGA #2. :)

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2 hours ago, cocky4ever said:

I think Mizzou’s stats last year were pretty inflated against bad teams. I know that can be said about any team in any given year, but if you look back there was a pretty big difference in stats between games for Mizzou. 

Against:

missouri state- 72 points 

SC - 13 points

purdue- 3 points

Auburn - 14 points

UK- 34

UGA - 28

idaho- 68

uconn- 52

UF - 45

UT - 50

Vandy - 45

Arkansas - 48

texas - 16

 

 

From Kentucky game on, the offense was great. The opponents weren't great but the stats are still impressive and it should be better this year. 

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