2010 NCAA Football Preview: SEC West

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It is baseball season, but there are plenty of ways to get your fill of football too. Our own Danny Hobrock is on the beat making his way across the College Football landscape exhaustively covering team after team. These previews will get you up to snuff with everything you need to know about the transition to each 2010 team.

Each team preview covers the team's outlook and projection for the 2010 season. We've got in depth coverage of each team's offense, defense and special teams. We'll cover who's in and who's out, and players from true freshmen to four year starters and pro prospects. Finally, we'll look at strategy and style of play on both sides of the ball, as well detailed information about coaches and players.

Today Danny is previewing the SEC West Conference teams - Alabama Crimson Tide, Arkansas RazorbacksLSU TigersAuburn Tigers,  Mississippi Rebels, and Mississippi State Bulldogs. Clicking on each team's logo will take you right to the team's preview.

Check back often between now and the September 2nd season kick-off as new team previews are going up almost every day. Clicking here or on the NCAA Football in the right sidebar will take you to the page containing all the previews published to date.

SEC (West) Conference

  1. Alabama Crimson Tide
  2. Arkansas Razorbacks
  3. LSU Tigers
  4. Auburn Tigers
  5. Mississippi Rebels
  6. Mississippi State Bulldogs

Alabama Crimson Tide

1st SEC West

While they're my favorite to win the SEC Championship, winning the National Championship is far from a lock. They lose a lot of experience on defense and their special teams loses its kicker, punter and return man. The offense should come out firing, but it was the defense that really carried this team to the title in 2009. There's enough talent to come in and make another run at the title and with no team the clear cut favorite to win it all, the situation is ideal for a defending champion with a little rebuilding to do (experience wise, that is) to come in and make a go at repeating as national champs.

The conference schedule will pit the defending champs on the road against Arkansas, South Carolina, Tennessee and LSU. They do, however, catch a break with Florida coming to Tuscaloosa, as well as with Auburn coming to town for the Iron Bowl. What's more, 'Bama fans are well aware that a number of their opponents this season will have a week off to prepare. It's a perfect recipe for a team as talented as Alabama to drop a game or two this season, but in the end, Nick Saban won't let his players buy into the schedule hoopla and definitely won't let them use it as an excuse.

I made the argument that Florida, who loses arguably their best player at every position, should not be ranked as high as #3 in the country until this year's squad can prove they can live up to the standards set by the Gator squads of the past few years, no matter how much talent and potential they have. It's a bit different with Alabama. Just about everybody is back on offense, including two of the game's best running backs. 'Bama ranked 12th in rushing offense a year ago and they should see some improvement in their 92nd ranked passing offense. As the defense adjusts to the new personnel, the offense should carry them with only one real test in the first three weeks (vs. Penn State). If they've worked out the kinks by the time the trip to Arkansas rolls around, this year's Tide should be all right and I have no problem with them starting #1 without a clear cut favorite coming into this season.

Arkansas Razorbacks

2nd SEC West

This is assuming the defense, and especially the secondary, improve in 2010. If they do not and teams continue to put up big numbers in the passing game, that second place prediction could turn into fourth place or worse with a few more losses. Mallett and the passing game will be outstanding and the four-back rotation will make for a nice ground game, but it isn’t fair to expect them to engage in weekly shootouts to come up with wins.

If the shuffling in the secondary works and everybody performs up to their potential, we could be looking at a special season for the Hogs that could ultimately culminate in an SEC West title and trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game. They'll almost certainly have to beat Alabama to earn that right and more than one SEC loss could sink those dreams in a hurry, but the schedule isn't a killer and plenty of talent, especially on offense, returns for this to potentially be a year to remember. We'll see how opportunistic Bobby Petrino's squad is this season.

LSU Tigers

3rd SEC West

An 8-5 and 9-4 record in back-to-back seasons is not bad by any stretch, unless you're a team like LSU who prior to the 8-5 year were national champions at 12-2. The Tigers haven't won 13 national champions like divisional rival Alabama, but they won two national titles last decade and finished the season ranked eight times in the 2000s. They've also not finished with fewer than eight wins in any season since their three-win 1999 campaign. It goes without saying that LSU expects to see double digit wins and be in the national title hunt year in and year out.

As far as this season goes, some improvement on the offense, particularly on the offensive line, is a necessity if this team hopes to reclaim their previous glory. The running game should be solid and the receivers are there to give the quarterback plenty of options in the passing game. Now it all needs to come together in the form of more consistent production…and points. On defense, the secondary should be outstanding, but the pass rush needs to catch up a bit to make their lives easier and allow for more big plays in the pass defense.

Auburn Tigers

4th SEC West

I know. Fourth in the division doesn't exactly scream success in the SEC, but it's such a strong conference that fourth (and fifth) in the division could mean a January bowl, as it did last year when both Arkansas (fourth) and Auburn (fifth) played on January 2 and January 1, respectively. They could finish as high as second with an SEC West divisional crown seeming unlikely with Alabama in the division. The talent is there with a good offense that should again rank somewhere in the top 25 in the nation assuming the quarterback situation proves steady early on, an underrated defense and a nice kicking game. It's enough to take them to five or so conference victories. Now they'll just have to do it.

Mississippi Rebels

5th SEC West

The SEC is a hard conference to call in general, mainly because even the teams who finish towards the bottom of the standings often have a good deal of talent. For the 2010 Ole Miss Rebels, the season will come down to winning the games they're supposed to and grabbing one or two of their more moderate matchups such as at Arkansas , vs. Auburn or at Tennessee. Going to Alabama and LSU will be tough, but if they can pull out a win, more power to them. The Rebels will have hopefully have qualified for a bowl game by the time the Egg Bowl rolls around, but with tough matchups in the second half of the season, adding that final win will go a long way in boosting the impression that the season will leave on the players and the program as a whole.

Mississippi State Bulldogs

6th SEC West

There's talent enough to finish as high as fourth in the division, but with a bit of uncertainty surrounding the quarterback spot as well as in a backfield that was tops in the conference a season ago, and while the receivers and offensive line should be exceptional, it's hard to envision the Bulldogs finishing ahead of Auburn or Arkansas in the West. Meanwhile, the defensive front four needs to be more effective getting into the backfield, but overall the Bulldogs should field a solid defense that needs to be more productive than the SEC's 10th ranked total defense, 11th ranked scoring defense, 11th ranked pass defense and 11th in sacks. A brutal road schedule isn't doing them any favors with matchups at LSU, at Houston, at Florida, at Alabama and at in-state rival Ole Miss. - Danny Hobrock

Danny Hobrock is a sports journalist primarily covering college football and professional baseball. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. Danny is the former editor of a political and current events website and the editor of our college football content.


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