We’re down to a week until the 2013 SEC season kicks off next Thursday with a pair of games.
Today, we’ll take a closer look at the defensive backfields in the league, and more specifically, who’s been best at picking off errant or ill-advised passes. Of course, sometimes those passes aren’t poorly thrown -- the defensive back just makes a good play.
The number to ponder: 55.
LSU has intercepted an SEC-high 55 passes over the past three seasons and is the only team in the league to swipe 18 or more passes in each of those years. Alabama isn’t too far behind, with 53 picks over the past three seasons, and the only other team in the league with 50 or more interceptions during that span is Florida, with an even 50. It’s also worth looking at the other end of the spectrum. Auburn has the fewest interceptions in the SEC over the last three seasons with 25. The Tigers managed just two last season. Auburn and Arkansas are the only two teams in the league who haven’t picked off more than 12 passes in a season at least once over the last three years. Even though LSU lost a pair of players early to the NFL draft (safety Eric Reid and cornerback Tharold Simon), the Tigers should again be strong in the secondary. Sophomore cornerback Jalen Mills returns after playing last season as a true freshman. He has a chance to be special and follow in the footsteps of Patrick Peterson and Morris Claiborne. Sophomore cornerback Jalen Collins also played extensively last season as a redshirt freshman, but true freshman Tre'Davious White has been terrific during preseason camp and will be hard to keep off the field at cornerback. Getting safety Craig Loston back for his senior season was a huge boost for the LSU defense. If Loston can stay healthy, he’ll push Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to be the top safety in the league. It’s too early to say definitively who has the best secondary in the SEC. Florida, with the cornerback tandem of Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson, would be right up there. Vanderbilt should also be outstanding … again. Alabama certainly won’t be shabby, and look for Auburn to be much improved. But LSU just seems to breed great players back there (and pile up the interceptions), and this season shouldn’t be any different.