Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Crimson Tide picked to win SEC
By Edward Aschoff
It's a debate that should last up until the final weeks of the regular season, but for now Alabama has been named the king of he SEC by the fans.
Running back Trent Richardson is expected to lead Alabama's offense next season, no matter who starts at quarterback.
In our SportsNation poll, the fans picked the Crimson Tide to take home the SEC title. It wasn't that close, either. At last count, Alabama took home 41 percent of the vote with nearly 77,500 people voting.
It's hard to argue against the fans. So, I won't. I would have picked Alabama as well.
The West will be beyond challenging for every team out there, but Alabama looks to have the team primed for a run to the title. The quarterback situation is still unsettled, but Alabama has two talented young guns vying for the starting spot. Sophomore AJ McCarron played sparingly last season, while redshirt freshman Phillip Sims sat out last season.
They went through quite the battle this spring and both players and coaches left spring confident either one could be a solid starter for the Tide this fall.
Then there is Trent Richardson in the backfield. He's finally the lead running back in Tuscaloosa and showed this spring that he's more than ready to take hold of this offense.
Defensively, Alabama has matured and should be much more aggressive up front. With linebackers Courtney Upshaw and Dont'a Hightower finally healthy, the Tide should have one of the most disruptive pass-rushes in the league.
LSU was second in the vote, earning 28 percent of it. The Tigers return a young defense, but it could be one of the most athletic in the country. Quarterback Jordan Jefferson improved mightily this spring, but newcomer Zach Mettenberger will be breathing down his neck all season.
The East got some love with South Carolina coming in third with 13 percent of the vote. If quarterback Stephen Garcia returns, the Gamecocks should be the overwhelming favorite in the East. There is a ton of talent on both sides of the ball and returning Marcus Lattimore in the backfield and Alshon Jeffery at wide receiver will make the Gamecocks' offense intimidating, no matter who is at quarterback.
Arkansas took in 11 percent of the vote, and Georgia grabbed 8 percent.
The Razorbacks might have the most explosive offensive in the country and will have a much improved defense. New quarterback Tyler Wilson shouldn't have a problem picking up where Ryan Mallett left off. Georgia has the talent to win the SEC, but that seems to be the theme each season. There are questions on offense, but having a quarterback like Aaron Murray could go a long way for the Bulldogs.