This morning we wrap up our 2015 SEC position rankings by taking a look at the league's collections of defensive backs:
1. Georgia: Jeremy Pruitt's secondary didn't just lead the SEC, it was one of the best in the nation. The Bulldogs led the nation in passing yards allowed per game (156.5) and passing first downs allowed (87) and ranked in the top 10 in percentage of pass attempts that went for a first down or touchdown (seventh at 26.2), passing touchdowns allowed (eighth with 11) and yards per pass attempt (10th at 5.91). First-team All-SEC safety Dominick Sanders tied for the SEC lead with six interceptions, and he was just a sophomore. In fact, Georgia returns everyone from its talented secondary.
2. Texas A&M: John Chavis still hasn't resolved the Aggies' problems against the run, but they were effective defending the pass. A&M was in the national top five in passing first downs allowed (second with 88), passing yards per game allowed (fourth at 166.3), percentage of pass attempts for first downs or touchdowns (fifth at 25.8), and passing touchdowns allowed (tied for fifth with 10). That was a huge step in the right direction for a defense that struggled in recent years.
3. Florida: Boasting arguably the most talented secondary in the league -- starting with cornerbacks Vernon Hargreaves and Jalen Tabor -- Florida had an outstanding year in the back end. The Gators were 12th nationally in yards per attempt (6.0), 13th in passing yards allowed (182.1) and 13th in percentage of pass attempts for first downs or touchdowns (27.3). Even with Hargreaves leaving early for the NFL, the Gators should rank among the SEC's top secondaries again in 2016.
4. Missouri: Although the Tigers ranked toward the bottom of the SEC with nine interceptions, they were not easy to move the ball against through the air. They were fifth nationally in passing touchdowns allowed (10) and passing yards allowed per game (169.3) and seventh in yards per attempt (5.74).
5. Alabama: The Crimson Tide led the conference with 19 interceptions -- safety Eddie Jackson tied for the league lead with six -- and also ranked in the national top 20 in completion percentage (eighth at 50.5), percentage of passes for first downs or touchdowns (10th at 26.7) and yards per attempt (17th with 6.08). Couple those stats with Alabama's performance against the run and it's easy to see why its defense was so dominant.
6. Ole Miss: The Rebels surrendered a ton of passing yards -- they were 104th nationally with 258.8 yards allowed per game -- but they were the most opportunistic secondary in the conference. They picked off 15 passes and returned four of them for touchdowns, and All-SEC rover Trae Elston had two pick-sixes himself.
7. Tennessee: The Volunteers were in the middle of the pack in pass defense (47th nationally with 210.4 ypg), but hovered around the top 25 in several telling statistics: ninth in completion percentage (50.7), 22nd in yards per attempt (6.3), tied for 22nd in passing touchdowns allowed (17) and 26th in percentage of passes for a first down or touchdown (29.5).
8. Vanderbilt: Only three FBS defenses intercepted fewer passes than Vandy's six, but the Commodores did a better-than-average job against the pass overall. They tied for fifth nationally by surrendering 10 touchdown passes, were 20th in percentage of passes for a first down or touchdown (28.4) and 29th in yards per attempt (6.43).
9. Auburn: This was not a great season for Auburn's defense, but the Tigers' secondary improved as the season progressed -- capped by an outstanding bowl performance against Memphis and quarterback Paxton Lynch. The Tigers were 11th nationally with 13 touchdown passes allowed and 24th in yards per attempt (6.31).
10. Mississippi State: Manny Diaz's defense was average overall, and that description also applies to the Bulldogs' pass defense numbers. They allowed opponents to complete 60.6 percent of their passes (90th nationally) and sat around the middle of the pack in most categories. They did rank 19th in the FBS by surrendering just 16 passing touchdowns.
11. LSU: Considering how much talent resides in LSU's secondary, it might be surprising that the Tigers sit so low on the list. The stats back up this standing, however. They were 40th nationally or worse in pass defense (65th, 224.3 ypg), passing touchdowns allowed (41st with 22), completion percentage (42nd at 56.3) and percentage of passes for a first down or touchdown (64th at 32.2).
12. Kentucky: Despite starting a pair of true freshmen at cornerback (Chris Westry and Derrick Baity), the Wildcats got better against the pass. They surrendered 14 passing touchdowns (14th nationally) and 198.1 ypg (28th) although opponents generally passed the ball effectively against Kentucky.
13. South Carolina: Maybe the Gamecocks weren't as bad against the pass as they were against the run, but they were pretty bad at both. They only gave up 15 passing touchdowns (18th nationally), but sat toward the bottom of the FBS rankings in completion percentage (122nd at 65.7), percentage of passes for a first down or touchdown (94th at 35.2) and yards per attempt (79th at 7.35).
14. Arkansas: Bringing up the rear are the Razorbacks, who ranked in the 100s in nearly all of the relevant pass defense stats. They gave up 275.2 passing ypg (116th) and 8.2 yards per attempt (109th), but actually ranked 29th in the FBS by allowing 18 passing touchdowns.