2019 Southeastern Conference Preview

by Dan M | Posted on Friday, August 23rd, 2019

Related image                                     ROBERT CORTINEZ
RCORTINEZ2@HOTMAIL.COM

Last year the SEC flexed its conference muscles finishing with
four teams in the top 10 and six teams in the top 16 of the final AP
poll. No other conference had more than two teams in the top 10 or
top 16. The ACC, Big 10 and Big 12 are itching to dethrone the SEC.
2019 may be the year that college football finally sees the SEC
relinquish its grip on the “best conference in the land” label.

Clemson, Oklahma, Ohio State, Penn State, Texas, Oregon,
Wisconsin, and Michigan are just a few of the big name teams that are
weary of the SEC’s dominance. I got a hunch that the other four
conferences of the “Power 5” raise the bar.

The 2019 SEC season kickstarts the nation’s football engine with,
pre-season ranked #8, Florida playing Miami to celebrate 150 years of
college football. In addition to Florida being in the pre-season top
25, the SEC has Alabama #2, Georgia #3, LSU #6, Texas A&M #12 and
Auburn #16.

Here’s this year’s pre-season predictions from top to bottom for both
West and East.
WEST DIVISION

1. LSU TIGERS
Pre-season AP rank: 6
2018 Results: 10-3, 5-3
Returning starters: 16 (8 on defense / 8 on offense)

LSU is on a roll finishing #6 in the final AP poll last year
after giving UCF its only loss (40-32) in the Fiesta bowl. Tiger QB
Joe Burrow was more than capable last year throwing 219 completions
for 2,894 yards. Burrow has been projected to be pro level passer with
his size (6’ 4”, 216 lbs) and high velocity arm. Burrow will be
throwing to returning WR Justin Jefferson ( 6’ 2”, 185) a bona fide,
rangy threat who led the team in receptions (54), receiving yards
(875) and yards per catch (16.2).  Junior RB Clyde Edwards-Helairn
returns after splitting reps last year but still managed to rush for
658 yards and 7 TD’s. The O-line returns four starters who are sized
right for Coach Ed Orgeron’s offense averaging around 6’3” and 315 lbs..

The defensive secondary can lay claim to an All-American safety
and preseason first team all-SEC safety, Grant Delpit, who returns for
his senior season. Delpit is joined by Kristian Fulton at cornerback,
who is also a first team preseason all-SEC. The D-line is anchored by
Rashad Lawrence another preseason SEC first teamer and his d-line
mates are simply  huge. The linebacker corp may be a little short
handed with the loss of All American beast, Devin White (5th overall
pick in NFL to Tampa Bay) but Coach O will have this new crew wreaking
havoc in no time.
Could be the year for the cajun crew to  take out the Crimson Tide.
Let the Good Times Roll!
Prediction: 11-1 overall / 7-1 conference
2. ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
Preseason AP rank: 2
2018 Results: 14-1 / 8-0
Returning starters: 12 (6 off. / 6 def.)

The Crimson Tide are coming off their fourth straight national
championship game appearance and with that, their only loss last year
to Clemson 44-16. The Tide were outscored 30-3 after the first
quarter of last year’s championship game. The game may have signaled a
dent in the armour of Bama’s football behemoth.

Head coach Nick Saban welcomes back lefty QB, and reigning Heisman
runner-up, Tua Tagovaila (6’1”, 211 lbs). Interestingly enough, Tua,
like Phil Mickelson in golf, only plays football left-handed, and does
everything else right handed. Tua threw for almost identical yardage
(3,986 yards) as Heisman winner Kyler Murray (4053 yards) last year,
but take note, Tua had three more TD’s (43), one less interception
(6) than Murray and led his team to the national championship.
Alabama’s running game will be special if Offensive Coordinator
Steve Sarkasion gives sophomore Najee Harris (783 yds, 117 carries,
6.7 yards per carry) the rock enough to open up the game for wide
receiver sensation Jerry Jeudy.  Jeudy, who runs a 4.5 40, averaged 20
yards per catch and scored 14 TD’s last season.

Alabama always seems to replace its O-line and D-lines with NFL
caliber players, but this year a freshman DJ Dale ( 6’3”, 308 lbs) may
have played himself into starting at nose guard and is a player to
watch.  Although the linebacking corp is sufficiently wizened,
sporting two seniors and two juniors, this crew may be the weak link
on the field for the Crimson Tide.

Alabama starts the season with Duke in Atlanta and needs to
demolish the Blue Devils to set the season’s tone and challenge for a
CFP spot once again.
Prediction: 10-2 overall / 6-2 conference3.

AUBURN TIGERS
Pre-season AP ranking: 16
2018 Results: 8-5 / 3-5
Returning starters: 14 (7 on offense / 7 on defense)

Beware of Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn who currently sits on the
proverbial “hot seat”. The $49 million dollar man embraces the warmth,
and has not backed down an inch since taking over play calling late
last year.  All it did for the Tigers was to ignite an epic Music City
Bowl win over Purdue, 63-14. The same Purdue team who early in the
season put a beat down on #2 Ohio State, 49-20.

Gus has never shied away from the expectations that require 10-win
seasons on the Plains. With the loss of QB, Jason Stidham, Coach
Malzahn named true freshman sensation, Bo Nix to lead the offense and
will have redshirt frosh Joey Gatewood ready to go if Nix falters.
Auburn returns its entire O-line, all seniors, and this unit will be
much improved, especially with the Gus Bus calling the plays. Running
back Boobee Whitlow is solid and is the leading returning rusher but
will have some competition from true freshman D.J. Williams who has
unlimited speed.

The D-line returns almost its entire starting five with Derrick
Brown, Nick Coe and Marlon Davidson hoping to start where they
finished last year. The Tiger’s secondary return both starting
safeties and have reshuffled the corners to make the unit as salty as
last year’s shut down squad. The linebacking crew, like in-state rival
Alabama, is the weak link in this otherwise stellar defense.

This team’s mettle will be determined in their season opener
August 31, at AT&T Stadium as the Tigers take on west coast power,
Oregon, in an old fashioned west v. south rivalry,
Prediction: 10-2 overall / 6-2 conference

4.  TEXAS A&M AGGIES
Pre-season AP rank: 12
2018 Results: 9-4 / 5-3
Returning starters: 11 (7 off. / 4 def.)

Aggie HC Jimbo Fisher is a polarizing figure in college football
winning a national championship in 2013 but making few friends along
the way. Fisher left his Florida State program in tatters in 2018 and
bolted for a $75 million dollar,10 year contract in the newly
renovated 102,000 capacity stadium at Kyle Field. Texas A&M, by the
way, was ranked by Forbes magazine as the most valuable program in
America in 2018.

As for this year’s team, it will begin and end with QB Kellen Mond
(3107 passing yds., 24 TD’s, 474 rushing yds, 7 TD’s) a legitimate
dual threat and the heartbeat of this offense. Mond’s top six wide
receivers are back but his O-line that gave up 35 sacks last year is
also back. This line will need to improve and may need 5-star freshman
recruit, Kenyan Green, to immediately contribute in the trenches.
Sophomore running back Jashuan Corbin (346 rushing yds) has to replace
superstar, RB Trayveon Williams (1760 yards, 18 TDs), who left early
to take his talent to the Bengals.

The A&M defense lost seven starters on defense, including their
top six tacklers. The Aggies are having to replace three starters on
the D-line and its linebacker crew. The good news for A&M’s defense
is the secondary should be solid against the SEC passers. Aggie
punter, Braden Mann, may be the best weapon for the defense. The
reigning Ray Guy award winner, averaged 51 yds per kick and downed 19
kicks inside his opponents 20 yd. line.

A&M’s schedule is the definition of  savage as they get Alabama,
Auburn and South Carolina at home and go to Georgia, LSU and Clemson
(their second game). If the Aggies can compete with the defending
champs, this year could be special.
Prediction: Overall 8-4 / Conference 5-3

5.  MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS
Pre-season AP ranking: unranked
2018 Results: 8-5 / 4-4
Returning starters: 11 (7 on offense / 4 on defense)

Bulldog second year head coach Joe Moorhead was very respectable
in his first year, winning eight regular season games before losing to
Iowa in the Outback Bowl, 27-22. Coach Moorhead had to over-rely on
QB Nick Fitzgerald last year due to Firzgerald’s sheer athleticism.
This year the Bulldogs can settle in to Coach Moorhead’s traditional
offensive schemes that he ran so successfully at Penn St.

Speaking of Penn State graduate transfer QB Tommy Stephens was
coached by Moorhead at Penn State and just might steal the starting
job from junior QB, Keytaon Thompson. Either quarterback will have the
luxury of throwing to 6’ 5” Stephen Guidry and 6’ 4” Osirus Mitchell
at wide outs. Mississippi State’s super sophomore receiver, Davonta
Jason’s status is unknown due to family issues. Kansas State transfer
Isaih Jones will fill the bill nicely in his absence. RB Kylin Hill
is expected to have a breakout season and could actually improve on
his nearly 7 yards a carry average.

The defense has only four returning starters. Five of those seven
starters lost were NFL draft picks including three first rounders
(Jeff Simmons DE, Montez Sweat LB, and Johnathan Abrams CB). Its going
to be tough to fill those shoes but the linebackers led by Errol
Thompson (87 tackles) and the secondary look solid enough says
D-coordinator Bob Shoop.

This team isn’t quite up to former head coach Dan Mullens
standards but will be better offensively than last year. State’s SEC
east foes are thankfully Kentucky and Tennessee, not Georgia or
Florida. But as always, the west division gauntlet of Alabama, LSU
and Auburn are all probably losses for these Bulldogs.
Prediction: Overall 8-4 / Conference 4-4

6. ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS
Pre-season AP ranking: unranked
2018 Results: 2-10 / 0-8
Returning starters: 12 (6 off. / 6 def.)

The Razorbacks crawled to their worst record in program history
last year under new head coach Chad Morris. The Hogs football
identity was clearly left in tatters by former head coach Brett
Bielema, but no one predicted the severity of the talent drop-off left
by Coach B. Coach Morris was clearly not ready for the SEC after
coaching SMU to a14-22 record in his three years in Dallas. To Morris’
credit he is winning over fans and players with his intensity and game
knowledge though.

The Razorbacks starting quarterback position is up for grabs. SMU
Graduate transfer QB Ben Hicks knows Morris’ offense. According to
Coach Morris only 30% of it was implemented last year. This year
Morris stated that the team has 70% of his offense in play. Hicks is
being challenged by A&M transfer QB Nick Starkel, who brings an SEC
swagger to the field that this young Arkansas team desperately needs.

Experienced running backs Devyah Whaley and Rakim Boyd are a
potent one-two punch, and talented sophomore Chase Hayden rounds out
an impressive running game. Arkansas was 115th out of 130 college
football teams in points scored (21.7) last year. If the O-line can
man up this team can maybe triple its win total in 2019.

The  problem is these Hogs are simply not big enough on defense.
With the exception of 2nd team preseason All SEC Telvin Agim (DE), the
D-line unit lacks big time power and speed. The linebackers are led by
Dejon Scoota Harris (6’ 0” 245 lbs)who led the SEC in tackles (118)
last year and had 115 tackles as a sophomore. Pound for pound, this
kid is as tough as any player in the country but the rest of the
undersized Arkansas squad can’t match his playing “bigger” than his
size.

These pigs should win four non-conference cupcakes, but got to try
and squeal out two SEC wins.
Prediction: Overall 6-6 / Conference 2-6

7.  OLE MISS REBELS
Pre-season AP ranking: unranked
2018 Results:  5-7 / 1-7
Returning starters 13 (5 off. / 8 def.)

Second year Rebel HC Matt Luke hired Rich Rodriguez to be his new
offensive coordinator and Mike MacIntyre to be his new defensive
coordinator. Rodriguez is a brilliant offensive coach with stints at
West Virginia, Michigan and Arizona bringing varied success at each
school before being fired by Arizona. MacIntyre, Colorado’s ex-head
coach, led the Buffalos to a 10 win season and was national coach of
the year in 2016 but was fired last year. So how does a lower tier SEC
team land this talent? Easy enough. Both Rodriguez and MacIntyre
were given huge buyouts, $6 million and $10 million respectively, that
are paid as long as they don’t accept a head coaching position.

There’s the ticket, Ole Miss is paying Rodriguez $900k and paying
MacIntyre $1.5 million as assistant coaches so both get their buy-outs
from Arizona and Colorado. Only in college athletics can you be fired
for underperforming and still make more money!
Head coach Matt Luke has rejuvenated this team starting with red
shirt frosh Matt Corral (6’ 1”, 205 lbs) out of Long Beach California.

Although inexperienced, the coaching staff is sold on Corral to be
this team’s leader for 2019. Running back Scottie Phillips (928 yds.
11 TDs, 6.1 average) returns after a foot injury late last year kept
him getting 1,000 yds. Phillips is joined by backfield mate Snoop
Conner, a bruiser back, to give the Rebs that change of pace.  Both
Phillips and Conner may see their time reduced if true freshman,
Jerrioin Ealy (a five star recruit) displays his dazzling speed and
moves against SEC competition.

The Ole Miss defense is switching to a 3-4 scheme under MacIntyre
so the linebackers will have to step up. Junior Momo Sanago (6’ 2”,
245 ), who’s on the Butkus Award watch list, led the team with 112
tackles last year and will have to lead this unit from the jump. The
rest of the defense should be capable as long as they grasp
MacIntyre’s new system.

If the Rebels get by Memphis and Arkansas in their first two
games. they’ll be bowling with their high dollar hires.
Prediction: Overall 6-6 / Conference: 2-6

Image result for Georgia Bulldogs fromm

EAST DIVISION

1. GEORGIA BULLDOGS
Pre-season AP ranking: 3
2018 Results: 11-3 / 7-1
Returning starters: 12 (6 off. / 6 def.)

Georgia is the sexy pick and I’m all about sexy so I’m going with
the Bulldogs.  Georgia HC Kirby Smart is 32 -10 in his three years as
head coach of the Bulldogs, with 5 of those losses in his first year
(8-5).  Coach Smart has won 24 games in the two seasons since his
first year and is as intense as his mentor, Nick Saban. Not to mention
a trip to the national championship game in his second season.
Georgia’s previous head coach, Mark Richt, though extremely capable
finishing #2 twice and #3 once, never made it to the championship game
in 14 years at Georgia’s helm.

Dawg QB Jake Fromm has been to the college championship pinnacle
and is ready to return again. Last year, Fromm threw for 2,537 yards,
30 TD’s and only six interceptions. The kid is poised to be the most
successful QB ever at the University of Georgia. His offensive line is
mammoth averaging 6’5’ and 335. Right tackle Isaiah Wilson aids the
average standing in  at 6”7”, 345.. Running back D’Andre Swift, though
smallish at 5’9” 215, is a beast-mode back who averaged 6.7 yards per
carry against the SEC’s best defenses last year.

The Dawg defense will be fine as always with Smart leading the
squad just as he did at Bama when he made history as the highest paid
assistant coach in college football.  Georgia begins 2019 with three
seemingly easy pickings, Vanderbilt, Murray State and Arkansas State.
In the Dawgs fourth game, they get the seasons litmus test against
Notre Dame in Athens. If the Dawgs survive that week 4 battle, they
only have to beat Tennessee, South Carolina and Kentucky before their
annual cocktail party against Florida. The schedule further favors
Georgia since the Dawgs drew Auburn and A&M as their west rotation
division foes, avoiding LSU and Alabama.

Georgia finished last season on a two game losing streak to Bama in
the SEC championship and Texas in the Sugar Bowl. Texas wasn’t that
good, Georgia’s heart just wasn’t in it after missing the CFP’s.
Prediction: Overall 11-1 / Conference 7-1

2. FLORIDA GATORS
Pre-season AP ranking: unranked
2018 Results: 10-3 / 5-3
Returning starters: 13 (5 off., 8def.)

Florida HC Dan Mullens had a successful first year, turning around
the Gators from 4-7 in 2017 to 10 -3 in 2018. The Kentucky loss in Florida’s second
game last year galvanized the program as the Gators went 9-2 the rest
of the year which included a win over LSU and a Citrus Bowl beat down
of Michigan, 41-15.

QB Felipe Franks returns for his third year as the starter after
throwing for 24 TD’s and rushing for 7 TD’s. The Gators will surround
Felipe with returning starters at every skill position. All of the
returning wide receivers are over 6’ 2” with speed to spare making
corner matchups crucial for opposing teams.  Running back Lamical
Perine has 17 TD’s over the last two years and is joined by running
back Dameon Pierce who is a bruiser with speed at 5’10”, 216lbs. The
only drawback to the offense is that head coach Dan Mullens must
replace  four starters from the O-line.

The Gators D-line averages a whopping 6’4”, 300 lbs and should
have no problem keeping SEC offenses in check. Senior  Middle
linebacker David Reese returns to lead a quality linebacking crew.
Corner back C.J. Henderson returns for his senior season and is
considered a first round pick in next year’s NFL draft.

The Gators will have to beat Miami on Aug 24th then travel to
Columbia and play South Carolina to start the season  The Gators then
draw LSU in Baton Rouge and Auburn at home as its SEC West opponents.
The Gators have to win at least one of those games. If the Gators can
do that and sweep its other first six opponents they will be 7-1 on
November 2, when they face Georgia for the SEC East lead.
Prediction: Overall 10-2 / Conference 6-2

3.  MISSOURI TIGERS
Pre-season AP ranking: unranked
2018 Results: 8-5 / 4-4
Returning Starters: 13 (7 off., 6 def.)

The Missouri Tigers won the Idiotic “Kelly Bryant Sweepstakes” and
will have the “privilege” of starting the former Clemson QB who lost
his job the year before to skinny 6’6” freshman Trevor Lawrence. This
writer is not convinced that Missouri bought itself anymore victories
by signing Bryant than former QB, and 2nd round NFL draft pick, Drew
Lock got last year (8), but the college football world is swooning
over the acquisition.

Missouri does have the easiest schedule in the SEC, and maybe the
entire nation for power 5 conferences. Their non-conference games
consist of Wyoming, West Virginia, Troy and SE Missouri. The Tigers
then play the two worst teams in the SEC West, Arkansas and Ole Miss
before battling Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.  Mizzou has to
play strong every week avoiding any lulls from the post-season bowl
ban for NCAA violations.

Mizzou returns junior Larry Rountree (1216 yds., 11 TD’s) who
average almost five yards a carry and was academic honor roll, which
makes him truly exceptional but not by this culture’s standards. Wide
receivers Albert Okwuegbunam and Johnathan Nance will aid QB Kelly
Bryant in his transition but the O-line is suspect. Texas transfer DE
Jordan Elliot (6’4” 315) owned the end position the last half of the
2018 season, leading the team in solo tackles and tackles for losses.
If the Tigers win at Wyoming in their opener, get by West
Virginia week 2 and South Carolin in week 4, they could be 8-0 when
they travel to Athens to face Georgia. Special or ordinary?  Time will
tell.
Prediction: Overall- 9-3 / Conference 5-3

4.  SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS
Pre-season AP ranking: unranked
2018 Results: 7-6 / 4-4
Returning starters: 14 (7 off. / 7 def.)

The Gamecocks have always been an enigma in the SEC East. This
team has been led by the likes of Hall of Fame coach Lou Holtz,
national champion coach Steve Spurrier, the coward of Columbia, and
now Will Muschamp. Muschamp enters his fourth season with a 22-17
record. This doesn’t sound like much of an achievement but it is the
most wins ever in a South Carolina head coach’s first three years.
Senior QB Jake Bentley ( 3171 yards, 27 TD’s, 14 interceptions) is
capable but has to eliminate the turnovers.  Bentley will have the
luxury of throwing to two next level receivers in Bryan Edwards and
Shi Smith but the O-line is untested.  The Gamecocks will have the
services of in-state Clemson transfer running back Tavien Feaster who
has gotten a lot of attention balling out, running and catching, in
summer workouts.

South Carolina’s defense is known for being nasty (note Javeon
Clowney) and will be more than sufficient in 2019. Corners
Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu are legitimate NFL talent and will give
opposing receivers hell on the boundaries.

The Cocks start the season against rejuvenated North Carolina led
by former Texas head coach Mack Brown and finish with the traditional
contest against in-state rival Clemson. In between these bookends
they get Alabama, Florida and A&M at home and then road games against
Tennessee, Georgia and Missouri. This schedule ain’t for the faint
hearted and this Gamecock team will forge bonds one way or another by
year end.
Prediction: Overall 8-4 / Conference 5-3

5. TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS
Pre-season AP rank: unranked
2018 Results:  5-7 /
Returning starters: 16 (10 off. / 6 def.)

Vols HC Jeremy Pruitt, entering his second year,returns 16
starters from last year’s team, tied for most in the SEC with LSU.
Last year Tennessee was one win away from a bowl game but ended the
season with blow-out losses to Missouri (50-17) and Vanderbilt (38-13).

The most important offensive returner will be junior QB Jarett
Gurantano (6’4”, 215) who threw for just under 2,000 yards and 12 TD’s
last year. Guarntano will have the benefit of the Vols mammoth
offensive line (average 6’4”, 309) returning to give him protection to
improve his passing game. Running back, Ty Chandler (630 yds, 4 Td’s
rushing, 183 yds, 3 TD’s receiving), a legitimate 4.3 speedster will
start in the backfield. Chandler peeled off touchdown runs of 81 and
75 yards in 2018, and will not be caught from behind. He just needs
more touches to showcase his skills.
Tennessee’s defense has six starters back from a unit that was
haphazard last year. Head coach Pruitt will keep the defensive play
calling duties to himself, just as he did at Alabama, and has voiced
that his team is bigger and better than last year’s version.  The
D-line averages 6’4” and 300 lbs and the linebackers come in averaging
6’2” and 237 lbs. Bigger they are, but better remains to be seen.

The Vols schedule is favorable starting with Georgia State, BYU
and Chattanooga at home. Tennessee then embarks on a brutal four-game
stretch starting on the road at #8 Florida, then Mississippi State, #3
Georgia and at #2 Alabama. Even if the Vols go 1-3 in that stretch
they would still be 4-3 on the season. Every remaining game on the
schedule (South Carolina, UAB, @ Kentucky, @ Missouri, Vanderbilt) is
winnable. I’ll go on record to say that the Volunteers are bowling
this year and will not lose toVanderbilt for a record fourth year in a row.
Prediction: Overall 7-5 / Conference 3-5

5. KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Pre-season AP rank: unranked
2018 RESULTS: 10-3 / 5-3
Returning starters 8 (4 off. / 4 def.)
Kentucky is coming off its most successful season in over 40
decades. The Wildcats finished at 10-3, beat Penn State in the Citrus
Bowl, and was ranked #12 in the final AP poll. Seventh year head
coach Mark Stoops was voted SEC coach of the year and departing
defensive end Josh Allen, the NFL’s 7th overall pick by Jacksonville,
was the SEC defensive player of the year. The million dollar question
is whether the Wildcats were a one season wonder or can “re-load” with
similar success

Kentucky’s biggest void is on defense. The Wildcats lost three
starters to the NFL draft and three others to free agent camp invites.
Last year’s defense may have been the best ever for a Kentucky team
and was the reason for their success. Returning senior linebacker
Kash Daniel (62 tackles, 41 solo, 7.5 TFL) has NFL potential but will
be lonely leading this depleted unit in 2019.

Returning QB Terry Wilson completed 67% of his passes last year but
averaged a measly 5.7 yards per completion. The mobile signal caller
was a legitimate dual threat rushing for 726 yards on 107 carries but
was also sacked 28 times. Kentucky’s top wide-out, Lynn Bowden Jr.
(67 catches, 745 yds, and 5 TD’s) is back as the only returning
starting receiver. The Cat’s lost all time leading rusher, Benny
Snell Jr. (4,089 total career rush yards) but have speedy Jr. running
back Asim Rose. Rose averaged 6.2 yards carry on his 71 rushes for his
school.  This kid has bided his time and if his speed is legit could
be a breakout back this year.

Kentucky’s schedule starts simple enough with Toledo and Eastern
Michigan. The Wildcats then get Florida at home before traveling to
Mississippi State and South Carolina. Their next game is at home
against Arkansas but then go to Athens to face Georgia. Kentucky will
probably be 3-4 out of this stretch and will have to win 3 out of its
last 5 to go bowling.
Prediction: Overall 7-5 / Conference 3-5

7. VANDERBILT COMMODORES
Pre-season AP rank: unranked
2018 RESULTS: 3-5 / 6-7
Returning starters: 12 (7 off. / 5 def)
Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason six year won-loss record stands
at 16-32 which translates to a .333 winning percentage. Coach Mason
has two, six-win seasons, 2015 and 2018, which came with an
Independence Bowl loss and a Texas Bowl loss.

Vandy has to replace record setting QB Kyle Shurmur, presumably
with Ball State transfer Riley Neal. Lot of unknowns on the O-line
and the defense loses all its top linebackers and it’s starting
corners. No one expected Coach Mason to better former coach James
Franklin’s record of two, nine-win seasons in three years and two bowl
victories, but this year will be painful for the Commodores.
Fortunately for Coach Mason, its Vanderbilt we’re talking about and
just getting to two bowl games in six years coupled with beating
Tennessee three years in a row buys you at least six more years of job
security.

Vandy starts the season at home against #3 Georgia, then travels
to Indiana to play Purdue before returning home to face #6 LSU. Can
you say 0-3? It doesn’t get much better, as the “Dores then play
defending MAC champion Northern Illinois, road game to Ole Miss, home
games versus UNLV and Missouri, and then travel to South Carolina and
#8 Florida.Coach Mason will be fortunate to be 2-7 at this juncture.
The last three games are home affairs against Kentucky, East
Tennessee and Univ. of Tennessee. Bet the bank that Vanderbilt won’t
beat Tennessee for the fourth consecutive year and at best come out of
this final stretch 2-1.
Prediction: Overall 4-8 / Conference 1-7

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