This year feels a lot different than last year. Last year Tennessee was the favorite to win the East. They were going to contend for the SEC Title, and maybe find a way into the College Football Playoff. But the season ended with only 9 wins, and losses to South Carolina and Vanderbilt. 2017 is a new year with more questions and lower expectations. No longer expected to win the East or the SEC, Tennessee may be able to play with less scrutiny, which could result in more wins. But that all depends on if they can answer some serious questions throughout their roster and coaching staff. Butch Jones is definitely on the hot seat, and Vol fans will want his head if Tennessee doesn’t produce this year. However, Jones does not have the roster or coaching staff to put up ten wins. A new quarterback, a thin defense, and an offensive coordinator who has never called a play in his career all point towards a mediocre and somewhat disappointing season on Rocky Top.
Ed Orgeron is home. Remember that time when people were arguing that he should be named the head coach at Southern Cal? That wouldn’t have felt right. A true cajun like Orgeron can only coach at one school, and that school is located in Baton Rouge.
I could basically write this preview in one sentence. It would go something like “LSU is uber-talented with what should be another solid defense and dynamic ground game, but they will go as far as the passing attack will take them.” However, in the interest of being fair, and writing as much about LSU as I did about the other teams, I will dive into what should be a really good football team that has the potential to be great under new offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
In his first two seasons as head coach of the Florida Gators, Jim McElwain won the East in impressive fashion. In both seasons the Gators were doubted. In 2015, it was all about the Georgia Bulldogs. What did the Gators do? Smack Georgia around for 60 minutes, and go on to win the East. In 2016, it was all about the Tennessee Volunteers. Things didn’t look good for Florida after losing in Knoxville for the first time in over a decade. But what did the Gators do? They went on a tear, winning five of their next six SEC matchups while Tennessee collapsed. Both in 2015 and 2016 the Gators were doubted to win the East, yet they found a way to win the division. What will happen in 2017?