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?
Vanderbilt seemed to be dead in the water last season after losing to Missouri late in the season making their record 4-6. The Commodores had to beat Ole Miss and Tennessee just to become bowl eligible. So what does Derek Mason’s team do? They beat both the Rebels and the Vols. Vanderbilt last season had some impressive wins, and some close losses. It’s not often that Vandy finishes a season with wins over Georgia, Tennessee, and Ole Miss.
Even more encouraging for the Commodores – besides beatdowns at Georgia Tech and in the bowl game against NC State – Vandy was in every game they played. They lost by a field goal to South Carolina, a touchdown to Florida, Kentucky, and Auburn, and only by nine on the road at Missouri. If a few balls bounced their way, who knows, Vanderbilt could have been an eight or nine win football team.