SEC West spring preview: Time for Jake Coker to prove he’s Bama’s QB
Spring practice is already underway for a handful of college football teams, and the offseason workouts and scrimmages provide the first glimpse of how all 128 teams will look in 2015.
The SEC West is college football’s toughest division and the going isn’t expected to get any easier in 2015. Alabama and Auburn appear to be the early favorites, but any of the seven teams have a case to be picked at the top this preseason.
This spring, quarterback battles will be under the spotlight at Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU, while defense is the focus at Auburn and Texas A&M.
What are the key questions and storylines shaping all seven teams in the SEC West and outlook for 2015? Let’s take a quick look at the 7 teams and the priority list for each coach.
(***Also, don’t forget to check out Athlon’s SEC East preview here.)
SEC WEST SPRING PREVIEW AND STORYLINES TO WATCH
(Teams listed by pre-spring power rank)
2014 record: 12-2 (7-1 SEC)
Returning starters: Offense – 2, Defense – 7
2014 record: 8-5 (4-4 SEC)
Returning starters: Offense – 5, Defense – 7
2014 record: 8-5 (4-4 SEC)
Returning starters: Offense – 7, Defense – 6
3. Depth at RB/WR: There’s no doubt running back Leonard Fournette will be one of the nation’s leading rushers in 2015. But with the departure of Kenny Hilliard and Terrence Magee, coordinator Cam Cameron needs to restock the depth behind Fournette this spring. At receiver, Travin Dural produced plenty of big plays in 2014. Can the Tigers find a consistent No. 2 and No. 3 option? This is a big spring for Trey Quinn, Malachi Dupre and John Diarse at receiver.
4. OLE MISS
2014 record: 9-4 (5-3 SEC)
Returning starters: Offense – 9, Defense – 7
1. Quarterback battle: With Bo Wallace expiring his eligibility, the Rebels open spring with a three-way battle for the starting quarterback spot. Junior college recruit Chad Kelly will have a shot to unseat DeVante Kincade and Ryan Buchanan, but none of the three players have a career start. Will coach Hugh Freeze find an answer at quarterback this spring?
2014 record: 7-6 (2-6 SEC)
Returning starters: Offense – 9 , Defense – 5
6. TEXAS A&M
2014 record: 8-5 (3-5 SEC)
Returning starters: Offense – 6, Defense – 6
1. Getting Defensive: It’s no secret the defense has been Texas A&M’s biggest problem since joining the SEC. However, head coach Kevin Sumlin took a big step in fixing the defense by hiring John Chavis away from LSU. Chavis is one of the best defensive signal-callers in the nation and inherits a unit with some promising young talent. How far can Chavis get this defense to improve in the spring?
7. MISSISSIPPI STATE
2014 record: 10-3 (6-2 SEC)
Returning starters: Offense – 4, Defense – 3
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