Head coach Kirby Smart of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrates after defeating the TCU Horned Frogs in the College Football Playoff National Championship game at SoFi Stadium on January 09, 2023 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The slow college football offseason drip is about to be opened up into a full flow. College football can’t get here soon enough. But this week we get some soundbites to react to with SEC Media Days. This got me thinking; what is the biggest question for each of the SEC teams? 2023 will be the final season of the SEC as we’ve known it for the last 15 years. This is the final season with an East and West division before Oklahoma and Texas come into the conference in 2024.. There have been two coaching changes in the conference this off season. Hugh Freeze is back in the SEC, now with Auburn. And Zach Arnett takes over in Starkville after Mike Leach tragically passed away following the 2022 season.

When looking at the biggest question for each of the SEC teams, coaches are not on a lot of programs short list.

Programs at the top of the conference are breaking in new quarterbacks. Alabama has serious question marks. Georgia is replacing the only quarterback to win a national championship in Athens in the last 40 years. And will a change of scenery help former 5-star Graham Mertz match his skillset with results. Will Tennessee keep their offensive production up with Hendon Hooker gone and Joe Milton taking over. I’m going to stay away from quarterback question marks for SEC programs. That’s always going to be the biggest question mark when the position is unanswered. Ahead of the SEC Media Days let’s look at the biggest question for each SEC team heading into the 2023 season.

  • Alabama Crimson Tide

    Biggest Question for Each SEC Team Alabama

    (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

    Can Alabama regain defensive dominance?

    The first decade of Alabama’s dominance under Nick Saban was predicated on  elite defense. College football has changed to where you can’t win exclusively with defense, but a good one makes like a lot easier. Georgia has flown by Alabama on the defensive side of the ball. I think that’s been the biggest difference between the two programs the last couple of years. I wonder if Nick has looked at what Kirby has done with his defense and is going to try to push his program back towards a defensive dominant force.

  • Arkansas Razorbacks

    Biggest Question for Each SEC Team Arkansas

    (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

    How will the defense look under Marcus Woodson?

    Last season the pass defense was atrocious in Fayetteville. The Hogs ranked dead last in the the nation in pass defense last season. Last season’s Freshman All-SEC CB Quincey McAdoo is rumored to miss the season with injuries from a car crash this spring. They went transfer portaling to bring in a pair of corners to help fill the void. The defense needs to improve if Arkansas is going to push for a middle of the pack finish in the West.

  • Auburn Tigers

    Biggest Question for Each SEC Team Auburn

    (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)

    How much talent is in the Auburn program?

    The last couple of seasons have been tough on the plains. Last season there were only 2 conference wins (both 3-point wins at home). Hugh Freeze knows how to win in the SEC and I have no doubt Auburn will be much better after a few years in charge. But was the problem in Auburn a coaching problem or a talent problem? Freeze will get the best out of the roster, but I don’t know what that means.

  • Florida Gators

    Biggest Question for Each SEC Team Florida Gators

    (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

    Can the Gators wash the stink off from the end of 2022?

    The Bill Napier era in Gainesville got off to a great start with a win over Utah opening night. Close losses to Kentucky and Tennessee dampened to mood around the program. The rest of the way the Gators beat who they should have and lost to who they should have. Until the last SEC game of the year when they lost at Vanderbilt and the trashing from Oregon State in the bowl game. There was a lot of circumstance around the program that led to the late season dip. But the Gators have the most difficult schedule in the country this season, and will have one of the most difficult next season. The Gators need to get some early season wins if they want to have some momentum going into the back half of the schedule which is very difficult.

  • Georgia Bulldogs

    Biggest Question for Each SEC Team Georgia Bulldogs

    (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

    Will their light schedule hurt them in the post-season?

    There are not any real questions in Athens this season. They are in that upper echelon of programs that just replace NFL draftee with 5-star prospect. Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State have all been on this level at some point in the last decade. The Dawgs have a really easy schedule by SEC standards in 2023. Every other team in the East has serious question marks, and their crossover opponents are Auburn and Ole Miss. I have no doubt they will be playing in the SEC title game for a 3rd straight year. Their opponent (LSU or Alabama most likely) will be the most talented roster they will have played all year. Will their lack of elite opponents come back to bite them when it matters most?

  • Kentucky Wildcats

    Biggest Question for Each SEC Team Kentucky Wildcast

    (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

    Can the Cats reestablish offensive line play?

    When Kentucky is playing it’s best football under Mark Stoops, the offensive line is playing at a really high level. That was not the case in 2022. They’ve brought in two transfers for the offensive line, and running back Ray Davis from Vanderbilt to help reestablish the running game.

  • LSU Tigers

    Biggest Question for Each SEC Team LSU Tigers

    (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

    Are they the class of the SEC West?

    LSU won the SEC West in Brian Kelly’s first season in Baton Rouge. I think that came as a surprise to most non-LSU fans. It was not a perfect season for the Tigers though. They lost SEC games to Tennessee and Texas A&M before getting spanked in the SEC Championship Game. LSU loses Tennessee and replaces them with Missouri this year. If LSU can get back to Atlanta, they’ll be going into the new look SEC with all the momentum in the world.

     

  • Mississippi State Bulldogs

    Biggest Question for Each SEC Team Mississippi State

    (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

    What does the post-Mike Leach era look like?

    Unfortunately this is the biggest question around the Bulldogs this offseason. Mike Leach was one of the greatest characters in college football. But he was also one of the best offensive minds in the game. The Bulldogs promoted DC Zach Arnett from within to take over for Leach. I really want Will Rogers and the Mississippi State offense have a season for the record books as an homage to the former coach. But it’s impossible to know what the offense will look like for an entire season without Leach.

  • Missouri Tigers

    Biggest Question for Each SEC Team Missouri Tigers

    (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

    Can the Tigers learn to win?

    Go back and look at the Tigers 2022 season. They had 6 losses, but fumbled the game at Auburn away late, was the only team to stay in a game with Georgia in the regular season, and lost by 1 possession to Florida and Kentucky. Mizzou was really close last season but could not figure out a way to win games. The Tigers bring back 13 starters from last season- tied for second most in the conference.

  • Ole Miss Rebels

    Biggest Question for Each SEC Team Ole Miss

    (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)

    Can the Rebels rely on the Transfer Portal?

    Only Colorado has brought in more transfers the last two offseason than the Rebels. And that’s because they brought in 51 new players this year alone. Ole Miss has been the one program to embrace the portal in the SEC the most. They have 25 transfer portal players coming in for 2023. Ole Miss has never been able to “legally” compete with recruiting high-school talent against the blue bloods of the conference. But they have shown an ability to go after, and land, big fish in the transfer portal.

  • South Carolina Gamecocks

    Biggest Question for Each SEC Team South Carolina Gamecocks

    (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

    Is Beamer-ball back?

    Not the Virginia Tech version that was dominated by special teams. The South Carolina version of winning close games. 2022 ended with a loss, but there is still a ton of momentum around the Gamecocks program. They blasted Tennessee at home, followed it up with their first win over Clemson since 2013, and lost a close bowl game to Notre Dame. Can South Carolina take the momentum from 2022 and springboard themselves to a successful 2023.

  • Tennessee Volunteers

    Biggest Question for Each SEC Team Tennessee Volunteers

    (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

    Can Tennessee’s defense take the next step?

    Since Josh Heupel showed up in Knoxville, the offense has been humming. The defense has had issues at timed though. Alabama was on the ropes last season early on and the defense let them back in the game. The offense scored 38 at South Carolina and they got blown out because the defense allowed 63 points. And an early season game against Pitt last season was pushed to OT because the defense couldn’t come up with a stop at the right time. If Tennessee wants to take the step from fun team who can beat anyone because of their offense to elite program with national championship expectations, that side of the ball will need to improve.

    Since Josh Heupel showed up in Knoxville the Vols offense has been rolling. But when looking at the best offenses in the SEC Alabama has been the most consistent team on that side of the ball

  • Texas A&M Aggies

    Biggest Question for Each SEC Team Texas A&M

    (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

    Was 2022 a blimp or a bigger problem?

    The Aggies were the most disappointing team in all of college football last season. The offense looked stale for most of the season. The program decided to bring in Bobby Petrino for some new thoughts on that side of the ball. But both the offense and defense were problems last year. Texas A&M has been recruiting at the level of Alabama and Georgia, and should be competitive with them on the field. If 2023 is another down year, the momentum will be gone in Aggieland.

  • Vanderbilt

    Biggest Question for Each SEC Team Vanderbilt Commodores

    (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

    Is Vandy out of the Cellar?

    Clark Lea has been at Vandy for a few years now and we are starting to see the fruits of his labor. The Commanders ended 2022 with wins in 2 of the last 3 games with the wins coming against Kentucky and Florida. They lost a close game against Missouri as well. If they get the right breaks the Commodores could be looking down at someone in the East.

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