A New Years resolution for every SEC football team
This is the time. Christmas is over and the annual quest for self-improvement begins. New Year’s resolutions are not restricted to those in the stands or in the press gallery. Here is a 2022 goal for each SEC team. Will they meet them? Getting there is half the fun.
Alabama: Have the # 1 recruiting class … in the portal
Nick Saban has found a new toy. Around the time he turned Jameson Williams from a transfer into a star, he realized he could continue to sign all of the top high school players in the country … or just use the rest of the sport as a league. minor to audition for the Tide. At one point taking Eli Ricks from LSU and Jahmyr Gibbs from Georgia Tech, Saban regained control of the recruiting world. Let’s really see him activate it for the portal now.
Arkansas: Keep Barry Odom
Behind every failed head coach there is always a great coach. Barry Odom, who failed to get it to work in Missouri, was formidable in Arkansas as a defensive coordinator. The temptation will be there for Odom to resume a head coaching job – but both for his career and for Arkansas, Odom is exactly where he belongs. Hopefully the Hogs can keep him there.
Auburn: a 3,000-yard passer
Auburn’s offensive disaster with Mike Bobo is over, and so is Bo Nix’s time on The Plains. One way or another in school history Auburn has had exactly 2 seasons of 3,000 yards. In an age when most teams will play 13 games, that just isn’t going to fly. New CO Austin Davis doesn’t have to do anything crazy, but if he can give Auburn another 3,000-yard passer in 2022, that would be a promising start for his current role.
LSU: A dialect coach
Fa-miam-lee. Oh good?
Quite seriously, LSU had the guy who took the culture and won a national title, and they kicked him out of town. Brian Kelly didn’t need to act like Farmer Fran from The water boy. As the guy who remembers when Rick Pitino invaded Lexington with “arena” and “god of shooting” in his vocabulary, there is something to be said for the alien and the exotic.
Or there is fa-yum-lee.
Mississippi State: a kicker
We would say a racing game, but we’re trying to be realistic. Mike Leach’s low shot on student essays was a bit muffled… but he wasn’t entirely wrong. Between a pair of kickers, State finished the regular season 14 for 25 (56%) on field goals. This ranked 123rd in FBS football. For a team that suffered 3 losses with 2, 3 and 3 points, that potential difference between 7-6 and 10-3 is one that a good kicker could easily offer. (Guess the good news is the Bulldogs bowl game didn’t come down to a field goal?)
Ole Miss: Charlie Weis Jr. works as well as Jeff Lebby
The Lane Kiffin buyout was one of the big stories of 2021. Ole Miss is one of the most entertaining teams in the country… but losing offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby to Oklahoma has been a difficult development. Kiffin turned to Charlie Weis Jr., his former OC at FAU. Hoping that the reunion works and that the rebels find the best.
Texas A&M: the strength of QB
Once upon a time there was Kellen Mond. But he ended his career and the reins went to Haynes King, for about a game and a quarter, until he got injured. And then it was Zach Calzada, who was good enough to beat Alabama, but high and low enough to leave the team through the transfer portal after the season. Now it’s Max Johnson from LSU. Or it’s still King. Or 5-star rookie Conner Weigman. Whoever it is, let’s hope the Aggies can figure it out early on and have a full season with a QB situation settled in 2022.
The Florida schedule has been running at 160 km / h on a one-way street since Urban Meyer’s situation deteriorated around 2009. That doesn’t mean everything has been awful. Since then, Florida has had a pair of 11-win seasons and a pair of 10-win seasons. But the trajectory of the program has never seemed clear. We hope Billy Napier can chart a clear course and move forward in that direction in 2022. It may not be a glamorous goal, but for the future of the program it seems important.
Georgia: Finish the race
For the vast majority of the 2021 season, Georgia looked 12 feet tall and bulletproof. It all suddenly fell apart with a few below-par quarterbacks against Bryce Young. But if New Years Eve in Georgia goes as planned, they will open 2022 with a chance to make this SEC title game the smallest game in recent memory. It’s time for Georgia to finish their title race, and that’s the goal for 2022.
Kentucky: wide receiver help
New CO Liam Coen’s move to a passing attack has helped Kentucky have a very solid 2021 season. This was despite Kentucky essentially playing the season with 1.5 effective wide receivers. Wan’Dale Robinson was brilliant (and could return for 2022) and Josh Ali performed well, despite missing several games due to injury. But Kentucky need depth at receiving points, and their success in 2022 could focus on that situation.
Missouri: Defensive strength
It was a nightmarish 2021 season for the Missouri defense, until it allowed the military to drive for a field goal in the bowl game. Coordinator Steve Wilks has been widely assumed to be as good as fired, especially after defensive line coach Jethro Franklin was fired mid-season. But Wilks seems to have weathered the storm. That said, there are few hotter seats in the SEC, and Eli Drinkwitz’s 3rd SEC season could end with a different defensive coordinator if Wilks doesn’t give Mizzou a good start. Considering Mizzou’s recruiting class, help is probably on the way… but will Wilks be the one to get it?
South Carolina: a smooth run for Spencer Rattler
Carolina QB’s situation in 2021 was utter chaos. Enter Oklahoma transfer Spencer Rattler, whose career has been like one of the Carowinds roller coasters. Is it too much to hope for a smooth Carolina-style second season for Shane Beamer, and for Rattler to once again show the NFL potential he showed as earlier in 2020? Time will tell us.
Tennessee: defensive improvement
Josh Heupel accomplished two big tasks in the first year – bringing offensive excitement and making Tennessee fun again. 2022 will be about improving defensively after a season that saw UT finish 11th in the SEC in defensive distance and 12th in defense. Tennessee doesn’t have to turn into Georgia defensively, but even hitting the SEC midfield would likely improve the UT from 7-5 to maybe 9-3.
Vanderbilt: Keep Hope Alive
In a season where 13 SEC teams reached bowl eligibility, Vandy couldn’t feel much further. Hoping that 2022 reveals reasons to be optimistic for the future. Losing is one thing – losing without hope is too much like the ghosts of Vanderbilt’s past seasons.