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SEC Coaches Talk Anonymously About Conference Foes for 2016

Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama Crimson Tide

It's not easy getting college football coaches to honestly comment on another coach, player or team. Most coaches don't want to give opposing teams billboard material, which is why there is a lot of coach speak or overused cliches used during the year.

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In order to get an accurate assessment of teams heading into 2016, Athlon asked coaches in the SEC to talk anonymously about their opponents.

Related: SEC Predictions for 2016

Note: These scouting reports come directly from coaching staffs and do not necessarily reflect the views of Athlon's editorial staff.

SEC Coaches Anonymously Scout Conference Foes

East Division

Florida

“I don’t know if anyone has deserved SEC Coach of the Year more than Jim McElwain last year because they coached their everloving tail off on offense to get as close as they got (to a championship). They just didn’t have the same talent as anyone else on offense in that league. Their offensive line was extremely weak and losing the quarterback killed them, but let me tell you, they are tough schematically because of all the shifts and motions. We played them with Will Grier, and we just had so much trouble. Out of the first 44 snaps they gave me 38 formations, and he was really, really good. I never really felt like I could get a bead on what they were doing. …

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“They didn’t play as well once they lost their quarterback, and it looked like on film they didn’t do a great job of adapting to Treon Harris, but that was a good team with Grier.”

“I don’t know if they’re talented enough offensively, but McElwain has always done a great job of getting the ball in the hands of his best players.”

“They were unreal on defense last year, just a bunch of talented and freakish guys. They’re resting on the laurels of some pretty good recruiting classes Will Muschamp put together, but our offensive staff was really impressed with Geoff Collins.”

“They’re going to need some of their younger guys to step up because they lost some studs between Vernon Hargreaves and Keanu Neal, who is going to play in the NFL for a long, long time. But they do have Quincy Wilson coming back with Jalen Tabor so they’re going to be solid on the back end.”

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Related: College Football Bowl Projections for 2016

Georgia

“I think the new staff has to count on the freshman [Jacob Eason] coming in to be the guy at quarterback because they don’t feel like they have anyone else on the roster to do what he does. I think he’s a can’t-miss prospect, but that’s a tough deal as a coach when you’ve got no choice but to put a true freshman out there. There’s going to be some inherent issues with that.”

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“They’re happy with their top two running backs, but I think they’re really worried about the depth offensively and the number of playmakers they inherited. It’s not like what it was in the past at Georgia. Obviously they need Nick Chubb to come back and be the same player he was, but who knows how he’ll respond after a pretty horrific injury.”

“They’re pretty solid at the No. 1s, but when you dig down the depth chart they don’t have the No. 2s or 3s like Kirby Smart and those guys are used to having at Alabama. The recruiting kind of fell off the last few years under Mark Richt.”

“On defense, Kirby isn’t walking into the same kind of talent he worked with at Alabama. Just one example: They don’t have a linebacker corps; I mean, they just simply don’t have any good linebackers. They’re player deficient right now. I think they’ll probably have some headaches early but Kirby will get it done. He’s really, really, really good, and bringing Mel Tucker with him was huge. Those guys can coach.”

“Jim Chaney is as good as anybody. They have a legitimate staff, so Georgia just needs to give those guys a little time.”

Kentucky

“It’s a big year for them. I mean, they fired everybody but the head coach so you know there’s a lot of pressure to make a bowl game. They have enough talent. They’ve done a really good job recruiting, but you don’t see a lot of cohesion to what they’re doing on either side of the ball.”

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“I thought Shannon Dawson was really good and I’m surprised they made a change there, to be honest. I don’t know what they’ll be, but Eddie Gran runs the same kind of system and likes to go fast.”

“They need to find a way to get Boom Williams more carries because I think he’s just a tremendous talent. I’m not sure why they don’t use him more — maybe a little bit injury prone or if he’s a bit of a head case, but he’s a guy who really worries you because he’s so explosive. I felt like he could go 80 just about any time, but they didn’t really play him that much. Between him and Jojo Kemp and bringing back their entire offensive line, they should be able to run the ball, but that system is really designed to pass first so I don’t know what adjustments they’re going to make.”

“Defensively, I assume they’ll still be that same seven-man front they’ve been in the last couple years, but they definitely haven’t been as good as you’d think given what Mark Stoops did as a coordinator.”

“They’re not that far from winning some of these games, but when you look at how they’ve finished the last couple years, you wonder if maybe they’re just a bit mentally fragile.”

Related: Ranking All 128 College Football Coaches for 2016

Missouri

“It’ll be interesting because Barry Odom has been an odd-front guy his whole career and they play a head-up nose and two guys in the B gaps and you’re just not running the ball against him. They’re simply not going to let you do it, and they’ll bring pressure different ways off that. What’s funny, though, is he hired a defensive coordinator from TCU where they do it totally differently. So I’m curious to see what they run and how they do it, but Odom is just tremendous. What he did at Memphis with that defense was so hard, and then he goes up there last year at Mizzou and darn near has to win games by himself because they just couldn’t score. But with him becoming the head coach, I think what kind of defense they actually run is one of the key questions for teams as they get ready for Mizzou because it totally changes the way you gameplan.”