Some consider the media days for each conference the unofficial start to the college football season. Shortly after media days is the opening of fall camps, which means the season will be less than a month away. The SEC kicks off college football's summer media events in Birmingham, Ala. on Wednesday afternoon.
The conference will also release the media predictions during the three-day event. Here's a look at Athlon's 2011 SEC Predictions.
What to watch for: Even without Ryan Mallett, Arkansas’ offense should be in good shape this season. However, the offensive line is a concern with only two starters back and expected left tackle Anthony Oden has been dismissed. How confident is coach Bobby Petrino in the replacements up front?
What to watch for: The Gators will be a young team in 2011, but there is little doubt about the talent. The offense has potential, but the line is a concern with just two starters back. Is Will Muschamp concerned and will Notre Dame transfer Dan Wenger help solidify one of the spots on the line this fall?
What to watch for: After winning nine games last year, the Bulldogs are on the edge of most preseason top 25 polls. Replacing Derek Sherrod is a big question on the line, but keep an eye to see what Dan Mullen says about quarterback Chris Relf’s continued improvement and the growth of the receiving corps.
What to watch for: The key to South Carolina’s season is quarterback Stephen Garcia. Coach Steve Spurrier has been frustrated with Garcia and the senior is on a short leash after off the field incidents. Does Garcia enter the season on solid ground as the starter or will Connor Shaw get a look in fall practice?
What to watch for: The defending national champions return only five starters and with several young players stepping into starting roles, winning seven games is probably a realistic expectation. All eyes will be on the quarterback battle when fall practice opens, with junior Barrett Trotter holding an edge over sophomore Clint Moseley and true freshman Kiehl Frazier. Is Gene Chizik confident in Trotter or is this race open going into fall practice?
What to watch for: With Washuan Ealey and Caleb King no longer on the roster, depth at running back is thin. The offensive line is also a concern, after injuries and departures hit this group since spring practice. Which players does Mark Richt expect to step up on the line in 2011 and how much can Georgia count on Richard Samuel in the backfield?
What to watch for: The Wildcats have a solid offensive line returning, but are starting over at the skill positions. Morgan Newton has played a lot in his career, but this will be his first opportunity to start for a full season. Which receivers does coach Joker Phillips like to emerge this year?
What to watch for: The Volunteers are probably a year away from challenging in the SEC East, especially with quarterback Tyler Bray entering his sophomore year and an overall young roster. What is coach Derek Dooley expecting out of safety Janzen Jackson after missing spring practice and a revamped front seven on defense?
What to watch for: When Alabama won the national title in 2009, Greg McElroy was in his first season as the starter. The Crimson Tide enter 2011 as the favorites to win the title, despite a first-year starter under center. AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims left spring practice locked into a tight battle for the starting job. What is the plan for the two quarterbacks in fall practice?
What to watch for: Jordan Jefferson has been inconsistent throughout his career, but played better in the final few games of last season. Keep an eye on Les Miles and his comments about Jefferson’s improvement in spring practice.
What to watch for: Randall Mackey and Barry Brunetti are locked into a tight battle to start under center. Houston Nutt has indicated Brunetti has a slight edge going into fall practice, but how far behind is Mackey and will he have a chance to play in a change of pace role this year?
What to watch for: New coach James Franklin is trying to change the culture at Vanderbilt and is working on bringing in a great recruiting class. However, the Commodores could struggle to win games this year, especially if the offense ranks near the bottom of the SEC once again. Is Franklin confident in Larry Smith under center or will he give one of the incoming freshmen a chance to win the job?
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