I don’t know about you, but after the festivities this week at SEC Media Days, I am on a whole new level of ready for the college football season.
And you could sense the same feeling amongst the players and coaches who attended — especially with Mississippi State, Ole Miss and LSU.
But for each of the schools, some questions remain pertaining to their upcoming seasons.
For Ole Miss, the question remains how the Rebels are going to fill the multiple holes left open by the departing seniors. Ole Miss will give the keys to freshman Matt Coral, who looks to make a name for himself in Oxford the same way his predecessor, Jordan Ta’amu, did.
Gone is the trio of “Nasty Wideouts,” aka the “NWO,” in D.K. Metcalf, AJ Brown and Damarkus Lodge, who have all moved on to the NFL. However Corral still has a key piece of the offense from last year in standout senior running back Scottie Phillips, who was named to the watch list for the Doak Walker award, which is given to the nation’s best running back.
But the main concern for Ole Miss this season is if Coach Matt Luke’s team can play well enough to qualify for a bowl game after being banned from the postseason for the past two years.
Mississippi State is in a similar boat, having to replace a number of household names. The majority are on the offense. Key players like Montez Sweat, Jeffrey Simmons and Johnathan Abram are all gone after being chosen in the first round of the NFL Draft in April. With those three gone, I believe the majority of their leadership on defense will come from the secondary in junior Cameron Dantzler and senior Jaquarius Landrews, a former McComb Tiger.
One question surrounding the Bulldogs is who is going to line up under center this fall. Nick Fitzgerald has also moved on to the NFL, and it appeared that the job was Keytaon Thompson’s to lose. But head coach Joe Moorhead has brought in a name he is familiar with in former Penn State signal-caller Tommy Stevens to compete with Thompson. And the competition may be what this offense needs after struggles last season.
LSU is left finding a replacement for key players like linebacker and No. 5 overall pick Devin White and tight end Foster Morreau, but I believe head coach Ed Orgeron and his staff shouldn’t have too much trouble doing so.
The Tigers are bringing back individuals with loads of experience who aren’t yet seniors, including safety Grant Delpit and center Lloyd Cushenberry III, both juniors.
A pair of senior leaders looking to step forward are defensive linemen Breiden Fehoko and Rashard Lawrence, two guys who I am expecting big things from this season.
Another senior who should put up some big numbers is quarterback Joe Burrow, who is looking to go out on a high note at LSU. He will have plenty of talent to throw to in Stephen Sullivan and Ja’Marr Chase, but I believe a weak point in the Tiger offense could come at the running back position. Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Lanard Fournette have plenty of playing experience over the past two seasons, but they are the only experienced backs as the remaining four are all freshmen.
I don’t know what the future holds for the SEC this season, but the vibe I got watching some of the players and coaches talk at SEC Media Days last weekmakes me feel it is going to be a special year down south.