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Previews 2014: Georgia Bulldogs

Previews 2014: Georgia Bulldogs

TideFans.com has picked Georgia to finish with an undefeated regular-season record in 2014, but it only works if the Bulldog defense is for real and not just more smoke and mirrors. Georgia could ruin it all early by losing to Clemson in the opener, but the Tigers have just as many questions or more than do the Bulldogs. Georgia has changed defensive coordinators and is expected to have some of the best skill position talent in the conference, plus strong special teams. But Mark Richt’s teams seem to find a way to implode when expectations are at their highest.

Previews 2014: Florida Gators

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Previews 2014: Florida Gators

Will Muschamp is fighting for his coaching life at Florida. If the Gators aren’t significantly more competitive than they’ve been the last three years, this will be the end of the line for the animated Muschamp. Unfortunately for him, if the Gators finish at the predicted 7-5 with losses to Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State, it probably won’t be enough. On top of that, this team is dealing with massive turnover and uncertainty at several key positions.

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Previews 2014: Texas A&M Aggies

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Previews 2014: Texas A&M Aggies

Now than Johnny Manziel has left for the NFL, the rest of the SEC will finally get a look at how well A&M performs without a freak on the team. The Aggies ran up impressive offensive numbers with Manziel triggering the attack, but didn’t stop anyone on defense – a situation that must change, or Texas A&M won’t ever be a consistent contender in the SEC, which prioritizes stopping the ball over doing something dynamic with it. Losing six starters and virtually every key playmaker from the 2013 team won’t help.

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Previews 2014: Mississippi State Bulldogs

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Previews 2014: Mississippi State Bulldogs

The Bulldogs have been mentioned as potential darkhorse contenders seemingly every year since Dan Mullen took over the team five years ago – but this time, the hype might be for real. The Bulldogs have the SEC’s most dynamic young quarterback, a veteran roster and a stout defense. Those factors are usually a good combination for teams looking to break into the upper echelon of an SEC division.

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Previews 2014: Ole Miss Rebels

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Previews 2014: Ole Miss Rebels

Ole Miss has become the media darling team of the SEC West, as some media members searched for any reason they could find not to pick either Alabama, LSU or Auburn to win the division. The Rebels make some sense as a potential party-crasher, thanks to a veteran starting quarterback, some star power scattered here and there on the roster, improving depth and a defense that got a lot saltier in Hugh Freeze’s second season. But the lack of overall depth and concern over the offensive line could doom Ole Miss’ chances out of the gate.

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Previews 2014: LSU Tigers

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Previews 2014: LSU Tigers

For LSU to remain at or near the top of the SEC heap, some things will have to improve from where the Tigers left off in 2013. LSU has issues at quarterback, linebacker and along the defensive line. But the Tigers seem to do some of their best work when people underestimate them and their too-weird-for-words coach Les Miles.

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Previews 2014: Auburn Tigers

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Previews 2014: Auburn Tigers

Auburn exceeded expectations like no other team in 2013, and now the question is whether the Tigers can be effective when they’re not playing the underdog role. Despite recent injuries on the offensive line, this is a dangerous offensive team that has the potential to show more balance in 2014. But a defense that is still struggling to attain effectiveness could be Auburn’s undoing.

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Previews 2014: Arkansas Razorbacks

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Previews 2014: Arkansas Razorbacks

Arkansas runs a smash-mouth, I-formation attack that puts a premium on running the football. It’s old-school, and definitely against the grain as far as trends go, but a pro-style attack only really works when a team has the talent to execute. Arkansas doesn’t. The Razorbacks are bereft of a competent passing game, and Bielema’s staff looked more than a little overwhelmed during its first season in the SEC.

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Previews 2014: Alabama Crimson Tide

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Previews 2014: Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama is one of the most interesting teams in college football in 2014, if for no other reason that a team one play away from a possible shot at a national championship, returning a nucleus of top talent and poised for yet another title run, is actually a team in transition. A new offensive coordinator is in town, the quarterback position is completely up in the air and changes are expected on the defensive side of the ball to correct a downward trend, particularly in front seven performance.

OFFENSE

Alabama is now the employer of one Lane Kiffin, former Tennessee head coach, NCAA scofflaw and general spoiled brat. At least that’s what he’s been in the eyes of Alabama fans until now. These days, he’s the hopeful savior of Alabama’s balanced, but ground-oriented offensive attack built around the idea that beating an opponent into a bloody coma is the pinnacle of college football strategy. But the ultimate determiner of style may be decided by which quarterback wins the starting job.

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2014 Previews: Which freshmen will play?

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2014 Previews: Which freshmen will play?

One of the side effects to consistently signing classes that are stocked top-to-bottom with talent is that it gets difficult to project who will end up playing and who will finish the season with “RS” posted next to his name.

While nothing is certain until fall camp is over, here’s a look at the incoming freshmen and transfer signees on the 2014 Alabama football team, and a quick assessment of which players are most likely to play or not play during the upcoming season.

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