Week 1 offers an interesting slate of games for the most part, and Alabama might not have the most interesting matchup of all. That honor goes to Auburn, whose game against Washington could end one school's championship hopes before they even get off the ground.
Offensively, this Ole Miss preview reads almost exactly like the one of last year's team; A lot is being put on Joe Moorhead's shoulders in his first year as head coach of the MSU Bulldogs; The hiring of Jimbo Fisher as head coach has almost gone unnoticed with all the attention on the good (Alabama, Nick Saban) and the bad (LSU, Ed Orgeron) in the SEC West at the moment.
This isn't Bret Bielema's Arkansas anymore, and for a couple of years at least, it's not going to be fun to be Chad Morris; The SEC's most momentum-driven team gets a chance to boost its championship hopes early with an opener against Washington; Most observers think there's a chance the wheels come totally off the Ed Orgeron circus this year; TideFans is outright calling it to happen.
Drew Lock's breakout season at quarterback has triggered some hardcore dreaming among Missouri fans; In a transitional SEC East, the Gamecocks look like runner-up contenders simply because their fundamentals are better than those of most competitors; It's a new day in Knoxville as Jeremy Pruitt takes over as head coach, and if he's anywhere near the emerging talent many believe him to be, the Vols just got better no matter how many players they lose from last year's squad; Unfortunately for the Commodores, the method of success in Nashville is typically to schedule a competitive team every four years, when a strong defense moves up en masse from the junior class.
Jim McElwain just couldn't hang on, and the Gators finally moved on from him to Dan Mullen; Most were expecting an improvement in Kirby Smart's second season; not so many were expecting Georgia to be a blown coverage away from a national championship; If ever an upcoming season felt like a season of change, Kentucky's 2018 year is beginning to take on that characteristic.
As the number of expert (and not-so-expert) opinions available on the internet has exploded over the past 20 years, what has been lacking in many of those prognostications is objective data of any sort. While ranking the strength of all position units at this point in the preseason demands some degree of subjective judgment, TideFans.com continues to do its best to add some hard numbers to the mix.
2018 SEC Predictions & NCAA Predictions
The 2018 team needs to completely rebuild the back seven of the defense, but it's a testament to Saban's recruiting that despite having just two starters returning among the linebackers and defensive backs, every unit rates as “Very Good” with the potential to be much more than that. Offensively, Alabama must decide who it is and who it wants to be, as not only is there a full-blown quarterback controversy afoot, but also a significant change in offensive coordinator leadership.
Among the questions that arose immediately following Alabama's win over Georgia in the College Football Playoff was one of longevity – both in regards to Alabama's already-extended position at the top of the sport, and also in regards to Nick Saban's remaining career. If early returns on the 2018-2019 recruiting trail are any indication, both paths have a lot of miles remaining on them.
At most A-Day games, especially those overseen by Nick Saban, it isn’t so much what you see as what you don’t see. There aren’t a lot of complicated blitzes. There aren’t a bunch of funky offensive sets. There isn’t much more to be seen other than a basic overview of the depth chart, on-the-hoof estimations of successful (or not-so-successful) strength-and-conditioning efforts, and maybe a few tendencies sneak through in years – like this one – where Alabama is replacing an offensive coordinator.