Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

SEC East opens up opportunities

For the first time in three years, the Florida Gators are not expected to dominate the East. With the departure of two-time national champion and Heisman-winning quarterback Tim Tebow, as well as the nation’s best center, Maurkice Pouncey, and the nation’s best tight end, Aaron Herndaez, the Gator’s offense, which comes to Tuscaloosa on Oct. 2, are under the control of junior quarterback John Brantley.

Brantley will be playing behind a reconstructed offensive line with all of the linemen playing a new position.  The Gator defense, which SEC coaches have feared in the past, loses five starters and two key bench players. This leaves the east open to teams like Georgia and South Carolina.

South Carolina, who will face the Crimson Tide in Columbia on Oct. 9, have seven defensive starters and eight offensive starters returning. One of them is quarterback Stephen Garcia.

Garcia, who recorded 10 interceptions last year, has caught the attention of his teammates.

“He’s busting his butt, putting in the extra effort,” fullback and Garcia’s roommate Patrick DiMarco said. “He is working with our receivers all the time. He has never done that. Hopefully it will translate on the field.”

The Gamecocks, coached by the ‘Head Ball Coach’ Steve Spurrier, who has his own Heisman trophy and who coached Florida Heisman quarterback Danny Wuerffel, is taking the same approach with Garcia that he took with Wuerffel.

“I’ve left him alone this spring and summer,” Spurrier said. “I did this with Danny at Florida. I have been getting reports on Stephen though. He may be playing the best he can. I just don’t know. Once fall camp starts I will find out.”

Spurrier will also start fall camp with new offensive line coach Shawn Elliot who linebacker Shaq Wilson thinks will be the edge the offense needs to fix the glitches in late games.

The big question for Spurrier was about the Sept. 11 game versus eastern rival Georgia.

“The winner of that game is just one win up on the other,” Spurrier said. “September 6 we play Southern Miss. Any questions on that game?”

University of Georgia had a tough summer. The athletic director was arrested for a DUI, after which he resigned from his post. One week later, two Georgia players were arrested on the same charge and wide receiver and star player A.J. Green was questioned by the NCAA about the Miami Beach party for which Marcell Dareus was also questioned.

Green said he has never been to Miami. He has been working on staying healthy, which Georgia head coach Mark Richt thinks will be a big factor for Green.

“A.J. is a great blocker but in the past he has been bruised up blocking,” Richt said. “Other than that he has been working hard this off-season, in Athens.”

With Georgia’s strong returning team, they also have a shot at winning the Eastern Division.

“I hope we are the favorites,” Richt said. “We have spring enrollee quarterback Aaron Murray, who understands our system very well. Our special teams is lead by the finest punter in America, Drew Butler, and we have changed our defense to a 3-4.”

Butler, who considers himself a defensive player, is excited for the 3-4.

“We can attack more,” Butler said. “And call the plays we want to call and have the chance to change our defense while still being able to pressure.”

A.J. Green, who is from South Carolina, thinks that game will be just like any other game.

Tennessee and Vanderbilt are also in the east, but both are going through coaching changes. Tennessee is now under the control of Derek Dooley after Lane Kiffin left for Southern Cal after his first year.

Vanderbilt is now under the control of interim head coach Robert Cadwell, who made his first SEC Media Days a stand up comedy act.

“Coach Spurrier and Coach Richt are here,” Caldwell said. “I went up to shake their hands and they didn’t know who I was.”

Caldwell has proven himself to be an effective head coach, though not necessarily for football.

“Last time I was a head coach I won a championship,” he said. “It was 1977 in the state baseball playoffs.”

Alabama is favored to win the Western Division and the SEC Championship. Predicted to play them on Dec. 4 in Atlanta from the east is Florida with 153 media votes followed by UGA and USC with 15 and 8 votes.

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