Why the SEC Will Get Back to Its Defensive Roots This Season
It's no mystery that the SEC has been heralded for its defensive strengths for quite a while now, so it's easy to understand why it caught some people off guard when teams were putting up 40+ points against each other on a weekly basis.
There are several things you could point to for the SEC's offensive turnaround last season.
For starters, the spread offense has started to make its way to more and more teams within the league. Auburn used it and made it to the national championship. Missouri and Texas A&M were led by two of the best quarterbacks we've seen in the league in years (James Franklin and Johnny Manziel), allowing both those teams to score points at will.
To piggyback on that last point, it also didn't hurt that the conference had some simply incredible quarterbacks.
To go along with the two that we already mentioned, you had AJ McCarron at Alabama, Aaron Murray at Georgia, Zach Mettenberger at LSU, Connor Shaw at South Carolina, and of course, Nick Marshall at Auburn. You could even throw Bo Wallace at Ole Miss and Austyn Carta-Samuels at Vanderbilt into the mix as well.
A few years ago we were talking about the lack of star quarterbacks in the league. This past season, we saw one of the best quarterback units in the SEC history.
The good news for SEC defenses is that only Marshall and Wallace return for 2014. With new quarterbacks set to take center stage around the league, it's only going to help defenses as a whole combat the problems from a year ago.
Offenses will struggle to be as sharp with so many changes at the most important position on that side of the ball. There will obviously still be teams that will score a lot of points (Auburn will likely be at the top of that list), but I think we're going to see a bit of a drop in production from last season given all the changes and replacements.
Of course, it also helps that defenses around the league have reloaded with talent.
Florida will be better after taking a massive hit due to injuries in 2013. Alabama and LSU will once again be right up there among the nation's best. Georgia scooped up defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt from national champion Florida State. Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Auburn, and Tennessee look to all take a big step forward on the defensive side as well.
The exit of star quarterbacks and significant additions on defense certainly play into the hands of some of these talented defenses.
Will we see defensive stats like we did several years ago? Probably not. But, SEC defenses will certainly have a lot working in their favor when the season gets underway in late August.
Do you think the SEC will return to its defensive dominance in 2014? Let us know by commenting below! For more college football talk, follow FanIQ College Football or myself on Twitter!