A mere 16 days, scarcely more than two weeks, separates us from kickoff of the South Carolina/ North Carolina State game. Consequently, I have precious little time to get out the final installments of the 25 people, places and things I'm looking forward to this season in the SEC. You can find the first two installments here and here if you missed them. In addition to those, I'm looking forward to seeing:
Stephen Garcia. Brah has more signature suspensions than signature wins at this point. As much as I like to push the Steve Taneyhill parallel, there’s one problem: Taneyhill won some football games, and played some good football even when he didn’t. This may be the year when the Gamecocks' sophomore QB shows that he’s closer to the great mulleted one than Cory Jenkins. Garcia has the arm strength to be a success in the SEC. The question is whether he has the focus to go to class, stay out of the bars and actually put in the work necessary to play quarterback for Steve Spurrier.
Florida in the I-formation. Corch Myers tweaked his shotgun-happy Te-Bone during spring practice to include the use of actual tailbacks. This obviously scared the bejeebers out of his centers, who were incredibly surprised when Tim Tebow nonchalantly walked up and touched them in a most inappropriate place. Was this drastic step taken to prepare for Year 1, A.C. (Anno Circumcisor)? To draw some tailback talent? To throw off the competition? My guess is a little of the latter two and a lot of the former. But no matter what his reasons, it will be interesting to watch. The last time we saw the Gators spend prolonged periods playing I-formation football was the Chris Leak era. It wasn't that long ago, but it seems so far away . . .
Alabama at Ole Miss, October 10th. The second Saturday in October is shaping up as a monster day of football, and this won’t be the last time we talk about a game on that date in this list. But the thing that’s particularly compelling in this one is that it may tell us whether Ole Miss is for real in the SEC West. If Houston Nutt can sack the Tide in Oxford, the Rebels’ November 21st home date with LSU may become appointment viewing.
Bryan Evans. Evans went from much-maligned to nearly invisible in last year’s cornerback rotation, but appears to have found new life as a free safety on Willie Martinez’s defense. At this summer’s Pigskin Preview event here in Macon Coach Richt was obviously excited about the Jacksonville native’s acclimation to the position. Evans has always been one of the fastest and strongest pound-for-pound Bulldogs. Now, he’ll be moving to a position that lets him play more with his eyes on the quarterback and less in the one-on-one situations in which he struggled most as a corner.
Julio Jones. The second best freshman receiver in the SEC last season will be the bellwether of the ‘Bama passing game this season. Crazy factoid: if Jones follows up his 924 yard freshman season with a similar sophomore campaign, he could move as high as third on Alabama’s all-time receiving yards list behind D.J. Hall and Ozzie Newsome. If he avoids injuries and stays for his senior season (an admittedly iffy proposition), Jones may absolutely obliterate Hall’s current Alabama career record of 2923 yards. Theoretically, he could eclipse it as a junior. That’s one more reason why watching Jones and A.J. Greene over the next couple of years should be a treat for SEC fans.
As always, feel free to let us know what you're looking forward to this season. Until later . . .