This round is hosted by Georgia blog Hey Jenny Slater. The compiled roundtable will come sometime next week.
1. What’s your prediction for the matchup in the SEC championship game, and has that changed at all from what you were predicting in the preseason?
Sorry Commodores, but I see the winner of the Florida-Georgia game winning the East even if both lose another conference game. I also see the winner of the LSU-Alabama game winning the West. Today I’d give those games to Florida and ‘Bama, though I could easily see any combination of those plausibly in the game.
My preseason pick was Florida-LSU, so it hasn’t changed a whole lot. It all depends on which Alabama team shows up to play the Tigers.
2. Knowing what you now know about your team, how have your expectations for this season changed? What would constitute a successful season in your eyes, and what would be a disappointment?
The offense has not been at the level I expected it to be at, but I think my expectations were probably a bit high. I discounted the fact that the offense would be changing, and the offensive line has not been near what I expected it to be. I figured with three redshirt seniors and the Pouncey brothers it would be nearly impenetrable, but that has not been the case. Trautwein has been rusty after being out injured last year, Tartt has been injured on and off, Watkins has been inconsistent, and the Pounceys have taken some time to get used to new positions.
There is an elite team under the perceived issues and fans’ pessimism, and I think we might see it yet. I said before the year that since the schedule is easier than last season’s and the team would be better, the expectations begin at 10-2, a game better than 2007’s 9-3 regular season record.
If they go at least 1-1 against LSU and Georgia, they can still meet that expectation with relative ease. The catch is making sure whatever team happened to wear the orange and blue against Ole Miss never surfaces again.
3. If your team has Vanderbilt coming up at some point on its schedule, are you worried? If not, which team should be the most worried?
I personally am not because I cannot imagine the Gators losing to Vandy. The Commodores could have easily won a couple years ago if not for some calls favorable to Florida, but that just adds to it. I probably shouldn’t say things like this considering Auburn lost to them for the first time since the 1950s, but I’m just being honest here.
Florida should be worried since the Vandy winning formula so far is similar to what the Rebels used to win a couple weeks ago. Even so, Vanderbilt has a history of collapsing after hot starts, and the Gators get VU at the end of the season.
4. Other than perhaps Alabama’s season-opening win over Clemson, the SEC doesn’t really have any marquee non-conference wins thus far, and a couple of traditional powers (Auburn and Tennessee) are struggling in high-profile fashion. Is it too early to call this a “down year” for the conference?
I felt like the conference would experience a down cycle before the season began, so no, it’s not too early. Everyone except Florida, Georgia, and Alabama have had to deal with either big changes on offense or general ineffectiveness issues, and then the Gators and Bulldogs go and have lots of injuries.
The defenses around the league have been good overall, though it’s difficult at this point to truly be able to determine the precise good defense/bad offense ratio.
I have tried to phase out battling in the Conference Wars over the last year, since it’s about as useful and fun as banging my head against a wall, but I would give the Big 12 the edge of the SEC for 2008. There’s no shame in that considering how many amazing things are going on out there. It’s just a down year, and everyone gets them from time to time. At least the SEC is not owned by a mid-major, like with the Pac-10/MWC dynamic, and it’s comfortably ahead of the Big Ten, ACC, and Big East.