I'll go with Tennessee. I'm just not a Butch Jones believer. He needed a Hail Mary to avoid going 3-5 in the SEC last year with a senior QB, a top 10 draft pick at defensive end and loads of talent elsewhere. As everyone in the state of Tennessee discovered last month, I picked the Vols sixth in the East behind Missouri.
Trying to create? I just wrote today that the staff and Lock have praised Johnson's leadership - not Moore. I'm not convinced Moore has cleaned up all the flaws in his game. To his credit, he doesn't shy away from talking about those flaws, but as one coach told me last week, talking about the mistakes and fixing them are two different things. He's still a really talented player. Logan Cheadle talked to me today about how difficult it is to cover Moore in practice. He drops routine passes but he makes the difficult catches look easy, too. I'm really interested to see what he does this year. He's got all the ability to be mentioned in the same discussion as Maclin, Alexander, etc. But he's got to CATCH. THE. BALL.
Scoring wings with size another point guard. They have commitments from KJ Santos and Javon Pickett, but they'll need some impact scorers on the perimeter to replace Porter Jr. and Barnett.
10-2. They'd get into a shootout with Auburn and possibly Georgia and lose those two.
No question: Athens. Best college town in the SEC, maybe in the country.
The players and coaches are saying all the same things you hear every year: The leadership is better. The offeason workouts were better. The chemistry is better. Yada, yada, yada. But here are a few things I put stock in: One: Odom is in a better place because of staff changes. Having his brother around as a trusted confidant is big. He loves Brick Haley as the D-line coach. That group needed a tough-love coach. They needed someone they could trust but also hold them to a high standard. Haley has done both. Two: I genuinely believe Odom enjoys this senior class/veterans more. Not that he had a bunch of bad apples last year - though there were a knucklhead quotient among the seniors/veterans - but he trusts the veterans on the O-line (Adams, Ablen, Howell, Pendelton, Ploudre), he's a big fan of Ish Witter and Jason Reese as senior leaders and the same for Eric Beisel, Marcell Frazier and Logan Cheadle on defense. Now, does all of that add up to a wining team this year? Not at all, but I sense the head coach feels better about the cast around him to help him do his job.
I take Martin at his word that he'll adjust the style to his personnel. I don't think he plans to shackle a talent like Porter Jr. The players have talked about playing at a deliberately fast tempo this summer under the structure of the offense. Porter noted earlier this summer that positions aren't as relevant when you're running down the floor in transition so much.
I have less hair on my face this week than I did last. Why you care?
I don't see him getting fired unless the season is worse than last year and it's obvious there's no way he can turn it around.
The ninth chapter of the 10-chapter book is all about the 2015 season. Gary goes in depth more in those pages than he has publicly the last two years about everything from his diagnosis to retirement plans to the boycott to the criticism he faced for what unfolded. We spent more time getting that chapter right than any other part in the book.
To some degree it depends on the access we get from Martin. He was good this summer about allowing media to interview the players. I hope that continues in the coming months.
Teams are split. There are some who believe he'd be a great college D-lineman but an elite NFL O-lineman.
In hoops, they wouldn't be able to play until the Sweet 16 unless the rules have changed. Regional draws for baseball and softball are usually built around proximity, so it makes sense for those matchups to happen occasionally.
I've got time for a couple more quesitons
The safeties are very experienced: Four have started games. The corners, not so much. I'd rather have a talented young secondary than a veteran secondary that can't play. I'm not sure what to expect from the corners. The safeties have to tackle better. No question about it.