It's late May, which means we're getting into preseason football magazine season. Phil Steele has been slowly releasing his preseason all-conference teams, and today he has revealed the SEC teams.
For offense and defense, I did the standard point scoring system of four points for a first teamer, three for a second, two for a third, and one for a fourth. That's what I'll be referring to below.
Alabama and Arkansas tied for the highest score on offense with 20 points, although it was for very different reasons. A dozen of Bama's points came from having three first-team offensive linemen (Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack, and D.J. Fluker), while the Razorbacks's three first teamers were at the skill positions (Tyler Wilson, Knile Davis, and Cobi Hamilton). Arkansas also had a pair of second team selections and a third team player, while Bama had four on the third team. The third-highest score went to newcomer Texas A&M with 13 points, though LSU was just one behind with 12 points. Tennessee was the only other team in double digits with 10.
Here is a table for how each school scored on offense:
On defense, LSU scored highest with 22 points followed by Georgia with 20 points. Right behind the Bulldogs was Alabama with 18 points. The lower score (relatively) for the Crimson Tide is a reflection of the heavy NFL Draft losses the unit had, but only four individual units in the conference (one being its own offense) scored higher. Florida was fourth with 13 points, while South Carolina was fifth with 10.
LSU's strength is on the front and in the back, with the entire defensive line and three of the four in the defensive backfield making one of Steele's teams. Only one linebacker, Kevin Minter, made the squads as a third teamer. Georgia was more balanced with two linemen (of a possible three), three linebackers, and three defensive backs selected. Of course, all three of the defensive backs are facing suspension for the first game (and beyond for two of them).
Here is how the defense broke down across the league:
And for completeness, here are the combined offense and defense scores:
At the top you've got Alabama and LSU again, though Georgia isn't far behind. At the bottom, Houston Nutt didn't leave much for Hugh Freeze and Vandy is still Vandy despite two bowl trips in the last four years. Texas A&M is in better shape here than fellow newcomer Missouri, but Mizzou is expected to be a division contender while A&M is expected to struggle. Coaching changes and variable division strength will do that.
Alabama's four-point margin gets cut in half if you ignore Duron Carter's presence as a third team wide receiver. He transferred to Bama after losing academic eligibility at Ohio State, and he continued his streak by being ineligible all last season. After regaining his eligibility in January, he managed to get himself suspended for all of spring practice. I don't doubt Carter's athletic ability, but I do wonder if he will manage to actually get on the field this fall. Nick Saban isn't exactly known for putting up with shenanigans.