published Friday, July 11th, 2014

Greeson: Checking out questions in SEC East

This time next week we'll be wrapping up SEC football media days, which start Monday. We'll have live coverage at timesfreepress.com and we'll have "Press Row" on ESPN 105.1 FM live from the event Monday through Thursday of next week.

It should by a ton of fun, and by then hopefully we'll know the answer to several questions that are lingering above the Southeastern Conference landscape.

It's a fun time to speculate. It's July and everyone's unbeaten. It's seven weeks from the start of the season, and other than summertime arrests and the smattering of stories about how this guy or that star did not qualify, focusing on the promise and potential of the fall is fun.

With that in mind, let's explore some of the most glaring possible questions for each school in the SEC. Today we'll go over the SEC East; Wednesday we did the SEC West (http://timesfreepress.com/news/2014/jul/10/greeson-sec-media-days-are-upon-us/). We also believe this could be a topic on "Press Row" for the next couple of days and into the event next week.

Georgia -- Is Hutson Mason ready? We're not so sure, but our TFP college football ace and "Press Row" cohort David Paschall seems pretty confident about Mason, who has the difficult task of replacing Aaron Murray. How good was Aaron Murray? Auburn fans respected the daylights out of him, and when fans from your heated rivals respect a player, you know they are top shelf. Certainly, as some faithful readers have pointed out, the tweaks in the offense that was Murray's and that will be Mason's will help. Keeping Todd Gurley healthy will help, too. A lot.

Florida -- How hot is your seat, Mr. Muschamp? Man, Will Muschamp went from hot name to hot seat in about three years, right? And after last year's 4-8 debacle that included a loss to Georgia Southern in the Swamp, Muschamp's fourth year in Gainesville better not include more than four losses or it could be "So long, Coach Boom." In fact, we had a Florida beat writer on "Press Row" recently, and the win number was set at eight for Muschamp to be OK, and that eight needed to include a win over Georgia or Florida State. And since each of those teams will start the season among the top 15 teams in the country, well, get to work, Will. Or there will be some 'splainin' to do.

Kentucky -- How can Kentucky survive a rebuilding project with snappy slogans and hashtags? We're kidding, of course, but the Wildcats are adding pieces and recruits at a pace that is unprecedented for any non-basketball venue in Lexington. And compared to their Tennessee rivals, the Wildcats have a higher projected number of wins by ESPN.stats -- which has the computer number for UK at 5.5 and for UT at 5.4. Part of that calculation has to be the fact that the Wildcats have a slew of viable options at quarterback, including Signal Mountain's Reese Phillips.

Missouri -- What can the Tigers do for an encore after last year's amazing run to the SEC title game? We know Missouri has a replacement for James Franklin at quarterback, considering Maty Mauk was every bit his equal and often his superior in spot duty during Franklin's bouts with injuries. That said, there are talented pieces missing from the backfield, the perimeter and the defensive line. And forget the "sneak-up" factor this time around.

South Carolina -- Can South Carolina continue its greatest run in its football history? We say yes, because we believe more in Dylan Thompson than most, and we know that while he loves calling fancy pass plays, coach Steve Spurrier knows how to use a bellcow running back like Mike Davis.

Tennessee -- Wow, where do we begin? The lines? The quarterback? The secondary? Each is a fair question. Still, we'll begin here: How many freshmen will start against Utah State, and how long will it take for the kiddie corps to be game-ready?

Vanderbilt -- Can Derek Mason fill the clown-sized shoes of James Franklin? Tall order considering Vandy has won nine games in back-to-back seasons.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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