For a guy who wants to spread the field and attack defenses, Meyer walked into an ideal situation. He inherits the conference's top quarterback, Chris Leak, and a deep corps of speedy receivers, led by Andre Caldwell and Chad Jackson. A reliable tailback needs to emerge. The Gators improved down the stretch last season on defense and return a strong cast of veterans led by LBs Brandon Siler and Earl Everett.
The Vols' defense is deep and experienced, with former standout LB Kevin Simon returning from injury to join nine other former starters, most notably All-America DT Jesse Mahelona. The offense could be explosive behind QBs Erik Ainge and Rick Clausen, though Gerald Riggs Jr. needs to prove he can be an every-down back. UT's biggest obstacle will be road trips to Florida, LSU and Notre Dame.
Georgia lost nine scholarship players, but most of them were four-year staples such as QB David Greene, DE David Pollack and WR Fred Gibson. The new-look Dawgs may be more of a running team because of their deep backfield and mobile QB D.J. Shockley. The defense, so dominant the past few years, may struggle a bit after losing coordinator Bryan VanGorder and stalwarts Pollack, Odell Thurman and Thomas Davis.
After losing star receiver Troy Williamson to the NFL and having to dismiss or suspend his top two tailbacks, Spurrier doesn't have the personnel to run his preferred style. With an inexperienced QB and O-line, the Gamecocks likely will endure a rocky season on offense. The defense -- which boasts one of the nation's top safeties, Ko Simpson, but just four returning starters -- may have to carry the team.
The Commodores were competitive at times last season but still finished with their fourth straight two-win season. With the return of productive four-year QB Jay Cutler, Vandy has the potential to score some points. The running game is a question mark following the death of leading rusher Kwane Doster. The defense was hurt by the NFL defection of star DE Jovan Haye and could be in for a long year.
Looking to bolster the nation's 115th-ranked offense, Rich Brooks made receivers coach Joker Phillips his new coordinator. Phillips' job is to develop promising sophomore QB Andre Woodson into a reliable playmaker, but unfortunately, the 'Cats are extremely thin at running back and O-line. The defense has switched from the 3-4 to the 4-3, but it might not matter until Kentucky can find some run-stopping linebackers.
Miles will develop a balanced attack that pounds the ball and airs it out to play-making receivers such as Skyler Green. The Tigers suffered a blow when top rusher Alley Broussard was lost for the season, but they're deep at the position. The question is whether LSU can come close to duplicating its recent defensive dominance without Saban's schemes and the contributions of Marcus Spears and Corey Webster.
Despite losing first-rounders Ronnie Brown, Carnell Williams and Jason Campbell, the offense should be decent. The Tigers have a strong receiving corps and O-line and could be more of a passing team with new QB Brandon Cox. The defense has a chance to be special with standout DEs Stanley McClover and Quentin Groves, LBs Travis Williams and Antarrious Williams and much-touted transfer CB David Irons.
That the Tide managed to go .500 last year despite losing both their top quarterback (Brodie Croyle) and running back (Ray Hudson) to injury was a testament to the nation's No. 2-ranked defense, which returns nine starters and should be a force once again. Croyle is back, as is 1,062-yard rusher Ken Darby, but the O-line must replace All-SEC rocks Wesley Britt and Evan Mathis and may be a crutch.
A year after improving N.C. State's defense from No. 89 to No. 1 nationally, new coordinator Reggie Herring takes on a unit that finished 75th last year. He'll have nine returning starters to work with. One always can count on Houston Nutt's teams to run the ball, which the Hogs will with De'Arrius Howard, but sophomore QB Robert Johnson faces an unenviable challenge replacing four-year star Matt Jones.
The fiery Ed Orgeron should have an instant impact on the Rebels' defense, which was a sore spot under predecessor David Cutcliffe. LB Patrick Willis will be the cog in his scheme. QB Micheal Spurlock, who lost his starting job three games in last season, has been given new life by Orgeron. Finding a quality tailback to replace academically ineligible Vashon Pearson will be a major priority.
After starting at bare bottom, Sylvester Croom's team can only get better. Versatile QB Omarr Connor and 1,000-yard rusher Jerious Norwood provide a foundation on offense, and Croom is hoping some freshman receivers will be able to contribute immediately. The defense, which suffered unexpected attrition, will be the biggest question mark, though Quinton Culberson is a promising linebacker.