Can't wait to see these things this fall
Updated: May 12, 2006, 12:10 PM ETBy Ivan Maisel and Pat Forde | ESPN.com
1. Can this marriage be saved? Urban Meyer is committed to senior quarterback Chris Leak, even though Leak fits as well with Meyer's offense as, say, peanut butter and ketchup. The fans are swooning over incoming freshman Tim Tebow. Logic tells you the veteran will continue to run the offense. But I want to see how Meyer manages Tebow's playing time while keeping public expectations at bay.
2. Speaking of quarterback issues, is there really one at LSU? Matt Flynn played very well in the Peach Bowl romp over Miami, but JaMarcus Russell did the heavy lifting to get the Tigers to the SEC West championship. Russell's biggest problem appears to be failing to meet oversized expectations, which is where Ryan Perrilloux, the third guy in the ring, comes in. I'd be stunned if Russell doesn't resume as the starter.
3. Year 3 for Sly Croom at Mississippi State, and if the young Bulldogs begin to find themselves on offense, then the bowl game Croom said he expected before last season's 3-8 record won't be far away. Defense kept Mississippi State in four of its eight losses, and the Bulldogs have 19 returning starters. They'll get four games before playing at LSU and home against West Virginia on consecutive Saturdays. Ouch.
1. Now that Steve Spurrier has established a beachhead in the Eastern Division, how far does the invasion go in Year 2? The temptation is to say that it goes backward, given the key losses the Gamecocks incurred after last year's surprising 7-5 season (5-3 in the SEC). But do you really want to count this guy out? Especially when you consider that the 2005 South Carolina squad wasn't supposed to be anything special?
2. Phil Fulmer and Houston Nutt, you're on the clock. Two coaches who have been hailed at various times as the best in their respective divisions will be under legitimate pressure to win this year. Toward that end, both have shaken up their offensive staffs, with longtime QB guru David Cutcliffe back on Rocky Top and former high school coach Gus Malzahn taking over as coordinator in Fayetteville. The pressure will be on immediately, with Tennessee opening against California and Arkansas hosting USC.
3. Who plays quarterback at LSU? The Tigers could be the best team in the league and one of the best in the nation. But the overbooking and indecision at the most important position on the field could create tension. JaMarcus Russell was the man most of last year, even though some thought Matt Flynn was better. And don't forget superstar recruit Ryan Perrilloux, who redishirted last year. Don't be surprised to see the guy who winds up third string transferring.