SEC Roundtable: Fresh Faces You Need to Know From Around the Conference

Nate Gabler

Welcome to Sports Illustrated's weekly SEC Roundtable.

This week, as we begin walking towards and previewing the upcoming 2020 season, Sports Illustrated's reporters from around the Southeastern Conference joined together to take a look at some of the more important fresh faces that fans need to familiarize themselves within a few of the big-name programs within the SEC. 

Alabama — Christopher Walsh, BamaCentral

The big news regarding Alabama’s coaching changes was that there were nearly none this offseason with the exception of a coach moving within the SEC West from Ole Miss to Alabama. The lone hiring was of Freddie Roach to take over the defensive line and be more active in recruiting. 

Nevertheless, the Crimson Tide did make big-offseason move with the addition of David Ballou and Dr. Matt Rhea from Indiana. Ballou is the new Director of Sports Performance, while Rhea is the Director of Performance Sciences. Alabama, which has had a lot of critical injuries over the last few years, especially at linebacker, was looking to get into performance analytics anyway with its new sports sciences center, when popular strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran left to be the special-teams coach at Georgia.

More this week from Alabama:

Alabama Football Releases Powerful Video Concerning Racial Injustice

LSU – Glenn West, LSU Country

There are a couple of big changes with LSU’s coaching staff in 2020, the biggest of which is Bo Pelini as defensive coordinator and Scott Linehan as passing game coordinator. 

Pelini replaces Dave Aranda, who’s off to Baylor and with his arrival, the Tigers are implementing the 4-3, something Ed Orgeron has wanted to do since getting the job in 2017. The defensive line is among the deepest on the roster and will be important for consistent success this season. 

Linehan replaces Joe Brady, who of course was one of the orchestrators of that historic offense. Luckily for LSU, offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger is still around and now has a full year of the spread under his belt. Linehan will be important for player development as he’s coached some of the great receivers in the game including Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant.

Ole Miss – Nate Gabler, The Grove Report

Anyone that gives enough of a damn about SEC football to be reading this story knows Ole Miss is working with a new coaching staff led by Lane Kiffin. Ya'll know who Kiffin is and this has been discussed extensively for months. So instead, let me introduce you to a few fresh names at coordinator that you either a) don't know or b) had forgotten about.

If you don't know the name Jeff Lebby, you know his father-in-law Art Briles. Lebby, after serving the past two seasons at UCF, is the Rebels' new offensive coordinator. At just 36-years-old, Lebby brings to Ole Miss a high-flying offense, yet one that almost wants to run the ball more than it wants to pass. In only one year as the UCF offensive coordinator, Lebby's offense ranked No. 5 nationally in total offense despite starting a true freshman quarterback.

The defensive side is where it gets weird – Ole Miss actually has two defensive coordinators: Chris Partridge and D.J. Durkin. In five years at Michigan, before which he was coaching at high schools, Partridge rose from Director of Player Personnel to the point in which he was hired away by Ole Miss to be a co-coordinator. He specializes in defensive backs. 

Durkin, the other member of the co-defensive-coordinator pairing, is the name that you probably knew but forgot. Fired by the University of Maryland in 2018, Durkin has been out of the coaching world since. Durkin's firing made national storylines, as a former UMD player – Jordan McNair – tragically passed away of heat stroke during a summer practice. Two years later, this will be Durkin's first coaching role since the accident that led to his termination. 

More this week from Ole Miss:

COLUMN: The Week Sports Got a State Flag Changed

"Blessing in Disguise:" Tavius Robinson's Journey from Canadian Football to Ole Miss

Mississippi State – Joel Coleman, Cowbell Corner

Head coach Mike Leach is getting set for his first season overseeing the Bulldogs, replacing Joe Moorhead, and brought with him an offensive style unlike anything the Bullodgs have ever seen. Throughout its history, MSU has almost always had run-first offenses. Now comes Leach and his air raid, a scheme that will throw the football somewhere around 75 percent of the time.

Keep in mind the Bulldogs haven’t even had a 500-yard receiver since 2016. Leach, meanwhile, had seven of them last year alone at Washington State. For more on just how much Leach’s way is going to flip the offensive script in Starkville, check out maybe the most telling stats for how MSU football is about to turn upside down.

More this week from Mississippi State:

OPINION: Kylin Hill delivers the biggest carry he’ll ever have

South Carolina – Chaunte'l Powell, Gamecock Digest

Head coach Will Muschamp was finalizing his coaching staff up until about a week before the Gamecocks started spring practice and just three coaches from last season remain. He added former UGA play caller Mike Bobo as offensive coordinator, Joe Cox as tight ends coach, Kyle Krantz as special teams coordinator, Tracy Rocker as defensive line coach, Rod Wilson as linebacker coach, and Bobby Bentley as running backs coach. 

Connor Shaw, the winningest QB in Gamecock history was also hired as director of player development, replacing former Gamecock great Marcus Lattimore. The Gamecocks were able to get a few practices in before the shutdown allowing the coaches to familiarize themselves with the players and get settled into their new city. They all have ties to Muschamp in some form or fashion which made the transition smoother in spite of the circumstances.

More this week from South Carolina:

With Recruiting Dead Period Extended, South Carolina Football Gets Creative

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