SEC Notes: It's Game Week, Finally
Alabama: Nick Saban finally unveiled his initial 2020 depth chart and to the surprise of no one Mac Jones was named the starting quarterback. The redshirt junior started the last four games of last season and led the offense through the entire offseason and fall camp. True freshmen Bryce Young missed some time in camp, and did impress, but spring practices being canceled made it highly unlikely he would be able to challenge Jones. … While there’s been a lot of talk about the potential of defensive lineman Christian Barmore, a knee injury slowed his development and he may not start against Missouri. Instead, the frontrunner for breakout player on the defense has shifted to true freshman Will Anderson Jr., who won the starting job at Jack, the hybrid linebacker/end spot in Saban’s scheme. “I expect great things from him,” Dylan Moses said. Also of note, Landon Dickerson will start the season back at center as Emil Ekiyor Jr. won the fifth offensive lineman spot alongside four returning starters. — Christopher Walsh, BamaCentral
Florida: The Gators began their first game-week of the 2020 season by unveiling less than ideal news, as projected starting interior offensive lineman, sophomore Ethan White, will miss at least the season opener after undergoing knee surgery. On top of that, Florida released its two-deep depth chart ahead of the Ole Miss game and projected starting nose tackle Kyree Campbell was one of several noteworthy players that were nowhere to be found. The Gators have maintained a fairly healthy, and active, roster through camp so far, with no players publicly opting-out as of this post. We'll see if that remains true between now and kickoff at noon on Saturday, in Oxford. —Zach Goodall, AllGators
LSU : Coach Ed Orgeron provided a myriad of depth chart updates prior to the season opener against Mississippi State. The Tigers expect sophomore cornerback Cordale Flott to play the nickel, meaning freshman Elias Ricks will start opposite Derek Stingley at cornerback. On the defensive line, Neil Farrell is in shape according to Orgeron after opting back into the 2020 season last week. He still has some catchup work to do as Glen Logan, Siaki Ika and Joseph Evans will handle snaps at defensive tackle for now. Also, expect transfer Ali Gaye to start opposite Andre Anthony at defensive end and Chris Curry to be the first running back out on the field.
With all of the roster turnover and people who think the Tigers are in for a decline, Orgeron said he knows what this team can accomplish at its core, reiterating his "block out the noise" catch phrase. "I've got some great coaches, we've got some great players, we believe in ourselves and at LSU the standards are very high," he said. "That's what I enjoy about being here, that everybody expects you to win, expects you to be great. That's the type of school you wanna be at." —Glen West, LSU Country
Mississippi State: With the Mike Leach era set to open at LSU, the coach finally revealed Monday he expects graduate transfer K.J. Costello to start at quarterback in Baton Rouge. Costello has been the favorite for the job ever since he revealed last spring that he was headed to Starkville from Stanford, but finally, there is some confirmation the role is indeed his. MSU’s starting offensive line was also the group many had predicted, along with of course, running back, where Kylin Hill holds down the fort. As for the unexpected, it appears State’s top returning receiver from a year ago – Osirus Mitchell – has been beaten out for a starting role by Alabama transfer Tyrell Shavers. Leach said Monday that Shavers has simply been more consistent of late.
There were some eyebrow-raising names on the defensive depth chart as well. While the defensive line and linebackers were all individuals considered favorites at their positions, sophomore Esaias Furdge won a starting cornerback role. He was in essentially a two-man battle against freshman Emmanuel Forbes. And the biggest surprise came at strong safety where little-known Londyn Craft won the starting job. Craft joined the Bulldogs as a walk-on prior to the 2017 season and has seen only limited action in just eight total games over the last three years. Another surprise was that longtime Mississippi State kicker Jace Christmann, who had been incredibly reliable for the Bulldogs the last three seasons, was beaten out for the job by Arizona State transfer Brandon Ruiz. … Also of note, former Alabama offensive lineman Scott Lashley is reportedly out for the season, and Leach is enjoying Mississippi States’ Coke sponsorship.
– Joel Coleman, Cowbell Corner
Offensive lineman Scott Lashley out for season according to report
Mike Leach is enjoying Mississippi State’s Coke sponsorship
South Carolina: The Gamecocks have found their man at quarterback in Collin Hill as they now gear up for the Sept. 26 home opener against Tennessee. On Friday, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo spoke on what the decision came down to and how the Colorado State grad transfer ultimately won the starting position. “I would just say he's been the most consistent on a daily basis,” Bobo said. “I think both [he and sophomore Ryan Hilinski] had you know good days, but over the long haul he had more consistent days and was more consistent and that's something that he's gotta continue to do for us to play well.” … The Gamecocks also saw five players make the 2020 Coaches' Preseason All-SEC Teams. The Gamecocks were represented by Sadarius Hutcherson, Israel Mukuamu and Aaron Sterling on the second team unit, and Jaycee Horn and Ernest Jones on the third-team squad.
Vanderbilt: There are more questions than answers when it comes to the offense heading into a season-opening trip to College Station to face No. 10 Texas A&M. The biggest question remains who will start at quarterback? Will it be one of the two junior college transfers, or one of the two talented true freshmen? Then there are real concerns about how this offensive line will shake out considering head coach Derek Mason an offensive coordinator Todd Fitch made the decision last week to move a starting defensive tackle in Drew Birchmeir to the offensive line and make him a guard. While Birchmeir was a blocking tight end in high school, that's a long way from playing guard in a college football season opener on the road, against a top-10 team. The move suggests that there are issues that might not be correctable before kickoff Saturday night. On the other side, the defense has no unanswered questions and appears to finally have some solid depth throughout the line, linebackers and secondary. — Greg Arias, Commodore Country