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Post Preseason vs. postseason: the All-SEC offense

Tuesday December 8, 2009

The AP All-SEC teams were announced yesterday, and Georgia placed seven on the lists including Curran, Butler, and Green on the first team. The good news for Georgia is that as many as six of their seven all-conference players could be returning for 2010 (depending of course on what juniors like Curran and Boling decide to do).

It’s usually interesting to go back to the preseason all-conference teams to see which assumptions were closest, who emerged during the season, and who didn’t live up to expectations or had to deal with the heartbreak of injuries. We’ll start with the offense:


Preseason 1st Team: Tim Tebow
Preseason 2nd Team: Jevan Snead

Postseason 1st Team: Tim Tebow
Postseason 2nd Team: Ryan Mallett

Comments: That Mallett would win postseason honors isn’t a big surprise. He was expected to have a big season in Bobby Petrino’s second year, and he delivered this year’s Tim Couch performance – nice stats on an average team. He led the league in passing as well as total offense. There’s not much to say about Tebow holding on to the first team spot – it was his to lose, and he didn’t slip up.

The story at quarterback was Snead. Few players were hotter at the end of 2008, and, contrary to the circus at SEC Media Days, it wasn’t heresy to suggest that Snead was a worthy challenger to Tebow’s supremacy. Signs of trouble were there in the opener when he threw two interceptions against Memphis. Preseason hopes were finally dashed at South Carolina where the flaws of the Ole Miss team were laid out bare on national television. On the year he threw for 20 TD against 17 INT. Ole Miss still won 8 games, but it wasn’t the season that the Rebels or Snead expected.

Running Back:

Preseason 1st Team: Charles Scott, Michael Smith
Preseason 2nd Team: Mark Ingram, Anthony Dixon

Postseason 1st Team: Mark Ingram, Anthony Dixon
Postseason 2nd Team: Dexter McCluster, Montario Hardesty, Ben Tate

Comments: The preseason first team gave way to the second team. Ingram built on a solid freshman season to emerge as a legitimate Heisman candidate, and Dixon was the primary weapon on offense for a Mississippi State team that claimed a few scalps and scared several others in an impressive debut for Dan Mullen.

McCluster’s inclusion on the second team is another way of recognizing the SEC’s most versatile player. He also shows up on the postseason first team under “all-purpose.” In the preseason he was listed as a 2nd team all-SEC receiver (see below). That all should tell you what he meant to the Ole Miss offense and how enjoyable he was to watch this year. Hardesty and Tate became dependable workhorses that led their first-year coaches to bowl eligibility. Despite sharing time with other capable backs (Brown at Tennessee and Fanning at Auburn), Hardesty and Tate stood out enough to merit recognition.

Injuries took down the preseason favorites. But for a wonderful 145-yard outing against Auburn, Smith never got going this year and finally had to hang it up after struggling with a hamstring injury all season. Scott likewise never got going during the season, and the two touchdowns he scored at Georgia remain the only points he put up against SEC competition. He put up 100 yards only once: 112 yards against Tulane. Scott’s season came to an end after he suffered a broken collarbone against Alabama.

Tight End:

Preseason 1st Team: D.J. Williams
Preseason 2nd Team: Aaron Hernandez

Postseason 1st Team: Aaron Hernandez
Postseason 2nd Team: Colin Peek

Comments: Hernandez was enough of a known entity to rate a preseason mention, and his stature rose as he became one of Tebow’s favorite targets. He was effective either in close quarters on the shovel pass or downfield as a dependable receiver who could move the chains. Alabama’s strategy to disrupt the shovel pass on Florida’s opening series was a tip of the cap to the impact Hernandez has had. Peek likewise became one of his quarterback’s preferred targets. The Alabama offense seemed tailor-made for a traditional tight end, and Peek flourished after his transfer from Georgia Tech.

Preseason first-teamer D.J. Williams had a good season by tight end standards, but his chances to earn postseason honors were probably hurt by the performance of other Arkansas receivers like Greg Childs and Joe Adams. Williams had as many touchdowns as he had in 2008, but he had nearly half the receptions and yardage while battling a nagging ankle injury.


Preseason 1st Team: A.J. Green, Julio Jones
Preseason 2nd Team: Brandon LaFell, Dexter McCluster

Postseason 1st Team: Shay Hodge, A.J. Green
Postseason 2nd Team: Joe Adams, Riley Cooper, Brandon LaFell


A.J. Green was good enough over the first half of the season that he managed only three receptions in November (due to missing the better part of four games due to various injuries) and still earned first team honors. Through the Florida game Green had at least three receptions per game and had no shortage of highlight-quality plays. Hodge meanwhile became the dependable and productive star of the Ole Miss offense. He might not have been as electrifying as McCluster, but you can’t ignore the SEC’s only 1,000 yard receiver.

The second-teamers are all solid choices. Adams was a big part of Mallett’s success. Cooper seemed headed for a future in baseball, but he returned for one more year with his roommate Tebow to lead the Gators in receiving yards and touchdowns. The LSU offense was unspectacular for much of the season, but LaFell remained one of the few bright spots.

As for Julio Jones, he didn’t have a disappointing season, but he was slowed by an injured ankle early in the season. He tallied only one touchdown and 175 yards through Alabama’s first seven games before coming to life with 7 receptions against Tennessee. He’s posted 398 yards and 3 TD in the final six games of the season. His highlight of the year had to be the short reception he turned into a 73-yard go-ahead touchdown against LSU. The play reminded everyone that, while his numbers might be down this year, Jones is still one of the most dangerous and explosive players in the SEC.

Offensive Line:

Preseason 1st Team: Ciron Black, Mike Johnson, John Jerry, Mike Pouncey, Maurkice Pouncey
Preseason 2nd Team: Clint Boling, Trinton Sturdivant, Lee Ziemba, Zipp Duncan, Josh McNeil

Postseason 1st Team: Mike Johnson, Ciron Black, Mike Pouncey, John Jerry, Maurkice Pouncey
Postseason 2nd Team: Clint Boling, Chris Scott, James Carpenter, Mitch Petrus, Ryan Pugh

Comments: I hope most honest fans would agree that line play is the toughest area to get a read on. There are few individual stats to compare other than the meaningless pancake block. So if the postseason first team is identical to the preseason line, I’ll take it.

Injuries cut into the preseason second team line. Sturdivant and McNeil were lost to knee injuries. Duncan and Ziemba didn’t have sub-par seasons; each received honorable mention on the postseason teams. Boling had another All-SEC season despite changing positions during the year for the second time due to injury elsewhere on the line.

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