No conference is more associated with the rabid passion of collegiate football than the Southeastern Conference. The league’s slogan is “It Just Means More,” and a glance at the crowds on Saturdays, the message boards of the conference’s schools, or the list of players drafted by the NFL each year will validate that statement. The 2023 season should be another fascinating campaign in the nation’s preeminent football conference. Georgia is striving for a three-peat, Bobby Petrino is back in the league as an offensive coordinator and paired with Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M, Brian Kelly has LSU poised for a playoff push, and Tennessee leads a host of teams trying to catch the Bulldogs in the East.
Let’s get wild and make some bold predictions!
Alabama Will Have Two All-American Defensive Linemen
Alabama is ranked fourth in the preseason polls, but there are major question marks about who is going play quarterback and whether or not the Tide will have the offensive firepower to challenge for a league title. Those questions may not have positive answers, but Alabama will have new stars on the defensive line, and two of them will end up All-Americans. Dallas Turner is the heir apparent to Will Anderson, and he could lead the SEC in sacks. He’ll be joined by a mountain of a man on the interior of the line: Jaheim Oatis. The sophomore from Mississippi struggled with weight earlier in his football career, playing at 400 pounds at times but still moving with an agility and skill that belied his size. Oatis is now down to 320 pounds, according to Alabama, and he is ready for a breakout season in Tuscaloosa.
Carson Beck Will Be SEC’s Highest Heisman Trophy Finisher
The popular pick is Jayden Daniels, while Southern California’s Caleb Williams is the favorite to repeat as the Heisman Trophy winner. The bold pick is Georgia‘s new quarterback, Carson Beck, who will be the conference’s lead vote-getter for the Heisman Trophy at the end of the season. The talented Beck has waited his turn, elected to stay in Athens instead of transferring, backed up Stetson Bennett, and is now ready to lead the program. He has a loaded group of pass catchers, with Brock Bowers leading the way. Another bold prediction, the Bulldogs’ leading receiver will be Ladd McConkey. McConkey is healthy and will become just the second single-season 1,000-yard receiver in Georgia Bulldog history. Terrence Edwards holds the single-season program record with 1,004 yards in 2002. McConkey will break that in 2023.
Squirrel White Leads the SEC in Receiving Yards
Tennessee‘s Jalin Hyatt led the league in receiving yards in 2022 with 1,267. Much has changed since then. Hyatt is gone, as is quarterback Hendon Hooker. Joe Milton is getting the first crack at replacing Hooker, but Josh Heupel‘s offense is going to be turbocharged for pass-catchers regardless of who is throwing the ball. Squirrel White is in the shadow of all-conference pick Bru McCoy, but he will be the team’s and the conference’s leading pass-catcher at the end of 2023. White has blazing speed and came on strong at the end of 2022, showing a potential that will be realized this season.
Bobby Petrino and Tommy Rees Don’t Last Long as OCs
Bobby Petrino is the first-year offensive coordinator for the Texas A&M Aggies. Tommy Rees is the first-year offensive coordinator for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Neither one of them will see a second season in those positions, as both will become head coaches elsewhere after the 2023 season. Rees, former Notre Dame quarterback and offensive coordinator, could be a prime candidate for the Northwestern job. Petrino, a brilliant offensive mind with a troubled history of burning bridges at every stop but winning games in the process, could be a candidate for any school with an opening that is desperate enough. Petrino was brought in by Jimbo Fisher to rescue a Texas A&M offense that has floundered since Fisher was hired. The Aggies have a ton of weapons, and a successful season in College Station could repair Petrino’s reputation enough to push him back into a Power Five head coaching spot.
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