There was a lot of talk about a potential changing of the guard among the most dominant football conferences following Alabama’s loss to Clemson in the national championship game. However, while the ACC can celebrate being home to the national champions, the SEC remains the most dominant conference in college football with the Crimson Tide still right there at the top heading in to the 2017 season. Here is a look at the biggest strengths of the top SEC teams.
Alabama – Running Back
Alabama is extremely deep across the board but their biggest strength is likely at running back where they might have the most talented group in the entire country. Co-starters Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough are back after they combined for 1,852 yards and 13 touchdowns last season while Joshua Jacobs and B.J. Emmons are more than ready for a bigger workload after they combined for 124 carries last season. Five-star enrollee Najee Harris will have a tough time finding the field in 2017 as the final piece in arguably the most talented running back core in the entire nation.
LSU – Running Back
The Tigers are expected to bounce back with a much better season than last year’s disappointing run and their running backs will be expected to lead the way. Leonard Fournette is gone but Derrius Guice is a legitimate game-changer that flashed his dominance last season when Fournette was hurt. Guice rushed for 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns on 183 carries and he could be even more explosive as the primary back on the roster this coming season. Darrel Williams is a decent option as well while Nick Brossette has a ton of upside. LSU wants to contend for an SEC championship in 2017 and their running backs will need to lead the way in order for that to happen. The issue for the Tigers is their weakness is their quarterbacking. That’s a problem because it directly impacts the productivity of their running backs. Guice is a stud and he’s going to run over some mediocre or inferior defenses – as he did with the Louisville Cardinals in bowl season – but for the Tigers to take the next step and get back in contention for an SEC title, they’ll have to find a competent quarterback who will take the pressure off the ground game.
Auburn – Running Back
Do you notice a trend here? There is no doubt that the SEC is home to some of the top bruising backs in the entire country and Auburn’s backfield is one of the better groups as well. Kamryn Pettway rushed for 1,224 yards and seven touchdowns last season and should lead the way after opting not to enter the NFL Draft. Meanwhile, Kerryon Johnson ran for 895 yards and 11 scores as the speed option in this tandem. The Tigers will undoubtedly split the carries between Pettway and Johnson once again this upcoming season as they are the obvious strength of their offense. Hopefully this takes the pressure off and helps Jarrett Stidham get acclimated to the SEC.
Georgia – Running Back
Georgia brings back Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and Brian Herrien at the running back position so there is no doubt about their biggest strength. The key will be staying healthy with Chubb in particular in the spotlight. Chubb averaged 5.0 yards per carry while rushing for 1,130 yards and eight touchdowns last season while Michel averaged 5.5 yards per carry while rushing for 840 yards and four scores. Chubb and Michel should form a lethal tandem while Herrien aims to chip in a little more if he can earn more carries. The Bulldogs have the talent to make some noise in the SEC East but if they are going to contend they will need their running backs to shine. The Bulldogs need quarterback Jacob Eason to step up this season and be one of the top players on the team if they’re to really move up the ranks in the SEC. However, having two excellent running backs in the stable should only help his development and growth. If all goes well, the Bulldogs could be the best team in the SEC East in the 2017 campaign.
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