As the kickoff to college football inches nearer, publications are starting reveal their predictions and their all-conference teams. If the projections are accurate, Alabama, Auburn and Georgia could be in the national championship picture.
So that got me to thinking: What if you could compile one super team from these three? But rather than break it down by individual positions, how would it look if you picked the team by groups, such as offensive line, defensive line, etc.?
There are no firm criteria, other than this: The selections should be based on how we think players will perform in 2014, not simply what they have done to date. Oh, the other request, which admittedly isn't very realistic, is to remove your blue and orange or crimson or red and black glasses and look at this objectively.
OK, stop laughing. Any way, here's my team:
Quarterback -- Georgia
Yes, Hutson Mason over Nick Marshall. Admittedly, this is my partiality for a traditional passer rather than a runner. I know, Marshall's arm is better than many people think. It may be stronger than Mason's. But unless you're going to run a spread offense, Mason would have most of the intangibles in his favor.
Running backs -- Georgia
Almost a no-brainer with Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall healthy, backed up by the serviceable Brendan Douglas and the two freshmen, Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. Gurley might be the best offensive player in college football, and Marshall would start for just about any other team. But Alabama's and Auburn's backfields are also deep with talent. It's hard to leave off TJ Yeldon, Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake.
Wide receivers -- Alabama
I picked Amari Cooper for the same reason as for picking Gurley. I'm expecting him to have a great year now that he's healthy. Christion Jones and DeAndrew White are very solid secondary targets. Chris Black will probably pick up much of Kevin Norwood's production. Georgia's crew of Malcolm Mitchell, Chris Conley, Justin Scott-Wesley and Jonathon Rumph could be deeper. But they have too many uncertainties to top Alabama's group.
Tight end -- Alabama
Hometown bias for Brian Vogler? Sure, a little. He's not the receiver the Auburn's C.J. Uzomah or Georgia's Jay Rome are. But a tight end's first duty is to block, and Vogler plays a critical role in Alabama's power running game. And remember, these are group rankings. You have O.J. Howard off the bench as a receiving threat.
Offensive line -- Auburn
Let's be honest. No one outside of football experts know how to judge offensive linemen. What we can see is how well a unit controls the line of scrim
mage. Georgia's line has been soft. Alabama's isn't as dominant as it was in 2012. Even with Greg Robinson gone, Auburn's offensive line is one of the best in the country. Reese Dismukes, Alex Kozan and Chad Slade are probably the best center-guards combination in the SEC.
Kicker -- Georgia
Marshall Morgan struggled as a freshman in 2012 but was phenomenal in 2013. He will push for the Lou Groza Award as the nation's top kicker.
Defensive line -- Auburn
None of these teams are particularly strong on the D-line. But Carl Lawson and Gabe Wright are the most proven tandem, and Elijah Daniels, Montravius Adams and LaDarius Owens could be very good. If junior college transfer DaVonte Lambert and/or freshman Andrew Williams can make an impact, this could be a very good line.
Inside linebackers -- Alabama
This is more reputation than anything else. Actually, Georgia's Amarlo Herrera and Ramik Wilson are the best statistically. But tackle statistics don't mean much. Trey DePriest and Reuben Foster are very solid.
Outside linebackers -- Georgia
Leonard Floyd is as dynamic as any outside linebacker in the SEC. Jordan Jenkins didn't dominate the way many expected him to last season as a sophomore. But Jenkins still makes a lot of plays. He just needs to learn from his former teammate Jarvis Jones the importance of being relentless on every single down.
Secondary -- Alabama
I'm grouping cornerbacks and safeties together because there's a fair amount of overlap in today's game with three- and four-receiver sets and so many coverage packages. Cornerback Cyrus Jones and safety Landon Collins lead another very talented Tide secondary.
Punter -- Georgia
Granted, there's no Steven Clark in this group. But with an offense like the above, when would they ever have to punt? Adam Erickson appears to have beaten out Colin Barber, who has the stronger leg but has been unreliable.
So that's my team. What's yours?