06 Jun SEC West Newcomers
CFB Dynamic Duos
While speculation stills remain on the logistics of the 2020 college football season, one thing clear is that the SEC will be returning several dynamic duos. Unsurprisingly, many of these duos include transfer players who are already battle-tested, and looking to make a statement. These players will be vital towards their team’s success in 2020 and beyond, starting with Arkansas QB Feleipe Franks and RB Rakeem Boyd.
A familiar name, to even the most casual fan, the former Gator QB Franks finds himself as the starter for the Razorbacks. While the offense lacks experience overall, they possess a solid tandem of rising sophomore receivers in Treylon Burks and Trey Knox. Franks exhibited steady improvement as a leader and quarterback after the arrival of Dan Mullen, and should look to build on that campaign as the elder statesman of the Razorback offense. Fans should be excited because Franks’ level of arm talent hasn’t been seen at Arkansas, since the days of Ryan Mallett. Arkansas’ success this season will depend predominantly on Franks, but he’ll share that load with former Last Chance U running back Rakeem Boyd. Despite defenses being able to key in on the run game, Boyd was able to rush for more than 1,100 yards in 2019, his second season with the Razorbacks. With the addition of former Georgia offensive line coach Sam Pittman, the Razorbacks will look to become a dominant group in the trenches once more. Arkansas will have an entrenched starter going forward, while the next team has quite the QB conundrum at hand.
“If you have two quarterbacks you have none”. That is exactly where Lane Kiffin finds himself entering this season, with Matt Corral and John Rhys Plumlee. Corral is a former 5-Star recruit, and the more atypical passer, with better size. But the best -ability is avail-ability, and after Corral suffered a rib injury in 2019, Plumlee secured the job and never looked back. Plumlee had a coming-out party against LSU, accumulating over 200 yards rushing and over 100 yards passing, although in a losing effort. That performance showcased the WOW factor that Plumlee radiates. The winner of this starting job will be happy to have a compliment like WR Elijah Moore, who also had a big day against LSU, recording a career-high 143 yards. Elijah Moore operates primarily as a slot weapon, but should flourish into a more expanded role with Lane Kiffin and Rich Rodriguez at the helm.
With Lane Kiffin, Nick Saban, and Ed Orgeron in the conference, you have to be bold to compete, and that’s exactly what Mississippi State got when it hired the Wizard Out West Mike Leach. Leach possesses one of the most prolific offensive minds in the country, bringing in his Air Raid Offense, as well as a handpicked duo who knows the system. Leach’s’ first order of business was securing the services of running back Kylin Hill, who upon hearing of Leach’s hiring decided to reverse his decision to enter the 2020 NFL Draft. Hill will look to build on the success of the 2019 campaign after posting over 1,500 all-purpose yards. Leach has shown a propensity to feature his running backs in the passing game, as evidenced by his former running back Max Borghis’ production. Borghi has recorded over 130 receptions over the past two seasons, and should Hill be featured similarly in the passing game, this offense could reach new levels of lethality. Next, Leach got his QB in former Stanford signal-caller K.J. Costello. Leach’s track record has been stellar with transfer quarterbacks, as Gardner Minshew and Anthony Gordon both eclipsed 4,500 yards and 35 touchdowns in their Senior campaigns. Unlike the aforementioned quarterbacks, Costello has prototypical size as a passer, which should bode well for the offense that needs to create an identity in the SEC hastily.
These three teams are all sporting new head coaches, but my next post will feature a trio of established coaches, with entrenched starters in Florida (Kyle Trask), Texas A&M (Kellen Mond), and Auburn (Bo Nix).