SOUTH CAROLINA

THEN AND NOW

The Gamecocks had to beat Miami in the Independence Bowl to salavage a winning record (7-6) after going 3-5 in conference last season. They aren’t expected to win the East, but improvement over last season is realistic.

THE BUZZ

Coach Steve Spurrier hasn’t settled on a starting quarterback, which isn’t unusual. Connor Mitch is the closest thing to a front-runner, though he’s competing with Perry Orth and Michael Scarnecchia, and freshman Lorenzo Nunez might be utilized in a running package.

SPURRIER SAID IT

“We won three of the last four so we got rejuvenated, but we’re hoping to return to where we were the prior three years, a top-10 team. We believe we have a fighting chance to do that.”

Meanwhile, on twitter ...

“To many followers out there .. Separate yourself and lead baby!”

— WR Pharoh Cooper (@KingTutt_chdown)

TEXAS A&M

THEN AND NOW

The Aggies (8-5) suffered all of their losses in the conference, winning just three league games. If the addition of former LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis can significantly improve what was a poor defense, A&M can make a climb in the West.

THE BUZZ

Coach Kevin Sumlin didn’t just hire Chavis, he also made a greater commitment to a physical run game to give his offense more balance and his defense a more helpful challenge during preseason camp and practice.

SUMLIN SAID IT

“One of our biggest goals in the offseason was to become a tougher team physically and mentally. In order to do that, you’ve got to practice a certain way. The presentation of the offense to the defense has to be one that has a physical aspect to it. I think we brought that into play.”

Meanwhile, on twitter ...

“Panic is the trait of a very weak man.”

— OT Germaine Ifedi (@GermaineX1)

MISSISSIPPI STATE

THEN AND NOW

The Bulldogs ascended to the No. 1 position in the polls last season before slipping with three losses in the last four games. With the return of QB Dak Prescott, one of the most dynamic players in the country, State can be a factor in the West again.

THE BUZZ

Prescott’s decision to return as a fifth-year senior was a huge boost to coach Dan Mullen and the Bulldogs, but can they overcome significant losses elsewhere to be a national player?

MULLEN SAID IT

“When we look at our guys, how we’ve gone to work this offseason, the focus that our guys have had, you know that they want to get back to playing for a championship-level game at the end of the season.”

Meanwhile, on twitter ...

“Got my Yeezy shoes just in time for #SECMD15 @kanyewest @adidas”.

— Mullen (@CoachDanMullen)

TENNESSEE

THEN AND NOW

The Volunteers made modest improvement in coach Butch Jones’ second season last year, finishing 3-5 and 7-6. The expectation this season is to take another step toward contender status in the East.

THE BUZZ

The emergence of Josh Dobbs as the starting quarterback during last season, which triggered a 4-1 finish, has the Vols optimistic.

JONES SAID IT

“We have a lot of positive energy, a momentum and enthusiasm that’s surrounding our football program right now.”

Meanwhile, on twitter ...

“When you have haters and negative people, you must be doing something right.”

— DB Cameron Sutton (@CamSutton23)