SEC spring practice preview

Alabama

Spring opens: March 15

Pro Day: March 12

Spring game: April 19

Season opener: Aug. 30 vs. West Virginia (Georgia Dome)

Spring skinny: Alabama needs a quarterback. Blake Sims of Gainesville is heir apparent to AJ McCarron and will play the role of starter in the spring. But the Crimson Tide signed former FSU quarterback Jake Coker, and unless Sims shows marked improvement passing in the spring, the job could be Coker’s by the time the season opens.

Arkansas

Spring opens: March 16

Pro Day: Wednesday

Spring game: April 26

Season opener: Aug. 30 at Auburn

Spring skinny: The Razorbacks are desperately seeking speed. Arkansas needs to make marked improvement in the passing game and believes it can do that by identifying some receivers with speed and working them with quarterback Brandon Allen. Likewise, Arkansas needs to locate some playmakers on defense.

Auburn

Spring opens: March 18

Pro Day: Tuesday

Spring game: April 19

Season opener: Aug. 30 vs. Arkansas

Spring skinny: The Tigers didn’t lose a lot of players off their SEC championship team, but they lost some good ones. Auburn needs replacements for LT Greg Robinson, RB Tre Mason, FB Jay Prosch, DE Dee Ford and CB/KR Chris Davis. The Tigers will try to shore a secondary that was exposed at times last season. Also, WR D’haquille Williams is an early enrollee who came out of Gulf Coast Community College as the No. 1 junior-college prospect in America.

Florida

Spring opens: March 19

Pro Day: March 17

Spring game: April 12

Season opener: Aug. 30 vs. Idaho

Spring skinny: You name it, and the Gators need to fix it after last season’s disaster. They’ll start with just getting players healthy. Coach Will Muschamp delayed the start of spring practice so QB Jeff Driskel (broken leg) would be able to fully participate. RB Matt Jones (knee) and linebackers Matt Rolin (knee) and Alex Anzalone (shoulder) are expected to miss spring practice.

Kentucky

Spring opens: March 28

Pro Day: March 14

Spring game: April 26

Season opener: Aug. 30 vs. Tennessee-Martin

Spring skinny: Last year’s preseason optimism surrounding first-year coach Mark Stoops cooled a little after last year’s 2-10 campaign (0-8 SEC), but the arrow points up. They return eight starters each on offense and defense — and 39 players have started at least one game. A quarterback competition featuring returning starter Jalen Whitlow and four others will headline the spring.

LSU

Spring opens: Friday

Pro Day: April 9

Spring game: April 5

Season opener: Aug. 30 vs. Wisconsin (Reliant Stadium, Houston)

Spring skinny: Rising sophomore Anthony Jennings of Marietta was expected to succeed Zach Mettenberger at quarterback, but a poor bowl performance devalued his stock a bit, and Stephen Rivers transferred. That has the Tigers faithful focused on early enrollee Brandon Harris. LSU must replace Jeremy Hill at tailback, but the arrival of five-star signee Leonard Fournette could remedy the situation.

Ole Miss

Spring opens: Wednesday

Pro Day: April 9

Spring game: April 5

Season opener: Aug. 28 vs. Boise State (Georgia Dome)

Spring skinny: Finding a starting five on the offensive line will be a high priority for the Rebels, who had trouble protecting quarterback Bo Wallace last season or establishing a consistent running game. Likewise, there is expected to be some spirited competition in the backfield. But Ole Miss appears to be solid on defense, where nine starters are back. The vacancies are at middle linebacker and end.

Mississippi State

Spring opens: March 18

Pro Day: Wednesday

Spring game: April 12

Season opener: Aug. 30 vs. Southern Mississippi

Spring skinny: Rising junior quarterback Dak Prescott (6-foot-2, 230 pounds) ended last season impressively with the game-winning touchdown against Ole Miss and a five-touchdown game in the Liberty Bowl against Rice. But replacing tailback LaDarius Perkins will be a big deal, and that might not get resolved until preseason camp, when signee Aeris Williams joins the competition.

Missouri

Spring opens: March 11

Pro Day: Thursday

Spring game: April 19

Season opener: Aug. 30 vs. South Dakota State

Spring skinny: The Tigers have to replace seven starters on offense and on defense, including some of the best players in the league. Mizzou is in good shape at quarterback, where Maty Mauk will replace James Franklin. But they’ll have their hands full finding replacements for running back Henry Josey, wide receiver L’Damian Washington and outside linebacker Michael Sam.

South Carolina

Spring opens: Tuesday

Pro Day: April 2

Spring game: April 12

Season opener: Aug. 28 vs. Texas A&M

Spring skinny: Rising senior Dylan Thompson steps into the starting quarterback role vacated by Connor Shaw. But the Gamecocks will get redshirt freshman Connor Mitch ready should Thompson falter. Much focus will be on the defense, where South Carolina must replace both ends — including Jadeveon Clowney — and both cornerbacks.

Tennessee

Spring opens: Friday

Pro Day: April 2

Spring game: April 12

Season opener: Aug. 30 vs. Utah State

Spring skinny: The main focus will be on the competition among quarterbacks Joshua Dobbs, Riley Ferguson and Justin Worley, but the Volunteers need to identify replacements for the entire offensive and defensive lines. Overall, there will be plenty of new faces to choose from as Tennessee welcomed 14 midyear enrollees. As many as five or six could start the opener.

Texas A&M

Spring opens: began Friday

Pro Day: Wednesday

Spring game: TBD

Season opener: Aug. 28 at South Carolina

Spring skinny: Life after Johnny Manziel begins with a three-way QB competition among senior Matt Joeckel, sophomore Kenny Hill and freshman Kyle Allen. Coach Kevin Sumlin doesn’t expect to name a starter until sometime during preseason camp, however. The Aggies also have to replace WR Mike Evans and LT Jake Matthews. A&M’s defense must get better after finishing last in the SEC in points, yards and rushing allowed.

Vanderbilt

Spring opens: March 11

Pro Day: March 21

Spring game: April 12

Season opener: Aug. 28 vs. Temple

Spring skinny: The Commodores won nine games in each of the past two seasons and played in bowl games for the past three, including last season’s 41-24 victory over Houston. Still, coach Derek Mason, who spent the past three seasons at Stanford as defensive coordinator and associate head coach, promises to “tear it down and build it back up” with regard to competition in the spring. He’ll have to start at quarterback and a replacement for Austyn Carta-Samuels.

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