I am generally very optimistic, but let's take a quick look at the Dawgs for 2010...
On offense, we return 10 starters to a unit that was pretty good last year. We return our entire offensive line, the best WR in the country and 2 tailbacks that just really found their groove and broke out in the final 5 games of last year It is going to be nice to see Washaun and Caleb play an entire season with some confidence. The one and only knock on the 2010 offense is we are going to have a rookie QB running the show. But, what everyone seems to forget is that our 2010 rookie QB (whomever ends up winning the job) is going to be replacing a less-talented rookie QB. And, 1st year QB's have had success in the league...... David Greene had a pretty good 1st year as a red-shirt freshman QB. Greg McElroy was good enough for his team to win a national championship as a 1st year QB. Bottom line - I will take my chances and say that our offense in 2010 with an extra year of experience at every position and a trade of Joe Cox for Aaron Murray (I think he is a lock to start next year) will clearly be better than it was in 2009.
On defense, the negatives are we made a bunch of changes and we are switching to a whole new scheme with a whole new staff. That is the big knock on our defense. On the positive side, we made a bunch of changes and we are switching to a whole new scheme with a whole new staff. Granted - we lost some talent to the NFL. But, the young talent that we have stockpiled over the last few recruiting classes should be able to step right in. Combine the potential of the talent on our roster and the fire of a great new staff - I don't believe there is any way we can be any worse on this side of the ball than we were last year. Not by a long shot.
About some of the other teams in Low's rankings...
#3 LSU - Why are they in the top 3? Coaching - nope. QB play - nope. Defense - nope. They have a bunch of talent but where has that gotten them the last 2 years? They have had a worse 2 year run than our Dawgs have.
#4 Arkansas - Bobby Petrino is always going to have an offense that can put some points on the board. 2009 was no different and 2010 will be another great offense as Ryan Mallet will still be slinging it around.... But, what has anyone seen that makes them think the ARK defense is going to be worth anything in 2010?? I see a much better chance of the UGA defense bringing the noise in 2010 than I do of the Hogs defense.
#6 South Carolina - Really?? Do you know what their record is down the stretch the last 2 years? It is 5-9 over the last 7 games in each of the last 2 years combined. That is god-awful. I don't even want to take the time to try and explain why UGA should be ranked ahead of them. Every year, the media seemingly gets together and picks a dark-horse team to come out and challenge for the league title. 2010 South Carolina has become that team, replacing the 2009 version that was Ole Miss.
#10 Mississippi State - Teams with good coaches are always pretty dang good in the coach's 2nd year. Not sure why that is but take a quick look at the 2nd year of these coaches - Stoops... national title; Richt... 13-1, #3 in country; Tressel... national title; Meyer... national title; Saban (at Bama)... undefeated regular season, won SEC West. It remains to be seen if Mullen is as good as those coaches, but he turned Miss. St into a threat in his 1st year and the FL offense took a big hit after he left Gainesville (and that's with all-world Superman Tim Tebow running the offense). I don't think they will be the 3rd worst team of the SEC.
Last year was the worst team we have ever had under CMR. And, he made a lot of tough decisions in the off-season to change that and get the Dawgs back on track. I just don't see how we are going to be any worse than we were last year. I honestly expect to better in all 3 aspects of the game and I think we will head into Jacksonville undefeated next year. Look for 2010 to be a much better season than 7th in the SEC and I expect to compete with Florida for the SEC East next season.