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SEC Football 2023 Preview – East Division



By Paul Garwood

As the excitement builds for the upcoming SEC football season, fans and enthusiasts are eagerly awaiting the 2023 season. The East Division of the SEC is expected to be particularly competitive and filled with thrilling matchups. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive preview of the SEC East Division for the 2023 season, highlighting the key teams, star players, coaching changes, and potential game-changers. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a casual observer, this preview will give you a detailed insight into what to expect from the powerhouse teams in the East Division and set the stage for an unforgettable season of SEC football.


It won’t be an easy task to achieve the hat trick of national championship titles, but Georgia is heavily favored to win it all in 2023 for the third consecutive year. Despite significant departures of key players on both offense and defense, there is little cause for concern due to the abundance of highly talented individuals on their roster.

Carson Beck has emerged as the frontrunner to take over the quarterback role after a productive spring practice, and he will have the luxury of utilizing the nation’s premier tight end, Brock Bowers.

Furthermore, the additions of transfers Dominic Lovett from Missouri and RaRa Thomas from Mississippi State will provide the Bulldogs with an even deeper receiving corps. Georgia has endured the loss of yet another wave of star players from a dominant defense, including Nolan Smith, Jalen Carter, Kelee Ringo, and Christopher Smith.

However, this unit is not expected to experience a decline in performance, as the next generation of standout athletes, such as Mykel Williams on the defensive line, Malaki Starks at safety, and Jamon Dumas-Johnson and Smael Mondon at linebacker, are ready to step up and make their mark.


The next objective for Tennessee, following their first double-digit victories since 2007, is to narrow the gap with Georgia in the SEC East. Achieving this will not be a simple task in the upcoming season, considering the departure of key players such as quarterback Hendon Hooker, and wide receivers Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman.

Nonetheless, coach Josh Heupel’s team still possesses a solid foundation, and the high-powered offensive game should remain proficient under the command of either Joe Milton or Nico Iamaleava. Bru McCoy and Squirrel White will contribute to filling the void left by Hyatt and Tillman.

Improving the defense was a top priority after conceding an average of 29.1 points per game in the previous season. However, similar to the offense, the defense will face challenges in overcoming the loss of key players, including Byron Young and Trevon Flowers, which will test their ability to continue progressing.


Last year’s decline to a 7-6 record was primarily attributed to the ineffective offense, which averaged a mere 20.4 points per game. However, coach Mark Stoops wasted no time in addressing this issue by successfully recruiting former play-caller Liam Coen, who has returned to Lexington, and securing the transfer of Devin Leary from NC State to replace Will Levis as the quarterback.

Additionally, Leary will have the opportunity to connect with an outstanding trio of wide receivers in Tayvion Robinson, Barion Brown, and Dane Key. Moreover, there is a sense of optimism surrounding the potential rebound of the offensive line, which struggled significantly during the previous season but has since been strengthened by the arrival of a couple of transfer players.

In contrast, defense was not a concern for Kentucky in the year 2022, as the team limited opposing offenses to a mere 19.2 points per game.

South Carolina

To continue from where they left off, the Gamecocks will rely on new play-caller Dowell Loggains to entrust more offensive control to quarterback Spencer Rattler. With a shallow running back depth, all-around threat Dakereon Joyner will need to share the ground work.

Juice Wells, a top receiver in the country, will provide a significant contribution, and there is potential for Trey Knox, a transfer from Arkansas, to emerge as a formidable threat in the tight end position. Concerns arise, however, as the offensive line is a major worry for the upcoming season after Jaylen Nichols suffered a significant injury during the spring.

Defensive signal-caller Clayton White recognizes the need for improvement in run defense, having ranked 13th in the SEC last year. Furthermore, the secondary must find a replacement for standout cornerback Cam Smith. Just like in 2022, South Carolina’s special teams are expected to play a crucial role in tightly contested matches.


Wisconsin transfer Graham Mertz had an uneven career in Madison but transferred to Gainesville for a fresh start and a chance to replace Richardson. The strength of the ’23 offense resides in the backfield with Trevor Etienne and Montrell Johnson returning. Standout guard O’Cyrus Torrence will be missed in the trenches, and the Gators also need to identify a couple of playmakers to take some of the pressure off of Ricky Pearsall at receiver.

New coordinator Austin Armstrong is tasked with improving a defense that ranked near the bottom of the SEC in yards per play allowed (5.92), points allowed (28.8) and struggled to stop the run (175.2 yards per contest). Only four starters are back, so similar to the ’22 unit, this group could be a work in progress throughout the upcoming season.


Missouri has the potential to surpass expectations this season, provided that coach Eli Drinkwitz and new play-caller Kirby Moore can enhance the offense, which averaged 24.8 points per game in the previous season. The team’s success largely hinges on the outstanding performance of their defense, which pleasantly surprised everyone in the conference last year.

Led by new coordinator Blake Baker, the defense held opponents to an average of 25.2 points per game. With the return of eight starters, a solid foundation exists on this side of the ball, including talented cornerbacks Kris Abrams-Draine and Ennis Rakestraw, as well as linebacker Ty’Ron Hopper. However, there are concerns regarding the reloading of the end position, with Trajan Jeffcoat and Isaiah McGuire departing for the NFL.

On the offensive side, Brady Cook missed spring practice due to shoulder surgery, but he is expected to make a comeback in the upcoming season as the team’s number one quarterback. Miami transfer Jake Garcia will also be pressuring for playing time. Additionally, wide receiver Luther Burden is poised to have a breakthrough season following a successful freshman campaign.

Nonetheless, for Missouri to surpass their previous year’s record of six wins, they must not only optimize the performance of Cook or Garcia at quarterback but also witness improvement in the performance of their offensive line.


Hinging on the extent of quarterback A.J. Swann’s development following a successful first year, as well as the improvement in the trenches, the key to achieving six wins and reaching the postseason lies. Despite the departure of standout running back Ray Davis, who transferred to Kentucky, Vanderbilt’s strength at receiver remains intact with the return of Jayden McGowan and Will Sheppard. For the past two seasons, Vanderbilt’s defense has consistently ranked last in the SEC in terms of points allowed, conceding an average of nearly 40 points per conference game (39.8) last autumn. Although seven starters are returning, the team will suffer a significant blow with Anfernee Orji’s departure to the NFL.

As the excitement for the SEC Football 2023 season builds, we hope you enjoyed our comprehensive preview of the East Division. From analyzing the key players to watch out for, to highlighting the potential breakout stars and top matchups, we have provided you with all the information you need to get ready for an action-packed season. Stay tuned for more updates and predictions as the kickoff approaches. Remember to visit AllNSportz for the latest news, scores, and analysis throughout the season. Let the countdown to SEC Football 2023 begin!

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