Five big questions for the SEC: Johnny Football, Bama and more

Johnny Manziel (AP)

Johnny Manziel (AP)

Can Johnny be good?
Our Take: Johnny Manziel was the SEC’s most dynamic offensive player, indeed the best player in the country according to Heisman Trophy voters.
The Texas A&M quarterback, though, seems to live along the edge of controversy. Can he continue to do that without jeopardizing his playing status?

Is the SEC’s best Heisman candidate on defense?
Our Take: While Manziel finished first, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney finished sixth in last season’s Heisman voting. That was before his helmet-separating hit on a Michigan running back rocketed his popularity to another level.
The nation knows about Clowney. Will the voters make him the first full-time defensive player to win the award?

Who Can stem the Tide?
Our Take: Alabama has won three of the last four national championships and returns one of the top quarterbacks in the SEC, A.J. McCarron, to throw to one of the league’s most talented receiver groups. Key players are gone from a dominant defense, but Alabama has withstood such losses before. The first major mile-marker on the road to the SEC championship will be in College Station. The Aggies host the Tide on Sept. 14.

Which new coach will be most successful?
Our Take: All four new coaches will meet the media on Wednesday – Bret Bielema (Arkansas), Butch Jones (Tennessee), Gus Malzahn (Auburn) and Mark Stoops (Kentucky). Both Arkansas and Auburn have experienced very recent success, and both of those coaches have strong résumés. Bielema was a winner at Big Ten school Wisconsin, while Malzahn returns to the team he helped win a national title in 2010 as offensive coordinator.

Can Vandy keep this up?
Our Take: In two seasons, James Franklin has won 15 games and guided Vanderbilt to back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history. He’s energized the program and put together some strong recruiting classes, and this program appears positioned to challenge the likes of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina in the Eastern Division.

Parrish Alford, Brad Locke