SEC Football Q&A: Who Is the X-Factor for the SEC East Title Contenders?

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterMay 2, 2013

Florida QB Jeff Driskel
Florida QB Jeff DriskelKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Every Thursday on The SEC Blog, we will feature questions from the Bleacher Report inbox, Twitter and email at Q&A was pushed back to Friday this week due to NFL draft and BCS meetings coverage.

You have SEC questions, and I have SEC answers. Thank you, everybody, for your questions this week. If I didn't get to them, they will  be saved and used in the future.

And we're off:

@barrettsallee What player/unit will be the X-factor in determining which of the three SEC East heavyweights (UGA/FLA/SC) wins the division?

— DOTS (@BDohertyCFB) April 26, 2013

There are a lot of great options, but I'm going to go with Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel and the Gator passing game, because the Gators are behind Georgia and South Carolina unless that improves in 2013.

Florida's offense was incredibly one-dimensional last season, and that's going to have to change if the Gators want to get to Atlanta. Some of that is on Driskel, and some of that is due to the lack of playmakers outside.

Driskel has to improve, and he desperately needs someone to step up outside in order to do so. Quinton Dunbar has been a spring superstar for years now, but at some point, that needs to translate to the fall. Whether it's Dunbar, Andre Debose, Demarcus Robinson or someone else, Driskel needs to find someone who he can rely on to stretch the field.

If Driskel and Co. can stretch the field, Florida will be in the mix and could emerge as the favorite. If they can't, it will be Georgia and South Carolina fighting it out for the East title in 2013.

@barrettsallee will @bretbielema be able to take #Arkansas to a bowl game in his first season as the Head Hog?

— Tyler Woessner (@TylerWoessner) May 2, 2013

Man, that schedule is tough.

From Sept. 21 through Oct. 19, Arkansas plays at Rutgers, at home vs. Texas A&M, at Florida, at home vs. South Carolina and at Alabama. That could be an 0-5 stretch and result in some worn-out football players.

Bret Bielema is doing the right thing by taking the identity out of the hands of the coaching staff and putting it into the hands of his players. Arkansas' identity was Bobby Petrino's play-calling, and when Petrino wasn't there last season, things went south in a hurry. The smash-mouth style can work at Arkansas, but it's going to take time. 

Because of the transition and the schedule, making it to a bowl game will be tough. If Arkansas can win one of those five games mentioned above, I think it'll get to .500 and go bowling. Rutgers is the key game, and I think the Hogs get it done. 

But the margin for error is razor-thin.

@barrettsallee After a sluggish performance of UT QBs in spring game, do u anticipate 1 of the frosh starting some this seaz 4 Butch Jones?

— Stuart D. Davis (@stu623) May 2, 2013

No offense to incoming freshmen Joshua Dobbs or Riley Ferguson, but I don't think the time is right for either of them to become the starter this season.

Justin Worley is the favorite to win the job in my mind, mainly because he's the only Volunteer signal-caller with SEC experience under his belt.

That's important for this particular Tennessee team that is in the midst of a transition to a new coaching staff. With the SEC's top offensive line and an underrated running game led by Rajion Neal and Alden Hill, the running game is going to be Tennessee's identity regardless. So why complicate matters with an inexperienced quarterback who is more prone to mistakes?

That's the last thing Tennessee wants.

If I'm running things on Rocky Top, I'm starting Worley, occasionally working in whichever freshman quarterback doesn't redshirt and relying on the running game.

I'm a big fan of taking the path of least resistance, and that's it this season for the Vols.


Do you have a question for next week's Q&A? Send it to SEC lead writer Barrett Sallee via the B/R inbox, on Twitter @BarrettSallee or at