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SEC teams' spring football outlook

Alabama (12-2)

Practice starts: March 23.

Spring game: April 18.

All eyes on: Junior Greg McElroy and redshirt freshman Star Jackson are vying to replace career passing leader John Parker Wilson. The coaches like McElroy's savvy and grasp of the offense while Jackson was a highly touted recruit rated by Rivals.com as the nation's No. 2 scrambler out of high school. Of concern for both QBs: Who will block for them and whom will they hand off to? Tailback Glen Coffee and All-America linemen Andre Smith and Antoine Caldwell are gone.

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Arkansas (5-7)

Practice starts: March 24.

Spring game: April 18.

All eyes on: After sitting out last season, transfer QB Ryan Mallett will be eligible in 2009 and is the favorite to start for the Razorbacks. Mallett gained some big-game experience during his one season at Michigan and could give coach Bobby Petrino the passer he needs to take the Arkansas offense to another level in his second season. Nathan Dick, who started a couple games at QB last year, has transferred.

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Auburn (5-7)

Practice starts: March 24.

Spring game: April 18.

All eyes on: Gus Malzahn's offense, which was one of the nation's most potent the past two seasons at Tulsa. Some of the playmaking receivers the Tigers are counting on to help make the no-huddle attack go won't arrive until the fall as freshmen. Inconsistent QB Kodi Burns will try to put a stranglehold on the starting job before freshman Tyrik Rollison arrives. One offensive battle that has its biggest contenders in place for the spring: Running back, where Mario Fannin, Ben Tate and newcomer Onterrio McCaleb are vying for the job.

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Florida (13-1)

Practice starts: March 25.

Spring game: April 18.

All eyes on: Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps, Deonte Thompson and anyone else trying to fill Percy Harvin's role in the offense. Harvin was the only Florida player who left early for the NFL, leaving the national champions with few holes to fill heading into 2009. The Gators return their entire two-deep roster on defense, so much of the focus this spring will be on solidifying both offensive tackle positions and replacing Harvin, receiver Louis Murphy and tight end Cornelius Ingram.

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Georgia (10-3)

Practice starts: March 17.

Spring game: April 11.

All eyes on: The Bulldogs must replace QB Matthew Stafford, expected to be one of the top picks in the NFL draft, and RB Knowshon Moreno, who also left school early to turn pro. Fifth-year senior Joe Cox has patiently waited to his chance to run the offense, and Georgia hopes he'll duplicate the success of another quarterback who didn't start until his final year, D.J. Shockley. Caleb King and Richard Samuel are the leading contenders to replace the spectacular Moreno.

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Kentucky (7-6)

Practice starts: April 1.

Spring Game: April 25.

All eyes on: QB Mike Hartline. The junior-to-be spent the sophomore season gaining, then losing, then regaining by default, the starting job. He played well enough in the Liberty Bowl to help the Wildcats win a third straight bowl game for the first time in program history, but he's hardly a dynamic playmaker. He'll need to show marked improvement or he could be challenged by freshman Morgan Newton when training camp begins. The 6-4, 218-pound Newton possesses the size and mobility that Kentucky hopes will help the offense get back to Andre Woodson-level of production.

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LSU (8-5)

Practice starts: March 12.

Spring game: April 18.

All eyes on: QB Jordan Jefferson's strong performance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl gave him the inside track to become LSU's starter in his sophomore season. But Jarrett Lee, who lost the job to injury late last season, will look to prove he deserves another chance in what will be his redshirt sophomore season. It also remains to be seen what kind of changes new defensive coordinator John Chavis will bring to a unit that was much maligned last season for giving up many more big plays than LSU fans were accustomed to seeing.

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Mississippi (9-4)

Practice starts: March 26.

Spring game: April 18.

All eyes on: The Rebels have to replace a pair of All-Americans along the line of scrimmage who had a hand in Ole Miss' ascent to No. 14 last year. Backup Bradley Sowell and junior-college transfer Logan Clair have the best shot to replace Michael Oher at left tackle, though prized recruit Bobbie Massie could play a role in that decision come August. On defense, Ted Laurent and Jerrell Powe factor in the race to replace DT Peria Jerry.

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Mississippi State (4-8)

Practice starts: March 24.

Spring game: April 18 .

All eyes on: Coach Dan Mullen's new playbook will be unveiled during spring practice, but it's not likely to be the full package. The Bulldogs don't have enough wide receivers on the roster to really show off the offense till fall when six of Mullen's seven WR signees arrive. The team also is waiting for future QB Tyler Russell to enroll. Until then, the job is Tyson Lee's to lose.

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South Carolina (7-6)

Practice starts: March 3.

Spring game: April 11.

All eyes on: QB Stephen Garcia s hoping to make it through his first full spring working with the Gamecocks. The former high-school phenom enrolled early two years ago, then was suspended after two run ins with authorities. Garcia opened last March with high hopes, but was suspended again after a ticket for underage drinking. Coach Steve Spurrier needs Garica to behave because the two other QBs with experience from last year — Chris Smelley and Tommy Beecher — left the program.

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Tennessee (5-7)

Practice starts: March 10.

Spring game: April 18.

All eyes on: New Vols coach Lane Kiffin says seniority won't mean a thing for returning players, who must compete with his first class of recruits for positions. A top priority is for Tennessee to work out the quarterback problems that plagued it throughout the rocky 2008 season. It's still a competition among senior Jonathan Crompton, junior Nick Stephens and sophomore B.J. Coleman.

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Vanderbilt (7-6)

Practice starts: March 10.

Spring game: March 28.

All eyes on: The Commodores return 19 starters back from their first bowl victory — or game — in 26 years. But coach Bobby Johnson has to replace All-SEC cornerback D.J. Moore and see if Mackenzi Adams can hold off Larry Smith at quarterback, a position so unsettled in 2008 that it cost Vandy a couple extra wins. The search to replace K Bryant Hahnfeldt also starts.

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