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Top 5 SEC scoring offenses heading into 2016

Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin is ready for 2016: Marvin Gentry- USA TODAY Sports

When one thinks of the Southeastern Conference, its exceptional defense is the first thing that comes to mind. Defense wins championships, but it takes balance on offense to win games.

A potent offense is what makes a stingy defense even more appreciative in college football. The SEC as a whole averaged 28.2 points/game in 2015, with six schools posting 30+ points a game.

It returns three to four experienced quarterbacks; however, the talent at running back, wide receiver and tight end all will serve as the premiere positions for the conference in the fall.

Listed below is a breakdown of the top five SEC scoring offenses returning in 2016.

5. LSU Tigers 

  • Offensive coordinator: Cam Cameron
  • 2015 record: 9-3, (5-3 SEC play)
  • Points per game: 32.8

Summary: Who wants to help Leonard Fournette?

It’s a question that all Tiger fans desire to have answered next season. Despite the decent play from quarterbacks at LSU, JaMarcus Russell stands as the lone one that ignited fear in the hearts of opposition. Anthony Jennings left the program in pursuit of a transfer to start the offseason.

Brandon Harris was considered one of the nation’s top quarterback prospects in 2014; however, he struggles with processing action on the field. The rising junior threw for 2,158 passing yards and 13 touchdowns a year ago, but LSU leaned more toward Fournette in marquee games.

Regardless of losing John Diarse and Trey Quinn to transfers, the Tigers return its main “go to” targets in Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural. Dupre had a strong sophomore year, collecting 698 receiving yards and six touchdowns on 43 catches in 2015.

Being one-dimensional on offense really hurt Les Miles’ group in the month of November, as it was outscored 99-47 in its losses to Alabama (30-16), Arkansas (31-14) and Ole Miss (38-17).

Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was able to work wonders in the National Football League with Phillip Rivers (San Diego Chargers, 2002-06) and Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens, 2008-12), but can he bring firepower to the Bayou? He will have another chance to perform in the fall.

4. Alabama Crimson Tide 

  • Offensive coordinator: Lane Kiffin
  • 2015 record: 14-1, (8-1 SEC play)
  • Points per game: 35.1

Summary: Lane Kiffin has proven that he can work with any type of quarterback.

In two seasons, he’s molded both Blake Sims and Jacob Coker into 3,000-yard passers.

Coker, who transferred to Alabama from Florida State in 2014, was able to throw for 3,110 passing  yards and 21 touchdowns in the Crimson Tide’s 2015 national championship season.

Coach Nick Saban will be without his top two running backs for the first time in his career, nevertheless, Tide fans have high hopes for sophomores Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harrris.

Alabama returns a veteran offensive line, headlined by left tackle Cameron Robinson and a roster full of talented receivers. After being underused for much of 2015, tight end O.J. Howard came through in the College Football Playoff. He brought in eight receptions for 267 yards and two touchdowns combined against Michigan State (Cotton Bowl) and Clemson (CFB title game).

A four-man battle will determine the quarterback race, but Alabama has enough talent around that position to be successful.

3. Tennessee Volunteers 

  • Offensive coordinator: Mike DeBord
  • 2015 record: 9-4, (5-3 SEC play)
  • Points per game: 35.2

Summary: Next season will be an all or nothing year for the Volunteers.

Tennessee returns arguably the most experienced quarterback in Joshua Dobbs, who accounted for 2,291 passing yards, 671 rushing yards and 26 total touchdowns in 13 games last season.

A combination of Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara in the backfield should provide Dobbs with more opportunities to be lethal in the pass game. Hurd, a junior, ripped off 1,288 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on 277 carries in 2015. He averaged 99.08 yards/game in 13 games.

Wide receiver could be an area of concern for the Volunteers, but it does return Josh Malone, Josh Smith, Preston Williams and tight end Ethan Wolfe. Malone led the quartet in receiving a year ago with 405 yards and two touchdowns on 31 catches in 13 games. Hurd and Kamara both showed that they can be dangerous as pass catchers too. Hurd totaled 190 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

All four of Tennessee’s losses in 2015 came by an average of 4.3 points. Fans expected double digit wins and a shot at an SEC title for head coach Butch Jones and company in the fall.

2. Arkansas Razorbacks 

  • Offensive coordinator: Dan Enos
  • 2015 record: 8-5, (5-3 SEC play)
  • Points per game: 35.9

Summary: Former Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen had one stellar year, prior to being taken by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

He spent his fifth year under offensive coordinator Dan Enos, who came to Arkansas in 2015 after five seasons at Central Michigan (2010-14). He molded Allen into being an NFL quarterback, as he totaled 3,440 passing yards and 30 touchdowns on a 60.1 percent completion mark.

The talk around Fayetteville (Ark.) is that USC transfer Ricky Town is expected to start. The competition will be interesting with Town, Rafe Peavy and Allen’s brother, Austin Allen.

Arkansas, like Alabama, will not have its top two rushers next season.

Kody Walker and Rawleigh Williams, III are expected to carry the load. Walker, a senior, did record 394 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 90 attempts in nine games last year.

Whoever lines up under center for Hogs will have its pick of the litter on the outside.

Arkansas returns Drew Morgan, Keon Hatcher, Cody Hollister, Dominique Reed and Jared Cornelius at wide receiver. Morgan exploded onto the scene in 2015 with 843 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Home-field advantage will serve the Razorbacks well in October and November, as it hosts Alabama, Ole Miss, LSU and Florida at D.W.R. Razorback Stadium. If Arkansas stays healthy during the early months of college football, it will be a dangerous team to mess with later on.

1. Mississippi Rebels 

  • Offensive coordinator: Dan Werner
  • 2015 record: 10-3, (6-2 SEC play)
  • Points per game: 40.8

Summary: Rebels’ quarterback Chad Kelly went from East Mississippi Community College to leading Ole Miss to its first 10-win season in 2015. He decided to forgo the 2016 NFL Draft and return to Oxford for his senior year. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound signal-caller accounted 4,042 passing yards and 31 touchdowns on a 65.1 percent completion rating in 13 games last year.

A steady rotation of backs and Kelly’s ability to run on the edge makes up for Mississippi not having a primary back. Akeem Judd, Jordan Wilkins and Eugene Brazley all return this fall.

Ole Miss’ rotation at wide receiver took a hit with Laquon Treadwell and Cody Core now in the NFL, but it returns Damore’ea Stringfellow, Markell Pack, Qunicy Adeboyejo and tight end, Evan Engram.

Adeboyejo led the group in receiving last year with 604 yards and seven scores.

The Rebels will host Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and Mississippi State at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in 2016. It will also get a chance to exercise vengeance against Memphis—the program that handed Ole Miss one of its three blemishes a year ago.

Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @Smsmith_TDALMag.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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