Atlanta sports, Braves, Falcons, Hawks, Tech, Thrashers, UGA news | ajc.com Ranking SEC’s best new assistants By Tony Barnhart | Thursday, July 19, 2007, 08:23 AM The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Every school needs some new blood on its coaching staff from time to time. New coaches bring new ideas and new energy. Here are five assistants who will be with their respective SEC programs for the first time this season and should have an immediate impact on their teams and on the league. On Friday we’ll do the ACC. 1. Major Applewhite, offensive coordinator, Alabama. Rice went to its first bowl game since 1961 last season because few teams could figure out how to stop the Owls’ spread offense. Applewhite’s offense gained the third most yards (4,486) in school history. Applewhite turns 29 years old on July 26 and is considered one of the rising stars in the coaching profession. Alabama scored only 20 touchdowns in 53 trips inside the red zone last season. Applewhite will change that. 2. Gary Crowton, offensive coordinator, LSU. With Jimbo Fisher’s departure to Florida State and with QB JaMarcus Russell gone to the NFL, a lot of people think the LSU offense will sag in 2007. Crowton is a former head coach at BYU and Louisiana Tech and has been an offensive coordinator at Oregon, Georgia Tech, and the Chicago Bears. The guy knows offense and will bring in some things that SEC opponents have not seen. 3. Stacy Searels, offensive line coach, Georgia. The Bulldogs have not had a dominating offensive line since the 2002 SEC championship team. With the quality Georgia has at running back, it should not be seventh in the SEC in rushing (127.4). Pat Dye won all of those games at Auburn because his offensive and defensive lines were bigger, faster, meaner, and stronger than most of the people the Tigers played. Searels was an All-America offensive lineman for Dye in 1987. He knows what a good offensive line looks like. 4. David Lee, offensive coordinator, Arkansas. This will not be a popular pick with Hogs fans who feel offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn was run out of town. But Lee, who has spent the last three seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, will make an impact because he has to. The Razorbacks have the best running back in the country (Darren McFadden) and the best backup too (Felix Jones). Marcus Monk is a great receiver. Even with Casey Dick at quarterback, Lee has to find a way to make the pieces fit. 5. John Thompson, defensive coordinator, Ole Miss. Thompson, a journeyman defensive coordinator, has to make a positive impact on the Ole Miss defense because the Rebels can’t get much worse. Ole Miss was 11th in the SEC in total defense (353.9 ypg) last season and gave up 22.9 points per game. The rap on Thompson is that his defenses rely too heavily on stunts and blitzes that put his players in position to get burned. But if you don’t have enough athletes, you have to improvise.