- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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The bell is ringing, which means it’s stock report time in the SEC:
1. LSU’s defense: Yes, the Tigers are hard to watch on offense. But they’re hard to play against on defense. John Chavis’ unit is ranked sixth nationally in total defense and leads the SEC in that category.
2. Steve Spurrier’s wit: The Head Ball Coach isn’t winning as many championships as he once did, but he hasn’t lost that sharp wit. His “sometimes you can win and still be a dummy” comment Tuesday rates up there with “you can’t spell Citrus without a ‘U’ and a ‘T.’ ”
3. A.J. Green: We’ve only seen him for one game this season, but one game was enough to re-establish the Georgia junior as the best receiver in the SEC. He made his one-handed touchdown catch last week against Colorado look easy.
4. Vick Ballard: Don’t look now, but Ballard has an SEC-leading nine touchdowns and has been Mississippi State’s go-to guy around the goal line. He’s also averaging 6.5 yards per rush.
1. Les Miles: For a guy whose team has yet to lose a football game this season, Miles is catching more heat than any coach in recent SEC history. Of course, there is that little clock thing he might want to wrap his hands around.
2. Gary Crowton: He’s LSU’s offensive coordinator and certainly doesn’t get a free pass in the Tigers’ continued mismanagement of end-of-game situations.
3. Mark Richt: He’s the dean of SEC coaches, and right now, his seat has never been hotter. Georgia has lost four straight games, and even a coach as successful as Richt may not be able to survive a losing season.
4. Tennessee’s unlucky 13: Amid all LSU’s confusion last week, Tennessee got caught up in the act and had 13 men on the field there at the end, wiping out what would have been a huge win for the Vols.
Player of the Year race: Offense
1. Cameron Newton, QB, Auburn: Catching Newton won’t be easy. He’s accounted for 17 touchdowns (12 passing and five running) and just keeps making big plays.
2. Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama: He didn’t put up big rushing numbers against Florida, but still leads the SEC with 118.3 rushing yards per game and has also scored six touchdowns in three games.
3. Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas: After a week off, Mallett gets a chance against Texas A&M to make amends for his three interceptions against Alabama. He’s still on track for another huge season.
4. Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina: He’s averaging 124.5 receiving yards per game, which leads the SEC, and is terrific after the catch.
5. Derrick Locke, RB, Kentucky: Randall Cobb gets a lot of the pub at Kentucky and deservedly so. But Locke leads the SEC in all-purpose yardage, is second in rushing and has also scored seven touchdowns.
Player of the Year race: Defense
1. Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn: The Tigers’ enforcer inside remains the SEC leader in sacks (5) and tackles for loss (11.5).
2. Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU: Not many teams throw his way, which underscores his value. He typically takes away one whole side of the field.
3. Janoris Jenkins, CB, Florida: The Gators have one of the best defensive backfields in the country, and Jenkins’ ability to cover and tackle is a big reason why.
4. Mark Barron, S, Alabama: He’s the veteran back there for the Crimson Tide in the secondary and is playing like one. He had 11 tackles last week against the Gators.
5. Drake Nevis, DT, LSU: He’s been a disrupter up front all season for the Tigers and leads all SEC interior defensive linemen with 26 total tackles.