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Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Internal affairs in the SEC


Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Let's look a little deeper, as we always do this time every week, with our Internal Affairs view of the conference:

1. Back to Auburn football: There will still be some spread principles, and it won't look exactly like it did a year ago at this time. But you can count on Auburn going back to more of its power running game Thursday night against West Virginia than we've seen all season. The Tigers had last week off to refine everything, and the biggest difference is that they're going to give their offensive linemen more chances to aggressively come off the ball and win one-on-one battles. It's Kodi Burns' show at quarterback. He won't need to be looking over his shoulder and will no doubt get a chance to use some of his running skills. But look for the Tigers to get downhill as much as possible with Ben Tate getting a lot of carries.

2. The Wild Berry: It's about that time for Tennessee. If Phillip Fulmer has any tricks up his sleeve, he better use them this week against No. 2-ranked Alabama. All eyes will be on sensational sophomore safety Eric Berry and how many touches he gets on offense. The word out of Knoxville is that he's getting some extra work on offense this week, and why not? All the guy does when he intercepts a pass is score a touchdown or set up points with a long run. He's a natural with the ball in his hands and the most explosive athlete on Tennessee's team. The Vols have to find a way to get him the ball, be it on a direct snap or some type of misdirection play. With Gerald Jones gimpy with an ankle injury, it becomes even more imperative that Berry gets the ball some on offense.

3. Bama mixing it up: Everything Tennessee quarterback Nick Stephens has seen on tape from Alabama this season, he might as well forget. The Crimson Tide will mix up coverages, disguise coverages and blitz from places they haven't all season this Saturday against the Vols. Alabama coach Nick Saban is renowned for changing it up, and you can bet he's going to do just that against a quarterback who's making only his third start against an SEC defense. The Tide are good enough defensively that they won't have to get blitz-happy. But with Stephens having so little experience, Alabama will definitely come after him and force him to make quick decisions.

4. Dusting off the Pistol: LSU unveiled "The Pistol" package last week against South Carolina, and it was a hit. The Tigers feel like they've just scratched the surface of what they can do with it, which means Georgia better be ready for a few new wrinkles out of it this Saturday. It's essentially a triple-option hybrid with Keiland Williams lining up as the deep back, Charles Scott at fullback and world-class sprinter Trindon Holliday also lining up in the backfield as another running threat. The new look has given new life to Williams, who was pretty much an afterthought during the first part of the season. But he led the Tigers with 72 rushing yards on 15 carries against the Gamecocks, far and away his busiest day of the season.

5. Florida's sprint team: You thought you saw a lot of Jeffrey Demps and Chris Rainey before the open date? Now that Urban Meyer and Dan Mullen have had the extra time to tweak things and draw up a few new formations, the Gators will find even more ways to put those guys' speed to use. The news on Rainey's shoulder came back good, which means he's ready to go. They both have the kind of game-breaking speed that opens up things for everybody else. We've also seen just a small fraction of the package that the Gators have in place for the two speedsters. Watch that package expand a bit this week against Kentucky, especially with Georgia looming in two weeks.