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Thursday, August 21, 2008
SEC in the headlines: Georgia's Southerland on the mend


Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

A final thought before putting Arkansas in my rear-view mirror: One of coach Bobby Petrino's concerns as the season opener bears down on the Hogs is that more guys step forward as leaders and not hover in the background. After sitting down with senior center Jonathan Luigs on Wednesday, there's no doubt in my mind that he will be one of those leaders. Why is it that the offensive linemen are typically the most grounded, most team-oriented guys? Luigs is the most accomplished player on the team after winning the Rimington Trophy as the nation's most outstanding center last season, but he's also among the hungriest when it comes to team goals. In a year when the SEC is loaded with terrific linemen, Luigs is one of the best -- both on and off the field. You win with people like him.

While waiting to catch my plane to Nashville to check in on the Vanderbilt Commodores, here's a quick run through the conference:

* The Bulldogs are hoping to get fullback Brannan Southerland back a little early from his fractured left foot, possibly in time for the trip to Arizona State.

* Starting jobs are still up in the air in LSU's secondary. It appears as if the Tigers will have a handful of younger players manning the cornerback spots.

* Tennessee will hold its final preseason scrimmage on Thursday, and Knoxville News-Sentinel beat reporter Drew Edwards takes a look at five things to watch as the Vols point toward their Sept. 1 opener at UCLA.

* With injuries mounting, Ole Miss is doing its best to hold up in the defensive line, which was once a strength and will be again once the Rebels get all of their players back.

* The Gainesville Sun's Robbie Andreu takes a look at the nine true freshmen expected to play for the Gators in the season opener against Hawaii.

* Is this the year Auburn receiver James Swinton has his breakout season? The Tigers sure hope so.