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Sunday, October 9, 2011
SEC helmet stickers

By Edward Aschoff

It's time to look back at the players who were truly exceptional on Saturday. We're going quarterback-heavy in this one, folks:

Todd Grantham, defensive coordinator, Georgia: Hats off to Grantham and his defense in a 20-12 win. The Bulldogs had to prepare to face one of the league's biggest arms in Tennessee's Tyler Bray. Georgia stood tall and held Bray to zero touchdowns Saturday. It was the first time in 10 games that Bray didn't have at least two touchdown passes. Georgia's defense has only given up 10 touchdowns in six games this year and held Tennessee to minus-20 rushing yards. Players are really starting to get it on defense and are playing a lot more instinctively in Grantham's 3-4 this year.

AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama: He's getting better every game and sliced up one of the league's best secondaries in Alabama's 34-0 win. Vanderbilt had allowed three passing touchdowns heading into Saturday and McCarron got four, along with 237 passing yards. He also went through the night without an interception against a defense that had 14 heading into the game. McCarron also spread the ball around more in this game, completing passes to six different targets.

Connor Shaw, QB, South Carolina: Shaw made his first start since the opener and totally turned the Gamecocks' offense around in a 54-3 win against Kentucky. Shaw finished the day with a game-high 311 yards and four touchdowns. He didn't throw an interception and threw just 13 incomplete passes. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier definitely made the right choice in benching Stephen Garcia for Shaw. The offense found a passing game and rhythm under its new quarterback.

Tramain Thomas, S, Arkansas: Thomas was a key part of an Arkansas defense that dominated Auburn's passing game in a 38-14 victory. Thomas finished the game with nine tackles and a career-high two interceptions, including a long of 48 yards. He became the first Arkansas player to have two picks in a game since 2007. This is the same Thomas who was yanked in the second half of the Alabama game because of his poor play, but he was too much for Auburn on Saturday night.

Tyler Russell, QB, Mississippi State: Russell came in after the half after Mississippi State was down 3-0 to UAB and sparked a woeful Bulldogs offense with three passing touchdowns and 166 yards to help the Bulldogs win 21-3. He completed 11 of 13 passes and didn't register a turnover. Russell was as cool as he could be out there and without him, Mississippi State might not have moved the ball much more in the second half.