- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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Anybody feeling a little hot? A few guys on SEC football fields were this past weekend … and a few weren’t.
It’s that time again to find out who’s hot and who’s not:
Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton: As Auburn coach Gene Chizik said after watching Newton lead his club to anther comeback win last week, “You can just read Cam’s numbers, and they speak for themselves.” If you were voting for the SEC’s Most Valuable Player four games into the season, Newton would be a runaway winner. He’s leading the league in rushing with 485 yards, already has two games in which he’s rushed for more than 170 yards and has thrown at least two touchdown passes in all four games. The Auburn offense goes as he goes, and he’s going at a record clip right now.
LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson: Every time the guy’s on the field, you’re just waiting for him to do something dynamic. He returned another punt for a touchdown last week against West Virginia and also blocked a field goal. This coming a week after he made two spectacular interceptions against Mississippi State.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier: Stephen Garcia was taking some serious licks in that Auburn game, no doubt. But going with true freshman quarterback Connor Shaw there at the end in such a tough environment on the road might have sealed the Gamecocks’ fate.
Tennessee’s field goal defense: The Vols were shredded on defense in the second half of their 32-29 double-overtime win against UAB. Good thing they played solid field goal defense. The Blazers missed five in the game.
Georgia running back Washaun Ealey: After being suspended the first week, Ealey has lost fumbles at the goal line against both Mississippi State and South Carolina. He also whiffed on a block that led to a costly sack of Aaron Murray in the Arkansas game.
Mark Richt’s seat: Three straight losses in this league would make any coach’s seat hot, even somebody who’s accomplished as much as Richt has. A loss this weekend at Colorado would take it from hot to scalding.
Ole Miss’ pass defense: The Rebels are last in the SEC in pass efficiency defense and have already given up a league-high eight touchdown passes in four games.
Alabama offensive line coach Joe Pendry: He’s one of those veteran coaches on a staff who’s invaluable, and he just keeps on churning out dominant offensive lines no matter who he loses or who he has to plug in.
Arkansas’ running game: The Hogs were held to 10 rushing yards on six carries in the fourth quarter against Georgia, but survived. They managed just 13 rushing yards on seven carries in the second half against Alabama, and it cost them in a 24-20 loss.
LSU’s quarterback situation: The Tigers are 115th nationally in passing offense, but that’s not the worst of it. LSU coach Les Miles has a dicey decision to make. Does he stick with Jordan Jefferson, who’s thrown for fewer than 100 yards in each of his past three games, or does Miles turn to Jarrett Lee, who struggled through a 16-interception season two years ago? Miles has to do something, because the Tigers’ inability to throw the football is going to catch up to them. You wonder where Jefferson’s confidence is right now. But if Miles goes with Lee, and he starts throwing interceptions again or simply doesn’t get it done, would Miles be able to go back to Jefferson after pulling him? Better yet, how would Jefferson respond? There aren’t any easy decisions at this point, but 90 yards a game passing isn’t going to cut it against some of the teams coming up on LSU’s schedule.