- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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It's time to honor those in the SEC who really impressed us Saturday night:
Ellis Johnson, defensive coordinator, South Carolina: Johnson's group had been criticized after every game up until Saturday night. The Gamecocks were constantly out of position. They couldn't tackle. They were overrated. Well, none of that was the case against Vanderbilt as the Gamecocks forced three turnovers, had a defensive touchdown, had six sacks and allowed 77 total yards of offense, including 4 net yards of rushing in a 21-3 win. Johnson's group was more aggressive and terrorized Vanderbilt's backfield all night long.
Tyrann Mathieu, cornerback, LSU: There are some that have hinted that Mathieu could be even better than former LSU star Patrick Peterson. It's still pretty early for that sort of talk, but, man, is this guy good. He truly does have a nose for the ball and he continues to step up in the biggest situations. In a 47-21 win against West Virginia, Mathieu was second on the team with six tackles (five solo), forced a fumble, recovered a fumble, had an interception and broke up a pass. He also returned three punts for 34 yards.
Jeff Demps, running back, Florida: Chris Rainey has gotten most of the attention in Florida's backfield, but Demps showed that he's still alive and kicking back there. In Florida's 48-10 rout of Kentucky, Demps carried the ball 10 times for a career-high 157 yards and had two touchdowns, including an 84-yard run. Demps is the fastest man in college football and Kentucky really struggled catching him Saturday night.
Alabama's secondary: This was a unit that watched highlights of Arkansas receivers making play after play on the TV monitors around the football facility. It was pretty easy to see why the Tide defenders were so eager to silence that Arkansas passing game. They certainly did as Arkansas had just 209 yards passing in the 38-14 Crimson Tide win, 185 of them came from starter Tyler Wilson. The Tide matched the two touchdowns it surrendered through the air with two picks of its own, including a DeQuan Menzie's 25-yard return for a touchdown off of a deflection. Alabama also had six pass breakups, three by Dre Kirkpatrick.
Isaiah Crowell, running back, Georgia: We all expected Crowell to be the guy sooner or later for the Bulldogs and this freshman can really fly. In a 27-13 win against Ole Miss, he was a total work horse, carrying the ball a career-high 30 times for a career-high 147 yards. He didn't get into the end zone, but he kept Georgia's offense going Saturday. Coach Mark Richt showed no hesitation in giving Crowell the ball over and over.
4dAlex Scarborough and Greg Ostendorf