Internal affairs in the SEC

October, 8, 2008
10/08/08
11:35
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Defense continues to take center stage in the SEC, while offense remains hit and miss around the league. Auburn is searching frantically for any offensive continuity. Tennessee is searching frantically for any SEC win, and South Carolina looks like it might be making a move after a key road win at Ole Miss. Here's our "Internal Affairs" look at the conference:

Whittling down the spread: Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville insists that the Tigers are committed to the spread offense and aren't scrapping it in midseason. That said, the Tigers continue to whittle down the playbook in an effort to find something that works for them consistently. They had success in the first quarter against Vanderbilt in their two-tight end run formation, something Arkansas can expect to see more of this Saturday. The Tigers are still going to be in the shotgun a bunch, but look for more power running sets along the way.

Lightening the load: LSU has used a quicker, smaller defensive line at times this season to better be able to get to the quarterback. When the Tigers, who haven't racked up big sack numbers, go to that set, they slide Tyson Jackson inside from end to tackle and bring Rahim Alem into the game at end. With Tim Tebow's penchant for getting out of the pocket and scrambling for yardage, the Tigers may turn to that quicker lineup more than normal Saturday to try and keep him at bay. The Gators also don't have one of those bruising running games where they just keep pounding on you.

McKinley's influence: With star receiver Kenny McKinley back to full health after injuring his hamstring against Vanderbilt on Sept. 4, look for the Gamecocks to take a few more shots down the field this Saturday against Kentucky and look for them to use McKinley as that hybrid player they've been missing. Steve Spurrier even threw out there this week that the Gamecocks might run a few reverses or even fake a few, especially now that McKinley has played some and is back closer to 100 percent. They've yet to run a reverse this season, which is unusual for Spurrier's offenses.

Colquitt's back: Tennessee will welcome back punter Britton Colquitt against Georgia after a five-game suspension stemming from his drunken driving arrest back in the spring. It's no secret the Vols have struggled in the punt game, and Colquitt has the leg to be a weapon and help Tennessee with field position. He'll probably also kick off. The Vols have already had two punts blocked this season, one of those returned for a touchdown by UCLA, and also gave up a punt return for a touchdown to Florida.

Going to the zone: To help eliminate the big play, Mississippi State will likely use All-SEC free safety Derek Pegues as more of a center fielder this week against Vanderbilt. Pegues told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger that the Bulldogs were putting in more zone coverages and were going to get away from some of the man coverage with no safety help that has burned them at times this season. Mississippi State has had trouble getting to the quarterback, which has made man coverage even more difficult. The Bulldogs are 10th in the SEC with eight sacks through five games.

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