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Thursday, February 24, 2011
Stopping big plays in the SEC

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

It's that time of year when we examine a little bit of everything.

We took a look earlier this week at those offenses in the SEC that specialize in generating big plays. How about those defenses that specialize in stopping big plays?

And by big plays, we're talking about plays of 20 yards or longer.

Thanks to data supplied by ESPN's Stats & Info crew, Florida was the best team in the SEC last season at preventing big plays. In fact, the Gators have led the way in the SEC in that department each of the last two seasons and were second in the league in 2008.

Florida allowed just 32 plays of 20 yards or longer last season, which was tied for second nationally with TCU. Pittsburgh was first, as the Panthers yielded 30 big plays.

Over the last three seasons, the Gators lead the SEC with 96 plays allowed of 20 yards or longer. Tennessee is second (118), followed by Alabama (124), LSU (130) and South Carolina (135).

Here's the SEC breakdown over the last three seasons of defensive plays allowed of 20 yards or longer:

2010
1. Florida 32 -- Tied for second nationally
2. LSU 36
3. Alabama 42
4. Mississippi State 47
5. Arkansas 48
6. Georgia 51
7. Kentucky 53
8. Auburn 54
9. South Carolina 56
9. Tennessee 56
11. Vanderbilt 60
12. Ole Miss 68 -- 113th nationally

2009
1. Florida 32 -- fourth nationally
2. South Carolina 38
3. Alabama 40
4. LSU 41
4. Tennessee 41
6. Vanderbilt 44
7. Ole Miss 45
8. Auburn 52
9. Georgia 53
10. Kentucky 55
10. Mississippi State 55
12. Arkansas 61 -- Tied for 96th nationally

2008
1. Tennessee 21  -- first nationally
2. Florida 32
3. South Carolina 41
4. Alabama 42
4. Auburn 42
4. Mississippi State 42
7. Georgia 44
8. Vanderbilt 46
9. Ole Miss 52
10. LSU 53
11. Arkansas 54
12. Kentucky 59 -- tied for 91st nationally