SEC: Ben Jones

SEC viewer's guide: Week 13

November, 21, 2014
Nov 21
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Saturday feels a little like the calm before the storm in the SEC. There are eight games on the docket, including a couple of intriguing matchups, and yet everybody is already talking about the rivalry games next week.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Here’s a preview of this Saturday’s slate. All times ET.

Noon

Eastern Kentucky at Florida, SEC Network: It might be a bit strange to see Will Muschamp on the sideline Saturday considering he won’t be back at Florida next season, but he’s staying on to coach the team’s last two regular-season games. How will the players respond to a coach who’s on his way out? Based on Dante Fowler Jr.'s tweet this week, I'd expect them to come out and play hard for their coach. Also, the Gators become bowl eligible with a win.

South Alabama at South Carolina, ESPN3: Raise your hand if you had South Alabama becoming bowl eligible before South Carolina this season. If your hand is raised, you’re lying. Credit the job Joey Jones has done in his sixth season with the Jaguars, but don’t expect an upset on Saturday. The Gamecocks bounced back from that excruciating overtime loss to Tennessee with a solid, come-from-behind win in the Swamp last weekend.

Charleston Southern at No. 10 Georgia, SEC Network: If there was ever a week to give Nick Chubb a break, this would be it. With Todd Gurley out for the season, Chubb is once again the man in Georgia’s backfield, but fellow freshman Sony Michel is expected to return Saturday, and both he and Brendan Douglas should see plenty of carries. All three backs could be in for a big day against the Buccaneers.

[+] EnlargeBo Wallace
Troy Taormina/USA TODAY SportsBo Wallace and Ole Miss will have a tough matchup Saturday against an Arkansas defense fresh off a shutout win over LSU.
3:30 p.m.

No. 8 Ole Miss at Arkansas, CBS: After last weekend, Ole Miss still has a chance to win the SEC West. Auburn knocking off Alabama isn’t likely, but crazier things have happened. First, though, the Rebels have to take care of business Saturday against an Arkansas team that is dangerous at home and confident after winning its first conference game in over two years. The Razorbacks allowed a total of 31 points to Alabama, Mississippi State and LSU this season. That doesn’t bode well for Bo Wallace, who will be without top target Laquon Treadwell. With rain in the forecast, points might be hard to come by in this one.

4 p.m.

Western Carolina at No. 1 Alabama, SEC Network: The Alabama basketball team had trouble with the Catamounts earlier this week, but I don’t expect much of a struggle for the football team on Saturday. Western Carolina might be a “good little team,” as Nick Saban put it, but the Crimson Tide have dominated all three previous meetings and should do the same this season. If anything, it will give us another look at backup quarterback Jake Coker.

7 p.m.

Samford at No. 14 Auburn, ESPNU: There are a lot of connections between these two in-state schools. Samford coach Pat Sullivan won a Heisman Trophy at Auburn back in 1971. Samford assistant coach Kodi Burns played and coached at Auburn. And Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee spent a year at Samford before joining Gus Malzahn at Arkansas State. The game itself won’t be very entertaining, but it should get the Tigers back on track.

7:30 p.m.

No. 20 Missouri at Tennessee, ESPN: Missouri has to lose, right? There’s no way the Tigers can get back to Atlanta for the second straight season. Consider this -- Gary Pinkel’s team has won 12 of its past 14 conference games and has won nine straight road games, including seven straight in the SEC. Maybe it’s time we start taking this team seriously. The Tigers are going to have their hands full Saturday against a Tennessee team on the rise. The Volunteers have won back-to-back games with Joshua Dobbs under center, and a win over Missouri would make them bowl eligible for the first time since 2010.

Vanderbilt at No. 4 Mississippi State, SEC Network: Dan Mullen was a happy man Tuesday when the latest College Football Playoff rankings came out, as his Bulldogs were still among the four playoff teams despite losing to Alabama the week before. Now the question is: Can they stay in the top four and hold off teams such as TCU, Ohio State and Baylor? Mississippi State has two chances left to impress the committee, beginning with Saturday’s tilt against the Commodores. It’s important the Bulldogs not only win, but win big.

Opening preseason camp: Georgia

August, 1, 2012
8/01/12
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Schedule: The Bulldogs' first practice is on Thursday, and their first day in pads on Aug. 6. They open the season on Sept. 1 at home against Buffalo.

Returning starters: Six on offense and 10 on defense.

Star power: Linebacker Jarvis Jones became an instant celebrity during his first year in the SEC in 2011, as he led the conference in tackles for loss (19.5) and sacks (13.5)

New faces: With the loss of running back Isaiah Crowell, incoming freshman Todd Gurley will be counted on a lot more during preseason camp. It looks like the Bulldogs will have a running game by committee again. Freshman offensive lineman John Theus arrives with a chance to battle for a starting role this fall and linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons could get a chance to play multiple positions, including receiver, for the Bulldogs this fall.

Don’t forget about: Senior wide receiver Marlon Brown arrived years ago with a ton of hype attached to his name. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, he never really reached his potential. But this spring his coaches and teammates were more impressed than ever with Brown's play. He seemed to take a major step in his game and with Malcolm Mitchell getting time at cornerback, Brown will be relied more than ever this fall.

Big shoes to fill: Longtime starting center Ben Jones is gone and that means the construction of Georgia's line could rely on new center David Andrews. The sophomore came out of spring as the starter in the middle, but he was far from perfect during practice. If he can't hold his job that could mean the Bulldogs have to do even more reshuffling with the offensive line, starting with Chris Burnette moving from right guard to center. More movement on an offensive line that wreaks of inexperience is something the staff doesn't want because it could set the offense back.

Key battles: Even if Crowell was on the team, the Bulldogs would still have a pretty exciting battle at running back. Gurley joins true freshman Keith Marshall, senior Richard Samuel, who moved back from fullback, and sophomore Ken Malcome. Georgia would like to find one back to rely on, but none of these players has proved he can be that guy. Also, with Mitchell getting time at corner, Georgia will be looking to find someone to complement Tavarres King. Outside of Brown, there are a slew of players, including Michael Bennett, Chris Conley and Rantavious Wooten, who will be vying for time this fall.

Rising star: Marshall has received a lot of attention since he arrived in Athens this spring, but there's another youngster to keep an eye on in fall camp: redshirt freshman wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley. He sat out last season, but came alive this spring. He's a track star and is extremely athletic. Quarterback Aaron Murray said during the spring that Scott-Wesley has true big-play potential and should get plenty of chances to show his stuff this fall.

Bottom line: The Bulldogs return just about everyone who helped them go to the SEC championship game for the first time since 2005. They were picked to win the SEC Eastern Division at media days and they should begin the season as a top-10 team. However, off-field issues this spring will likely have four key defensive starters out for the first part of the season and Crowell is now at Alabama State. Overall, Georgia has the talent to make an SEC title run, and maybe more, but will these distractions and the hype be too much for the Dawgs?

DawgNation links: OL Kublanow commits

May, 23, 2012
5/23/12
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Kipp Adams writes Insider: Talented O-lineman Brandon Kublanow has long considered an offer from UGA to be a dream, but a host of other programs thought the same of him. He took his time through the recruiting process, but followed his heart Wednesday and became a Bulldog.

video Adams Insider: Super competitive, strong and intense, Kublanow will afford Georgia great versatility on the O-line. It also doesn’t hurt that his HS coach says Kublanow is the best lineman he has seen in 16 years of coaching.

Video interview: Brandon Kublanow

DawgNation Roundtable Insider: UGA tied for the second biggest NFL class in the 2012 draft, and it could've been bigger. Who among the newest Bulldogs to go pro will have a banner career?

DawgNation links: Roundtable

March, 21, 2012
3/21/12
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DawgNation Roundtable Insider: Malcolm Mitchell's position switch from receiver to cornerback -- the right move?

David Ching Insider: Isaiah Crowell Q&A. The star RB has set the bar early and high, aiming for a Heisman and a national championship.

Ching: O is for opportunity on an O-line that has a lot of immediate needs that must be addressed this spring.

Radi Nabulsi photo gallery: UGA practice, Day 1

Opening spring camp: Georgia

March, 20, 2012
3/20/12
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Schedule: Georgia begins spring practice March 20 and concludes with the G-Day Game, 2 p.m. ET April 14 at Sanford Stadium.

What's new: For the first time in a long time, the Bulldogs enter spring ball without any coaching changes. Georgia let its coaches know how much the 2011 season meant by giving extensions to head coach Mark Richt and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. The Bulldogs also went through mat drills before spring practice, something they didn't do last year. Georgia welcomed three early enrollees in running back Keith Marshall, quarterback Faton Bauta and junior college offensive lineman Mark Beard.

On the mend: Wide receiver Chris Conley could be limited this spring with a wrist injury. Also, outside linebacker/defensive end Sterling Bailey had foot surgery in December and could be limited. Receiver Rantavious Wooten is coming off of a season in which he battled concussion symptoms for most of the year after being in a car accident, but he's expected to be completely recovered this spring.

On the move: One of the biggest moves in the SEC revolves around receiver Malcolm Mitchell. After quite the freshman season, Mitchell will work at cornerback this spring, because Georgia's numbers there are so low. Mitchell was one of the best in the conference at receiver in 2011, but with Georgia needing more help at cornerback, he could see more playing time on defense rather than offense this fall. Bailey was listed as an outside linebacker last season, but there's a chance that he could move to defensive end this spring. Ray Drew will also get more reps at defensive end, after playing outside linebacker last fall. He's likely to get more reps than Bailey, considering he played more and Bailey is recovering from surgery. Richard Samuel, who moved back to running back from linebacker last fall, could get reps at fullback as well.

Questions: The cornerback spot will be very thin heading into the 2012 season. Thanks to attrition, dismissals and suspensions, Mitchell moved to corner. There is starting experience, but depth is an issue, and Sander Commings has been suspended for the first two games. With Commings and Branden Smith the only vets, Georgia will have to rely on youngsters will little experience this spring. Damian Swann, Devin Bowman and Blake Sailors will have to grow up fast. The offensive line lost starters Cordy Glenn, Ben Jones and Justin Anderson, and returns zero seniors this season. All 14 who will partake in spring practice are underclassmen. The good news is that there is depth, and a lot of players can play different positions, but it's a pretty inexperienced group. Chris Burnette, Kenarious Gates and Dallas Lee all started games last season, but they'll have to coach up a lot of younger players this spring. And you can't forget about the running back spot. Isaiah Crowell has vowed to work harder, and has had the most time since he arrived to be healthy, so a big spring is expected. He'll need it, with Marshall on campus and ready to see a lot some time this fall.

Getting defensive: The Bulldogs return nine defensive starters from a unit that ranked fifth nationally last season. Those returners include the SEC's top sack man in linebacker Jarvis Jones. Complementing Jones on what is arguably the SEC's top linebacking unit are Alec Oglreetree, Cornelius Washington, and Mike Gilliard. The massive John Jenkins is back at nose guard, and Abry Jones, who is coming off a solid 2011, is back at end. There certainly are questions in the secondary, but having starters Bacarri Rambo, Shawn Williams, Smith, and eventually Commings, will help tremendously

Don't forget about: With defense being in Mitchell's future, Georgia's offense will take a hit, but the Bulldogs aren't without bodies at receiver. Mitchell is easily Georgia's best receiver, but there is still some good talent behind him. Tavarres King hopes his bowl performance is a springboard for this season. He didn't put up stellar numbers, but became a more reliable target in the second half of the season. Then you have Michael Bennett, who really came on as a third option at receiver, catching 32 passes and five touchdowns. Conley will be limited, but proved to be a trusted target last season. Of course, Wooten and Marlon Brown are still looking to put everything together, but time is ticking for these two vets. It's time for them to step up this spring, and the coaches feel both have the physical tools and understand the offense enough to make it happen.

Breaking out: Brown appears to be the healthiest he's been since arriving in Athens. The coaches have been waiting and waiting for him to step up and be a force in the passing game, but he's been so off-and-on during his career. He enters the spring with high expectations from the coaching staff, and his quarterback, Aaron Murray, has a lot of confidence in him. Tight ends Jay Rome and Arthur Lynch are players who could break through this spring, especially with Mitchell working on defense. Rome and Lynch will be looking to replace Orson Charles' production. Running back Ken Malcolme is another player to keep an eye on. His attitude has changed, and he will push to be the second or third running back. Defensively, linebacker Cornelius Washington is another players the coaches hope elevates his play this spring and finally reaches his potential.

All eyes on: Murray is coming off two seasons in which he broke Georgia passing records, but the redshirt junior still hears some criticism. His play in big games has been called into question because of the mistakes he's made. Georgia opened the season with two losses against ranked teams, and ended the season that way. In Murray's past four games, he threw eight touchdowns and six interceptions, including two interceptions in the SEC title-game loss against LSU, and two in the Outback Bowl loss to Michigan State. Improving the little things and trusting those around him more will help Murray tremendously this spring. He'll also have the responsibility of making sure this team is mentally ready for all the hype and the spotlight that will come with a team that will surely be a favorite in the SEC East this fall.

DawgNation links: Tramel Terry recommits

March, 6, 2012
3/06/12
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Kipp Adams writes Insider: After he committed to UGA last summer, wide receiver Tramel Terry faced backlash in his home state of South Carolina. He took a step back to reconsider, but finally realized his heart is with Georgia.

David Ching writes Insider: Former UGA tight end Orson Charles has taken stock of where tight ends are typically selected in the NFL draft. He is determined to stay patient and work hard. And, he says, “I just want a job.”

Radi Nabulsi writes Insider: 2013 DT Montravius Adams enjoyed his Athens visit.

Radi Nabulsi: UGA pro day photo gallery.

Ching writes Insider: DeAngelo Tyson hopes he turned heads at pro day.

DawgNation links: Team mailbag

March, 5, 2012
3/05/12
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Radi Nabulsi writes Insider: In this week's team mailbag, DawgNation addresses pressing questions from our Insiders about who might change positions or double up on positions, how the backup QB situation will shake out, and making second-half corrections.

David Ching writes Insider: Quick pro day observations from Athens.

Kipp Adams writes Insider: The Georgia Bulldogs' first Very Important Dawg Day in review.

DawgNation links: Prospect finds discipline

February, 23, 2012
2/23/12
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Radi Nabulsi writes Insider: Not taking care of business while hoping for a college football career landed OL Trenton Brown at Georgia Military College. The disciplined lifestyle there has helped the promising lineman turn a corner he hopes will lead him to an FBS career.

with
Video: Brown interview

David Ching writes: A DawgNation primer for the eight former Georgia Bulldogs showing off their skills this week at the NFL combine in Indianapolis.

SEC players invited to NFL combine

February, 7, 2012
2/07/12
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The NFL has released its list of invites to this years NFL combine. Of the more than 300 prospects taking part in the pre-draft shenanigans starting Feb. 22, 62 are from the SEC (for fun we are including Missouri and Texas A&M).

Here are the SEC representatives: School breakdown:
  • Alabama: 9
  • Arkansas: 4
  • Auburn: 3
  • Florida: 3
  • Georgia: 8
  • Kentucky: 2
  • LSU: 8
  • Missouri: 4
  • Mississippi State: 4
  • Ole Miss: 2
  • South Carolina: 5
  • Tennessee: 2
  • Texas A&M: 6
  • Vanderbilt: 2
The first batch of big uglies are on the ranking slab Monday. No offense can operate without offensive linemen and the SEC has its share of talented big men.

Here's a look at our preseason rankings when it came to offensive lines. Let's just say we overestimated when it came to a couple of groups.

Here's what we though of after the 2011 season:

1. Alabama: The Crimson Tide line pushed around its opponents all year long. Alabama was first in the SEC in rushing (and had the Doak Walker winner in Trent Richardson) and averaged 5.5 yards per carry. Alabama was equipped with Outland Trophy winner Barrett Jones, who played just about every position up front and the top SEC in William Vlachos. Alabama got tremendous play out of D.J. Fluker and got a pleasant surprise out of Alfred McCullough. Alabama ranked first in the league by allowing just 17 sacks.

2. LSU: The Tigers' offense went as its running game went. And for 13 games the running game was great. The offensive line should take a lot of credit for that. With two Associated Press All-SEC members -- Will Blackwell and Chris Faulk -- LSU averaged 200.9 rushing yards against conference foes. Alex Hurst should also become a more familiar name in 2012. LSU allowed just 18 sacks and totaled only 234 negative rushing yards.

3: South Carolina: South Carolina put only one player on the All-SEC list, in Rokevious Watkins, but the Gamecocks' line had a pretty good season. Even after losing top running back Marcus Lattimore midway through the season, South Carolina finished the season third in the SEC in total rushing and rushing against conference opponents. South Carolina had to deal with Kyle Nunn's absence for most of the year as well, but found a budding star in A.J. Cann. Pass protection dipped, as South Carolina allowed 30 sacks.

4. Georgia: Before the season, the offensive line seemed to be held together by tape, but this line stayed together nicely through 14 games. The Bulldogs were fifth in the conference in rushing against SEC foes and had two All-SEC performers in Cordy Glenn, who might be a first-round draft pick, and center Ben Jones. Where Georgia's line came up short was in pass protection, as the Bulldogs were 11th in the league allowing 33 sacks.

5. Vanderbilt: The Commodores didn't put anyone on the All-SEC teams, but there's no question that this was the most improved line in 2011. Wesley Johnson proved to be one of the most underrated linemen in the league and the Commodores' offense was much more explosive than past years. Vandy was sixth in the league in rushing and had the league's No. 3 rusher in Zac Stacy. The Commodores gave up 18 sacks in SEC games.

6. Arkansas: The Razorbacks were dealing with a young line, but saw improvements as the season went on. Without Knile Davis in the lineup, the running backs were pretty inconsistent individually, but the Hogs averaged 134.3 yards in conference games. In each of Arkansas' two losses, the Razorbacks averaged just 32 rushing yards. Alvin Bailey was a second-team All-SEC member and should be star in 2012. Arkansas allowed 28 sacks, but also allowed quarterback Tyler Wilson take some punishing hits throughout the year.

7. Auburn: The Tigers could run the ball for most of the year. Auburn was fourth in the league in rushing and averaged 4.1 yards per carry against SEC play. Michael Dyer finished the year second in the league with 1,242 yards. Brandon Mosley was the only returning starter, but the Tigers got solid play out of freshman center Reese Dismukes and saw the reemergence of A.J. Greene after injury cut his 2010 season short. However, Auburn's passing game and pass protection struggled. The Tigers gave up 32 sacks in 2011 and were overwhelmed by more athletic defensive lines.

8. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs had to deal with a rash of injuries along their offensive line in 2011. Tobias Smith went out early and the Bulldogs watched as Quentin Saulsberry and James Carmon deal with injuries toward the beginning of the season. The Bulldogs were able to deliver a 1,000-yard running back in Vick Ballard, but ranked ninth in the league in rushing against SEC teams. Mississippi State gave up just under two sacks a game.

9. Tennessee: This was supposed to be a strong point for the Vols last fall, but Tennessee struggled all year to run the ball. The Vols ranked 116th nationally in rushing and averaged just 63.5 yards per game in SEC play. While Tennessee never generated much of a running game last season, its pass protection was one of the best in the league. The Vols gave up just 18 sacks on the season, despite playing three different quarterbacks.

10. Florida: The Gators experienced another year of sub par line play in 2011. With a relatively young group up front, Florida really struggled to provide much comfort in the pocket for its quarterbacks and rarely outplayed opposing SEC defensive lines. Florida's line was also flagged a bunch last fall. Florida gave up just 23 sacks, but 21 came in SEC play and Florida averaged just 3.8 yards per carry and scored nine rushing touchdowns against SEC defenses.

11. Kentucky: Before the season, we thought the Wildcats would be much higher on this list, especially considering the fact that they returned four starters. However, injuries ruined Kentucky up front. Larry Warford was Kentucky's best lineman, but for the first part of the season, the Wildcats failed to play its five original starters because of injuries. Kentucky gave up 21 sacks through the first five games and gave up a league-high 35 sacks on the year. The Wildcats also ranked 11th in the league in rushing.

12. Ole Miss:
Here's another line that returned so much but did so little last fall. We look pretty silly now after ranking Ole Miss' line second in our preseason rankings because the Rebels' line didn't do much protecting all year. Ole Miss' line didn't have the injury issues that Kentucky had and was still 10th in the SEC in rushing and scored just four rushing touchdowns in league play. The Rebels also gave up 31 sacks on the season, with a league-high 26 coming against SEC defenses.
Now that you've seen the recruiting needs for the SEC Western Division teams, it's time to check what teams in the East needed to focus on when it came to recruiting for the 2012 class:

FLORIDA

Offensive line: There's no getting around how much Florida's offensive line struggled in 2011. Florida doesn't lose a lot from its line, but the Gators need more talent. There are a lot of questions surrounding this position and getting qualities bodies is a must.

Running back: Florida loses seniors Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps, and will enter the fall with unproven players in Mike Gillislee and Mack Brown. As Florida continues to move closer to a more traditional/pro-style offense, the Gators also need to add size to the position.

Wide receiver: Again, this is a position in which the Gators need to improve in the talent category. Florida lost just one senior from last year's squad, but unproven players lurk. What Florida needs to get in this class is a true playmaker at receiver. There is hope that Quinton Dunbar, Andre Debose and Frankie Hammond can step up, but some solid competition won't hurt.

GEORGIA

Offensive line: Georgia loses three starters in Cordy Glenn, Ben Jones and Justin Anderson. The Bulldogs would like to add a few more big bodies up front in this class to help with all that unproven depth.

Linebacker: In Todd Grantham's 3-4 defense, linebackers are extremely important. The Bulldogs will likely lose a couple bodies at outside linebacker next year, including star Jarvis Jones, and would like to add a couple of true playmakers at that position in this class.

Wide receiver: Come 2013, Georgia will have taken some hits at its wide receiver depth. There is young talent in Malcolm Mitchell, Chris Conley and Michael Bennett, but veterans like Tavarres King, Marlon Brown and Rantavious Wooten will be gone. Adding a couple standouts at wide receiver in this class would be nice.

KENTUCKY

Offensive playmakers: Whether it comes at quarterback, wide receiver, running back or tight end, the Wildcats need to find players who can make plays when they get the ball in their hands. Kentucky's offense was hard to watch all season because there was no one who could consistently move the ball.

Offensive line: Kentucky loses three starters -- Chandler Burden, Stuart Hines and Billy Joe Murphy -- from its offensive line and needs to load up here in this class. There is a handful of young players at each offensive line position, but the Wildcats need to think about adding more for the future.

Defensive back: Veterans are leaving the Wildcats' secondary, so it's time to stock up. Winston Guy, Taiedo Smith, Randall Burden and Anthony Mosley will all be gone, meaning the Wildcats are in need of adding some depth to both the cornerback and safety positions.

MISSOURI

Running back: Leading rusher Henry Josey suffered a severe knee injury toward the end of the 2011 season and the Tigers have some veterans jam packed at the top of the depth chart at the position. Getting help to add to future rosters would really help this offense as it moves to the SEC.

Defensive line: The Tigers are losing three starters along the defensive line and 10 players from 2011 will be gone by the end of next season. There are some youngsters there, but it's time to getting into restocking mode along the defensive line. Also, this is where games are won and lost in the SEC. Finding more athleticism here is crucial.

Offensive line: Like the defensive line, Missouri will lose three starters here. There are some bodies to fill in for now, but you can never have too many offensive linemen and now that the Tigers are headed to the SEC, getting some bigger, more athletic linemen will be key to survival in this jungle.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Defensive line: The Gamecocks have gotten a ton of production from here lately, but South Carolina will lose two starters in Melvin Ingram and Travian Robertson. South Carolina might want to add to defensive end the most, with Ingram leaving and Devin Taylor getting ready to depart in a year.

Linebacker: Over the next two years, the Gamecocks will lose some quality players at linebacker and even the spur position. A handful of veterans occupy the depth chart at linebacker, so that means South Carolina needs to add a few quality bodies for the future.

Defensive back: South Carolina's depth in its defensive backfield could be considered thin. The Gamecocks are down two starters at cornerback and will lose solid players in D.J. Swearinger and DeVonte Holloman in 2013.

TENNESSEE

Running back: The Vols never figured out how to run the ball last year and will now turn to a group of unproven running backs. Marlin Lane has the talent to excel, but he needs to be more consistent. Finding a couple talented backs in this class would help this position tremendously.

Defensive tackle: The Vols need some help inside, and now that they are moving to the 3-4, getting quality nose guards is a must for Tennessee. Adding some girth inside will be very important in order to improving this position.

Defensive back: Tennessee will say goodbye to quite a bit of their defensive backs in the next couple of years, so getting a head start on adding to players to both safety and corner would be a plus.

VANDERBILT

Offensive line: The Commodores return the bulk of their offensive line next year, but after that, Vanderbilt will be pretty thin and very young up front. Adding four or five bodies to the offensive line would go a long way for Vanderbilt.

Linebacker: Vanderbilt loses one starter, in Chris Marve, here for next season, but the year after will see a lot of turnover at the position, with four rising seniors on the roster.

Defensive end: Two starters — Tim Fugger and T.J. Greenstone — are gone and Vanderbilt will lose a handful more after the 2012 season. Getting some help at this position is another must for coach James Franklin.
Even as we turn our attention to the 2012 football season, there's always time to check back with the past from time to time.

The SEC released its last set of notes from the 2011 season this week, so we thought we'd take a look at some of the interesting facts and figures from the previous season.

For starters, how about a look at the SEC players of the week?

Week 1 (Games of Sept. 1-3): Offense - Vick Ballard, RB, Mississippi State; Defense - Tyrann Mathieu, DB, LSU; Special Teams - Joe Adams, WR/RS, Arkansas; Offensive Lineman - Rokevious Watkins, OT, South Carolina; Co-Defensive Lineman - Jaye Howard, DT, Florida; Luke McDermott, DT, Kentucky; Co-Freshman - Trey Depriest, LB, Alabama; Tre Mason, RB/RS, Auburn.

Week 2 (Games of Sept. 10): Offense - Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee; Defense - Mark Barron, S, Alabama; Special Teams - Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina; Offensive Lineman - Alvin Bailey, OG, Arkansas; Defensive Lineman - Rob Lohr, DT, Vanderbilt; Co-Freshman - Josh Clemons, RB, Kentucky; Isaiah Crowell, RB, Georgia.

Week 3 (Games of Sept. 15-17): Co-Offense - Chris Rainey, RB, Florida; Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina; Defense -Trey Wilson, DB, Vanderbilt; Special Teams - Caleb Sturgis, PK, Florida; Offensive Lineman - Wesley Johnson, C, Vanderbilt; Defensive Lineman - Bennie Logan, DT, LSU; Freshman- Odell Beckham, WR, LSU.

Week 4 (Games of Sept. 24): Offense - Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama; Defense -Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina; Special Teams - Brad Wing, P, LSU; Offensive Lineman - Barrett Jones, OT, Alabama; Defensive Lineman - Jaye Howard, DT, Florida; Freshman- Isaiah Crowell, RB, Georgia.

Week 5 (Games of Oct. 1): Co-Offense - Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas; Jarius Wright, WR, Arkansas; Defense - Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina; Special Teams - Steven Clark, P, Auburn; Offensive Lineman - William Vlachos, C, Alabama; Defensive Lineman - Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU; Freshman - Isaiah Crowell, RB, Georgia..

Week 6 (Games of Oct. 8): Offense - Connor Shaw, QB, South Carolina; Defense - Mike Gilliard, ILB, Georgia; Special Teams - Blair Walsh, PK, Georgia; Offensive Lineman - Will Blackwell, OG, LSU; Defensive Lineman - Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State; Freshman - Tevin Mitchel, CB, Arkansas.

Week 7 (Games of Oct. 15): Offense - Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama; Co-Defense - Corey Lemonier, DE, Auburn; D.J. Swearinger, FS, South Carolina; Special Teams - Steven Clark, P, Auburn; Offensive Lineman - Chris Faulk, OT, LSU; Defensive Lineman - Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State; Co-Freshman - Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina; Ray Drew, OLB, Georgia.

Week 8 (Games of Oct. 22): Offense - Dennis Johnson, RB, Arkansas; Defense - Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama; Special Teams - Brad Wing, P, LSU; Offensive Lineman - Ryan Seymour, OG, Vanderbilt; Defensive Lineman - Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU; Freshman - A.J. Johnson, LB, Tennessee.

Week 9 (Games of Oct. 29): Offense - Michael Dyer, RB, Auburn; Co-Defense - Jerry Franklin, LB, Arkansas; Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia; Special Teams - Zach Hocker, K, Arkansas; Offensive Lineman - Cordy Glenn, OT, Georgia; Defensive Lineman - Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State; Freshman - Brandon Wilds, RB, South Carolina.

Week 10 (Games of Nov. 5): Offense - Jeff Demps, RB, Florida; Defense - Eric Reid, S, LSU; Special Teams - Dennis Johnson, RS/RB, Arkansas; Offensive Lineman - Ben Jones, C, Georgia; Co-Defensive Lineman - Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas; Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU; Freshman - Maxwell Smith, QB, Kentucky.

Week 11 (Games of Nov. 12): Offense - Zac Stacy, RB, Vanderbilt; Defense - Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama; Special Teams - Joe Adams, WR/RS, Arkansas; Offensive Lineman - Ben Jones, C, Georgia; Defensive Lineman - Travian Robertson, DT, South Carolina; Freshman - Isaiah Crowell, RB, Georgia.

Week 12 (Games of Nov. 19): Offense - Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas; Co-Defense - Ron Brooks, DB, LSU; Danny Trevathan, LB, Kentucky; Special Teams - Blair Walsh, PK, Georgia; Offensive Lineman - Will Blackwell, OG, LSU; Co-Defensive Lineman - Malik Jackson, DT, Tennessee; Abry Jones, DE, Georgia; Freshman - Curt Maggitt, LB, Tennessee.

Week 13 (Games of Nov. 25-26): Co-Offense - Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama; Connor Shaw, QB, South Carolina; Defense - Tyrann Mathieu, DB, LSU; Special Teams - Ryan Tydlacka, P, Kentucky; Co-Offensive Lineman - Kyle Fischer, OT, Vanderbilt; William Vlachos, C, Alabama; Co-Defensive Lineman - Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State; Garrison Smith, DE, Georgia; Freshman - Kenny Hilliard, RB, LSU.

SEC Championship Game MVP: Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU

BCS (Yes, the SEC has won six straight)
  • Since 2006, more than half of the slots in the BCS National Championship Game have been taken by SEC teams (7 of 12). The Big Ten and the Big 12 have two each and the Pac-12 has one.
  • An SEC team has led or tied for the lead at the end of 20 of the last 24 quarters of BCS National Championship Game play.
  • Since 2006, an SEC team has been ranked first in the weekly BCS standings in 26 of the 48 weeks, with four different teams holding the top spot. Florida was first for seven weeks, Alabama for six weeks, Auburn for three and LSU for 10 weeks, including all eight polls of this season.
  • The SEC has had more teams ranked in the BCS standings for the most times than any other conference since 2006. The league has had 11 of its 12 teams ranked at one time or another since 2006 for a total of 238 times. The SEC breakdown: LSU (45), Alabama (35), Florida (33), Auburn (29), Georgia (23), Arkansas (23), South Carolina (21), Tennessee (14), Mississippi State (8), Kentucky (4) and Ole Miss (3).
  • Since 2006, the SEC has posted a 9-3 record in BCS bowl games, more wins and a higher winning percentage (.750) than any other conference. The win total equals that of the next two highest conferences.
Bowls
  • Since 2006, the SEC has accrued more bowl wins (36) and appearances (55) than any other conference. The conference’s .655 bowl winning percentage is third behind the Big East (23-10, .697) and Mountain West (20-9, .690) during that time.
  • In January bowl games, the SEC is 22-10 (.688) against nonconference competition. Since 2008, the league is 16-6 (.727) against nonconference opponents in January bowls.
  • In seven 2011-12 bowl games against nonconference teams, SEC defenses held opponents to less than its scoring average in five of those games. One of the two other games were in overtime (Michigan State-Georgia) and the other was Auburn holding Virginia to 24 points, when the Cavaliers season average was 23.2 points per game.
Random
  • Over the last five seasons, Alabama owns the SEC's best winning percentage with a 50-12 record (.806). LSU has the most wins with 53, while Vanderbilt owns the league's lowest winning percentage (.355). LSU owns the best winning percentage over the last 10 years (.795) with a 105-27.
  • SEC teams were 20-28 on the road against SEC opponents last season. Kentucky, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Vanderbilt failed to win on the road against conference opponents.
  • LSU led the SEC with a touchdown efficiency on drives of 34.8. Alabama led in scoring efficiency (46.8). Ole Miss was last in scoring efficiency (20.1) and Kentucky was last in touchdown efficiency (13.2).
  • LSU led the SEC with 129 fourth-quarter points and a fourth-quarter scoring margin of plus-95. Ole Miss was last with 41 points and a scoring margin of -36.
  • Arkansas led the SEC in yards per scoring drive (61.9).
You've already seen Chris Low's to-do lists for the Western Division teams, so now it's time to check out what the East teams need to take care of before next fall:

FLORIDA
  • Two major areas new offensive coordinator Brent Pease needs to hit during his first offseason with the Gators is running back and wide receiver. Florida must find a downhill running back for Pease's offense, and a reliable go-to wide receiver -- two things Florida lacked in 2011.
  • With quarterback John Brantley graduating, Pease must find a new starting quarterback. That means developing rising sophomores Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel, who struggled in relief of Brantley at times last season, and Tyler Murphy, who has yet to take a snap.
  • Toughen up mentally and physically. The Gators ranked 89th nationally in penalties, and were called out by coach Will Muschamp as being too soft in his first season. Soft can't win in the SEC.
GEORGIA
  • The Bulldogs' coaching staff needs to toughen running back Isaiah Crowell up. As the season went on he visited Georgia's training table more than the end zone in games. He was even booed by Georgia fans when he limped off the Georgia Dome field in the SEC title game. The Bulldogs were inconsistent running the ball because their lead back was always nicked up.
  • Getting the offensive line ready will be key to 2012. The Bulldogs will have to replace three seniors on that line, including All-SEC performers Cordy Glenn and Ben Jones.
  • Georgia also can't let the success of 2011 go to the Bulldogs' heads. We've seen what can happen to this team when expectations are high and the Dawgs are a favorite.
KENTUCKY
  • With how poorly Kentucky's offense performed in 2011, coach Joker Phillips' top priority should be finding offensive playmakers. There is hope that running backs CoShik Williams and Josh Clemons can help in that department, but finding a reliable receiver to complement La'Rod King will help, as no other receiver returns with more than 10 catches from last season.
  • Kentucky has to get its quarterback position settled before next season. Morgan Newton was supposed to be the guy last season, but major struggles and an ankle injury paved the way for Maxwell Smith. But neither threw a pass in Kentucky's 10-7 win against Tennessee to end the season.
  • Replacing linebacker Danny Trevathan's skill on the field won't be easy, but neither will be replacing his leadership skills. Trevathan was the heart of Kentucky's defense and the team's best leader. It's time for someone else to step up and lead the Wildcats.
MISSOURI
  • As the new Tigers on the block, Missouri needs to get used to its new surroundings. That means making any and all offensive and defensive adjustments to match their new SEC foes. That also means getting used to recruiting more in the southeast, especially Florida and Georgia.
  • Missouri returns a lot of talent in 2012, but the Tigers need to find a big-play threat at wide receiver. T.J. Moe and Marcus Lucas are back, but one has to emerge as more than just a top target -- he needs to be someone who can consistently make plays on SEC defenses.
  • The Tigers' defensive line was supposed to be better than it was in 2011. The SEC is won in the trenches, and if Missouri's line can't hold up against SEC offensive big men, the Tigers will be sunk.
SOUTH CAROLINA
  • Marcus Lattimore is one of the best running backs in the country when he's healthy, so making sure his rehab for his knee goes smoothly might be South Carolina's top priority during the offseason. He expects to come back better and stronger, so proper rehab will go a long way.
  • Now that Alshon Jeffery is gone, it's time for the Gamecocks to find a replacement. The Gamecocks didn't have any real receiving threats outside of Jeffery in 2011, and only Jeffery and Ace Sanders had more than 20 catches. South Carolina is a little undersized at the position, but developing a proper go-to is a must.
TENNESSEE
  • Tennessee must find the pieces to create a legitimate running game. The Vols ranked 116th nationally in rushing, and were the only team in the SEC not to average more than 100 rushing yards a game. Marlin Lane heads the rushing operation, but there are other bodies to help. Developing them is the next step.
  • Sal Sunseri takes over a defense equipped with a chunk of young, but talented players. Development in their games is the next step for these players, and that will rest on Sunseri.
  • The attitude of this team was questioned in 2011, so for Tennessee to get back to being truly competitive in the East, players need to totally buy in to what Derek Dooley is preaching.
VANDERBILT
  • Jordan Rodgers' emergence as Vanderbilt's starting quarterback during the second half of the season was a big plus for the Commodores' offense, but his confidence had to be shaken when he was basically benched for Larry Smith in the Liberty Bowl loss to Cincinnati. Rodgers had his ups and downs last season, but he needs to find the confidence that helped him make Vandy's offense explosive with him in charge.
  • James Franklin kept saying that this was a new Vanderbilt team, but the little mistakes that hurt Vandy throughout the years returned. Those mistakes cost them a chance at possibly winning nine games. Franklin must hammer home ball security and make sure this team is a little more mentally tough next season.
We're continuing to look at the future, as we take a glance at some of the big uglies returning in 2012.

The guys who get things started on offense and protect all those fragile quarterbacks deserve a little credit, don't ya think?

The SEC might be saying goodbye to a pretty good crop of offensive linemen, but next season won't lack much talent up front, either.

But who is the best one returning in 2012?

First, you have arguably the most versatile lineman in the country in Alabama's Barrett Jones, who found a way to play just about every position on the offensive line during Alabama's national championship run in 2011. Jones, who decided to return for his senior season, won the Outland Trophy last year as the nation's top interior lineman.

Jones is great, but one of his teammates might challenge him for the moniker of the SEC's top lineman. That lineman is tackle D.J. Fluker, who started 12 games at right tackle last season. At 6-6, 335 pounds, Fluker makes it hard for defensive linemen to get by him. Without Fluker anchoring the right side of the line, Alabama's offense wouldn't have had the success it did in 2011.

What about fellow SEC Western Division standout Alvin Bailey? Arkansas' young lineman really improved as the season went on. He was named to the All-SEC second team after a solid sophomore season with the Razorbacks and showed that he's one of the more athletic lineman around.

You also have Kentucky guard Larry Warford. The veteran has had a stellar career and was an All-SEC second team member in 2011. Kentucky's offense struggled mightily last season, but any team would love to have Warford blocking for it.

You also have youngster Chaz Green at Florida. The rising sophomore tackle was arguably Florida's most consistent lineman in 2011. While Florida's line struggled, Green made strides throughout the year and was named the No. 9 freshman overall by ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay.

With Alabama's William Vlachos and Georgia's Ben Jones departing, LSU center P.J. Lonergan will likely enter the year as the SEC's top center. He was banged up at times in 2011, but his teammates agreed that LSU's line is much better when he's in and healthy.

Then there's his teammate, rising junior Chris Faulk, who ranked third on the team with 73.5 knockdowns in 2011. He was a second team All-SEC member. He started 12 games at left tackle for the Tigers this season.

South Carolina guard A.J. Cann had a great freshman season for the Gamecocks and should become a bigger name among SEC offensive linemen during the offseason and next season.

And you also can't forget Vanderbilt's Wesley Johnson. He isn't the biggest lineman out there, but he certainly held his own on the Commodores' line in his second season. Johnson is another one of those youngsters who should really make some noise in 2012.
Georgia will be well represented in the 2012 Senior Bowl later this month.

Cornerback Brandon Boykin, punter Drew Butler, offensive tackle Cordy Glenn and center Ben Jones will head to Mobile, Ala., for one last game at the college level.

"Georgia had one of the more remarkable winning streaks in the country this season, and there's no doubt these four seniors played a big role in the Bulldogs reeling off 10 straight victories to claim the Eastern Division title," said Steve Hale, who is the President and CEO of the Senior Bowl. "We're confident this group will take advantage of this opportunity to showcase their skills in front of the NFL decision-makers."

All four could hear their names called during the 2012 NFL Draft. Boykin was a second team All-SEC selection by the league coaches after recording 48 tackles, including nine tackles for loss, three interceptions, nine pass breakups and two fumble recoveries. Boykin would have heard his name in last year's draft as well, but he made a last-minute decision to return to school for his senior season.

Glenn and Jones were two of the best offensive linemen in the SEC this season. Glenn showed some versatility by moving from right tackle to left tackle, while Jones was a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, which is given annually to the nation's top center.

Butler punted 51 times for 2,260 yards, averaging 44.3 yards per punt, which ranks second in the SEC and 13th in the country. He had 16 punts of 50 yards or more and downed 19 punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line.

Mississippi State running back Vick Ballard also added his name to the Senior Bowl roster. Ballard is fresh off of a 180-yard, two-touchdown performance in the Music City Bowl win against Wake Forest. Ballard rushed for 1,189 yards, averaged 6.2 yards per carry and scored 10 rushing touchdowns in 2011.

The game will be played at 4 p.m. ET on Jan. 28. All of the Senior Bowl practices can be seen on the NFL Network.

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