SEC: Gerald Williams
LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson: He threw for a career-high 254 yards and one touchdown and added 45 rushing yards and another score in LSU’s 43-36 win against Ole Miss. Jefferson completed 13 of 17 passes (76.5 percent) against the Rebels in LSU’s best offensive game of the season with 470 total yards.
Arkansas linebacker Jerry Franklin: He recorded a career-high 20 tackles (eight solos) in Arkansas’ 38-31 double-overtime victory at Mississippi State. Franklin matched his career high with two tackles for loss, including a sack. His 20 tackles were the most by any player in the nation this past week.
LSU place-kicker/punter Josh Jasper: He scored 11 points, including three field goals and two extra points, in LSU’s 43-36 win against Ole Miss. On Jasper's only punt attempt, he hit a 43-yarder that started an Ole Miss drive at its own 4-yard line.
Arkansas tackle DeMarcus Love: He helped pave the way for Arkansas’ 488 yards of total offense on 61 plays, an average of 8.0 yards per play, in the Razorbacks’ 38-31 double-overtime win at MississippiState. Love was key in blocking for Knile Davis’ 187 yards rushing and Ryan Mallett’s 305 passing yards.
Tennessee end Gerald Williams: He recorded a career-high eight tackles (six solos), including a pair of tackles for loss, a sack and a quarterback pressure in Tennessee’s 24-10 win at Vanderbilt. He also blocked a Vanderbilt 45-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter.
South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore: He rushed for 102 yards on seven carries with three touchdowns in South Carolina’s 69-24 win against Troy. Lattimore has scored 19 touchdowns this season, which is one shy of the SEC freshman record held by Reggie Cobb of Tennessee (20 in 1987).
And some dandy performances, too.
Those performances are reflected in our Week 12 helmet stickers in the SEC:
Tennessee defensive end Gerald Williams: He was everywhere Saturday for the Vols, who moved closer to becoming bowl eligible with a 24-10 win at Vanderbilt. Williams finished with a career-high eight tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss. He had a sack, a quarterback hurry and blocked a field goal. He also had a 71-yard interception return for a touchdown, but it was wiped out by a roughing the quarterback penalty on Malik Jackson.
South Carolina’s offensive line: It’s about time first-year South Carolina offensive line coach Shawn Elliott and his guys up front get some props. The Gamecocks, in beating up on Troy 69-24, are averaging 10 points more per game than they did a year ago. They also have a 1,000-yard rusher (Marcus Lattimore) and a 1,000-yard receiver (Alshon Jeffery) in the same season for the first time in school history and have given up 12 fewer sacks than a year ago. You don’t have that kind of success on offense without playing well up front.
Arkansas running back Knile Davis: In becoming the 10th rusher in Arkansas history to top the 1,000-yard mark in a season, Davis rushed for a career-high 187 yards on a career-high 30 carries in the Hogs’ 38-31 double-overtime win against Mississippi State. He also scored three touchdowns, including a 62-yard run to open Arkansas’ scoring in the first quarter and a 7-yard catch in the second overtime. Davis’ game-winner in the second overtime made amends for his fumble near the end of regulation when the Hogs were trying to run out the clock.
LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson: It’s been a rocky season for Jefferson throwing the ball, but he was at his best Saturday. The Tigers needed him at his best, too, in rallying to beat Ole Miss 43-36 to complete an unbeaten season at Tiger Stadium. Jefferson finished 13-of-17 for a career-high 254 yards. He also rushed for 45 yards. Both of his touchdowns came in the fourth quarter, a 3-yard run and then a 27-yard pass to Michael Ford.
Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy: The quintessential student-athlete, McElroy completed 12-of-13 passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns in Alabama’s 63-7 pummeling of Georgia State on Thursday night. Two days later, McElroy participated in finalist interviews for the Rhodes scholarship. He wasn’t selected, but that doesn’t diminish what an incredible run he’s had as both a student and a football player.
- Success hasn't fazed Alabama's Greg McElroy, who hasn't lost a game as a starting quarterback since the eighth grade.
- The excruciating back pain finally gone, Florida's Jeremy Brown has established himself as one of the Gators' top three cornerbacks.
- Auburn's Lee Ziemba is a full-grown Tiger, poised to start his 39th consecutive game this Saturday.
- South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier isn't predicting how many carries freshman running back Marcus Lattimore will get, but the Head Ball Coach says Lattimore is ready to play.
- Vanderbilt coach Robbie Caldwell retains his down-to-earth mentality, writes Jeff Lockridge of The Tennessean.
- Tony Barnhart of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution pays tribute to Erk Russell.
- It's only one game, but Kentucky vs. Louisville is the game, writes John Clay of The Lexington Herald-Leader.
- The preseason grind behind them, Auburn's players are eager for the real thing to begin.
- Gerald Williams is slated to move inside and start at defensive tackle for Tennessee in the opener.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- We knew this Tennessee defense had a chance to be pretty good.
But the Vols have been smothering to this point. Granted, much of their dominance is due to the fact that Western Kentucky is awful on offense.
Still, here we are with less than 10 minutes to play in the second quarter, and Western Kentucky has run 12 plays for a total of minus-13 yards.
Defensive end Chris Walker was a star in the spring and preseason for the Vols. It looks like he's going to be a star this season, too. He's a blur getting to the quarterback. His partner on the other side, Gerald Williams, gives the the Vols the kind of pass-rushing tandem they haven't had in a while.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Get ready to see a bunch of young players today for Tennessee.
True freshman receivers Nu’Keese Richardson and Marsalis Teague are both listed as starters along with senior Quintin Hancock.
True freshman Bryce Brown will be the second tailback on the field, and true freshman David Oku should also see the field sometime in the first half at running back.
True freshman Janzen Jackson will split time with Dennis Rogan at free safety. Redshirt freshman Aaron Douglas won’t start, but is expected to play some at right offensive tackle. He’s by far the best young offensive line prospect in the program.
The Vols plan to go with Art Evans and Marsalis Johnson as the starting cornerbacks against Western Kentucky.
On the injury front, junior defensive end Gerald Williams is dressed and expected to play. He missed some practice time this week with an ankle injury.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
We go inside with our weekly "Internal Affairs" check of the conference. Not that it's a revelation to Tennessee, but the Vols had better be ready to see a lot of No. 1 this Saturday in Knoxville:
1. Putting more Green in the offense: There's one major problem with Georgia freshman receiver A.J. Green this season. He hasn't touched the ball nearly enough. The Georgia coaches have admitted as much this week, and they're going to try and get the ball in his hands more against Arizona State. Green is second on the team with eight catches for 141 yards and is averaging 17.6 yards per catch, but he's clearly their most explosive receiving threat ... and he goes and gets the football. One thing the Bulldogs may also do is whittle down their receiver rotation. They're playing too many guys right now.
2. Unleashing Percy: Look for Florida to add a new running back this week. Percy Harvin's not going to carry it 20 times, but he'll touch the ball more against Tennessee than he has all season. And a bunch of those touches will come with him lined up in the backfield. The Gators will hand it to him, pitch it to him and toss it to him. He's healthier than he's been, bigger than he's been (205 pounds) and ready to get back to what he was last season -- one of the most dynamic playmakers in college football. The Gators will also have a few misdirection plays involving Harvin, plays the Vols have struggled to defend in recent years.
3. Burns-ing quarterback issues: This whole thing with Kodi Burns and the Auburn quarterback situation doesn't sound promising for the Tigers. Tommy Tuberville admitted that he met with Burns' parents following the Southern Miss game when Chris Todd was announced as Auburn's starter. Burns didn't play at all in the Mississippi State game, but remains in the Tigers' plans for the LSU game, Tuberville said. One of the holdups, according to Tuberville, is that he doesn't want Burns pegged as just a running quarterback and wants him to be ready to run the whole spread offense. Tuberville insists that he believes in Burns. But does first-year offensive coordinator Tony Franklin?
4. Williams moving to end: Tennessee has moved Gerald Williams from outside linebacker to defensive end for the Florida game, and the 6-4, 240-pound Williams is likely to stay there for the rest of the season after playing primarily on special teams the first two games. It's no secret that the Vols need to pressure Tim Tebow, get to him early and keep him boxed in as much as possible. Tennessee only has two sacks in its first two games and is looking for guys who can finish on the outside. The Vols hope Williams can be that guy, and he's also fast enough to pursue the ball and make plays on the perimeter.
5. Shaking it up in Starkville: Mississippi State offensive coordinator Woody McCorvey wishes he had a magic wand, but a few adjustments will have to do. The first thing the Bulldogs are going to do is give Tyson Lee a few more chances at quarterback. Coach Sylvester Croom had gone back and forth on that, but the plan now is to play Lee some against Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs also plan to get running back Robert Elliott a lot more involved, especially with Anthony Dixon questionable with a groin injury. Elliott gives them a chance for bigger plays. Mississippi State didn't have a play longer than 13 yards in the 3-2 loss to Auburn.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Jerrell Powe's long and winding struggle to gain eligibility at Ole Miss was a saga worthy of a novel, and now Gerald Williams is coming to the end of a similar struggle at Tennessee.
One way or the other, Williams should know by the end of this week whether he'll be playing football at Tennessee. In the meantime, he endures through another excruciating wait.
From talking to several people close to the situation Tuesday, here's the situation facing Williams, a linebacker who first signed with the Vols in February 2005:
He's still waiting to have a math correspondence course he recently took certified and the grade posted. He's missed the last five days of practice, including Tuesday, while the whole certification process runs its course.
This is an SEC eligibility issue, not an NCAA issue. Williams is also good to go with the Tennessee admissions process. He's already been admitted. He would be eligible right now at other schools outside the SEC, but the SEC mandates that junior-college transfers pass an extra math and extra English class to be eligible.
Williams, after transferring to UT from City College of San Francisco, took the math correspondence course hoping to satisfy the SEC's requirement. Part of the holdup now is whether the type of correspondence course Williams took does indeed satisfy the SEC's requirement for the extra math class. The SEC's legislation on what type of courses are acceptable for junior-college transfers has changed some in the last year or so, which has only complicated the problem for Tennessee.
The last day students can drop and add classes at UT is Friday, so there has to be some resolution by then. If Williams is cleared by the SEC, he could add enough classes by Friday to become a full-time student and would be eligible to play this season.
This is an especially sensitive subject for Tennessee football officials because Williams, who turns 22 next month, has done everything they've asked of him and worked for more than three years toward getting back to Tennessee. He's gone to both prep school and junior college and has never wavered in his desire to play for the Vols. This is the second time he's been pulled off the practice field after beginning practice with the rest of the team. It also happened in August 2005 when he came to UT out of high school and was flagged by the NCAA Clearinghouse.
The initial problem with Williams was that he had some credit hours from University High in Miami, one of the so-called diploma mills that has since been shut down by the NCAA. He's replaced those credit hours over the last few years with legitimate classes.
If anybody deserves a ruling to go his way, it's Williams.
He's going to play somewhere this season, though. If the SEC refuses to certify him, he'll go play in a conference that doesn't have the extra math requirement.
Look for Oklahoma State of the Big 12 to be a strong player if that's the case. Trooper Taylor recruited Williams out of the South Florida area for the Vols and is now the co-offensive coordinator for the Cowboys.
Nobody at Tennessee wants that to happen, and neither does Williams.
He's waited this long, but you know these next few days will seem like an eternity.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- A few things to munch on (or chomp on if you're a Florida fan) from Tennessee's Media Day. The Vols open practice later today. Check back later, and I'll have a Q&A with the Vols' super sophomore, safety Eric Berry:
- Despite making it to the SEC championship game last season, nobody on Tennessee's team has forgotten the 59-20 beating the Vols suffered at Florida a year ago.
The Gators never let off the gas pedal, as Tim Tebow was still in the game well into the fourth quarter, and Florida was still throwing the ball up four and five touchdowns.
"No one likes to lose by that type of deficit," Berry said. "Yeah, it's in our minds. It's like the third-grade bully beating you up last year. You're not going to forget that, come on."
Senior defensive tackle Demonte Bolden, who was furious following last year's game and angrily dropped an F-bomb in front of the cameras in the interview area, pointed out that the Gators have to come to Neyland Stadium this season.
The date is Sept. 20.
"Where are we at this year?" Bolden repeated. "We're at our house The last time we were at our house, they beat us by a field goal ... wow."
Bolden is also obviously tired of hearing about Tebow, who had 360 yards of total offense and four touchdowns against the Vols last season.
"Man, I don't care about Tebow," Bolden said. "Yeah, he's an All-American, but he's a regular player. Get him back on the field. You know what I'm saying. I made hits on him last year. This year, I'm going to get back to him a lot quicker. I'm not going to talk junk. I just want to play the game ... play the game."
Bolden, one of the Vols' most emotional and outspoken players, also said he wouldn't have voted for Tebow for the Heisman Trophy.
"I would have voted for Erik Ainge, Eric Berry, somebody on my squad," Bolden said. "Yeah, he's a good player. He brings the total package to his team, but I'm not hyped on him. He's a good quarterback, but he ain't on my team."
- One of the first questions Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer fielded was one that's starting to become commonplace for the Vols this time of year.
What's it going to take to get back to the next level?
The Vols haven't won an SEC title since their 1998 national championship season.
"We've been to the (SEC) championship game more than anybody else," said Fulmer, referring to the Vols' five trips to Atlanta in the last 11 years. "The next thing we've got to do is win the championship, the SEC championship. That's been frustrating to everybody concerned. In this league, it's a few plays and a few players that make the difference."
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
The long odyssey back to Tennessee is nearing an end for Gerald Williams, who arrived on campus this week and is taking summer school classes.
Even though he's been admitted to Tennessee, Williams still has to finish some junior college work via a correspondence course in order to meet SEC requirements and be eligible this season. If so, he will be good to go when the Vols start practice in August and then can be placed on scholarship.
Williams, who's working out with his teammates, could be a factor at middle linebacker or defensive end. He first signed with Tennessee in February 2005 and again in February 2006 only to have a qualifying standardized test score invalidated. He actually practiced some with the Vols just prior to the 2005 season, but was pulled off the field when questions arose about his transcript. His undoing was a handful of classes he took at University High in Miami, a "diploma factory" the NCAA refused to accept credits from and a school that has since closed.
Determined to make it back to Tennessee, Williams attended Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy in 2006 and spent last year at City College of San Francisco, where the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Williams played all three linebacker spots.
He turns 22 on Sept. 27, but would still have three years of eligibility remaining at Tennessee. He sat out the entire 2005 season, went to prep school in 2006 and junior college last year, so his athletic clock didn't start until last year.
The Vols are also hopeful of getting good news on Florida State transfer Brandon Warren by the end of next week. Warren has been in summer school at Tennessee since the first session in May, but still has to win a hardship appeal with the NCAA to be eligible this season. The basis of that appeal is his mother's health. She has cancer, and Warren said he transferred from Florida State to be closer to his mother, who lives just outside of Knoxville in Alcoa.
Warren spent most of the last year attending a community college near Knoxville. He was the Seminoles' starting tight end in 2006 as a freshman and caught 28 passes for 301 yards and one touchdown.