SEC: Jerry Franklin

Top SEC players who didn't get drafted

April, 30, 2012
Among those SEC players who didn't get drafted were Alabama center William Vlachos, Alabama receiver Marquis Maze, Arkansas linebacker Jerry Franklin, and LSU offensive guard Will Blackwell.

Vlachos was a three-year starter for the Crimson Tide and first-team All-SEC center last season. The NFL is hung up on measurables, which is the reason Vlachos (6-foot) wasn't drafted. But here's betting that he makes a roster and ends up playing for a long time in the NFL. Vlachos agreed to a free-agent deal with the Tennessee Titans.

Franklin led the Hogs in tackles for four straight seasons and was extremely productive, so it was surprising that he didn't go in the latter rounds. The same goes for Maze, who made a lot of big plays for the Crimson Tide and is also a weapon on special teams. Blackwell made a couple of All-America teams last season, and was an integral part of that LSU offensive line.

Here's a list of some of the more high-profile players in the SEC who didn't get drafted. If they agreed to a free-agent deal, that team is listed in parenthenses:
Zac Stacy had the chance to play ultimate hero a little more than three months ago. We’re talking legend material as far as Vanderbilt football is concerned.

With the Commodores leading then No. 10 Arkansas 28-20 early in the fourth quarter and facing a second-and-goal at the Razorbacks’ 3-yard line, Vanderbilt’s running back, who three plays earlier had put Vanderbilt in scoring position with a 44-yard reception, took the safe handoff, lowered his head and charged toward the end zone.

However, just before Stacy could truly get going, his grip loosened. He was stripped of the ball and watched Arkansas linebacker Jerry Franklin chug 94 yards the other way for a touchdown.

[+] EnlargeZac Stacy
Grant Halverson/Getty ImagesZac Stacy racked up 1,193 yards rushing last season, third most in the SEC.
Arkansas tied the game with a two-point conversation and eventually won on a 42-yard Zach Hocker field goal.

Vandy’s chance at a historic upset had slipped away in a matter of only a few plays.

Stacy could have easily caved and taken to major self-loathing, but he didn’t. As hard as it was, he managed to put that game behind him and focus on tasks ahead.

“That’s the mentality that I had,” Stacy said.

“If I could go back to that game, I would, because that could have been a ‘W’ in our book. But at that same time, you can’t [dwell] on that loss, on that mistake, you have to do what’s best for your team and get better for the next game.”

It worked for Stacy, as he rushed for 486 yards and eight touchdowns in Vandy’s final five games. He also had a tremendous 184-yard, three-touchdown performance in the Commodores’ win over Wake Forest to clinch a bowl berth for the first time since 2008.

Stacy’s impressive end-of-season run capped one of the best seasons for an SEC running back. A year removed from handling just 66 carries, Stacy finished the 2011 season No. 3 in the SEC in rushing with 1,193 yards and was second (behind only Trent Richardson) in touchdowns (14). He also averaged 5.7 yards per carry in league play.

Stacy, who will be a senior this fall, enjoyed quite the breakout year, but he says there wasn’t much he changed with his preseason preparation to get him going. The extra reps he received with former starter Warren Norman sidelined with a knee injury helped, but even before Norman went down, Stacy says he practiced and worked out as if he were the starter.

Once the coaches gained more trust in his abilities, Stacy was off and running (literally).

“It was just one of those things where you had to step up,” Stacy said.

“It really wasn’t anything I was doing specifically. Every guy each year gets faster, stronger and mentally ready for the season. It was one of those things when your name is called and you have to step up.”

With Stacy humming like a brand-new car, the Commodores found some explosion in their offense. And as defenses paid more attention to him the offense opened up.

Vanderbilt, which had been mired in offensive ineptitude before 2011, finished the year seventh in the SEC in total offense. Stacy was the catalyst, but he says it was a total team effort. As the season went on and players were getting more comfortable with new coach James Franklin and his offensive staff, Stacy said people started taking on more responsibility and everyone held each other accountable.

“It wasn’t exactly me clicking,” Stacy said, “it was just that the whole team began to click.”

Now, Vandy enters spring with unusually high expectations after a bowl year. People won’t take the Commodores lightly this time, but Stacy insists that neither he nor his teammates have to change their approach. There are silly mistakes that have to be eliminated, but that comes with better execution and discipline, which will no doubt be stressed during a tougher offseason in Nashville.

Change came last year for the Commodores, and Stacy said the next step is just building off of it.

“We’re not going to change. We’re just going to be who we are,” he said. “We’re going to be Vanderbilt football and execute in all phases of the game -- offense, special teams, defense -- and everything will fall in place.”
We move to linebackers today in our postseason position rankings.

Defensive lines are very important in this league, but there are other guys in the box who have to be pretty reliable as well in this league. This league has done a pretty solid job of producing some top talent at this position as well.

You can see what are preseason linebacker rankings looked like here.

And here are our postseason rankings:

[+] EnlargeDont'a Hightower
Marvin Gentry/US PresswireDont'a Hightower had career highs in tackles (79), sacks (3.0) and interceptions (1) this season.
1. Alabama: This unit was at the top of our preseason rankings and didn't budge throughout the season. When you have two All-Americans in Courtney Upshaw, who was the defensive MVP in the Allstate BCS National Championship Game, and Dont'a Hightower it's pretty understandable to see why. Those two combined for 136 tackles, including 29 for loss. Nico Johnson was fourth on the team in tackles, while C.J. Mosley added 37 of his own. Alabama's defense was first nationally in total defense and first in rushing defense, allowing 74.2 yards per game.

2. Georgia: Linebackers are essential to any 3-4 defense, and the Bulldogs' group did quite well in 2011. Georgia ended up with one of the nation's best linebackers in Jarvis Jones, who led the SEC with 19 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks. He also had 49 quarterback hurries. Michael Gilliard was third on the team behind Jones with 65 tackles. While Alec Ogletree missed part of the first half of the season, the speedster still finished with 52 tackles, including 7.5 for loss. Cornelius Washington, Amarlo Herrera Christian Robinson combined to add 101 more tackles, as Georgia's defense ranked fifth nationally.

3. Arkansas: Arkansas' defense had a lot of bend in it last season, but the linebackers found ways to make plays. Newcomer Alonzo Highsmith was third on the team with 80 tackles, led with 12.5 tackles for loss and had 4.5 sacks. The star continued to be Jerry Franklin, who led the team in tackles (101) for the fourth straight year. Then there was Jerico Nelson, who was all over the field as that hybrid linebacker/safety. He came away with 70 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions. Ross Rasner, who played outside with Nelson, added 53 more tackles and two sacks.

4. Florida: The Gators' defense ranked eighth nationally in part because of the aggressive play of its front seven. Jon Bostic commanded the middle, leading the team with 94 tackles, including 10 for loss. Jelani Jenkins seemed to come more into his own outside, finishing third on the team in tackles. The big surprise was Lerentee McCray, who played both Sam linebacker and the hybrid Buck. He was one of Florida's most active linebackers and grabbed 7.5 tackles for loss. Ronald Powell started at the Buck, but saw most of his production from defensive end.

5. Vanderbilt: The Commodores entered the season needing to replace three starting linebackers and ended the year with a very impressive linebacking corps. It was led by vet Chris Marve, who was 10th in the league in tackles. Archibald Barnes had a solid year at the Will, ranking fourth on the team in tackles and grabbing two interceptions. Chase Garnham and Al Owens manned the Sam position and combined for 72 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss. Against conference foes, Vandy's rush defense ranked fourth in the league.

6. LSU: The Tigers were in search of that dominant middle linebacker all season and might have found a budding star in Kevin Minter, really grew into the position by the end of the season and was fifth on the team in tackles. He started 11 games, but shared time with Karnell Hatcher, who finished with 24 tackles. Ryan Baker was LSU's best linebacker, was an outstanding leader and was fourth on the team with 64 tackles. Stefoin Francois was the starter at Sam, but he accumulated just 11 tackles, while backup Tahj Jones registered 27. Still, LSU owned the No. 2 national defense.

7. South Carolina: The Gamecocks saw improvement from this group as the season went on. While the defensive line got a ton of credit, the linebackers did their part in securing the defense's No. 3 national ranking. Antonio Allen spent some time in the box at the Spur position and led South Carolina with 88 tackles and had 9.5 for loss. Rodney Paulk and Shaq Wilson, who returned from injury, rotated at the Mike and combined for 109 tackles. Will linebacker Reginald Bowens added 44 tackles.

8. Kentucky: The Wildcats owned the SEC's top tackler in Danny Trevathan (143), who should have received more national attention. Trevathan was one of the most active defenders around at the Will. Winston Guy played the hybrid linebacker/safety and was third in the SEC with 120 tackles. Ronnie Sneed added 71 more tackles. Kentucky's defense was much more aggressive under new defensive coordinator Rick Minter and got more exotic looks from its linebackers.

9. Mississippi State: Cameron Lawrence was a beast for the Bulldogs in 2011. He was second in the SEC with 123 tackles, and had 49 solo. Senior Brandon Wilson added 94 more tackles. Brandon Maye, who transferred from Clemson, was expected to make a bigger impact for the Bulldogs, but played behind Wilson and was 11th on the team in tackles. Sophomore Deontae Skinner added 69 tackles and Mississippi State ranked in the bottom half of the SEC in total defense.

10. Tennessee: The Vols' top three tacklers were linebackers. The leader was senior Austin Johnson, who finished the season with 81 tackles, including 41 solo. Next were two true freshmen on the outside in A.J. Johnson (80) and Curt Maggitt (56). Both freshmen experienced up-and-down seasons, but were SEC All-Freshman selections. Herman Lathers, who was a projected started, missed 2011 with a fractured ankle, and after the big three, the Vols didn't get a ton out of their linebackers, as Dontavis Sapp was their next most productive linebacker with 20 tackles.

11. Auburn: The Tigers' defense really struggled in 2011 and gave up more than 200 rushing yards a contest. Auburn had to basically start over at linebacker, but lone returning starter Daren Bates had a heck of a year, ranking fourth in the league with 104 tackles. He really tried to make sure he played all over the field last fall. After that, the play was up-and-down. Senior Eltoro Freeman took over in the middle halfway into the year and finished with 58 tackles, while Jake Holland and Jonathan Evans combined for 83 tackles.

12. Ole Miss: The Rebels' defense had all sorts of problems defensively, including allowing 256.5 yards per game and 21 rushing touchdowns. The linebackers took a major hit with the absence of D.T. Shackelford, who missed the season with a knee injury. Mike Marry stepped up at the Mike and led Ole Miss with 81 tackles and five for loss. Freshman Serderius Bryant and junior Joel Kight combined for 122 tackles. Damien Jackson played the Spur and added 64 tackles, but Ole Miss' defense ranked dead last in the SEC.

SEC mailbag: No more divisions?

January, 27, 2012
The mailbag is back for your viewing pleasure.

We were hit with a good amount of questions in the past week, so we decided to fill your curious minds.

Signing day is coming up, there are two new teams getting ready to join the league and people are already talking about next year’s SEC champ.

Let’s get to those questions:

Nathan from the Texas panhandle writes: Aggie fan here. My email is in regards to the divisional format of the SEC. I personally think that divisions in a 14-team league are hard to work with since you will hardly see opponents from the division. Why not implement a no division league with a four-team playoff format at the end of the year for the SEC championship game? You keep rivalry games and just alternate opponents every year within the league. League record and rankings would be considered for the four-team slots. Opinion?

Edward Aschoff: First of all, welcome to the SEC … well, almost welcome. You’ll officially join in July, but welcome anyway. The funny thing is that Chris Low and I were actually talking about this exact thing the other day, since basketball has already done it. I know that divisions make it much easier to figure out the teams for the championship game, but I think it would be pretty cool to have just one league with no divisions. The more teams, the harder it is to maintain those traditional rivalries when you have divisions. If you get rid of the divisions, you can maintain every rivalry you want because there would be no obligation to play a certain amount of divisional teams. Alabama-Tennessee would never be in danger and neither would Florida-LSU. You would also have the two best teams in the SEC competing for the championship. Also, “The Rematch” would have happened in Atlanta and there would have been no crying about the national championship because the SEC’s spot would have been settled in Atlanta. I’m all for it.

Brandon Estell from Jonesboro, Ark., writes: With the fairly average recruiting classes, at least ranked that way, that Bobby Petrino has brought to Fayetteville the last couple of years and looking that way again, although it is looking to be picking up come signing day, what is the realistic chance of Arkansas contending for the SEC West title possibly bigger?

Edward Aschoff: As far as the rankings go, Arkansas’ classes haven’t been as high as others in the SEC, but that definitely doesn’t mean that talent hasn’t been going to Fayetteville. Today I looked at some of the unheralded guys who became stars in college and a lot of them played at Arkansas. Just look at the seniors that left. Jake Bequette, Tramain Thomas, Jerry Franklin, Greg Childs and Jarius Wright were pretty much nobodies in high school. Now, everyone knows them. Petrino has done a great job with developing players and I think that if continues the Hogs will be fine. Forget about all the stars and focus on what is happening when they get on campus. Hey, if Arkansas beats LSU, who knows where the Hogs end up last season? Petrino has Arkansas on the right path.

Joe Marina from Orlando, Fla., writes: Hey Ed. I believe you went to school at FL with my sister Jenna Marina. My question is with the recruiting class Muschamp looks to have and also depending on the QB play, I see FL having a much better team than last year. There are still a lot of questions on offense with wide receiver, running back, and QB. But if they play up to their talent, I would say it’s reasonable for FL to win 8 games this year. Would you agree?

Edward Aschoff: Jenna is a great friend of mine. I owe some of my success to her (ask her about our sports reporting project). ... I think that Muschamp’s first “real” class at UF is a pretty good one. He hit the offensive line hard and got the big back that he’s wanted. He could also close with at least one big-play wide receiver. I think this offseason is all about developing a tougher attitude in Gainesville. Muschamp called his team soft at the end of the year and he was right. Florida got pushed around. Can’t do that in the SEC. I think Brent Pease will be very hands on with those young quarterbacks and that offensive line will be worked harder than it ever has. Florida has the talent to compete for the East title, but will it have the attitude? Will it make the necessary plays on offense to help the defense? That schedule is tough with games at Texas A&M and Tennessee to start the year and the season ends at Florida State. Eight wins are possible, but this team has to make a lot of changes on both sides of the ball and has to have a better work ethic.

Tony from Italy writes: With the Big 12 blog leaving Missouri out of many of it's recent conference related post (returning starters/recruiting blogs etc...) when will you start adding them into your blogs on a regular basis?

Edward Aschoff: First off, if you’re in Italy you should be enjoying yourself, not worrying about college football! Please have some gelato for me. As the spring gets closer, you’ll see more Missouri and Texas A&M content. Both schools officially join in July, but any blogs that have to do with the offseason or previewing the fall will have both included. Our recruiting scorecard didn’t have them because it was just a look at where the current SEC teams were. We’ll probably hit both when we look at signing day.

David Whitten from Gadsden, Ala., writes: It seems no one thinks Bama will be very good next season, why is that? They played a lot of players all year and they have experience coming back, maybe the "experts" need to sit back and look at what we were seeing all year then re-think their opinion about Bama.

Edward Aschoff: Not sure where you’re seeing all that. Alabama should be a top-five team to start next season and I honestly think the offense with AJ McCarron and that experienced line coming back with some young talent at wide receiver. I think there will be some hiccups on defense because of all the star power that is gone, but that’s natural. I’m not saying Alabama will be bad at all. I still the Tide will compete for the SEC West and beyond, but you can’t sit there and think that this team won’t have growing pains on defense. You can’t lose that much talent and not take some sort of step back. It happens.

Austin from Conway, Ark., writes: Sooooo, is DGB going to be a Razorback? I know this is the million-dollar question, and of course I'm REALLY hoping this is the case....but starting to get the feeling he might switch directions...thoughts??

Edward Aschoff: Ah, the nation’s top receiver: Dorial Green-Beckham. He’s a stud, for sure, and any team would love to have him. But where will he go? Most of the people that I talk with feel pretty confident that he’ll choose Arkansas, but Missouri is certainly NOT out of it. I think Arkansas is out in front and I think he might be able to catch a couple passes in that offense (sarcasm alert!). If I had to pick, I’d go with Arkansas, but I know that Missouri has done a very good job of recruiting him.

Recent SEC signing class steals

January, 27, 2012
Everyone wants the five-stars. No recruiting collection would be complete without them.

But as we've seen over the years, not all of them really pan out, leaving fans and coaches pouting along the way. However, when one of those five-stars busts, there's always an unheralded recruit that finds a way to steal the scene.

Today, we'll look at some of the best signing class steals from the past few years. We'll use ESPN's player rankings and since the ESPN rankings go back to 2006, we'll only go back that far.

These are players who might not have been so highly recruited coming out of high school, but were stars at the college level. We could have gone on for days with this list, but it had to be shortened.

Here they are:

  • [+] EnlargeNick Fairley
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesNick Fairley was unheralded but broke out during in 2010 and was the nation's best lineman that season.
    Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas: He was unranked in the 2007 class and was actually a tight end prospect. He received a grade of 40, but finished his Arkansas career as a top pass rusher, with 24 career sacks, 31 tackles for loss and forced eight fumbles.
  • Vick Ballard, RB, Mississippi State: He was a junior college transfer who wasn't highly sought after at all. But it didn't take Ballard long to make a name for himself as he quickly became a star for the Bulldogs in his two seasons, rushing for 2,157 yards and 28 touchdowns.
  • Ahmad Black, S, Florida: He came out of high school as the No. 49 safety and wasn't ranked in his region. He started off as a cornerback for Florida, but moved to safety and became quite the player. Black finished his career with 244 tackles and 13 interceptions. He also returned three interceptions for touchdowns.
  • Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia: He was rated the No. 41 corner and No. 267 in his region in 2008. At Georgia, he was a dangerous return man, ranking second all-time in the SEC in kickoff return yards (2,593) and is the only player in SEC history with three 100-yard plays of any kind. He was also a tremendous corner, recording nine interceptions, 18 pass breakups and 152 tackles. He was a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award in 2011.
  • Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky: Cobb was ranked as the No. 86 athlete back in 2008 and was overlooked by just about everyone. He played just about everywhere in college and finished his Kentucky career with 1,661 receiving yards, 1,313 rushing yards, 689 passing yards and 1,700 return yards. He also had 42 total touchdowns.
  • Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn: The JUCO transfer signed with Auburn in 2007, but didn't qualify and finally made it to the Plains in 2009. He wasn't a highly rated JUCO prospect and was actually the No. 32-rated OT in 2007. He was an absolute star in 2010, setting the Auburn single-season record with 24.0 tackles for loss and had 11.5 sacks. He also earned the Lombardi Award for the nation's best lineman.
  • Jerry Franklin, LB, Arkansas: He was a relative nobody coming out of high school as an unranked wide receiver. All he did in his four years was lead the Razorbacks in tackles each year and finished second all-time at Arkansas with 376 total tackles in his career.
  • Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt: He was unranked and received a grade of 40 as a safety prospect in 2008. He turned into one of the SEC's best cover corners with the Commodores and left Vanderbilt tied for first in school history with 15 interceptions.
  • Brandon James, RB/KR, Florida: He was ranked as the 111th running back back in 2006 and ranked 345th in his region. James made his mark as a return man, as he finished his Florida career with four SEC and 11 Florida records for kickoff and punt returns. He is still the SEC career leader in return yards (4,089) and had five touchdowns on returns.
  • Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama: He was ranked as the No. 28 offensive tackle back in 2008, but enters his senior year with the Crimson Tide as arguably the nation's best offensive lineman. His versatility really showed in 2011 when he played just about every position on Alabama's offensive line and won the Outland Trophy as the nation's top interior lineman.
  • Tyrann Matheiu, CB, LSU: He was the No. 36 cornerback in 2010 and was unranked in his region with a grade of 77. LSU was his only major offer, but he's been one of the most exciting -- and dangerous -- players to watch on defense and in the return game the last two seasons. He was a Heisman finalist in 2011, led LSU in tackles (71), has forced 11 fumbles in two seasons and has 10 career takeaways.
  • Dexter McCluster, RB, Ole Miss: He was ranked the No. 71 running back back in 2006 and was No. 189 in his region. McCluster became an all-purpose star in the SEC during his four years, totaling 1,703 receiving yards, 1,955 rushing yards and 23 offensive touchdowns.
  • Eric Norwood, LB, South Carolina: He was ranked the No. 99 defensive end back in 2006 and was No. 387 in his region, but he had quite the career at South Carolina, leaving with the all-time record in tackles for loss (54.5) and sacks (29). He finished his career with 255 tackles as well.
  • Danny Trevathan, LB, Kentucky: He was an unranked linebacker with a grade of 40 coming out of high school in 2008. He became one of the league's top linebackers in his final two seasons, leading the SEC in tackles both seasons. He finished his career with 372 tackles.
  • Prentiss Waggner, DB, Tennessee: He was the No. 50 corner in 2008 and was 305th in his region. Waggner has really been one of Tennessee's best defenders the past two seasons, playing both safety and corner. He has defended 11 passes, recording seven interceptions. He can be a shutdown corner and a ball-hawking safety.
  • Jarius Wright, WR, Arkansas: He came out of high school as the No. 44 wide receiver in 2008 and was ranked 115th in his region. His 2011 season, in which he led the SEC in receiving, gave him the single-season records in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He is also the Arkansas leader in career catches (168) and receiving yards (2,934).
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.
  • 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.
  • 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).

Season report card: Arkansas

December, 29, 2011
Arkansas was in the BCS hunt right up until the very end of the regular season, but fell short after a trip to Baton Rouge, La.:


Coach Bobby Petrino has shown throughout his coaching career that he knows a little bit about how to run an offense. The Razorbacks brought in new quarterback Tyler Wilson, who was equipped with four future NFL wide receivers, and led the SEC in total offense. Wilson led the SEC in passing, averaging 285.2 yards per game, and he also had 22 passing touchdowns. Wilson was very efficient for the Razorbacks, completing 63 percent of his passes and tossing just six interceptions. Jarius Wright and Joe Adams ranked in the top 10 in the SEC in receiving, with Wright leading the league with 93.5 yards per game and 11 touchdowns. Arkansas worked with a pretty inexperienced offensive line, but it was a line that grew as the season progressed. That growth became more evident in the running game. The Hogs started the season being very inconsistent running the ball and couldn't find a true number one to replace the injured Knile Davis. Following Week 6, Arkansas' running game gained more consistency and found a leader in Dennis Johnson, who led Arkansas with 637 yards. Arkansas' offense would have been even better with Davis in the lineup. He was arguably the most complete back in the league, but missed the season with an ankle injury.


This was supposed to be Petrino's best Arkansas defense, but the Hogs fell well below expectations. Injuries did pile up, but Arkansas' lack of depth became a glaring issue throughout the year. Arkansas allowed 31.8 points against ranked opponents. Against SEC opponents, the Razorbacks allowed 24.6 points per game. While Arkansas won 10 games, the defense ranked ninth or worse in the SEC in scoring defense, total defense, rushing defense and passing defense. Opponents averaged nearly 19 first downs per game against Arkansas and converted almost 38 percent of their third-down conversions. There were some solid individual performances for the Hogs, as linebacker Jerry Franklin led Arkansas in tackles (93) for the fourth straight year and ranked sixth in the SEC. Defensive end Jake Bequette overcame injury to record eight sacks in just nine games. Linebacker Alonzo Highsmith enjoyed a solid first year in Fayetteville with 10.5 tackles for loss, including 3.5 sacks.


Adams showed why he's such a dynamic athlete by becoming the human highlight reel on punt returns, including his scintillating 60-yard return for a score against Tennessee. He had three touchdowns on returns, and tied for first in the league with 16.2 yards per return. Johnson and Marquel Wade made Arkansas' kickoff team very dangerous. Both ranked in the top 5 in return average and combined for two touchdowns. Zach Hocker led SEC kickers with 8.9 points per game, and hit 18 field goals and 53 extra points. Dylan Breeding led the SEC with 45.2 yards per punt and downed 14 inside opponents' 20-yard lines. Arkansas also ranked third in the league in kickoff coverage.


Petrino had the Hogs in the thick of the BCS hunt yet again in 2011. A win over LSU at the end of the year might have put the Hogs on a path toward the national championship. His team overcame a flurry of injuries to grab double-digit wins for the second straight season. It's no shocker that offensive coordinator Garrick McGee was lured away to become the head coach at UAB after another season of directing Arkansas' offense. The Hogs ranked 26th nationally in offense, averaging 445.8 yards per game. Where Arkansas fell short was on defense. Arkansas was supposed to turn the corner there, but never did during the season and was pushed around by Alabama and LSU. Former defensive coordinator Will Robinson resigned at the end of the regular season.

Looking back at my 'fearless predictions'

December, 16, 2011
My colleague Edward Aschoff (you know him better as the ATL Kid) has reviewed his “fearless predictions” from the preseason.

He hit on one of the 10 and is still waiting on two more. I’ve gotta give him props for his dual prediction on Morris Claiborne and Tyrann Mathieu. That one could still happen.

When have we ever seen a better cornerback combination in this league? I’m sure some LSU fans might say last season with Patrick Peterson and Claiborne.

Either way, what an amazing run of cornerbacks on the Bayou.

As for my “fearless predictions,” I nailed five of the 10 and still have a chance for two more.

Here’s a look back:

1. The SEC will make it six in a row: This was a no-brainer. If I had really wanted to go out on a limb, I would have predicted 10 in a row. I don’t see the dominance of this league ending anytime soon. College football is an SEC world right now. Don’t think so? Cast an eye toward New Orleans in three weeks when Alabama and LSU play for the crystal trophy.

2. Alabama senior linebacker Courtney Upshaw will lead the SEC in sacks: I wasn’t way off on this one. Upshaw is tied for fourth with 8.5 sacks, and technically, could still get there with a monster game in the Allstate BCS National Championship Game. He had two sacks in last year’s bowl game. Upshaw was a big-play machine for the Tide this season. His 17 tackles for loss rank second in the league.

[+] EnlargeSteve Spurrier
Joshua S. Kelly/US PresswireSteve Spurrier and South Carolina overcame adversity to record the second 10-win season in school history.
3. South Carolina will win 10 games: Bingo! The Gamecocks hit the 10-win plateau for only the second time in school history and they did so despite losing star running back Marcus Lattimore for the second half of the season with a knee injury and fifth-year senior quarterback Stephen Garcia being dismissed from the team back in October. The Gamecocks avoided Alabama and LSU, and that was a big help. Nonetheless, the Head Ball Coach did some of his finest coaching this season.

4. Arkansas senior linebacker Jerry Franklin will lead the Hogs in tackles … again: Franklin came through for me … again. He was a perfect 4-for-4 during his career and goes into the bowl game with a team-leading 93 total tackles, six ahead of senior safety Tramain Thomas. Franklin has a chance to record 100 tackles or more for the second straight season. He’s been a rock for the Hogs and has a chance to become the first player since 1960 to lead Arkansas in tackles for four straight seasons.

5. Ohio State’s bowl drought against the SEC will continue: Ohio State beat Arkansas on the field last year, but later had to vacate the win. Something about a tattoo parlor and ineligible players. So, officially, the Buckeyes are still 0-9 against the SEC in bowl games. Florida could make it 0-10 if the Gators take care of the Buckeyes in the Gator Bowl (aka the Urban Meyer Bowl) on Jan. 2 in Jacksonville, Fla.

6. There will be more Colonel Reb sightings than Black Bear sightings in the Grove: This one is up for debate, although I would have nailed it had I predicted there would be more Colonel Reb sightings than Ole Miss wins this season. And now that I think about it, there probably were more Colonel Reb sightings than Ole Miss touchdowns the last month of the season.

7. LSU sophomore running back Spencer Ware will rush for 1,200 yards: I whiffed on this one. Ware got off to a nice start, but is currently second on the team in rushing with 700 yards. Michael Ford leads the way with 755 yards. The Tigers used their depth at running back wisely, which is one of the reasons they were able to wear teams down in the second half. They go four deep at the position, which means nobody was going to rush for 1,200 yards this season. Ware’s suspension against Auburn didn’t help him any, either.

8. South Carolina’s super-duper combo of Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery will combine for more than 3,000 all-purpose yards for the second straight season: Lattimore’s season-ending knee injury against Mississippi State pretty much killed any chance of this one happening. Plus, Jeffery dipped from 1,517 receiving yards a year ago to 614 yards this season. The Gamecocks had trouble getting him the ball at times and tweaked their offense once Connor Shaw took over at quarterback.

9. Vanderbilt will win as many games as they have the past two seasons combined: The Commodores accomplished that feat before the month of October was up and wound up winning two more games (six) than they had the last two seasons combined. James Franklin came in and shook things up – literally. The Commodores are headed to just their fifth bowl game in school history and were easily the most improved program in the league this season. They lost to Arkansas, Florida and Georgia by a total of 13 points. A few more breaks, and this could be an 8-4 or even a 9-3 team right now.

10. Georgia will beat Florida: Considering the Bulldogs had lost 18 of the past 21 games in this rivalry coming into this season, I was out there on a ledge with this prediction. It really looked shaky after Georgia started the season 0-2. But the Bulldogs came roaring back to win 10 in a row, including a 24-20 victory over the Gators and fought their way into the SEC championship game. Kudos to Todd Grantham and that Georgia defense, which was the backbone of the Bulldogs' turnaround this season.

Season recap: Arkansas

December, 7, 2011

Record: 10-2, 6-2 SEC

In any other conference, Arkansas might be sporting a championship ring right now and making plans for a BCS bowl.

But Alabama and LSU also reside in the SEC’s rugged Western Division, and the Hogs didn’t have any answers for either one of those clubs this season. They lost 38-14 to Alabama the fourth week of the season and 41-17 to LSU in the regular-season finale.

The margin of those two losses was disappointing, but it wasn’t a disappointing season.

The Hogs won 10 games for the second straight season, the first time they’d done that since the old Southwest Conference days in 1988 and 1989.

Junior Tyler Wilson stepped in for Ryan Mallett at quarterback, and the Hogs’ offense was as potent as ever. They missed running back Knile Davis, who fractured his ankle in the preseason, but Dennis Johnson came back from his own injury in 2010 to finish second in the SEC with 1,351 all-purpose yards.

It didn’t go as well as planned on defense. Whereas Arkansas made significant strides on defense from 2009 to 2010, it went the other way this season. The Hogs were hurt by injuries to defensive ends Jake Bequette and Tenarius Wright and gave up 28 or more points in six of their 12 games.

In their two losses to Alabama and LSU, they gave up a total of 79 points, although two of the touchdowns they allowed came on punt returns.

Offensive MVP: Receiver Jarius Wright. One of the Hogs’ senior leaders, Wright took his game to new heights this season and broke a ton of records along the way. He set school records with 63 catches and 1,029 receiving yards and led the SEC with 11 touchdown catches. He also set an Arkansas single-game record with 281 receiving yards against Texas A&M.

Defensive MVP: Linebacker Jerry Franklin. Watching an Arkansas game without Franklin next season will be weird. For the fourth straight season, he led the Hogs in total tackles with 93, including 10 for loss. Franklin, who’s made 30 consecutive starts, also returned a fumble 94 yards for a touchdown against Vanderbilt that was the difference in that game.

Turning point: Coming off the 24-point beating at Alabama, Arkansas found itself trailing Texas A&M 35-17 at the half the next week and its season teetering. But the Hogs came charging back in the second half behind Wilson’s school-record 510 passing yards to win 42-38 and ignite a seven-game winning streak.

What’s next: The Hogs will spend the postseason in a familiar locale and face No. 8 Kansas State on Jan. 6 in the AT&T Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas. It’s a chance to get to 11 wins, something the Hogs haven’t done since 1977, which was Lou Holtz’s first season in Fayetteville. Arkansas’ staff will look a lot different next season. Coach Bobby Petrino fired defensive coordinator Willy Robinson earlier this week, while offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Garrick McGee (UAB) and special-teams coordinator John L. Smith (Weber State) both left for head-coaching jobs. Petrino has already replaced McGee with his younger brother, Paul Petrino, who’s returning to Arkansas after spending the past two seasons at Illinois and will coach the Hogs in the bowl game.

Hogs' Johnson voted most underrated

November, 16, 2011
We asked the fans Tuesday in our SportsNation poll to tell us who in the SEC has been the most underrated player this season.

With nearly 11,000 votes cast, the clear winner is Arkansas running back/kickoff returner Dennis Johnson, who's been one of the league's best stories with the way he's recovered from injuries and been a force for the Hogs this season.

Johnson received 37 percent of the vote, and Georgia safety Bacarri Rambo was second with 28 percent of the vote. South Carolina's Antonio Allen was third with 19 percent.

I continue to be amazed at how little love Kentucky linebacker Danny Trevathan receives. He's on his way to leading the SEC in tackles for the second straight season and was dead last among the five candidates listed with 7 percent of the vote.

That tells me that he truly is underrated.

The same goes for Vanderbilt defensive end Tim Fugger, who's had an All-SEC type season -- and outside of the Vanderbilt program -- has done so with very little fanfare. He received just 9 percent of the vote.

There were some other good suggestions, too, and the reality is that there are a lot of players in this league who are underrated.

Some of the others mentioned most frequently were Arkansas linebacker Jerry Franklin, Alabama running back Eddie Lacy, Alabama receiver Marquis Maze and Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks.

They weren't the only ones, either.

How about Georgia cornerback Brandon Boykin, LSU safety Eric Reid, LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo, Alabama cornerback DeQuan Menzie, Florida safety Matt Elam, Vanderbilt running back Zac Stacy, Arkansas safety Tramain Thomas and LSU guard/center T-Bob Hebert?
Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino will say goodbye to a special group of players Saturday.

Seventeen seniors will take the field for the last time inside Razorback Stadium when Arkansas hosts Tennessee on senior night.

This group was one of the main building blocks responsible for elevating Arkansas’ football program to where it is today and Petrino acknowledged as much Wednesday.

It helped him get through a tough first year in 2008. The Hogs went 5-7, but finished the season with a 31-30 win over LSU in Little Rock, Ark. The season ended without a bowl, but that win helped give this program momentum into Petrino’s second year.

“The greatest thing about this group of seniors that play their last game here on Saturday is that year they were freshmen and they were all playing as true freshmen, they came to practice with positive attitudes and energy to work and get better and eagerness,” Petrino said. “That’s really what carried us through that year was we had great attitude and great work ethic. It’s certainly paid off here in the last three years.

Since 2008, Petrino and the Hogs have gone 26-9. Petrino even took Arkansas to its first BCS bowl last year and are on the doorstep of another BCS birth this season.

Some of the seniors Petrino and the Arkansas fan base will be saying goodbye to include defensive end Jake Bequette, linebacker Jerry Franklin, safety Tramain Thomas, safety/linebacker Jerico Nelson and wide receivers Joe Adams, Greg Childs and Jarius Wright.

Saturday could be even more special for Adams and Wright, who are just a few catches each from breaking the school record for career receptions held by Anthony Eubanks, who finished with 153. Adams currently has 151 career catches, while Wright has 150.

Wright has recorded 2,629 yards and 21 touchdowns in his career, while Adams has recorded 2,274 yards and 17 scores.

Wright has arguably been the top receiver in the SEC this season, leading the league with 48 catches, 812 yards and nine touchdowns. Adams has 41 catches for 516 yards and one score on the year.

Saying goodbye to those two could be especially hard Saturday.

“They’ve both had a tremendous career here, having a great year this year, have really meant a lot to our football team,” Petrino said.

“You can’t say enough about what they’ve done at the University of Arkansas.”

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- There is a quiet storm brewing in Fayetteville.

Behind the scenes of the mega Alabama-LSU game Saturday, Arkansas was busy creeping closer into BCS consideration.

While defensive coordinators around the country watched in astonishment at what was transpiring in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, the Razorbacks were putting on an offensive show at “The Game” outside of “The Game.”

With swirling winds through Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Arkansas glided up and down the field with its high-powered passing game against a more than solid South Carolina defense on the way to a 44-28 win.

Even with all the talent the Gamecocks possessed on that side of the ball, the Razorbacks were far too much. They were faster and tougher on Homecoming, and the slow starts that plagued them in recent weeks had vanished, as the Razorbacks produced 435 yards of total offense.

Arkansas started fast, scoring first for the first time since the Troy game eight weeks ago, and finished strong, scoring the final 14 points.

[+] EnlargeDeQuinta Jones
Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesArkansas limited South Carolina to 207 yards and forced three fumbles and an interception.
“I thought we were the more physical team out on the field,” Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. “That’s what we kind of harped on all week long. We had to play physical, play fast, be aggressive. I really felt like we did that.

“Our defense did an excellent job in the first half of completely shutting them down. Offensively, we were able to answer whenever they scored.”

While watching Petrino talk about his team, you could hear the confidence in his voice and actually feel the joy he took from defeating the No. 9 team in the country.

He acted as if his team had just done something extraordinary. He admitted there were mistakes, but he talked about how his team battled and how it responded so well to each of those mistakes.

There were the two touchdown drops and the pick-six in the second quarter that could have sent this team reeling and thinking that the mistakes of old were back. But the Hogs didn’t fret.

After Tyler Wilson's errant pass to South Carolina defensive end Devin Taylor was taken 48 yards for a touchdown, he came right back on the first play of Arkansas’ next drive and heaved a 68-yard touchdown pass to Jarius Wright.

From there, the Hogs outscored South Carolina 27-14 and Wilson finished with 299 passing yards and two touchdowns.

“I felt like we were the faster team on the field. I really did,” Petrino said, confidence flowing. “The whole game, I didn’t think they could cover our receivers, we felt like we were running the ball well -- Dennis [Johnson] was hitting holes. We just needed to score more touchdowns. There could have easily been 60 points on the board.”

And they should have. Drops and miscues ruined early drives and while it ate at Petrino and Wilson, they pressed on and this team finally played that complete game Petrino was looking for.

This team showed that when it gets going, it’s hard to stop. There has been so much talk about LSU and Alabama -- and rightfully so -- but Arkansas proved that it can’t be counted out of the SEC and beyond.

LSU’s 9-6 overtime win over Alabama proved as much, making the showdown between the Tigers and Hogs potentially "The Next Game."

But that can wait. For now, the Hogs are just thrilled that all of their goals are still attainable.

“We’ve always felt like we were a legit team,” linebacker Jerry Franklin said. “The SEC West is tough and the SEC is a tough conference in general.

“We’re doing what we need to do to just take care of what we need to do.”

Wright added that it’s time for this team to be taken more seriously because it is as dangerous as its talent suggests.

“When we’re on our game, it’s hard to stop us,” he said.

As for Petrino, he knows what he has. The errors have shown more than the success at times, but he sees his 8-1 team and realizes that something special could still happen.

“I like our team. I like the way we compete,” he said. “I think you see a tremendous amount of competitive spirit from our players, great leadership from our seniors. We pulled out some tough ones on the road and it shows that we’re coming closer together as a family because we really stick together.

“You can’t say enough about having competitive spirit and finding ways to win games.”

SEC players of the week

October, 31, 2011
The SEC players of the week as selected by the league office:


Michael Dyer, RB, Auburn: Dyer rushed for 177 yards on 27 carries and a touchdown in Auburn’s 41-23 win against Ole Miss. The 177 yards were the second most of his career behind the 180 yards against Ole Miss last season, while the 27 attempts were also the second most of his Auburn career. It was the ninth career 100-yard rushing game and fourth 150-yard rushing game of his career, and 116 of his rushing yards came in the second half when the Tigers outscored the Rebels 24-6. Dyer is third in the SEC and 19th in the nation in rushing, averaging 109.9 yards per game. He has 989 rushing yards this season.


Jerry Franklin, LB, Arkansas: Franklin led Arkansas with 10 tackles (seven solos) with 2.5 for loss and returned a fumble 94 yards for a touchdown in Arkansas’ 31-28 win at Vanderbilt. The Commodores led 28-20 and had second-and-goal from the Arkansas 3-yard line when Franklin scooped up a fumble and ran 94 yards to score allowing the Razorbacks to tie the game after a successful two-point conversion. The fumble recovery was the fifth of Franklin’s career and first returned for a score since 2009 (vs. Texas A&M).

Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia: Jones finished with four sacks (minus-27 yards), five total tackles and a forced fumble in Georgia’s 24-20 win over Florida. His four sacks rank in a tie for second most in a game in school history and the most since 2001 when Charles Grant had four against Auburn. Jones anchored a Bulldogs defense that held the Gators to minus-19 yards rushing and only a single offensive touchdown.


Zach Hocker, K, Arkansas: Hocker tied his career high with three field goals in Arkansas’ 31-28 victory at Vanderbilt. Hocker’s field goals came in the second half and were from distances of 36, 50 and 42 yards. Hocker’s 50-yard field goal was a season long and his 42-yard field goal with 6:53 remaining in the fourth quarter proved to be the game-winner, allowing Arkansas to overcome a 14-point deficit. Hocker’s 50-yard field goal was the second from 50 or more yards of his career (51 vs. USC, 2010). The field goal tied for the second longest by a Razorback since the school joined the SEC (50, Todd Wright, vs. LSU). Hocker had seven kickoffs in the game and two were for touchbacks.


Cordy Glenn, T, Georgia: Glenn graded out at 82 percent with three intimidation blocks during Georgia's 24-20 win over Florida. Glenn helped anchor an offense that racked up 185 yards on the ground and 354 total yards during the Bulldogs' sixth win in a row. He was instrumental in giving quarterback Aaron Murray time as Georgia bounced back from being down 17-3 early in the game as the Bulldogs were 3-for-3 on fourth-down conversions. Glenn served as a captain for the second straight game for the Bulldogs


Fletcher Cox, T, Mississippi State: Cox posted a career-best seven tackles with 3.5 tackles for loss and a pair of sacks in Mississippi State's 28-16 win at Kentucky. In the first quarter alone, Cox was credited with four tackles, three tackles for loss and a pair of sacks as the Bulldogs' defense held Kentucky to a total of 12 yards on their final two possessions of the quarter. Cox's first TFL came on second-and-1, pushing Kentucky back and forcing a punt on the first possession. Cox then posted back-to-back sacks to force another Kentucky punt. This is Cox’s third SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week honor, all within the past four weeks.


Brandon Wilds, RB, South Carolina: A true freshman who began the season fifth on the depth chart, Wilds made his first collegiate start Saturday at Tennessee and responded with 28 carries for 137 yards, an average of 4.9 yards per carry, in South Carolina's 14-3 win. He also was Carolina's top receiver with three receptions for 31 yards. He accounted for 168 of Carolina’s 318 total offensive yards against the Vols. On South Carolina's 20-play, 98-yard third-quarter drive, he carried the ball 11 times for 51 yards. He came into the game with just 13 carries on the season for 75 yards.

Here's a list of other players who had top performances last weekend.

SEC helmet stickers: Week 9

October, 29, 2011
Time to pass out a few helmet stickers as the countdown has now officially begun to next week’s SEC Super Bowl:

Georgia coach Mark Richt: A lot of teams would have unraveled after an 0-2 start to the season, especially when there were so many high expectations. But Richt’s leadership and quiet confidence have steered the Bulldogs back to the forefront of the Eastern Division race. All the negativity surrounding the program after that 0-2 start never made its way onto the team or inside the Bulldogs’ locker room, and that’s a credit to Richt and his entire staff.

Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia: Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said before the season that Jones would make a big impact on the Bulldogs’ defense, and the USC transfer has certainly delivered. The sophomore outside linebacker had four sacks in Georgia’s 24-20 win over Florida and also forced a fumble at the Gators’ 18-yard line in the third quarter that led to a game-tying touchdown. Jones’ final sack came on fourth down late in the game and all but finished the Gators.

Jerry Franklin, LB, Arkansas: His 94-yard fumble return for a touchdown turned the entire game around and spearheaded the Hogs’ come-from-behind 31-28 victory over Vanderbilt on the road. The Commodores had the ball at the Hogs’ 3-yard line and were about to take a two-touchdown lead early in the fourth quarter, but Franklin scooped up Zac Stacy’s fumble and raced 94 yards for a touchdown. The Hogs converted the two-point conversion and tied the game. Franklin also led Arkansas with 10 tackles, including 2.5 for loss.

Clint Moseley, QB, Auburn: It was rude welcome to the SEC as a starting quarterback last week for Moseley against LSU, but he came back with a vengeance in the Tigers’ 41-23 win over Ole Miss. Moseley threw the first four touchdown passes of his career, including a pair of scoring strikes to tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen. Moseley, who finished 12-of-15 for 160 yards and no interceptions, also connected with Emory Blake and Quindarius Carr on touchdown passes.

Ellis Johnson, South Carolina assistant head coach for the defense: OK, he’s got a long title, but his defense is carrying the Gamecocks right now. South Carolina beat Tennessee 14-3 on Saturday, the fifth consecutive game that the Gamecocks have held an opponent to 16 points or less. South Carolina held Tennessee to 186 total yards and intercepted two passes, one of those coming after the Vols had intercepted a pass and returned it to the Gamecocks’ 2-yard line. In three of their past five games, the Gamecocks have held opponents without a touchdown.

Midseason review: Arkansas

October, 11, 2011

Record: 5-1 (1-1 SEC)

Say this for Arkansas’ football team: The Hogs don’t easily discourage. For the second year in a row, they lost in the first month of the season to Alabama in a game they’d placed special emphasis on going all the way back to the summer. But just like a year ago, the Hogs refused to let that loss keep them down. They’ve turned back Top 25 foes Auburn and Texas A&M each of the last two weeks following their 38-14 beatdown in Tuscaloosa. Even more impressively, they’ve been able to stay the course despite a rash of injuries. In their win over Auburn last week, five starters missed the game. That’s not counting star running back Knile Davis, who fractured his ankle during the preseason. Senior defensive end Jake Bequette returned from a hamstring injury to play against Auburn, but it was his first game back since the second week of the season. The Hogs had missed Bequette on defense, especially his leadership. But to their credit, they’ve been able to recover defensively each of the last two weeks after shaky starts. They held Texas A&M to a field goal in the second half and shut out Auburn in the final three quarters. The passing game has really started to click these last two weeks, and that’s despite senior receiver Greg Childs still not being all the way back from his torn patellar tendon injury last season. Fellow seniors Jarius Wright and Joe Adams, though, have turned in one big play after another, combining for 10 touchdowns. The Hogs are off this coming weekend, and if they can start getting some players back from the injury list, are still very much in contention for at least an at-large BCS bowl bid.

Offensive MVP: QB Tyler Wilson. He took a beating against Alabama, but kept getting back up and competing. Ever since, Wilson has played some of his best football. He’s thrown five touchdown passes in his last two games and set a school record with 510 passing yards in the win over Texas A&M. Just as importantly, he’s been the kind of leader Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino hoped he would be in his first year as a starter. Wilson is completing 64.9 percent of his passes and has thrown 12 touchdowns and only three interceptions.

Defensive MVP: LB Jerry Franklin. He’s been starting since his freshman season, which is why everybody around the league swears that Franklin has been playing for six or seven seasons. He’s well on his way to leading the Hogs in tackles for a fourth straight season. He has 51 total stops, including five behind the line of scrimmage, and has also broken up three passes. Having Franklin’s experience in the middle of that defense is invaluable.