Published October 24, 2012 - 1:35pm
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Here’s the SEC stock report heading into week nine:
Derek Dooley: People in Knoxville are over Derek Dooley and his 0-14 SEC record. “Change gonna’ come”, or at least that’s what they’re hoping for. Jon Gruden’s name has resurfaced at yet another SEC school. First, it was Arkansas. Now, it’s Tennessee…again. So much hinges on this weekend’s game at South Carolina. If the Vols lose, hell, Dooley might be better off staying in Columbia. And that’s the popular sentiment among the Vol faithful. The program would have been better off left in Phil Fulmer’s hands years ago. Did I just say that?
Georgia’s Run Defense: Georgia was supposed to be the class of the SEC in defense, with nine starters and All-American Jarvis Jones coming back to contend for an SEC Championship. It’s been anything but that. Jones has been banged up for much of the year, and the Georgia running defense has struggled. From injuries to suspensions, this group has rarely played together as a unit. Most recently, the Dawgs gave up 230 yards against South Carolina and over 200 yards on the ground against Kentucky. Right now, Georgia is 10th in the SEC in rushing defense, allowing opponents to gain over 167 yards per game.
Missouri’s Perception in the SEC: The SEC is a whole lot tougher than it seemed in March and April, right Missouri fans? The Tigers are learning as a team and fan base the one area of greatest improvement needed is depth on the lines of scrimmage. This group has suffered three to four different linemen hurt at any one time. The Tigers have shuffled and tried to make it work. But it hasn’t. The offense is 12th in the SEC, after finishing 5th in the Big 12 last season. Backups haven’t looked ready to play, and adjustments on offense have been few and far between. The Tigers are 0-4 in conference and have been outscored 133 to 55. And without James Franklin, Kentucky will be a tough win.
QB Connor Shaw, South Carolina: Steve Spurrier yanked Shaw early in the second half against Florida. It may have been frustration mounted the week before, or perhaps he thought Dylan Thompson gave Carolina a better opportunity to succeed against the Gators’ defense. Whatever the reason, Spurrier has opened the door to a little quarterback controversy. I drank the Shaw Kool-Aid after the Georgia game, seeing that he was 13-1 as a starter before LSU. Now, after two losses and two different games Shaw did not play well in, I am singing a different tune. Oh how things can change week to week. Spurrier says he’s sticking with Shaw Saturday against Tennessee. The Vols’ defense is the perfect recipe to get the offense back on track.
Florida’s Special Teams: Mark Richt said Florida’s special teams are ‘special’. They certainly were this past Saturday against South Carolina. Punter Kyle Christy punted seven times for an average of 54 yards and flipped the field for the Gators’ defense. Likewise, Florida’s special teams caused two fumbles – one on punt return and one on kick return – and scored touchdowns off both in the first half. Caleb Sturgis is the best field goal kicker in the SEC with the strongest leg. The only thing Florida hasn’t really excelled at is on returns. However, Andre Debose returned a nice punt last week and a nice kick return against Vanderbilt. Other than the defense, this unit is a primary reason for Florida’s success.
LB Chase Garnham, Vanderbilt: Junior Chase Garnham was a monster against Auburn on Saturday, as he mounted 3.0 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss, and helped his team to a 17-13 win on the road. Vanderbilt’s a very underrated defense (6th in SEC total defense), and Garnham’s a very underrated player in the league.
Kentucky’s rushing attack: The Wildcats, led by Jonathan George and Raymond Sanders, posted over 200 yards rushing against the Bulldogs Saturday. With a freshman at quarterback, the offense is moving with the ground game. Kentucky currently sits 13th in the league in rushing, but things are looking up for the 1-7 team in Lexington. Really? Probably not, but the rushing attack could give Missouri fits this weekend.
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