Who’s hot and who’s not in the SEC?
It’s that time again when we find out:
Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett: The guy might as well be combustible. In three games this season, Mallett has already thrown for 1,081 yards and nine touchdown passes. His 40-yard scoring toss to Greg Childs last Saturday was the game-winner in Arkansas’ 31-24 win at Georgia. And even though Mallett is on a hot streak right now, he was as cool as cool could be in that final drive against Georgia after the Bulldogs had tied the score. He found tight end D.J. Williams twice and then connected with Childs to win it for the Hogs. Something says that won't be the last time Mallett delivers in the clutch.
Alabama running back Mark Ingram: He went for 48 yards on his first carry and then 50 yards on his third carry. That’s after missing the first two games while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery. The reality is that Ingram stays hot.
Georgia’s offensive line: The problem hasn’t been redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray in the Bulldogs’ two SEC losses. The problem has been a veteran offensive line that hasn’t played up to its talent level.
LSU defensive tackle Drake Nevis: The entire LSU defense has been red-hot since that forgettable fourth quarter against North Carolina, but Nevis has four tackles for loss in his past two games and has pretty much been unblockable.
Florida’s starts: Florida’s offense clearly has a ways to go, but the bigger problem is how poorly the Gators have started on offense in each of their first three games. Sooner or later, that’s going to catch up with them.
Vanderbilt’s running game: The Commodores piled up 227 rushing yards in their win over Ole Miss, their most against an SEC opponent since rushing for 239 yards against Kentucky in 2007. Warren Norman had an 80-yard run for a touchdown, and Zac Stacy had a 35-yard run for a touchdown. Their guys up front were getting it done.
Ole Miss’ defense: The most puzzling thing about the Rebels’ brutal start has been the play of their defense. On paper, their front seven looked as good as anybody in the SEC back in August. But they’ve been tormented by big plays.
Arkansas’ pass rush: Hey, we can’t forget about the Hogs’ defense. They lead the SEC with 12 sacks and got to Georgia quarterback Murray six times. Jake Bequette’s sack on third down with 54 seconds to play was one of the biggest plays of the game, and it came after Alfred Davis had sacked him two plays earlier.
Mississippi State’s ball security: The Bulldogs have turned the ball over seven times in their past two games, including five interceptions in the 29-7 loss to LSU. Redshirt freshman quarterback Tyler Russell has thrown four interceptions in his past two outings after tying a school record with four touchdown passes in the season-opening rout of Memphis.
Tennessee on third down: The Vols have converted just 9 of 43 third downs this season (20.9 percent), which ranks them 118th nationally. Only Florida International and San Jose State have been worse. Even more telling, five of Tennessee’s nine third-down conversions this season came in their 50-0 blowout of FCS opponent Tennessee-Martin in the opener. The hard part for the Vols is that they haven’t been much better on third down defensively. They’re ninth in the SEC when it comes to stopping people on third down. Florida was 8-of-14 on third down in the last game, a big reason why the Gators were able to pull away and win 31-17. In the second half alone, Florida converted three times when it was third-and-8 or longer.