Albeit a day later, we take our weekly look at who’s hot and who’s not in the SEC:
Kentucky coach Rich Brooks: Let me preface this by saying I’m not trying to push Brooks out the door. He’s as classy as they come and a true pro, and there’s no doubt in my mind that the SEC is a better place as long as he’s a part of it. But if Brooks does decide to walk away after this season and turn the keys over to Joker Phillips, he can do so with his head held high and knowing that the Kentucky program is in exceedingly better shape than the way he found it. The Wildcats, coming off their first win at Georgia in 32 years, now get a chance to break a 24-year drought against Tennessee this Saturday. The Vols have won 24 straight games in the series, the longest active streak in the country among teams that play every year. Regardless of what happens this weekend in the Bluegrass, Brooks has accomplished something that hasn’t been done at Kentucky in nearly 100 years -- win at least seven games for four consecutive years -- and he’s turned in some of his best work in the twilight of what’s been a long and illustrious coaching career.
Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett: We might as well reserve a spot for Mallett in one of the “Hot” categories with the way he’s playing. He threw five touchdowns passes in the Hogs’ 42-21 win over Mississippi State and now leads the SEC with 28 scoring tosses.
Georgia quarterback Joe Cox: It wasn’t the kind of Senior Day anybody dreams about. Cox threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter last Saturday, and Georgia lost for the first time in 32 years at home to Kentucky.
Janzen Jackson’s legal team: The Vols’ freshman safety had the attempted armed robbery charges against him dismissed Monday, paving the way for his return to the team. Jackson’s attorney, Don Bosch, is one of the more renowned criminal defense attorneys in Knoxville, a former swimmer at Tennessee and past member of the school’s athletics board.
Drama at the top: Alabama and Florida are both coming off grueling, heart-stopping affairs. The Crimson Tide held on to win 45-0 over Chattanooga, while the Gators squeaked by Florida International 62-3.
Kentucky running back Derrick Locke: Randall Cobb has gotten plenty of pub this season, and deservedly so, but Locke has been one of the more underrated players in the conference. He accounted for 245 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns in the 34-27 win over Georgia.
LSU’s offensive line: The Tigers simply haven’t gotten it done up front this season. They’re 11th in the SEC in rushing offense and have given up 31 sacks, which is the second most in the league behind South Carolina’s 33.
Tennessee kicker Devin Mathis: He was down in Mexico studying earlier this year after leaving the Vols’ program, but returned to practice earlier this month, regained his NCAA eligibility and was 4-of-4 on kicks against Vanderbilt.
Arkansas’ run defense: The Hogs had fared better against the run this season than they had against the pass. That is, until last Saturday. Mississippi State and Anthony Dixon rolled up 327 yards on the ground, including 231 in the second half.
Ice, Ice Baby
LSU coach Les Miles: The Mad Hatter can spend the next two months trying to explain what he was thinking and what the entire LSU offensive staff was thinking in that final minute against Ole Miss, and it’s only going to get more convoluted every time he tries to explain it. The best thing he can do is not talk about it any more. He said Monday the blame rested squarely with him and that he botched the Tigers’ chances of winning that Ole Miss game in the final seconds. “I understand the criticism from the fans. I’m critical of myself,” Miles said. One of the things he’s taken a beating for is not running his field goal team out there on the field for that final play. But with a second remaining, the Tigers probably would have never gotten off a kick before time expired. And even when Jordan Jefferson tried to spike the ball, the officials ruled that the clock had run out before the ball was ever snapped. Miles’ biggest mistake was not running the ball when the Tigers got a first down at the Ole Miss 32 with 1:04 to play. And then the unforgivable blunder was allowing 17 seconds to waste away after the third-down play. Unfortunately for Miles, it’s a chaotic final few seconds that they won’t soon forget on the Bayou.