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Alabama… sophomore cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. Alabama’s defense remains untested through three games, particularly in the secondary. That will change this week against the Razorbacks. How will this former star recruit hold up against those explosive receivers?Last week’s choice: LB Donta Hightower – 8 tackles.
Arkansas…junior quarterback Ryan Mallett. He came through in the clutch last week, but now the competition takes a step up against the Crimson Tide. Last week’s choice: WR Greg Childs – 3 catches for 82 yards, the game-winning TD.
Auburn … junior defensive tackle Nick Fairley. A pleasant surprise on the plains, this 298-pounder is the current conference leader in sacks and tackles-for-loss. He’ll get to deal with Mr. Lattimore this week. Last week’s choice: RB Michael Dyer – 69 yards rushing.
Florida…junior quarterback John Brantley. Maybe it’s play-calling that doesn’t totally fit his skill set. Maybe it’s the continued issues with Mike Pouncey snapping the ball, but the Florida offense is stuck in neutral. And it looks like if it’s going to get a move on this week against a dangerous Kentucky squad, Mr. Brantley ‘s going to have to get his foot down on the gas.Last week’s choice: RB Jeff Demps – 73 yards rushing, 70 kick return yards.
Georgia…freshman quarterback Aaron Murray. Georgia’s pup passer has shown that he definitely has the skills to play in this league. He kept his team alive last week versus Arkansas despite very little help from his offensive line (just 3.4 yards per carry in the run game). They’ll need him to be sharp again this week against a live Mississippi State defense. Last week’s choice: LB Justin Houston – three tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss.
Kentucky…senior running back Derrick Locke. The Wildcats’ speedster blazed up 166 yards last week, and he’s got to be anxious to see what he can do against the Gators. Last week’s choice: WR Randall Cobb – five catches, 43 yards, 1 TD.
LSU … junior cornerback Patrick Peterson. The best player on any field he takes, the Tigers’ No. 7 has half the defensive secondary and the return game on lockdown. His 87 total yards last week on punt, kickoff and interception returns were a higher individual total than anybody else on the Mississippi State sideline. West Virginia’s Geno Smith will know where he is at all times. Nobody does it better. Last week’s choice: LB Ryan Baker – 12 tackles, half a tackle-for-loss.
Mississippi State…linebackers K.J. Wright and Chris White. This duo of Bulldog linebackers lead a defensive front seven that will give every offense it faces a hard time. Big and physical, they’ll make running between the tackles tough for Georgia this week.
Ole Miss …senior QB Jeremiah Massoli. The Rebels’ season is on the brink three weeks in, and right now if they’re going to start beating anybody it’s going to be on the arm and legs of the Wild Samoan.Last week’s choice: QB Jeremiah Massoli – 19-35 for 190 yards and 2 TDs, 104 yards rushing, 1 TD.
South Carolina…junior quarterback Stephen Garcia. The Cock & Fire is no secret anymore, but if they’re going to pull off a big road win at Auburn, the Gamecocks will need Garcia to step up. Auburn will be selling out to stop Marcus Lattimore. Last week’s choice: RB Marcus Lattimore – 97 yards rushing, 1 TD.
Tennessee…junior quarterback Matt Simms. He’s clearly got one of the stronger arms in the SEC, but the latest scion of Phil Simms to start for a school initialed “UT” has to develop some touch. The Vols just don’t have a lot of depth and are going to need a ball-control attack. They can’t have that if Simms can’t start making better decisions. Last week’s choice: RB Tauren Poole – 23 yards rushing, 38 receiving.
Vanderbilt...junior tight end Brandon Barden. The Commodores are going to live and die with their running game, but this 6-5 junior is showing that he can be a solid safety-valve for the passing game. He may be the only Vanderbilt receiver worth accounting for. Last week’s choice: RB Warren Norman – 115 yards rushing, 1 TD.