After watching Twitter blow up into a panicky mess Monday from the news about Aaron Murray’s sprained ankle it made me think about the players your SEC team can’t afford to lose for the season. Leaving the quarterback out of the discussion for once, let’s focus on the other guys that if they don’t play in 2011 will have an immediate impact on your favorite SEC team.
Can’t Afford to Lose – Marquis Maze, WR
Why - There is a lot of talent at receiver for Alabama but you really can’t describe it as experienced talent right now. Maze is the deep threat and might end up being AJ McCarron’s go-to receiver this fall. Darius Hanks/Kevin Norwood have not done anything to scare SEC defenses and DeAndrew White might have a breakout year but we have to see him play an SEC game first. Maze is a difference maker, without him the Alabama offense chances significantly.
Can’t Afford to Lose – Jake Bequette, DE
Why - Bequette led Arkansas in sacks last year and is the best pass rusher that the Razorbacks will put on the field. He consistently puts pressure on the quarterback but he does need to step up his play against the run. His tackles a year ago didn’t match the type of player he is capable of being but he is a three down end with the size problems he presents for an offensive line. Expect Bequette to improve on first and second down this fall and become a force on an improving Arkansas defense.
Can’t Afford to Lose – Mike Dyer, RB
Why - The Auburn running game is talented but thin, if Onterio McCalebb were to get hurt there are a handful of other small shifty players that could fill his role but there is no other true running back like Mike Dyer on the Auburn roster. Incoming freshmen Tre Mason is bigger than McCalebb but he is only 190 pounds so he isn’t going to be the physical player that Dyer is. Without a big back to replace Dyer, the Auburn running attack becomes very one dimensional and that will hurt the Tigers offense.
Can’t Afford to Lose – Janoris Jenkins, DB
Why - The biggest reason Jenkins can’t be lost is he is the best cornerback in the country. The Florida defense needs a shutdown corner they can rely on this season when they lost so much in the secondary. Both Safeties are gone and there is depth at corner but not at the level of Jenkins. Jenkins led the Gators in pass breakups, was tied for second on the team in interceptions and this was with teams scared to throw his way. He is the most important player on Florida’s defense in 2011.
Can’t Afford to Lose – Orson Charles, TE
Why - A typical argument with Georgia fans right now is the talent as receiver vs. the proven talent at receiver. Outside of Charles there are a bunch of guys that had a lot of stars attached to their name by recruiting services but we haven’t seen it on the field. Charles is the best Tight End in the SEC and the best receiver UGA has on their roster. He can move the chains and make a big play down field so Aaron Murray will rely on him a lot this year, the other guys need to step up first so Charles isn’t so crucial but today he is a key to Georgia’s success.
Can’t Afford to Lose – Danny Trevathan, LB
Why - This one is pretty obvious as Kentucky cannot afford to lose the SEC’s leading tackler who was everything to their defense a year ago. Not only did Trevathan lead the SEC in total tackles, he led the league in Solo tackles…averaging 6.5 per game. He was the only SEC player in double digit tackles per game and was a difference maker on the defense. There is no one on Kentucky’s roster who can replace him and he is without a doubt a preseason All-SEC player.
Can’t Afford to Lose – Rueben Randle, WR
Why - Randle has been held back like most LSU receivers the last few years with inconsistent quarterback play. Les Miles may have that issue solved with Zach Mettenberger going through spring practice and Randle becomes the best down field threat LSU has. Russell Sheppard could have a big year as well but he doesn’t have the size that makes Randle so good in jump ball situations. Randle will make all the other offensive players around him better as he demands double teams, no other player on the LSU roster needs that kind of attention right now.
Can’t Afford to Lose – Jonathon Banks, DB
Why - MSU is losing a lot on defense, two linebackers who were on some first team All-SEC lists, a great defensive coordinator in Manny Diaz and what many expected to be their best defensive players last year, Pernell McPhee. There will be a lot of new faces, but two year starter and incoming junior DB Jonathon Banks is the best MSU defensive player to fill that void. Banks did just about everything last year as he was fourth on the team in tackles, second in pass break-ups and tied for first in interceptions. The Bulldogs should expect big things from this experienced DB this fall.
Can’t Afford to Lose – Bobbie Massie, OT
Why - Ole Miss will be starting a new quarterback for the second straight year and if Nathan Stanley is indeed the man to take over he will need a left tackle to protect him. Massie played as a true freshman, started as a sophomore and now in his junior year is one of the more physically impressive tackles in the SEC. He will be counted up on keep SEC ends off his QB’s back as well as making holes for one of the better running back in the SEC, Brandon Bolden.
Can’t Afford to Lose – Marcus Lattimore, RB
Why - We know what happens to South Carolina when Lattimore doesn’t finish a game…the Gamecocks lose. In all of Carolina’s losses last year Marcus Lattimore was either knocked out of the game or was ineffective. As Lattimore goes, so do the Gamecocks and he is the best running back in the conference. Lattimore made a weak offensive line better, he makes Stephen Garcia a better quarterback and he makes South Carolina a much better football team.
Can’t Afford to Lose – JuWuan James, OT
Why - James started as a true freshman a year ago and really helped fortify a young and inexperienced Volunteer offensive line. He is expected to have another big season and with not much depth behind him, UT needs him healthy. Derek Dooley did a good job recruiting the offensive line but in his 2011 class but there isn’t an SEC ready left tackle coming in this summer.
Can’t Afford to Lose – Sean Richardson, S
Why - Richardson is not your typical ball-hawking safety, he is the typical 8th man in the box to stop the run safety as evidenced by his team leading 98 tackles for Vandy last season. He is bigger than some SEC linebackers at 218 pounds and he plays like one. Vanderbilt has had good secondary players for years and Richardson is no exception. Richardson had the third most solo tackles in the SEC a year ago which shows how valuable to the defense he truly was.
If you have a better answer for the player your team can’t lose send it to me… E-mail
me Brian Harbach
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