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SEC Preview 2006 - Top 5s
Posted Aug 9, 2006

2006 SEC Preview SEC Top 5s

SEC Preview | All-SEC team and top 30 players | Top 5s | Unit Rankings
- Alabama Preview | Arkansas Preview | Auburn Preview 
- Florida Preview | Georgia Preview |
 Kentucky Preview
LSU Preview | Ole Miss Preview |  Mississippi State Preview |
South Carolina Preview | Tennessee Preview | Vanderbilt Preview

1) The five games that will shape the SEC race (in order)

Sept. 16,
LSU at Auburn
Yeah, Alabama and Arkansas will make a push, but the showdown of Tigers should decide the West race.
Sept. 16,
Florida at Tennessee
Part one of the East puzzle will be put in place. Tennessee still has to travel to Georgia, so this might be more vital to the team in orange.
Oct. 7,
Tennessee at Georgia
This could be a fight for survival if Georgia gets upset in its SEC opener at South Carolina and Tennessee loses to Florida. If the Dawgs and Vols win those two battles, this might decide the East title.
Oct. 14,
Florida at Auburn
You'll likely get a second chance to see these two play six weeks later.
Oct. 28,
Florida vs. Georgia
Can Urban Meyer make it 2-0 in the Cocktail-Not-A-Cocktail Party?

2) Five non-conference games that SEC teams had better take very, very seriously
1. Washington State at Auburn, Sept. 2
It shouldn't be hard for Auburn to remember last year's season opening clunker against Georgia Tech. Washington State has the firepower to bomb away and make this a nightmare for the Tiger secondary.
2. Marshall at Tennessee, Sept. 23
If there are still remnants of last year's Tennessee team floating around, the date with the Herd, coming a week after the showdown against Florida, could be a major problem.
3. Middle Tennessee at South Carolina, Nov. 18
On paper, South Carolina should obliterate the Blue Raiders. However, this comes after the trip to Florida and before the rivalry battle with Clemson. Don't forget how the Sun Belt team stunned Vanderbilt last year.
4. Southern Miss at Florida, Sept. 2
If you're going to pull off an upset, the best chance is in the season opener. In what should be a defensive slugfest, the Golden Eagles have a puncher's chance.
5. Fresno State at LSU, Oct. 21
Everyone knows Fresno State's résumé. This game is the last thing LSU needs in the middle of the SEC season.

3) Five best SEC pro prospects
 Georgia DE Quentin Moses, Sr. - 44 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 20.5 TFL, 38 quarterback hurries
The hope was for Moses to go from being a solid situational pass rusher to an All-SEC terror. 11.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss later, he's going to be on the short list of All-America ends and the leader of the potentially great Dawg line. He's not huge at 250 pounds and he's not the best run stopper, but there are few better at consistently getting to the quarterback. He's also smart being named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll over the last few years.
2. LSU FS LaRon Landry, Sr. - 69 tackles, 1 sack, 4 TFL, 3 interceptions, 8 broken up passes
One of the nation's best free safeties and a sure early round draft pick next year, he has the 6-2, 204 size, the 4.4 speed, and the résumé with 241 career tackles. He's a proven playmaker against the pass and a light-him-up highlight reel hitter. It'll be a shock if he's not an All-American and in the hunt for SEC Defensive Player of the Year.

Ole Miss LB Patrick Willis, Sr. - 128 tackles, 3 sacks, 9.5 TFL, 4 broken up passes, 1 interception
Head coach Ed
Orgeron, a former coach at USC, said before last season that Willis could've been a star on any of the recent Trojan teams. Willis is just now starting to get more recognition from everyone other than CFN making most preseason All-America teams, and he should be one of the favorites for all the big defensive awards if he leads the nation in solo tackles like he did last year.

4. Auburn RB
Kenny Irons, Sr. - 256 carries, 1,293 yds, 13 TDs, 5.1 ypc, 14 catches, 164 yds
The South Carolina transfer ripped it up in spring practice of 2005, but didn't get into the mix until the third game of the season when he tore off 147 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Ball State on just 11 carries. He then went on to be one of the SEC's best players with eight 100-yard days showing off tremendous home-run hitting speed highlighted by a brilliant 218-yard day in the loss to LSU. He's not necessarily a power runner, but he's physical and doesn't go down easily. When he has a sliver of daylight, he'll tear off a huge gain. 

Tennessee OT Arron Sears, Sr.
The All-America caliber lineman can play either tackle or guard, but he's best and most useful on the outside. As the only returning starter on the line, he might be moved around where needed, like he was in the win over LSU when he saw time at four different spots. He's a strong, and surprisingly mobile 6-4 and 338 pounds with two years of starting experience under his belt.

4) Five biggest SEC shoes to fill 
Georgia QB Joe Tereshinski for D.J. Shockley
It might be true freshman Matthew Stafford filling the void. Tereshinski knows the offense and he has some experience, but the question is whether or not he has what it takes to hold on to the job. He's a big, smart player with good mobility for his size, but he's not going to be Shockley running the ball. Even so, if he's the starter, he'll be enough of a rushing threat to keep defenses thinking and has the potential to make the Shockley-like leap in overall production in his senior season. He's most known for stepping in for an injured Shockley in the loss to Florida catching a touchdown pass and rushing for 37 yards, but he struggled in the passing game only completing 8 of 21 passes for 100 yards with an interception.

Glen Dorsey for Claude Wroten
Dorsey got in better shape getting down to 284 pounds but still should be a rock against the run. He was a steady reserve last year at both tackle spots and should be an All-SEC performer and the leader up front. He's quick enough to get into the backfield on a regular basis and should double his sack total with more time on the field.

Alabama LB Terrence Jones for DeMeco Ryans 
It's Jones' time to shine with some huge shoes to fill replacing Ryans on the strongside. He would've been starting for most teams over the last two seasons, but the Bama linebacking corps has been too crowded with talent. Even so, he has 50 career tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss despite playing a limited role. While he can move with defensive back speed, there's a little concern about his size for the strongside at only 220 pounds

4. Auburn OT King Dunlap for Marcus McNeill

A monster at 6-8 and 313 pounds, Dunlap is one of the few players who can literally fill the shoes of All-American Marcus McNeill. One of the program's star recruits of a few years ago, Dunlap has enough experience, and enough of the trust of the coaching staff, to play at a high level right away at left tackle. Run blocking won't be an issue, but he'll have to prove he can consistently keep his feet moving well in pass protection.

5. Vanderbilt QB Richard Kovalcheck for Jay Cutler

Arizona transfer will get every shot at starting in a battle with Chris Nickson. He has good size and a nice, accurate arm with 11 games of starting experience for the Wildcats in 2004 and 2005. While not the most mobile quarterback around, he has a good enough arm to make up for most shortcomings. Smart enough to have graduated from UA, he's in grad school at Vanderbilt.

5) Five SEC breakout players
1. Florida DE
Jarvis Moss, Jr. - 25 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 11 TFL
Is Moss going to emerge as more than just a devastating situational pass rusher? He has the speed, the 6-6 frame, and the closing ability to have a double-digit sack season. So far he has gotten by on pure speed running as fast as he can into the backfield and usually coming up with great results. Now he appears on the verge of becoming a stronger all-around defender.

2. Florida TE
Cornelius Ingram, Soph.
The former backup quarterback looked like a major NFL prospect in spring ball. He's 6-4, 235 pounds, fast, and now he knows what he's doing. When he has everything working, he's next to uncoverable. His blocking might not be anything special, but that won't matter if he's making big plays with his hands. Now he has to prove he can be great in game action.

3. Georgia QB
Matthew Stafford, Fr.
One of the most heralded quarterback recruits to ever come to Georgia, the 6-3, 225-pound high school superstar has NFL written all over him. He has the team's best arm along with the poise and vision of an experienced college veteran. He graduated early to take part in spring practices, and he hasn't looked out of place in reps with the starters.

4. Ole Miss RB
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Jr.
Green-Ellis was a bright young tailback at Indiana rushing for 1,732 yards in two seasons. Now he's a Rebel and should be an instant upgrade for a woeful rushing attack with his ability to power it between the tackles to go along with the quickness to get outside. He took over the top spot this spring for his blocking and receiving skills as well as his workhorse running ability.

Mississippi State RB Anthony Dixon, Fr.
The true freshman might be the the most talented back on the roster. He's big, strong and fast running a 4.5 40 with a bench press of 265 pounds in a 6-1, 229-pound frame. He ran for 31 touchdowns his senior year at Terry High in Jackson, Mississippi, and he'll get every shot at seeing the field right away once he hits campus.