Midseason Report - SEC

Posted Oct 11, 2006

The reviews of the first half of the season continue with the SEC Midseason Report with Offensive Player of the Midseason, Tennessee's Erik Ainge, along with the top coach, game, disappointment and more along with predictions for each team. The rest of the conferences to be out later this week.

Offensive Player of the Midseason Erik Ainge, QB Tennessee
Defensive Player of the Midseason
– Patrick Willis, LB Ole Miss

Ten best SEC players in the first half of the season
1. Erik Ainge, QB Tennessee
2. Robert Meacham, WR Tennessee
3. Patrick Willis, LB Ole Miss
4. Chris Leak, QB Florida
JaMarcus Russell, QB LSU
6. Jonathan Goff, LB Vanderbilt
7. Darren McFadden, RB Arkansas
8. Andre Woodson, QB Kentucky

9. Arron Sears, OT Tennessee
10. Kenny Irons, RB Auburn

Biggest Surprise – Alabama QB John Parker Wilson
With star RB Ken Darby having a rough first half of the year, the performance of sophomore QB John Parker Wilson has saved the Bama offense. Wilson has thrown for more than 200 yards in each of his first six games creating a connection with Keith Brown and D.J. Hall to give the Tide a dangerous passing attack for the next few years.

Biggest Disappointment – (tie) Brent Schaeffer, QB Ole Miss and the Georgia offense
Schaeffer wasn’t supposed to be the next Vince Young, but he was expected to add some excitement to the Ole Miss offense with his legs as well as his arm. He hasn’t been able to get the attack moving without nearly enough rushing production while struggling to get anything going through the air. At Georgia, the defense has been good enough to contend for the national title, but the passing game, particularly the receivers, has been awful and there haven’t been nearly enough points put up to suggest that the SEC champions could repeat.

The SEC Champion will be ... Florida over Auburn. The two meet this week for the first time, but they’ll see each other again in December.

Best Game of the First Half 
Auburn 7 ... LSU 3, Sept. 16
Auburn survived a tough, hard-hitting battle holding on twice with a controversial late deflection by Eric Brock to stop one drive, after the officials picked up the flag after calling pass interference, and a big hit on Craig Davis on the six-yard-line as time ran out. Auburn got a one-yard Brandon Cox quarterback sneak for a touchdown in the third quarter to cap off a 12-play, 75-yard drive. LSU got its only score on a 42-yard Colt David field goal as time ran out at the end of the first half. Auburn only gained 182 yards of total offense, LSU gained 309.
Second Best Game Arkansas 24 … Alabama 23 2OT, Sept. 23
Third Best Game Florida 21 … Tennessee 20, Sept. 16

Worst Game of the First Half 
Kentucky 41 ... Texas State 7, Sept. 9
It took about a quarter, but Kentucky got on a run with a 27-point first half on two Andre Woodson touchdown passes to Dicky Lyons, an eight-yard Tony Dixon scoring run, and a 17-yard John Connor touchdown catch. Rafael Little added a 24-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and Maurice Grinter scored from one-yard out for a 41-0 lead before TSU scored on a four-yard Cameron Luke catch. UK outgained Texas State 425 yards to 210.

Coach of the Midseason – Phil Fulmer, Tennessee
Actually, it should probably be offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe. Tennessee has grown by leaps and bounds playing like the team it’s supposed to be after the disastrous 2005.

Player who'll step up in the second half – Kregg Lumpkin, RB Georgia
Never quite right last year after returning from injury, Lumpkin was limited in a crowded Bulldog backfield. With Thomas Flowers and Danny Ware doing next to nothing in the first half of the season, and the passing game having major problems, the big junior will start to get the ball more and more as the workhorse of the offense. At least, he needs to be given the ball enough to be the main weapon.

Best performance so far -
South Carolina WR Sidney Rice caught nine passes for 161 yards and five touchdowns in the 45-6 win over Florida Atlantic.

Top Freshman – Mitch Mustain, QB Arkansas
Florida backup QB Tim Tebow has provided the best spark and showed signs he’ll be a future superstar and Tennessee RB LaMarcus Coker has been fantastic, but Mustain has been the top freshman after being thrown into the SEC fire and leading the way to a 2-0 SEC record. While he’s playing like a freshman at times, he hasn’t been awful and has been decent in keeping the offense moving.

Coach who needs to have a big second half – Mississippi State’s Sylvester Croom  
Year three in the Croom regime isn’t looking any better than the first two. With no offense and a struggling defense that’s not slowing down anyone’s passing game. MSU isn’t going to win too many over the back half of the season, but it needs to be more competitive.  

Player who needs to have a big second half – Mitch Mustain, QB Arkansas
The defense is decent, the running game is one of the best in the nation, and the schedule shapes up nicely. After the win over Auburn, if Arkansas can get consistent production and a bit of improvement from its star freshman quarterback, it could be the wild-card in the SEC with late season home dates against Tennessee and LSU.

Best remaining conference game – Florida at Auburn, Oct. 14
It lost some of its luster after Auburn’s loss to Arkansas, but it’ll still be vital to the SEC race. It might be part one of the SEC title game and will be Auburn’s last hurdle until closing out with a home date against Georgia and a road trip to Alabama.

Team Mid-Season MVPs & Predictions   
Florida – QB Chris Leak
predicted wins: Georgia, at Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Western Carolina, at Florida State
predicted losses: at Auburn
predicted record: 11-1 

Georgia – DE Charles Johnson
predicted wins: Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, at Kentucky, Georgia Tech
predicted losses: Florida, at Auburn
predicted record: 9-3 

Kentucky – QB Andre Woodson
predicted wins: at Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, UL Monroe
predicted losses: at LSU, Georgia, at Tennessee
predicted record: 6-6 

South Carolina – CB Fred Bennett
predicted wins: at Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee
predicted losses: Tennessee, Arkansas, at Florida, at Clemson
predicted record: 6-6 

Tennessee – QB Erik Ainge
predicted wins: Alabama, at South Carolina, at Arkansas, at Vanderbilt, Kentucky
predicted losses: LSU
predicted record: 10-2 

Vanderbilt – LB Jonathan Goff
predicted wins: at Duke
predicted losses: at Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, at Kentucky, Tennessee
predicted record: 3-9 

Alabama – QB John Parker Wilson
predicted wins: Ole Miss, FIU, Mississippi State
predicted losses: at Tennessee, at LSU, Auburn
predicted record: 7-5

Arkansas – LB Sam Olajubutu
predicted wins: at South Carolina, SE Missouri State, Ole Miss, at UL Monroe, at Mississippi State
predicted losses: Tennessee, LSU
predicted record: 9-3

Auburn – RB Kenny Irons
predicted wins: Florida, Tulane, at Ole Miss, Arkansas State, Georgia, at Alabama
predicted losses: None
predicted record: 11-1

LSU – QB JaMarcus Russell
predicted wins: Kentucky, Fresno State, at Tennessee, Alabama, Ole Miss, at Arkansas
predicted losses: None
predicted record: 10-2 

Ole Miss – LB Patrick Willis
predicted wins: Northwestern State, Mississippi State
predicted losses: at Alabama, at Arkansas, Auburn, at LSU
predicted record: 4-8 

Mississippi State – LB Quinton Culberson
predicted wins: Jacksonville State
predicted losses: at Georgia, Kentucky, at Alabama, Arkansas, at Ole Miss
predicted record: 2-10