Alabama Crimson Tide: D.J. Swearinger

Hot and Not in the SEC

November, 12, 2012
11/12/12
12:08
PM ET
The hot/not meter was all over the place this past weekend in the SEC:

GLOWING EMBERS

Texas A&M: This SEC stuff is a piece of cake. Just ask Texas A&M, which went into Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday and took down Alabama 29-24. The Aggies have now positioned themselves for an at-large BCS bowl berth and are two home wins away (against Sam Houston State and Missouri) from winning 10 games. Teams simply aren’t supposed to come into the SEC and have this kind of success this early. Texas A&M’s only two losses were by a combined eight points to a pair of top-10 teams: Florida and LSU. But the Aggies believed all along that they were equipped to come into this league and be a factor right away. Kevin Sumlin’s up-tempo offense has given SEC defenses fits all season. Redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel is the most exciting player in the country, and let’s not forget about the defense, either. Mark Snyder’s guys have held teams to an average of 19.2 points in their past four games since that 59-57 shootout win against Louisiana Tech.

HOT

[+] EnlargeMark Richt
John Reed/US PresswireCoach Mark Richt has his Bulldogs defense playing as a cohesive unit during the second half of the season.
Georgia’s defense: Now that all of the suspensions are history and everyone is back in their normal roles, Georgia is starting to play like a championship defense. In their past three games, the Bulldogs have allowed a total of 19 points. Nobody ever questioned the talent on this Georgia defense, but there wasn’t a lot of chemistry the first half of the season with all the different combinations on the field. Looks like the Bulldogs are hitting their stride at just the right time.

NOT

Whining about Georgia’s schedule: Enough already. The Bulldogs played the schedule in front of them and are the East champs. Case closed. Did it help the Bulldogs that they avoided Alabama and LSU? Absolutely. Did Florida get a shot at Georgia head-to-head? Absolutely ... and the Gators lost.

HOT

Vanderbilt’s pride: The Commodores’ come-from-behind 27-26 victory over Ole Miss on the road says volumes about the pride in the Vanderbilt program, the mental edge that second-year coach James Franklin has brought to that program and the leadership on the team. Vanderbilt rallied from a 23-6 deficit early in the third quarter and did it with its leading rusher, Zac Stacy, on the bench after suffering an injury in the first half.

NOT

Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon: For the second week in a row, the talented freshman running back lost a fumble with Alabama driving in the second half, and this time, the Crimson Tide couldn’t recover. Yeldon coughed up the ball at the Texas A&M 30 in the fourth quarter, and the Aggies answered with a quick touchdown to take a 29-17 lead.

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Ranking the SEC's safeties

July, 17, 2012
7/17/12
5:41
PM ET
Now that we've ranked the SEC's secondaries, it's time to take a look at the league's top cornerbacks.

Past rankings:
Here are our top 10 SEC safeties:

[+] EnlargeEric Reid
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesLSU safety Eric Reid has tremendous cover skills.
1. Eric Reid, Jr., LSU: He might be the league's best ball-hawking threat and he packs quite the punch. He had a knack for making all sorts of plays in LSU's secondary last year -- none bigger than his game-changing interception in the first game against Alabama. He tied for the team lead with 76 tackles, broke up three passes and intercepted two. Pro scouts love his ability to roam all around the field and his tremendous cover skills.

2. Bacarri Rambo, Sr., Georgia: He had a true breakout season last year and could have easily left for the NFL draft. The first-team All-American led the SEC and ranked second nationally with eight interceptions and was second in the SEC with 16 pass breakups. He takes the deep pass away, but is also very solid in defending the run and shorter passes.

3. Matt Elam, Jr., Florida: The headliner of Florida's defense, Elam found himself playing all over the field in 2011. He was second on the team with 78 tackles, but led the Gators with 11 tackles for loss, seven pass breakups and two forced fumbles. He loves contact, but also has improved his coverage skills and can line up at the nickel if needed.

4. Robert Lester, Sr., Alabama: Lester has had a solid career with the Tide so far. He notched an SEC-best eight interceptions in 2010 and flirted with leaving for the NFL after his junior season. He's moving to free safety, but has the speed and ability to play that rover position. He covers a lot of ground and can come in and play in the box as well.

5. D.J. Swearinger, Sr., South Carolina: His move from strong safety to free safety was a plus for the Gamecocks. He turned into a tremendous rover in South Carolina's defensive backfield and wasn't afraid to move closer to the line to hit people -- a lot of people. He's a proven playmaker and has no issues finding the ball, as he's registered 122 solo tackles in three seasons.

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