SEC Football: 5 players to Watch in Week 4
5 SEC players to watch in Week 4
During Week Four last season, we saw a few surprises by players which shattered the SEC football world. Georgia fans saw what would come to be the best running back tandem last season starting to unfold. Georgia, at 3-0, captured a grand sum of 302 rushing yards, 212 from freshmen Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall right at the Vanderbilt defense. Gurshall paved the way for four total scores on the ground last Saturday, setting up 16 total rushing touchdowns after that point for the rest of the remaining season. Georgia's two losses in 2012 came in games when Gurley and Marshall didn't hit 200 total rushing yards together.
That same week in 2012, Arkansas wide receiver Cobi Hamilton made 10 catches for 303 yards and three touchdowns for the Razorbacks, which became an SEC record after the team's 35-26 loss to Rutgers. It was a record and historic day for the Arkansas senior, amassing not just the school record, but the league record which stood for 11 years. LSU wide receiver Josh Reed had the previous record of receiving yards in a game after a 293-yard performance in a game with Alabama in 2001. Hamilton passed former teammate and current Minnesota Vikings player Jarius Wright's school record of 281 yards, after the receiver had a brilliant performance in a come-from-behind win in his senior season in AT&T Stadium against Texas A&M.
Last week, it was Mike Evans of Texas A&M breaking out for 279 receiving on seven catches against the best team in the nation, while Jeff Scott of Ole Miss rushed for 164 yards on 8.6 yards a carry in Austin.
So, who should everybody be watching to have a breakout game in Week 4 this season?
5. E.J. Gaines -- CB -- Missouri
Missouri will face Indiana Saturday in Bloomington with three seniors in their secondary, including potential All-SEC E.J. Gaines matching up with one of the Big Ten's finer offenses. Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson is 6-1 facing Missouri as the Oklahoma Sooners' offensive coordinator from 2002-10. Indiana leads the Big Ten after three weeks in scoring, total touchdowns and third-down conversions at 58 percent. The Tigers got a bye week to get ready for what senior cornerback Gaines calls an offense that takes him back to his early career in the Big 12. Gaines and the Tigers' defense should put the unknown of Indiana's effectiveness at quarterback to bed. Indiana's first-time starter last week at quarterback, Nate Sudfield, threw for 335 yards a couple of scores. Gaines will lock in on his assignment of covering receiver Cody Latimer. The thought of 600 yards of total offense just isn't happening against Gaines and that Tigers secondary this week.
4. Jonathan Krause -- WR -- Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt dismissed Chris Boyd from the program Wednesday after he pled guilty to one count of being an accessory to the fact in last summer's rape scandal that shook the Commodore football program. Boyd would've meant a lot to Vanderbilt's success moving forward after being a stabilizer to receiver Jordan Matthews as the team's second-leading receiver last season. The second-leading receiver on the team coming into the UMASS game on Saturday is senior Jonathan Krause. Krause is a very gifted option in his final year of eligibility who has shown speed that can split most secondaries. Krause wasn't noted for his hands until this season, mostly due to his extensive work on special teams as a returner on punts. UMASS won't be able to match Krause on slants and corner routes, possibly gift-wrapping him a career effort Saturday. Krause caught six passes for 66 yards in the Ole Miss game, after much was talked about in the offseason about whether he could ever have that type of impact in his final season in Nashville.
3. Corey Grant --RB -- Auburn
Auburn's running back by committee will shake things up on LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis in the early part of Saturday night, so don't feel surprised when Auburn knocks one out of the park with their biggest home run hitter of the group, Corey Grant. Grant will get multiple touches in every offensive sequence when the game gets underway. Grant and fellow running back Tre Mason rank in the top-10 in rushing yards in the SEC. Grant ranks seventh with 230 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Each running back, including quarterback Nick Marshall, has ran for 100 yards in a game this season, but are they fit enough to offset the talent-heavy front seven of LSU? LSU is 50-0 when the team rushes for 100 yards or more and holds opponent to under 100 yards carrying the ball. It's a bad recipe for Auburn, knowing that LSU has had four backs with nine combined 100-yard days in their careers.
2. Malcome Kennedy -- WR --Texas A&M
In the second straight crack at the Tide last weekend, A&M used their slot receiver Malcome Kennedy to perfection. Kennedy toppled his career high in touchdowns for a game last Saturday, coming down with three of Johnny Manziel's five touchdown passes, with only two all season long in 2012. The Aggies face an SMU team this week that has only scored 17 points in their last two appearances with A&M. Defensively, they've allowed an average of 36 points and 420 total yards after two games against Montana State and Texas Tech to start the year. SMU can't let Aggies receiver Mike Evans get separation, and will focus their attention on the nation's leading receiver in yards. Evans should free up Kennedy, who should make a seamless transition as the A&M's hot receiver in gut check time again this week.
1. Dominique Easley -- DT -- Florida
Redemption will be on the minds of Tennessee when the team meets Florida for their first SEC game. Tennessee lost a halftime lead and fell to the Gators 37-20 last season, starting a seven-game slide in conference. Tennessee predominantly wants to cash in their chips from the running back spot and make their menacing offensive front carry the load all the way through Saturday's game. Whereever Easley lines up, the Tennessee O-Line, which has started 133 total games, must account for him shedding blocks. Easley is second on the nation's third-leading defense in tackles for loss and quarterback hurries in 2013. Easley generated a team-leading four sacks in 2012 and was limited in production his last time out with Tennessee, only yielding one tackle, adding to a total of three in his career against the team from Rocky Top.