The SEC not only provides the South, but in fact the whole nation, with some great football in the fall. Often within these tilts, played out in the gridiron cathedrals of the southland, there are many individual battles that collectively contribute to the overall success or failure of the entire team.
Some of these mano a mano clashes are obvious to the average football fan, but some are often overlooked. I will address a few of these that I feel should be intriguing and some that could become quite interesting.
These battles don't just involve brute force against brute force, but also include the use of speed, quickness, deception and just plain smarts.
I am listing five potential matchups that may provide fans with some quality entertainment, or may just wind up as one-sided mismatches. Of course, each game has many of these individual battles, but these are a few that come to mind.
1. One of the more intriguing battles may come early in the season, when the Florida Gators play host to the Tennessee Volunteers, on Sept. 19. This annual love fest has previously seen more competitive days; however, Florida has dominated as of late.
But this is one of those rivalries where anything can happen from year to year. This year we should see a matchup of wits between the Gators' mighty Tim Tebow and the Vol's All-World Eric Berry.
Tebow will try to avoid Berry, who will be lurking across the middle of the Vols' secondary. We all know of Tebow's set of skills and his tenacity; however, Berry will try his best to outsmart Tebow and get a pick or two. Berry has quickly become the premier SEC safety, in fact, the best since LaRon Landry at LSU.
2. Not too many years ago, a Cajun Canon by the name of Bobby Hebert was launching footballs for the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. In 2009, his son T-Bob has a very good chance of starting at center for the LSU Tigers. If this is the case, an interesting matchup will be played out between this young pup and massive veteran nose guard, Terrence Cody, when the Bayou Bengals visit the Crimson Tide in Alabama.
Cody normally commands two offensive lineman, but Hebert will be right there in the middle of this conflagration. How quickly he develops by this Nov. 7 game will go a long way in determining what kind of success the Tigers will have in running up the gut on the Tide.
3. The Georgia Bulldogs lost some key skill players to the NFL Draft; however, one that is still with them is wide receiver A. J. Green. Based on last year's performance and his obvious talent, he very well may be the premier wide-out in the league.
When you talk Kentucky football, defense isn't one of the first things that come to mind; however, they have quite a gem in their secondary in cornerback Trevard Lindley. When these two teams meet on Nov. 21 in Athens, it is very likely that these two players will spend a fair amount of time getting to know each other.
It should be an interesting battle within the battle.
4. Brandon Spikes was a major factor in the Florida Gators' eventual dismantling of the LSU Tigers last year. In 2009, this linebacker should once again be a prime player in the Gators' overall success.
LSU's Charles Scott demonstrated some serious power at running back, busting through the line and breaking numerous tackles, as he racked up well over 1,000 yards last year. He should be even better this year, as he has received some Heisman Trophy mention.
I see a potential battle brewing between these two stellar players. As Scott slips through creases in the line, he will either beat Spikes to the point of intersection, giving him the advantage in breaking an arm tackle, or Spikes will be there waiting for him to deliver a solid blow.
This could be a win-some, lose-some battle, in an overall tight contest when they tee it up in Baton Rouge on Oct. 10.
5. Jevan Snead snuck up on a number of teams last year, but there is no denying he had an outstanding season with the Rebels. He engineered one of the most impressive touchdown drives, through the air against LSU last year, that I think I have ever seen.
This kid has talent and poise. Last year, Ole Miss played Alabama in Tuscaloosa, losing a tight game. This year, they play in Oxford and it should be interesting to see if the Tide's Javier Arenas can be a disruption on the corner for Snead.
Granted, Arenas makes his living as a return specialist, but he can be dangerous at cornerback and may have Snead looking elsewhere to complete his passes.
No matter what individual battles may materialize or which may turn into duds, this should be, as always, another exciting and competitive SEC football season. I can't wait!