SEC Football 2011: What We Know About Each Team After Week 4
We are now through the first four weeks of the 2011 SEC football season, after a big day of games on Saturday.
We had dominant wins by Alabama and LSU, a close call at Mississippi State, another loss for Ole Miss, Vanderbilt's first loss and another win for Auburn and South Carolina.
It was a fun and telling day of football in the Southeastern Conference.
With plenty of video and stats to look at after four weeks of action, we now have a better understanding of where each team is and where they may be heading.
Click through the following slideshow, in order of my power ranking of the conference teams, to see what we know about each SEC team after Week 4...
12. Ole Miss
The Fans Mood: Very unhappy. Even before Saturday's loss to Georgia, alumni and fans were taking out ads in state newspapers to vent their frustration over a failing football program.
It has been a disastrous start of the season for the Rebels. Ole Miss fell to 1-3 on the season, including 0-2 in the SEC. A 30-7 loss to Vanderbilt was the low point and a bowl game is very unlikely.
There could be a coaching change looming in Oxford.
Player They Cant Afford To Lose: CB Charles Sawyer. The sophomore corner has 23 tackles and three big interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown, for the Rebels already this season.
With the Ole Miss offense struggling, the Rebel defense will need to be solid as the season progresses. Sawyer is a big piece to that puzzle.
Biggest Disappointment: RB Brandon Bolden. After running for 976 yards in 2010, many people had high expectations for Bolden in 2011. An ankle injury in the first game against BYU has limited the dynamic back and put a kink in the Rebel running game.
Next loss: Oct 15 vs Alabama
Updated Projected Record: 4-8 (No Bowl)
The Fans Mood: Losing interest. With Kentucky looking very beatable, UK fans will be looking ahead to basketball season.
The loss to Louisville two weeks ago was a painful loss for the program. Now they will need an upset to be bowl eligible again this season.
Player They Cant Afford To Lose: LB Danny Trevathan. The star linebacker has 46 tackles in just 4 games (that leads the SEC) and is the leader of a solid Wildcat defense. He also has an interception and seems to make plays all over the field.
Biggest Disappointment: QB Morgan Newton. The Kentucky quarterback came into the season with pretty high expectations and tons of potential. So far, he has had his moments but has been ineffective for the most part. Six interceptions compared to just five touchdown passes is not where the Junior quarterback needs to be.
Next loss: Oct 1 at LSU
Updated Projected Record: 4-8 (No bowl)
The Fans Mood: Pleasantly surprised. Not many people thought Vanderbilt would have a shot at a bowl game this season under new coach James Franklin. It will take some work at 3-1, but a bowl invite is definitely possible.
The defense is playing well and the running game is somewhat productive. If the Commodores can develop any sort of passing game with quarterback Larry Smith, they could upset some teams as the season progresses.
Player They Cant Afford To Lose: DB Casey Hayward. The defense has been the star of the Commodores strong start to the season. Hayward is one of the big reasons for that. He has had an interception in 3 of the 4 games in 2011 and had a big pick returned for a touchdown in the win over Connecticut.
Biggest Disappointment: QB Larry Smith. The senior quarterback just hasn't developed into the quarterback he had the potential to be. In the South Carolina loss, he threw for just 44 yards for no touchdowns and an interception. That kind of production will not cut it against good competition.
Next loss: Oct 8 at Alabama
Updated Projected Record: 6-6 (Liberty Bowl Vs Houston)
9. Mississippi State
The Fans Mood: Disappointed. After losing to rebuilding Auburn and struggling to beat La Tech in overtime at home, the Bulldog nation is not where they hoped to be.
Player They Cant Afford To Lose: RB Vick Ballard. The big back has 407 rushing yards and five touchdowns in just 4 games. He is a bruising runner that can pound at defenses and break tackles for this Bulldog offense.
Biggest Disappointment: WR Chad Bumphis. The talented receiver had big preseason expectations as a playmaker for this Bulldog offense. However, the passing game has faltered and Bumphis hasn't had more than two receptions in a game this season.
Next loss: Oct 1 at Georgia
Updated Projected Record: 6-6 (Compass Bowl Vs Rutgers)
The Fans Mood: Waiting. The Volunteers had a bye week in week four. They are waiting to get back to action next weekend, after a solid win over Cincinnatti and a loss to Florida over the past couple of weeks.
Fans have optimism that coach Derek Dooley has the program going in the right direction and are excited to see how many games they can win in 2011.
Player They Cant Afford To Lose: QB Tyler Bray. The prolific quarterback leads the SEC in passing yards per game with 328 per contest. He also has an impressive 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions in just three games.
Biggest Disappointment: RB Taureen Poole. In 2010 Poole ran for over 1,000 yards on the season. In 2011, he is just averaging 78 yards per game, including a paltry 18 yards in the Florida loss.
Tennessee will need to develop a more productive running game to compete against the top teams in the conference this season.
Next loss: October 15 Vs LSU
Updated Projected Record: 6-6 (Music City Bowl Vs North Carolina)
The Fans Mood: Concerned. You can't be too upset a season after winning a national championship, or by a 3-1 start to the season. However, after watching their defense give up so many yards and points this season, and seeing the schedule get much tougher over the next four weeks, the Tiger fans are understandably worried.
Player They Cant Afford To Lose: RB Michael Dyer. One of the best running backs in the country, Dyer has lead the Auburn offense all season with 426 rush yards and six touchdowns in just four games.
Biggest Disappointment: Defensive line. With little pass rush and poor rush defense, the young defensive line, full of prep stars, has been poor so far this season. Sophomore defensive tackles Jeff Whitaker and Ken Carter need to step it up and generate some production in the interior of the line.
Next loss: Oct 1 at South Carolina
Updated Projected Record: 6-6 (Gator Bowl Vs Penn State)
The Fans Mood: Frustrated. From losing the first two games of the season, to struggling at times in the win against a poor Ole Miss team this past Saturday, many Georgia supporters would like to see Mark Richt replaced at seasons end.
Those fans that think Richt may should stay, see hope in the recent Bulldog victories and want to see just how many games they can win down the stretch.
Player They Cant Afford To Lose: QB Aaron Murray. The best quarterback in the SEC, Murray is having a big season in his sophomore campaign. He has a very impressive 940 passing yards and 11 touchdowns in just four games.
Biggest Disappointment: Pass defense.
Next loss: Oct 29 vs Florida
Updated Projected Record: 8-4 (Chic-fil-a Bowl Vs Virginia Tech)
The Fans Mood: Frustrated. They believed they could battle Alabama and LSU for the SEC West title this season, and instead were routed by the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa on Saturday and look to be the just the third best team in the division if they can get by Mississippi State and Auburn latter in the schedule.
Player They Cant Afford To Lose: QB Tyler Wilson. With a running game sputtering at times, Arkansas will need to try and keep throwing the ball down the field to it's talented group of receivers. The key piece in that effort is Wilson. He already has passed for over 1,000 yards on this young season and has 7 passing touchdowns.
Biggest Disappointment: RB Ronnie Wingo Jr. After losing star running back Knile Davis just before the season, Arkansas turned to back-up Ronnie Wingo. He has has a few nice runs, but has struggled for the most part, including just 35 yards on 11 carries against Alabama on Saturday.
Next loss: Nov 5 vs South Carolina
Updated Projected Record: 9-3 (Cotton Bowl Vs Oklahoma State)
4. South Carolina
The Fans Mood: Relieved and hopeful. Gamecock fans are happy to be through September undefeated, after a come back in week one, a huge win at Georgia, and a close call against Navy.
They now look towards October and hope for a run at the SEC East Championship.
Player They Cant Afford To Lose: RB Marcus Lattimore. The top running back in the nation, Lattimore is irreplaceable in the Gamecocks offense. He has already racked up 611 rushing yards, 8 rushing touchdowns, and 12 catches and a receiving touchdown in just four games.
Biggest Disappointment: WR Alshon Jeffery. The ultra-talented receiver was projected as one of the top receivers in the country in the preseason after he had a huge 2010. In the first four games he has just 14 receptions for 246 yards and a touchdown and hasn't been a big part of the Gamecock offense.
Even though he is being focused on by defenses, Carolina will need to get the ball in his hands if they want to win a championship this season.
Next loss: Nov 12 vs Florida
Updated Projected Record: 10-2 (Outback Bowl Vs Illinois)
The Fans Mood: Fired up. Their new head coach is always fired up and now the fans are too. With a 4-0 record, a strong defense and an offense showing progress, the Gators could be headed for an SEC East crown.
Player They Cant Afford To Lose: RB Chris Rainey. The senior back is having a breakout year and is a big part of new offensive coordinator Charlie Weiss' offensive plan. He has 411 rushing yards, 214 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns on the season.
Biggest Disappointment: The receivers. A running back (Rainey) has 11 receptions on the season. The starting wide outs for Florida (Hammond, Thompson and Dunbar) have 17 receptions combined.
Quarterback John Brantley must find a way to get the ball down the field and in the hands of his receivers, and they must catch the football, in big games coming up on the schedule.
Next loss: Oct 1 vs Alabama
Updated Projected Record: 10-2 (Cap One Bowl vs Michigan)
The Fans Mood: Confident. After blowing out a talented Arkansas team on Saturday, Bama fans are feeling sure of their team and it's chances to win the SEC and play for a national championship.
Player They Cant Afford To Lose: WR Marquis Maze. Maze is the only receiver with any production on Alabama's offense. He has hauled in 20 receptions for 226 and a touchdown in the fist four games.
Biggest Disappointment: Turnovers. Alabama is second to last in turnover margin in the SEC at -1. To compare, the Crimson Tide lead the SEC in turnover margin last season with +11.
Turnovers could become a story for the Tide in games coming up against Florida and LSU.
Next loss: Nov 5 vs LSU
Updated Projected Record: 11-1 (BCS Sugar Bowl Vs Nebraska)
The Fans Mood: Frenzied. The Tigers are excited and they should be. Their team has beaten Oregon, Mississippi State and West Virginia on the road in the first four weeks of this season.
They are now the No. 1 team in America and will make a run for a national championship.
Player They Cant Afford To Lose: DB Tyrann Mathieu. The dynamic defensive back is a leader of the star studded and dominant LSU defense. He has 30 tackles, including 3 tackles for a loss and a sack, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, and 4 passes broken up on the season. He returns kicks and has a touchdown this season. Mathieu is literally all over the field on game day.
Biggest Disappointment: Suspensions. The only bad news this season has been of the field, as starting QB Jordan Jefferson and talented wide out Russell Sheppard both missing games due to suspensions.
Jarrett Lee has performed better than expected in replacing Jefferson, but the offense is definitely better with Sheppard in the mix. He is back now and needs to get himself back involved in the offense (just 1 catch for 16 yards versus West Virginia).
Next loss: None in regular season
Updated Projected Record: 12-0 (BCS National Championship Game Vs Wisconsin)