January 26, 2021

Predicting SEC top performers for week six

As the division races start heating up, so does the pressure on players to perform for their teams. Who will step up in week six?

ATHENS, GA - OCTOBER 01, 2016 - running back Jalen Hurd #1 of the Tennessee Volunteers during the game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Tennessee Volunteers at Sanford Stadium in Athens, GA. Photo By Donald Page/Tennessee Athletics

Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M WR

Reynolds leads the Aggies with almost 400 receiving yards and three touchdown catches on the season. Against a Tennessee defense minus All-American cornerback Cam Sutton, expect quarterback Trevor Knight to test the Vols downfield. Tennessee’s secondary has given up a handful of big plays this season, most notably to Florida’s Antonio Callaway and a nearly fatal 47-yard touchdown pass from Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason with 10 seconds left last week. Reynolds is exactly that — a big play threat. His average of 20 yards a catch is good for 25th in the nation, and he should see plenty of opportunities to extend his touchdown total on Saturday.

Ralph Webb, Vanderbilt RB

No player is licking his chops about a matchup this week more than Ralph Webb is when he sees Kentucky’s 97th-ranked rushing defense. The Wildcats gave up 223 rushing yards to New Mexico State — New Mexico State! — and have given up more than 150 rushing yards in all but one of their games thus far this season. Webb is just 502 yards short of Zac Stacy’s career rushing yards record for the Commordores, and Webb might cut that deficit in half against Kentucky. The Vandy offense ran for 147 yards against Florida’s top-15 rushing defense. Kentucky won’t have an answer for Webb.

Jalen Hurd, Tennessee RB

Despite missing most of the second half against Georgia with what head coach Butch Jones called a “lower extremity injury,” Hurd will have an opportunity to impress on a big stage when the Vols roll into College Station this weekend. The Aggies gave up big rushing numbers to South Carolina and Auburn, whose offenses are having a bit more trouble scoring than Tennessee. Josh Dobbs has shown his ability as a passer this year, but the Vols’ run game hasn’t been too impressive behind up-and-down offensive line play. Tennessee should really avoid running Myles Garrett’s way, but Hurd will find some wiggle room against a defense that has to honor Josh Malone and Jauan Jennings.

Reuben Foster, Alabama LB

Foster doesn’t have gaudy season stats because, well, Alabama doesn’t ever need him to play a full game. However, Foster should fill the stat sheet in Fayeteville against Arkansas on Saturday. Bret Bielema loves to run the ball, so Arkansas runs the ball. A lot. Foster will need to fly all over the field to shut down Rawleigh Williams III and Devwah Whaley from breaking loose. In last year’s matchup, the Hogs tried catching Alabama off guard by throwing 32 passes — a move that sounded good in theory, but was evident that it made the Arkansas offense uncomfortable. If Bielema tries to mix in some more runs this year, watch for Foster to be in on a lot of plays.

Edited by Dalton King 

Featured image by Donald Page, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics 

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Nathan is a junior at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. He spends most of his free time eating meaningless foods and watching sports. If you wish to contact Nathan, you can email him at wodom3@vols.utk.edu or find him on Twitter, @NathanOdom11.