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Three & Out appears every Sunday and Wednesday in 2010 to give you three SEC thoughts, news and notes. In today's edition, we take a look at Mark Richt's Bulldogs, the LSU quarterback situation and Chris Rainey's arrest.
Following Georgia's 17-6 loss to South Carolina last weekend, I've been asked via e-mail, twitter, radio, telegram, Morse code and just about every other form of communication whether the Georgia/Arkansas game is a "must-win" game for the Bulldogs. The answer is pretty simple. For Georgia's SEC East hopes, absolutely; but for Mark Richt's job security, absolutely not.
If Georgia wants to salvage any hopes of winning the SEC East, they absolutely have to find a way to beat the Razorbacks. The Bulldogs already are down one game and a tiebreaker to the South Carolina Gamecocks – a team that looks as good as any team in the division at the moment. Starting 0-2 in the conference would put the Bulldogs in a huge bind, with games against Florida and at Auburn (amongst others) remaining on the schedule.
But the notion that the Arkansas game is a must-win for Georgia head coach Mark Richt to keep his job is simply laughable. Richt is not, nor has ever been on the hot seat while at Georgia. It's a baseless rumor that made the rounds on the Internet and talk show circuit this past offseason, and has re-emerged after the Bulldogs fell to the Gamecocks last weekend. He's averaged 10 wins per season since taking over in 2001, which is three wins per season more than his two predecessors. Sure, if Georgia tanks and posts a sub-.500 record, then yes, his job is in jeopardy. But that's also true of a lot of other coaches that aren't "on the hot seat." He has built the Georgia program back to a place it hasn't been since the Vince Dooley era, and one season plus three games isn't going to signal the end of Richt's run.
If Georgia wants to be successful on the field on Saturday vs. the Razorbacks, they are going to have to take the training wheels off of redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray. While Marcus Lattimore was the story in last week's loss, the game was won by the Gamecock D, which stacked the box and limited Georgia to just 61 yards rushing on 26 attempts. Until offensive coordinator Mike Bobo lets Murray loose, every defensive coordinator in the SEC, including Arkansas' Willy Robinson, is going stack the box and take away the run.
It might be the understatement of the young season to say that LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson hasn't progressed, but that's exactly the case.
Jefferson was mediocre again Saturday night, completing eight of 20 passes for 96 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception in LSU's 27-3 win over Vanderbilt – fanning the flames of criticism that have been burning since mid-2009. Jefferson looked out-of-sync with his receivers all night, routinely throwing passes behind them and to their feet.
Some of the pressure Saturday night was taken off of Jefferson's shoulders thanks to a fantastic rushing performance from Stevan Ridley, who had 17 carries for 159 yards and a touchdown. But that's not going to be something that the Tigers can count on every week – especially if Jefferson is ineffective. After all, it was Vandy. When the Tigers get into the big boy schedule, Jefferson is going to have to improve for the Tigers to even contend in the SEC West.
As my CFN SEC colleague Billy Gomila wrote in our review, "it takes a special level of failure to make one wish for [backup quarterback] Jarrett Lee," but that's exactly where LSU fans find themselves after a year and three games of Jefferson's inconsistencies. Head coach Les Miles has said that he's comfortable with Jefferson for now, but if Jefferson struggles again this Saturday when the Tigers square off with the Mississippi State Bulldogs, don't be surprised to see Lee taking meaningful snaps.
ANOTHER GATOR ARRESTED
By now, you've probably heard about the latest arrest for the Florida Gators. If you haven't, here's the "Readers Digest" version.
Wide receiver Chris Rainey was arrested early Tuesday morning on charges of aggravated stalking, after allegedly sending his on-again, off-again girlfriend a death threat via text message. Offensive coordinator Steve Addazio told the Associated Press that Rainey "is not part of the team right now," as a result of the incident. Let's take a look at this story from two angles – how it should impact Rainey's status on the roster and how it affects the Gators on the field.
Addazio didn't clarify what "not part of the team right now" actually means. If the Gators' coaching staff is smart, they should suspend Rainey indefinitely while the legal process plays out. You can't keep players that make death threats to anyone, much less women whom they are in a relationship with, on the roster. It sets a horrible example for the team, students and fan base. Head coach Urban Meyer has taken his share of criticism for the Gators' arrest total since taking over in 2005, but he has been very hard on players that have disrespected women. Don't expect this time to be different. Rainey shouldn't be "part of the team" for quite a while.
On the field, it's a big loss for the Gators. Rainey was questionable this week after suffering a concussion in the second half of last week's win over South Florida, but he was expected to be a big piece of this Gator offense moving forward. He was expected to be the primary slot receiver for the Gators this season, also known as the "Percy Position." With Rainey gone for now, talented freshmen Andre Debose will fill in at the position made famous by former Gator Percy Harvin. Debose has been noticeably absent from the gameplan for the first two weeks, but expect the 6'0", 192-pound speedster to be let loose Saturday when the Gators head to Knoxville to take on the Tennessee Volunteers.
Barrett Sallee covers the SEC for www.CollegeFootballNews.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @BarrettSallee
Don't forget to check out "Y'all Play Nice" from CFN's Russ Mitchell and Brian Harbach every Thursday during the season.
2010 Three & Out Archive
Three & Out – September 15, 2010
Three & Out – September 12, 2010
Three & Out – September 8, 2010
Three & Out – September 5, 2010
Three & Out – September 1, 2010
Three & Out – August 25, 2010
Three & Out – August 18, 2010
Three & Out – August 11, 2010
Three & Out – August 4, 2010
Three & Out – July 28, 2010
Three & Out – July 21, 2010
Three & Out – July 14, 2010
Three & Out – July 7, 2010
Three & Out – June 30, 2010
Three & Out – April 21, 2010
Three & Out – April 14, 2010
Three & Out – April 11, 2010
Three & Out – April 8, 2010
Three & Out – April 5, 2010
Three & Out – March 31, 2010
Three & Out – March 28, 2010
Three & Out – March 24, 2010
Three & Out – March 21, 2010
Three & Out – March 18, 2010
Three & Out – March 15, 2010
Three & Out – March 11, 2010
Three & Out – March 5, 2010
Three & Out – March 2, 2010
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