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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 back at the Alabama/Arkansas game, Trey Burton's big day and a player that should be mentioned in the Heisman Trophy discussion.
Saturday's matchup between Arkansas and Alabama was the culmination of summer of speculation for the Razorbacks. Could they become a championship team? Can they unseat the mighty Crimson Tide? You got your answer in the fourth quarter yesterday afternoon – and that answer is "no."
Alabama couldn't have come out any flatter. Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett jumped on them early, finding Ronnie Wingo for a 43-yard touchdown two plays into the game. Then, bookending a fantastic first half, the Razorbacks drove 66 yards on seven plays for a touchdown following a Greg McElroy interception, taking a 17-7 lead into halftime.
But that's when the upstart went into neutral and the champion kicked it into overdrive. Alabama did what they do best, relying on Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson to carry them to victory. They knew it would work, and didn't panic when it wasn't.
Contrarily, it the biggest quarter of his life, Ryan Mallett rolled snake eyes. The last interception to Dre Kirkpatrick is excusable. After all, at that point, the Razorbacks were down four with under four minutes to play, so he had to try to make things happen. But the interception to Robert Lester with 4:40 to play is inexcusable. Arkansas had the lead and needed a sustained drive to possibly put the Tide away, but Mallett forced a ball into two-deep coverage, giving the Tide the great field position that led to the game-winning touchdown.
Committing a turnover is the one thing you can't do that situation, and Mallett committed one, costing Arkansas a chance to win and probably costing himself a chance at the Heisman Trophy in the process.
JUST IN THE NICK OF TIME
Remember when we all thought that Florida's offense had no identity sans Tim Tebow? Well, the Gators offense found its identity Saturday night – and its name is Trey Burton.
Burton scored six touchdowns in Florida's 48-14 victory over Kentucky Saturday night, breaking the school record that was set by Tim Tebow. Whenever you can put your name ahead of Superman's in the Florida record book, you're doing something right.
Considering Chris Rainey's arrest, John Brantley's relative inconsistency (although he's still having a decent year), and Andre Debose's omission from the lineup until Saturday, Florida needed someone to step up and be the spark plug that they have missed without Tebow this year and without Percy Harvin for the last two.
With the Gators headed to Tuscaloosa this week to take on Alabama in the most-anticipated SEC game of the season, Burton's emergence couldn't have come at a better time. The Gators weren't going to be able to go into Bryant-Denny Stadium and unseat the Crimson Tide with the offense that they showed during the first three weeks of the season. But Burton's emergence gives Alabama something to worry about, and gives the Gators somebody to rely on. Will he score six touchdowns against the Tide? Probably not. But it's something for the Gators to build on, which is something that they haven't had after the previous three games.
STRIKE THE POSE
As a team, LSU has been less-than-impressive this season. But one thing that has been impressive in Red Stick is the play of cornerback/kick returner Patrick Peterson. The junior had already cemented his name as a possible All-American with his play in LSU's defensive backfield, but now he's added kick returning to his repertoire, begging the question – is Patrick Peterson a Heisman Trophy contender?
Undoubtedly, he is. Peterson himself even thinks so, and went all "Desmond Howard" on us Saturday night, striking the Heisman pose after scoring on 60-yard punt return in the second quarter.
The Heisman Trophy ballot tells voters that the award is for the "most outstanding player in college football." After the first month of the 2010 season, if that's not Patrick Peterson, I don't know who it is. His defensive stats have been decent – 11 tackles and two highlight-reel interceptions, when opposing quarterbacks typically throw away from his side of the field. But it's his kick return ability that should have him at, or near the top of every voters' Heisman projections.
His two punt returns for touchdowns this season have been the difference in the Tigers' 4-0 record. Without Peterson's special teams contributions, LSU likely would have been 2-2, and out of National Title contention. He's the same kind of player that Devin Hester was for the Miami Hurricanes in the mid-2000's. Special teams coordinators don't want to kick it to him, and will sacrifice 10-15 yards of field position to keep the ball out of his hands.
LSU fans will probably say that he's Heisman-worthy even without his special teams accolades, and there's some validity to that. He's certainly one of the best cornerbacks in the country. But whether it's right or wrong, the Heisman Trophy isn't going to go to a player on the defensive side of the football in this day and age. But if Peterson keeps it up preventing points and scoring points, he should be invited to New York as a Heisman finalist.
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 26, 2010
Three & Out – September 22, 2010
Three & Out – September 19, 2010
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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