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 the Arkansas/Auburn showdown, another arrest for the Bulldogs and the emergence of the Gamecocks as a legitimate SEC East contender.
STRENGTH VS. WEAKNESS
Saturday’s showdown between No. 7 Auburn and No. 12 Arkansas at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., will feature two of the most potent offenses in the SEC. Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton is now firmly entrenched in the Heisman Trophy discussion, after posting a stellar first half of the season. Meanwhile, Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett is looking to jump back into the Heisman mix after his meltdown against Alabama last month. Mallet gets the matchup and stage to do it Saturday afternoon on the Plains.
Just about the only sore spot on Auburn’s resume so far has been the play of its secondary, which ranks 10th in the SEC in pass defense giving up 239.2 yards per game. The Tigers have only four interceptions on the season, two of which came from members of the secondary. With Ryan Mallett, Joe Adams, Greg Childs and Co., coming to town this weekend, the Tigers’ will face the toughest aerial test that they’ve faced all season.
Mallett comes to the Plains leading the SEC in passing, averaging 349.6 yards per game through the air. Auburn’s defense is going to have to step-up and play at a higher level that they’ve shown so far in 2010. If Nick Fairley, Mike Blanc and the rest of the Auburn defensive front can get pressure on Mallett, he’s liable to throw a pick or two, which should take some pressure off of Auburn’s secondary.
While all eyes will be on Newton, it’s Mallett that holds all the cards in this game. This is his first big-time game since he threw two picks in the fourth quarter in the loss at home to Alabama. If he can get time to throw, Mallett is certainly capable of lighting Auburn’s secondary up and ending its hopes of an undefeated season.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before (ok, don’t really)…a Georgia Bulldog football player has been arrested.
Georgia is doing its best to supplant Florida as the torch-bearer of SEC disciplinary problems. Running back Caleb King was arrested Monday morning for failure to appear in court to address a speeding ticket. As a result of the arrest, head coach Mark Richt suspended King for two games.
Richt acknowledged that King’s suspension was a bit excessive. But, since King is the 11th Georgia Bulldog arrested this year, Richt realized that he needed to make a statement.
“I expect all our players to take care of their responsibilities on and off the field,” said Richt in a statement. “When players don’t do that it damages the reputation of the player, our team, and our university. My goal is for Caleb to learn a lesson and for other players to learn from his experience.”
With Washaun Ealey stricken with fumblitis and Carlton Thomas nursing a hamstring injury, the suspension couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Bulldogs’ backfield. Freshman Ken Malcome, a 6-0, 210-pound freshman from Decatur, Ga., is likely to see significant playing time against Vanderbilt this weekend. Malcome has not played this season, and has been working primarily with the scout team during game weeks.
Not to sell Vanderbilt short, but King’s absence probably won’t matter too much this weekend vs. the ‘Dores. However, the following week, the Bulldogs host Kentucky. The Wildcats don’t have a stellar rush defense, but they have the athletes to get into a shootout with the Bulldogs. If that happens, King’s absence may be felt more than initially anticipated.
With 16 starters returning from last year’s squad, South Carolina was the recipient of a generous amount of preseason hype (including from yours truly). But it wasn’t until last weekend’s 35-21 upset over previously No. 1 Alabama that the Gamecocks evolved from “pretender” to “contender.”
But what now? Aside from a 10-2 record in 1984, the Gamecocks have never really been in this position before.
The Gamecocks head out on the road this weekend to take on the Kentucky Wildcats – a team that’s reeling after three straight losses, including a last-second lost last week to No. 7 Auburn. In years past, South Carolina has been known to drop games like this just when they receive a taste of success. In 2007, they were 6-1 and ranked in the top 10 before losing to Vanderbilt AT HOME, setting off a five-game losing streak to end the season.
Expect a heavy dose of freshman running back Marcus Lattimore this weekend for the Gamecocks. Lattimore, the SEC’s fifth-leading rusher, should be able to run through the porous Kentucky rush defense with relative ease, taking the pressure off of Stephen Garcia and keeping Kentucky’s electric wide receiver Randall Cobb off the field.
This South Carolina team certainly seems different than the teams of the past, so I expect them to strengthen their strangle-hold on the SEC East with a win over Kentucky. But then again, it’s South Carolina…so who knows???
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 – October 13, 2010
Three & Out – October 10, 2010
Three & Out – October 6, 2010
Three & Out – October 3, 2010
Three & Out – September 29, 2010
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
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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
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Three & Out – March 2, 2010
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