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Three & Out returns every Monday in 2011 to give you three SEC thoughts, news and notes. In the first regular season edition of 2011, we take a look at the Georgia debacle, LSU's statement and Florida's new-look offense.
Georgia came into its matchup with Boise State at the Georgia Dome on Saturday evening with a lot to prove. But sadly for them, the only thing the Bulldogs proved is that they're the "same ole Georgia."
Offensive line problems? Check. Suspect pass defense? Check. Running backs that are over-hyped and under-perform? Check. Stubbornness to adjust to the defense and be creative with the offensive gameplan? Big time check. Overall lack of heart? Checkmate.
The departure of running backs Caleb King and Washaun Ealey was really big on Saturday night, because Richard Samuel and Isaiah Crowell clearly aren't ready to be every-down running backs. In Brandon Boykin's first play ever on offense, he took it 80 yards for a touchdown. He didn't touch the ball again. Hello? Mike Bobo? Are you even in the booth???
If you enjoy meltdowns, tune in to 680 The Fan or 790 The Zone in Atlanta this week, because they're going to be legendary. The game against Boise State was by no means a defining game for Mark Richt and Co., but it is a strong indicator of where the program stands, and it's a dark, dark place.
"It's a long season," said Georgia head coach Mark Richt. "We've got to get our minds right. A game like this, no question, we know more about our football team than if we played someone and beat them by 40."
Mark Richt is right, but sadly for him and his future employment, the thing that we know most is that these are the same ole Bulldogs.
Considering the way that Boise State handled the Bulldogs with realtive ease, Georgia's game this week vs. South Carolina suddenly becomes the biggest game of Richt's head coaching career. Win it, and Georgia still has life in the SEC and the schedule to get the season turned back around. Lose it, and it may send the season so far off track that Richt won't be able to make it to November.
SAME STORY, DIFFERENT VERSE
He's kooky, unorthodox, eats grass and wears a funny hat; but whatever Les Miles does behind the scenes, it works. The LSU Tigers could have let the offseason distractions of Russell Shepard's NCAA controversy or quarterback Jordan Jefferson's legal issues get to them. They didn't, and the credit for that goes to the coaching staff.
Auburn proved in last year's BCS National Championship Game that the way to beat Oregon is to make it an old fashioned slug-fest, and LSU did just that Saturday night in Jerry World. Oregon's game plan is to win with speed, but that doesn't work when the opposition is bigger AND faster than the Ducks in the trenches, which is typically the case for most SEC teams. In our Final Thoughts Before Week 1, I said that LSU would win B-I-G for this very reason. Good job self.
After Week 1, there's no doubt that LSU should be the No. 1 team in all major polls. But can they repeat that performance on a week-in, week-out basis? We'll see.
The Tigers were able to hide quarterback Jarrett Lee to an extent, using running backs Spencer Ware and Michael Ford and a stifling defense to control every aspect of the game. SEC defenses can and will stop that eventually, so the Tigers will have to adjust as the season progresses.
A BETTER FIT
Last season, Florida quarterback John Brantley was a square peg and Urban Meyer's spread offense was a round hole. Enter Charlie Weis, and a much more functional offense.
Florida has been a complete mystery since the Will Muschamp era started, but if Saturday's domination of Florida Atlantic was any indication, the Gators are in a much better place than they were last season. John Brantley's 21-of-30, 229 yard performance proved that he won't be beat by 2010 twice, which was a big concern heading into the season. One of the biggest questions facing the Florida offense was whether or not the stable of running backs recruited for the spread system would be able to handle the switch to the pro-style. They did. Jeff Demps broke 100 yards and Chris Rainey added 79 of his own.
Granted, it's FAU, and Florida is SUPPOSED to dominate them. But they wouldn't have last year, so Saturday was a big step.
Georgia isn't going to win the SEC, which leaves South Carolina and Florida as the main contenders. Would you be surprised to see the Gators in the Georgia Dome in early December? If their offense keeps it up, I wouldn't.
Barrett Sallee covers the SEC for www.CollegeFootballNews.com. He can be reached at email@example.com, or on Twitter at @BarrettSallee
2011 Three & Out Archive
Three & Out – September 5, 2011
Three & Out – August 29, 2011
Three & Out – August 22, 2011
Three & Out – August 15, 2011
Three & Out – August 8, 2011
Click Here for the 2011 offseason column archive
Click here for the 2010 regular season Three & Out archive