By: Barrett Sallee
The first week of the SEC season sees all 12 member institutions playing games outside of the conference. Some of those are sure to be laughers, like Charleston Southern at Florida; while others provide matchups that are unmatched in week one. Here are some things to watch this week in the SEC:
Dawgs Facing a Different Cowboy Team
The Oklahoma State team that Georgia has been preparing to take on all summer looks a little different today than it did last week.
Starting MLB Orie Lemon suffered a torn ACL on Monday, and will miss the season. Lemon, a senior, started all 13 games last year for the Cowboys, finishing second on the team with 90 tackles. He will likely be replaced by senior Donald Booker, who has never started a game, but did record 32 tackles as a junior.
Tight End Jamal Mosley left the team on Tuesday due to "personal reasons." A protective order filed in Payne County (Okla.) against Mosley last week was dropped on Wednesday. It is unclear whether the protective order played a part in his decision to leave the Cowboys. Mosley, a sophomore from Memphis, Tenn., notched five catches as a freshman for 57 yards. He was expected to fill in for the recently-departed Brandon Pettigrew, who finished second with 472 receiving yards last season for the prolific Cowboy offense.
The loss of these two players could be a huge factor in this game. The Georgia offense will already be looking to exploit the Cowboys D, which finished 2008 seventh in the defense-less Big XII in total defense. Lemon's absence will likely allow newly-anointed starting RB Richard Samuel a little more room to work against the porous Cowboys defense, which allowed 137.8 yards per game on the ground last season.
Georgia is already entering the game with a decided coaching advantage. Mark Richt has a career record of 82-22, compared to Mike Gundy's 27-23 career mark. The loss of players that were expected to be key contributors, this close to kickoff of the biggest non-conference home game in Oklahoma State history certainly puts more pressure on the Cowboys, who hold conference and national title aspirations.
Everyone, including Vegas, seems to be writing the Bulldogs off. However, since 2001, they are 10-2 in road games vs. the top 25. They've been in this situation before. Oklahoma State hasn't. Advantage – Georgia.
Eligibility Problems Cleared Up at Bama
For the second straight year, Alabama makes the trip to Atlanta to take part in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game. This year, they square off against Virgina Tech – and for a while, they thought that they could be doing it without two of their offensive studs.
Rumors regarding the eligibility of first team All-SEC WR Julio Jones and second team All-SEC RB Mark Ingram have been swirling all summer, after Alabama self-reported a fishing trip involving the two players earlier this year. Wednesday morning, in the SEC teleconference, Nick Saban addressed the situation.
"That is up to the NCAA," Saban said. "I don't think it's my decision to do anything. We are hoping for a response and we want to do what we need to do to do things the right way from a program standpoint and for the players' best interest. I think the institution has handled the situation with tremendous professional integrity. We're hopeful that we'll have some kind of resolution to this situation in the short term."
Late Wednesday night, the NCAA reinstated Jones and Ingram. The NCAA ruling states that the two did, in fact, receive impermissable food, lodging, transportation and entertainment. In accordance with the ruling, Jones and Ingram will have to repay the value of the impermissable benefits to charity.
The loss of Jones and Ingram would have been huge for the Crimson Tide. Without them, the Hokie defense would have stacked up against the run, and forced first-year starter at QB Greg McElroy to beat them through the air. That would have spelled disaster for Alabama.
How Will Sheppard Be Used?
For your late-night viewing pleasure at 10:30 p.m. ET Saturday night, LSU will travel across the country to take on the Washington Huskies in Seattle. This game doesn't hold too much interest nationally. LSU is being touted as a potential BCS National Championship team, while the Huskies are coming off a disastrous 0-12 season that saw the end of the Ty Willingham era. No contest, right? Well, yeah, but that doesn't mean it will be without intrigue.
What will be interesting to see is how LSU head coach Les Miles incorporates stud freshman Russell Sheppard into the Tigers offense. Sheppard, originally a quarterback, has practiced at QB, RB and WR this fall. The 6-foot-1, native of Houston, Texas, was rated as a five-star recruit and the number two QB in the nation last season by Scout.com.
The Mad-Hatter knows how to do this. In 2007, Les Miles successfully incorporated stud-QB Ryan Perriloux into the offense en route to the SEC and BCS Championships.
Barrett Sallee covers the SEC for www.CollegeFootballNews.com. He can be reached at email@example.com, or on Twitter at http://twitter.com/BSallee_CFN
Three & Out Archive:
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes - September 3, 2009
Three & Out: SEC Media Days, Day 3 – July 24, 2009
Three & Out: SEC Media Days, Day 2 – July 23, 2009
Three & Out: SEC Media Days, Day 1 – July 22, 2009
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – April 16, 2009
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – April 12, 2009
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – April 9, 2009
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – April 3, 2009
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 30, 2009
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 26, 2009
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 18, 2009
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 15, 2009
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 11, 2009
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 7, 2009
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 3, 2009
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – February 28, 2009
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