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Three & Out returns to give you a periodic look at what's going on this spring in the SEC. In today's edition, we take a look at a quarterback battle brewing in Starkville, a freshman running back emerging in Red Stick and a wide receiver in Gainesville that may want to watch what he says.
BIG BATTLE BREWING IN STARKVILLE
Mississippi State released its pre-spring depth chart this week, setting the stage for a quarterback battle that should be interesting to watch as the spring progresses.
Chris Relf, a duel-threat junior that saw action last season, enters the spring as the starter. Through the air in 2009, Relf was 22-for-41 for 283 yards, five touchdowns and three intereceptions. Most of his damage was done on the ground though, rushing for 500 yards and two touchdowns on 76 carries.
The man to watch, however, is redshirt freshman Tyler Russell.
Russell passed for 3,284 yards, 40 touchdowns and five interceptions during his senior season at Meridian (Miss.) High School; earning him a spot on the Parade All-American Team and "Mr. Football" honors in the state of Mississippi. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Russell is the better pocket passer of the two, and one of the biggest recruits the Bulldogs have signed...well...ever.
Relf will go in to spring as the starter, but Russell is going to get every chance to win the job. With three of their first four games against Auburn, at LSU and at home against Georgia, it will be a big statement if Russell enters the season as the No. 1 quarterback.
Mississippi State opened camp on Tuesday, and will play their Spring game April 17.
THE BAYOU BENGALS MAY HAVE FOUND A RUNNING BACK
The LSU offense was atrocious in 2009 due in large part to the lack of a serviceable running game. The Tigers finished the year 11th in the SEC in rushing offense (130 yards per game) and tied for 10th in the SEC in rushing touchdowns (14) – and that was with Charles Scott and Keiland Williams.
With those two gone, the Tigers have been looking for a replacement this Spring. They may have found one with freshman Michael Ford.
Ford, the No. 3 running back in the 2009 recruiting class according to Scout.com, had 16 carries for 76 yards in Saturday's scrimmage. This comes on the heels of the first scrimmage of the year, which saw Ford run for 79 yards on 16 carries.
"Michael makes a nice natural cut, gets up into space," said LSU head coach Les Miles in an article in The Times-Picayune. "He comes out the other side if he can. He's a good runner. He's going to give us some carries this fall."
With cornerback Patrick Peterson and linebacker Kelvin Sheppard returning, the LSU defense will keep the them in ball games. But the Tigers desperately needs to find some sort of running game to take the pressure off of quarterback Jordan Jefferson. Michael Ford may be the one to provide it.
Of course, it would also be helpful to have an offensive line that can block. But that's a different story for a different day.
The Tigers conclude spring practice with their spring game Saturday at 4:00 p.m. EDT. The game will be televised by ESPN2.
NOT A REAL QUARTERBACK?
Something tells me that Florida junior wide receiver Deonte Thompson won't be getting a Christmas card from former Gator quarterback Tim Tebow.
"You never know with Tim," Thompson said in an article in the Orlando Sentinel. "You can bolt, you think he's running but he'll come up and pass it to you. You just have to be ready at all times. With (John) Brantley, everything's with rhythm, time. You know what I mean, a real quarterback."
Ouch. Low blow.
Tebow certainly seemed like a real quarterback when he was leading the SEC in completion percentage and finishing second in passing efficiency in 2009. Plus, you know, there's those two national championship rings and that Heisman Trophy thing.
This quote got a lot of play on Tuesday. But in reality, Thompson surely meant it more as a compliment to incoming quarterback John Brantley rather than a slight a Tebow. But seriously Deonte, if you want to endear yourself to your teammates and Gator Nation, saying anything that can be construed as a criticism of Superman isn't a good idea. Just ask Steve Spurrier.
Barrett Sallee covers the SEC for www.CollegeFootballNews.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @BarrettSallee
2010 Spring Three & Out Archive
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 24, 2010
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 21, 2010
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 18, 2010
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 15, 2010
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 11, 2010
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 5, 2010
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 2, 2010
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