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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 the LSU spring game, the ongoing quarterback battle in Athens and a running back on the Plains that's looking to pack on the pounds.
LSU HOLDS SPRING GAME
LSU's spring practice came to an end Saturday afternoon, when the Tigers held their spring football game at Tiger Stadium.
A point of emphasis for the Tigers this spring was the need to find a steady running back to replace the departed Charles Scott and Keiland Williams. Not only did they find one, they may have found two.
Freshman Michael Ford rushed for 139 yards on 19 carries and junior Stevan Ridley ran for 104 yards on 13 carries for the Tigers.
I praised Ford's performance this spring in a previous edition of Three & Out. His emergence, coupled with Ridley's strong finish this spring, could be just what the doctor ordered to stabilize an LSU offense that ranked 11th in the SEC in 2009.
In other LSU spring game news, the quarterbacks struggled a bit. Jordan Jefferson finished the day 8-of-23 for 94 yards and a pick. Meanwhile, Jarrett Lee threw a pick six to Craig Loston, proving that he's still...well...Jarrett Lee. He finished the day 10-of-20 for 114 yards, a touchdown and the aforementioned interception.
The LSU offensive line opened up some holes for the running backs, but the Tigers still seem to be struggling with pass blocking a bit. Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo each had two sacks, and were camped out in the backfield all day. The lack of protection should be even more concerning to LSU coaches and fans considering that defensive tackle Drake Nevis and linebacker Kelvin Sheppard, both of whom are starters, sat out due to injuries. The Tigers finished last in the SEC in 2009, giving up 35 sacks for 238 yards.
LSU's spring game proved one thing – LSU still has a lot of work to do to compete with Alabama in the SEC West. The talent is there, but that talent is going to have to produce results immediately. Otherwise, Les Miles may be looking for new employment this time next season.
UGA'S FRESHMEN QB'S SHINE IN SCRIMMAGE
The Georgia Bulldogs held an 11-on-11 scrimmage Saturday morning, with all eyes on the quarterback battle. If a judgment can be made from this scrimmage, its that the two freshmen are ahead of the junior.
Freshman Zach Mettenberger was the star of the day, completing 7-of-10 passes for 157 yards and a 65-yard touchdown to Rantavious Wooten. Meanwhile, freshman Aaron Murray went 10-of-15 for 125 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Mettenberger is facing a suspension of at least one game for an off-season alcohol arrest; so even if he wins the job, someone else will have to take the snaps when Georgia opens up at home against Louisiana-Lafayette.
The veteran in the quarterback battle, Logan Gray, appears to be falling behind in the three-player quarterback battle. The junior finished the day 6-of-14 for 37 yards and a pick.
There's a general feeling that, at some point this off-season, Gray will be moved to wide receiver. A lot of people seem to forget that he was a four-star, Elite 11 recruit out of Columbia, Mo. It's a bit naive to judge him based on his limited game action over the last two years. He can get back in to this battle, but Saturday's performance certainly doesn't help.
MCCALEBB PACKING ON THE POUNDS
One of the biggest surprises during Gene Chizik's first year on the Plains was the play of running back Onterio McCalebb. Used primarily as a changeup to No. 1 running back Ben Tate, McCalebb rushed for 565 yards and four touchdowns on 105 carries in 2009.
Nagging injuries were a problem for McCalebb throughout the season. His solution? Get stronger.
McCalebb entered last spring – his first at Auburn – weighing 165 pounds. After a full season and a winter of off-season conditioning, the rising sophomore currently weighs in at 175 pounds, and hopes to be at 185 by the start of the regular season.
With Tate now gone, McCalebb is setting his sights on taking his place as the Tigers No. 1 tailback. With stiff competition expected from Mario Fannin, Michael Dyer and Dontae Aycock; McCalebb's durability will have to improve for him to be a legitimate contender for that role.
Last season, McCalebb's quickness forced defenders to corral him rather than attack him. That's the main reason that McCalebb's average yards per carry was so high (5.4). Getting bigger is something that he needs to do to stay healthy for the duration of the SEC schedule. So far, the extra weight has not affected his quickness.
If McCalebb can pack on 20 pounds and not lose any of his explosiveness, look out SEC defenses.
Barrett Sallee covers the SEC for www.CollegeFootballNews.com. He can be reached at email@example.com, or on Twitter at @BarrettSallee
2010 Spring Three & Out Archive
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 28, 2010
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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