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 showdown in T-Town, an All-American returning to Georgia and another big loss for the Rebels.
Alabama's defensive front was supposed to be one of the strong points for this this years' Crimson Tide football team. Four games into the season, it's been anything but.
It started out shaky for the Tide, with All-SEC defensive end Marcell Dareus being suspended for the first two games of the season for attending an agent party in Miami, Fla. His absence has been apparent. Alabama currently ranks 116th in FBS in tackles for loss (3.00 per game) and 103rd in sacks (1.00 per game).
Dareus' return was supposed to fix the problem, and it did to an extent – the Crimson Tide sacked Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett twice in Alabama's 24-20 win over the Razorbacks last Saturday. But now Dareus is nursing an ankle injury that he suffered during Arkansas game, and sat out of practice Monday afternoon. Head coach Nick Saban said that Dareus is "making good progress," and should return to practice by Wednesday at the latest.
Dareus' presence, and more importantly his ability to make an impact, will be a huge x-factor in Alabama's showdown with Florida Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Gators found an offensive spark last week with the emergence of Trey Burton. If Burton shows up again on Saturday, it should take some pressure off of quarterback John Brantley. And if Alabama can't get pressure on Brantley, it could be the deciding factor in the Tide winning or losing.
Remember a month ago when Georgia was anxiously awaiting the ruling on wide receiver A.J. Green's eligibility status, in the hopes that he might be the spark that sends the Bulldogs into SEC East contention? My, how things change.
Three SEC losses later, Green will return to the field this Saturday for the Bulldogs when they travel to Boulder, Colo., to take on the Buffaloes. Gone are Georgia's chances of unseating the mighty Gators in the SEC East, but with Green back, they have the opportunity to salvage a decent season out of the depths of despair – as they did in 2006 and 2009.
Georgia's passing game hasn't been terrible in Green's absence. Redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray is fourth in the conference in passing yards per game (219.8) and sixth in passing efficiency (143.2); and wide receivers Kris Durham and Tavarres King have filled in admirably. It has been Georgia's running game – once thought to be strength – that's been the problem. The Bulldogs rank 11th in the SEC in rushing offense (124.2 ypg).
With Green back, it should open up the passing and running game for the Bulldogs. It was no secret that Georgia was planning to ease Murray into the SEC by relying on the running game. But Green's absence threw a wrench in the works, and allowed opposing defenses to stack up against the run. With Green back, expect offensive coordinator Mike Bobo to open up the playbook and let Murray loose Saturday in Boulder. After all, what does Bobo have to lose (except his job)?
COLONEL REB IS CRYIN'
A bad season turned worse for the Ole Miss Rebels earlier this week, when it was announced that All-SEC defensive end Kentrell Lockett will miss the remainder of the season after tearing his ACL in the first quarter of Saturday's win over Fresno State. Lockett will undergo surgery next week to repair his knee.
"He's heartbroken. I am, too," head coach Houston Nutt told the Ole Miss Spirit. "It just makes you sick to lose a leader like that and a play-maker, an experienced guy. It really hurts. It's just part of it, but it's sad."
Lockett has had a tumultuous season. The senior sat out Ole Miss' opener vs. Jacksonville State with an irregular heartbeat, and saw limited duty the following week vs. Tulane. He is eligible to apply for a medical redshirt and gain another year of eligibility, but hasn't given much thought to a possible sixth year in Oxford.
On the field, it couldn't come at a worse time. The Rebels have already dropped games to Jacksonville State and Vanderbilt, and haven't even gotten to the meat of the schedule yet. After hosting the potent Kentucky offense this weekend, the Rebels have a bye week and then face No. 1 Alabama, No. 15 Arkansas and No. 10 Auburn on back-to-back-to-back weekends. Yikes.
Barrett Sallee covers the SEC for www.CollegeFootballNews.com. He can be reached at email@example.com, or on Twitter at
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