Three & Out: SEC Week 5 Wrap

LSU head coach Les Miles

CFN SEC columnist Barrett Sallee shares three thoughts, comments or observations on what's going on this fall in the SEC.

Reach me via e-mail at barrettsallee@gmail.com or on Twitter @BarrettSallee



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 debacle by the bayou, the beat-down in T-Town and the situation following Georgia's loss to lowly Colorado.

TOTAL DEBACLE
They say that "winning cures all ills." That's not the case for the LSU Tigers.

Already on the hot seat and with the whole world watching, the Les Miles/Gary Crowton circus had its most its most ridiculous act yet Saturday afternoon, confusing Tennessee to a point where their shenanigans resulted in a win. Instead of examining all of the coaching blunders that took place at Tiger Stadium during the last quarter of LSU's 16-14 "victory" over Tennessee, here's the Cliffs Notes version:

After a long pass inside the 10 from backup quarterback Jarrett Lee (who's known for interceptions), instead of running off the left tackle, which had been working most of the day, offensive coordinator Gary Crowton calls a pass to the corner of the endzone. Result: interception. Shocking.

With 1:27 left and on 3rd and 10, LSU calls their second timeout. Out of the timeout, Lee throws an incompletion forcing 4th and 10, takes a delay of game penalty and then the Tigers call their last timeout of the half. Result: Lee completes the fourth down pass to Terrence Toliver, and the inept Tiger offense is allowed to keep playing football.

To set up the time management debacle, LSU ran Jordan Jefferson out with 30 seconds left and no timeouts for one specific purpose – run the option. LSU knew it. The Vols knew it. The fans knew it. Everybody watching on TV knew it. Result: no gain. Shocking. Maybe Miles needs a copy of Mark Richt's goal line decision making in the 2001 Auburn/Georgia game.

With 27 seconds to spike the ball, LSU's players look thoroughly confused, the Tigers run players on and off the field, and let the clock tick all the way down to four seconds before T-Bob Hebert snaps the ball over Jefferson's head – who was lined up in shotgun for some reason – and the clock runs out. Result: the idiocy of Les Miles and Co. finally pays dividends. Tennessee is so baffled by LSU's poor clock management that they sub in two extra players and the game continues.

The Tigers are 5-0, and you can't discount how important it is that they are winning these football games. But just like in 2007 when they won the national championship, the Tigers are winning in spite of Les Miles and the coaching staff. This go ‘round, I don't think the LSU fan base will defend the coaching staff for its shortcomings.

LEAVE NO DOUBT
The Alabama/Florida game was billed as a "heavyweight bout" between the last two national champions. I guess the Gators missed the weigh-in.

The Crimson Tide went old school on the Gators, smashing them in the mouth early and never letting up. The Gators offense – which was supposedly fixed after the win over Kentucky – was held to 281 total yards, 3-of-13 on third down conversions and committed four turnovers, including one interception returned for a touchdown.

What was the key for the Crimson Tide? Penetration. Alabama came into the contest ranked 116th in the nation in tackles for loss, averaging just three per game. On Saturday, the Tide had eight tackles for a loss against the Gators, including four from linebacker Courtney Upshaw.

After that beat-down, there's no doubt who's the best team in the country. Alabama wins with defense, they win with offense, and they always have superiority on the sidelines and in the coaches' booth. Before the season, I thought Alabama might have some difficulty replacing nine starters on defense and running the table during the regular season for the third straight year. After five games, not only do I think the Crimson Tide might be able to do it again – I expect it.

…NOW MAYBE
I've been singing the same tune regarding Mark Richt's job status all year – unless Georgia is a total disaster and posts a sub-.500 record, Richt's job is safe. That disaster may be happening.

Lose to South Carolina, fine. The Gamecocks are a good team and that's always a close game. Lose to Arkansas, fine. The Razorbacks are the SEC upstart and have a lot of talent on their roster. Lose to Mississippi State on the road, not ideal. Yes it's an SEC road game, but Georgia should be able to take care of the maroon Bulldogs with relative ease. Lose to a Colorado team coached by Dan Hawkins, and you're just not very good.

There's no doubt about it now, Mark Richt's job very much is in question. You can't lose to a bad Big 12 team, even on the road. You just can't. Your team expects better, your fans expect better, your administrators expect better and your conference expects better.

On Georgia's last offensive play, Caleb King fumbled just as the Bulldogs entered field goal range. The coaches have denied it, but it certainly looked like that play was a designed flea-flicker. If it was, that's inexcusable. There's no reason to run a flea-flicker when you're in field goal range and a need a field goal to win it.

Either way, it's a total disaster in Athens. Mark Richt has an exorbitant buyout that would pay him upwards of $8 million if he's let go this year. But if things continue to go the way they've been going in 2010, new athletics director Greg McGarity may be able to pass the hat to get close to that number – it just might have to be Les Miles' hat.

Barrett Sallee covers the SEC for www.CollegeFootballNews.com. He can be reached at barrettsallee@gmail.com, or on Twitter at @BarrettSallee


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
Three & Out – October 3, 2010
Three & Out – September 29, 2010
Three & Out – September 26, 2010
Three & Out – September 22, 2010
Three & Out – September 19, 2010
Three & Out – September 15, 2010
Three & Out – September 12, 2010
Three & Out – September 8, 2010
Three & Out – September 5, 2010
Three & Out – September 1, 2010
Three & Out – August 25, 2010
Three & Out – August 18, 2010
Three & Out – August 11, 2010
Three & Out – August 4, 2010
Three & Out – July 28, 2010
Three & Out – July 21, 2010
Three & Out – July 14, 2010
Three & Out – July 7, 2010
Three & Out – June 30, 2010
Three & Out – April 21, 2010
Three & Out – April 14, 2010
Three & Out – April 11, 2010
Three & Out – April 8, 2010
Three & Out – April 5, 2010
Three & Out – March 31, 2010
Three & Out – March 28, 2010
Three & Out – March 24, 2010
Three & Out – March 21, 2010
Three & Out – March 18, 2010
Three & Out – March 15, 2010
Three & Out – March 11, 2010
Three & Out – March 5, 2010
Three & Out – March 2, 2010

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