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 Gamecocks protection problems, the running back situation in Fayetteville and a former SEC football coach vying for the March Madness tournament title.
GAMECOCKS NEED TO CUT DOWN ON THE SACKS
If I were to tell you that Ryan Mallett led the SEC in passing last year, you probably wouldn't be surprised. But can you name the SEC's second-best passer in 2009?
Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
The answer is Stephen Garcia.
The South Carolina quarterback averaged 227 yards per game last year, throwing for a total of 2,862 yards, 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Garcia showed flashes of brilliance last year, throwing for more than 300 or more yards in four games, including three straight against Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Arkansas.
Those are pretty impressive numbers, especially considering that Garcia didn't get a whole lot of protection. He was sacked a whopping 37 times in 2009, which matches LSU for the most given up in the SEC.
The fact that Garcia took way too many sacks didn't escape the coaching staff. Quarterbacks coach G. A. Mangus has been texting Garcia this off-season, reminding the junior to get rid of the ball quicker and try not make something out of nothing.
With 19 of 22 players returning on both two-deeps, there is a quiet confidence coming out of Columbia. If Garcia can become just a little more consistent, it might be all the Gamecocks need to separate themselves from the rest of the SEC East in the battle for second place.
PETRINO SHAKES UP RUNNING BACKS
Arkansas doesn't open spring practice for another couple of weeks, but head coach Bobby Petrino got a jump start of things by releasing his depth chart on Wednesday – and there was a bit of a surprise at running back.
Broderick Green and Dennis Johnson, the Razorbacks' top two returning rushers, are listed as No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, on the pre-spring practice depth chart.
Sophomore Ronnie Wingo Jr. is listed No.1. Wingo rushed for 319 yards and three touchdowns on 49 carries last season. The St. Louis, Mo., native got more than five carries in a game only three times, and only rushed for more than 60 yards once.
It's probably a motivational ploy from Petrino. I'm sure that Wingo is capable of running with the first team, but as with any spring depth chart, it's going to be a fluid situation. If nothing else, Petrino certainly set up a good battle to watch as the Razorbacks progress through spring practice.
LANE KIFFIN IN THE FIELD OF 64
While we all are getting psyched up for the annual NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, there's another tournament that's making some noise in the world of SEC football – Esquire magazine's "Sexiest Woman Alive" tournament.
What does that have to do with college football? The editors threw a curveball and seeded former Tennessee and current USC head coach Lane Kiffin No. 16 in the "sports region."
Kiffin is currently locked in a battle with pro golfer Natalie Gulbis, the No. 1 seed in the region. Tennessee fans have apparently caught on. Kiffin currently is doing what no No. 16 seed has ever been able to accomplish – upset a No. 1. He currently holds a commanding lead over Gulbis, earning nearly 60 percent of the 70,000+ votes.
Barrett Sallee covers the SEC for www.CollegeFootballNews.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at
2010 Spring Three & Out Archive