Franz Beard's Thoughts of the Day July 9

A few thoughts to jump start your Wednesday morning...


The numbers tell a story about last year’s Gators and offer insight to things that have to change for Florida to get back to the upper echelons of the Southeastern Conference.

Rushing offense: The Gators averaged only 3.63 yards per carry last season, second worst in the Southeastern Conference. Vanderbilt was worse – 3.59 per carry – but the Commodores rammed the ball into the end zone 34 times with their ground game. Florida, meanwhile, only scored 14 rushing touchdowns, which tied Arkansas for the lowest total in the SEC. The Gators averaged 145.75 yards per game, down 42 yards from 2012 and there were eight fewer touchdowns on the ground.

2014 analysis: The Gators aren’t going to do what Auburn (4,596 yards, 6.3 per carry, 48 touchdowns), LSU (2,630 yards, 5.03 per carry, 37 touchdowns), Missouri (3,330 yards, 5.66 per carry, 35 touchdowns) or Alabama (2,673 yards, 5.8 per carry, 28 touchdowns) did last year, but they need numbers similar to South Carolina (2,580 yards, 4.8 per carry, 27 touchdowns). Kelvin Taylor, Mack Brown and Matt Jones need to combine for at least 1,600 yards and more than 20 touchdowns to lead the way.

Rushing defense: A year after giving up only 2.98 yards per carry, the Gators gave up 4.35 yards on every rushing play. In 2012, the Gators gave up only 12 rushing touchdowns and only 94.54 yards per game. Opponents ran for 142.42 yards per game and 17 touchdowns last year. That’s another five first downs per game on the average.

2014 analysis: When the Gators have been at their best defensively, they’ve held opponents to less than 3.5 per carry and less than 110 rushing yards per game. Last year was the third time in four years that a Florida team allowed at least 130 yards per game and the first time dating back to 2007 that opposing running backs have run for at least 4.0 yards per carry. They need Alabama-like numbers. Last year’s Alabama defense gave up only eight rushing touchdowns and 3.32 yards per carry. The guys in the middle – Darious Cummings, Leon Orr, Jay-nard Bostwick, Caleb Brantley and freshmen Thomas Holley and Khairi Clark – have to plug gaps and the linebackers have to put people on the ground when they make a hit.

Passing offense: The Gators actually threw for more yards (2,051 in 2013; 1,902 in 2012) in one less game last year, but the 2012 Gators threw far less (288 attempts in 13 games to 311 in 12) and they were far more efficient. The Gators threw for 11 touchdowns with nine interceptions last year. The numbers were 13 and five in 2012. The key stat is yards per pass attempt. Florida averaged only 6.6 yards per attempt last year. That’s the same as 2012 but with one big difference. In 2012, the Gators got far more out of their running game. When there was no explosion in the running game last year, there needed to be more yards in the passing game.

2014 analysis: It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Gators put up numbers similar to 2007 (257 yards per game, 32 touchdowns) with Kurt Roper calling the plays although the yards per attempt probably won’t be anything like 2007 (9.3 per attempt). Roper wants the ball out of the quarterback’s hands quickly so the routes will be more about timing and hitting receivers in the seam. Still, something in the 7.5-8.5 per attempt range would be good. LSU had the best numbers in the SEC last year (10.0 per attempt) while Texas A&M threw for a league-high 4,593 yards and 40 touchdowns. Roper would probably be very happy if Driskel can spread the ball around so that at least three receivers catch a minimum of 40 passes.

Pass defense: Three numbers jump out at you. The Gators gave up only 5.6 yards per pass attempt in 2012, which is truly outstanding, and picked off 20 passes. In 2013, they gave up nearly a yard more per attempt (6.5) and managed only 10 interceptions. Then there were the sack totals – 30 in 2012, just 19 last season. Opponents threw for only nine touchdowns last year; slightly better than the seven the Gators allowed in 2012.

2014 analysis: Two things have to happen for Florida to improve: (1) better ball hawking in the secondary to produce more interceptions and (2) a stronger pass rush. Considering the lack of a consistent pass rush to help them out last season, the Gators were actually outstanding in the secondary. The Gators gave up the fewest touchdown passes in the SEC (9) and were tied with Missouri (6.5 per attempt) for second behind LSU (6.4) in fewest yards per attempt. The Gators will probably start a sophomore (Vernon Hargreaves III), a freshman (Jalen Tabor) at corner with young, inexperienced safeties. There is a lack of experience, not a lack of talent. The only time in the last seven years that Florida has given up more than 200 yards passing per game was 2007 (258.5).

Yards per play: The Gators averaged an SEC-worst 4.79 yards per play last season, down from 5.25 in 2012. On the other side of the ball, the Gators gave up 5.3 yards per play, up nearly a full yard (4.35) from 2012.

2014 analysis: The Gators will run from a shotgun spread with no huddle this season, so the numbers figure to improve dramatically. The last time the Gators averaged more than 6.0 yards per play was 2009 when they picked up 6.97 yards with every snap. Don’t expect those kind of numbers but it’s not unreasonable to expect something like we saw last year with Missouri (6.59 yards per play) or South Carolina (6.39 per play).


The way things are going for the NCAA lately, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. There is a long line of folks with a grievance against the organization and it seems that nearly every one of them has a leg to stand on. Today, the Senate Commerce Committee will get its shot. In its Tuesday press release that teased the line of questioning the Commerce Committee will take, the Commerce Committee outlined its plan of attack, which is to go after the NCAA for its alleged inability to carry out its mission of protecting and promoting the welfare of college athletes. The committee is also going to question the NCAA regarding reports that exploitation of athletes by member institutions is commonplace. While I think it’s probably a good idea for someone to hold the NCAA’s feet to the fire, I’m not the least bit sure the United States Senate will actually accomplish anything. They talk a good game but as they say in Texas, all hat, no cattle.


Germany’s 7-1 win over host Brazil in the World Cup semifinal is almost unfathomable. Not only did it end a home winning streak for Brazil that dated back to 1975, but it was perhaps the most embarrassing World Cup semifinal loss in history, certainly the most embarrassing ever for a host nation. Even though Brazil was playing without its two best players – Neymar (injured) and Thiago Silva (suspended a game) – on paper it shouldn’t have been that bad. German is good, but 7-1 good? While there was nothing about the way Brazil had been playing to indicate they would play so poorly, there was absolutely nothing in the way Germany had been playing to indicate they were capable of routing a quality opponent by a six-goal differential. So was Germany that good? Or did Brazil pick this day – of all days – to simply go in the tank?


Mary Willingham, the learning specialist who was fired after she blew the whistle on the academic practices of the University of North Carolina athletic department, has filed a civil suit against the university, asking to be reinstated to her job and for damages at least $10,000. The lawsuit claims that the university spent more than $500,000 over the past two years trying to discredit her and her findings, which stated a large portion of Carolina athletes were incapable of reading at a level you would expect of a college student. This lawsuit is reminiscent of the one filed by Jan Kemp against the University of Georgia in 1982. Kemp was awarded $2.5 million, an amount later reduced to $1.08 million and Georgia president Fred C. Davison “resigned.” The NCAA has re-opened its investigation into UNC athletics and because the infractions window is still open on the football team, it opens the door for the death penalty. Larry Fedora, who was brought in to clean up the football mess, might be wise to tighten up that resume and get it ready to go out to the first decent Division I opening in the fall.


Florida has a brutal schedule for 2014. Do you think Will Muschamp will be given some slack if he goes 7-5 or 8-4 with an offense that averages better than 400 yards and 28 points per game?


Paul Butterfield made his debut in 1964 with the album “I Blueskvarter, Chicago 1964, Volume I.” This was the beginning of a five-year collaboration between Butterfield and guitarist Mike Bloomfield. Today’s song is “Everything Going to Be Alright” off that first album. Bloomfield tears it up on the guitar but Butterfield’s work on the harmonica is what made this song special.

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