Maybe it’s time to admit it. Charlie Weis really wasn’t that bad an offensive coordinator. In his one year on the job (2011), Florida’s quarterbacks averaged 7.5 per pass attempt (John Brantley averaged 8.5 per throw), the receivers averaged 13.26 per reception (Andre Debose averaged 27 per catch) and the running game produced an 800-yard rusher (Chris Rainey, 861 yards, 5.4 per carry), a 500-yard rusher (Jeff Demps, 569 yards, 5.81 per carry) and a 300-yard rusher (Mike Gillislee, 328 yards, 5.86 per carry).
Compare that to the last two years under Brent Pease. Yes, the Gators ran for more yards in 2012 (2,440 yards, 4.53 per carry compared) than in 2011(1,859 and 3.96 per carry) but they slumped to 3.63 yards per carry and 1,749 yards in 2013. Those rushing totals might have been better both years if the Gators had taken as many shots downfield as Weis took. In both 2012 and 2013, the Gators averaged only 6.6 yards per pass attempt and the receivers averaged a very poor 10.39 per catch in 2012 and 10.31 in 2013. Frankie Hammond Jr. was Florida’s only receiver to average at least 13 yards per catch (13.41 on 22 catches) in 2012. Last season Quinton Dunbar averaged 13.54 on 39 catches but he never once found the end zone.
The conservative passing game worked just fine in 2012 when the Gators were content to run the ball, win the kicking game with Kyle Christy nearly leading the nation in punting and Caleb Sturgis almost automatic from inside 50 yards on field goals. Will Muschamp had a stifling defense so he could afford to play it close to the vest. When injuries decimated the team last year, that same conservative philosophy backfired and had plenty to do with Florida’s fall to 4-8.
Rising from that hole means taking more chances and amping up the passing game. The Gators will run from a spread offense with no huddles so the tempo will be faster. Kurt Roper will have Jeff Driskel throwing his fair share of five-yard passes and some tunnel and bubble screens, but his history says he uses the short game to set up the 14-17-yard routes that can turn into big gainers if the receivers are hit in stride in the seams. And, history also says he will use play action to go deep at least 2-3 times a game to back the safeties off the line of scrimmage.
This might seem a radical departure for Muschamp but if you think back to 2011, Charlie Weis was willing to take some downfield chances when he had healthy personnel both at quarterback and on the offensive line and Andre Debose to stretch the field. Debose is supposedly healthy this year and he could provide the Gators with that deep threat that backs the safeties off the line. If he’s able to duplicate what he did in 2011, then Roper should be able to get the Gators in the neighborhood of 7.5 yards per attempt and more than 13 yards per catch. If he can do that, then the Gators should be among the most improved offenses in the SEC.
In their new book “Blood Sport: Alex Rodriguez, Biogenesis and the Quest to End Baseball’s Steroid Era,” co-authors Tim Elfrink and Gus Garcia-Roberts not only allege that A-Rod got permission from Major League Baseball to use performance enhancing drugs but that Tiger Woods was linked to the same doctors who allegedly treated A-Rod with HGH. According to the book, Woods paid Dr. Anthony Galea and Dr. Mark Lindsay nearly $200,000 for 63 house calls between 2008 and 2009. Woods won the 2008 US Open and was the 2009 PGA Player of the Year. Woods had ACL surgery after winning the 2008 US Open and then missed the next nine months rehabbing. It was in November of 2009 that Woods’ extra-marital affairs were reported which resulted in his divorce from wife Elin Nordgren.
Dr. Galea was busted at the US-Canadian border and charged with drug smuggling, conspiring to lie to federal agents, unlawful possession with intent to distribute and practicing medicine without a license. Dr. Galea went states evidence and got a suspended sentence for time served (one day) in exchange for testimony that led to A-Rod going down hard and getting suspended for the entire 2014 baseball season.
Woods has maintained that he never took HGH or any other performance enhancing drug, stating that Dr. Galea injected his knee with legal platelet rich plasma to promote healing. It sounds good and it might be 100% factual, but there were rumors for years that Tiger might have been taking the better living through chemistry route. This book only casts further doubt and it comes out at a time when Woods is trying to come back from another injury to play in next week’s British Open at Royal Liverpool. Also, because Woods lived a lie all those years when he was chiseling this image of championship virtue, an awful lot of folks are going to think all the rumors were true all those years.
The Houston Rockets have about 24 more hours to match the three-year, $45 million offer sheet former Gator Chandler Parsons signed with the Dallas Mavericks. The Rockets are in the thick of trying to sign free agent Chris Bosh for a four-year, $88 million deal and there really isn’t room for both. If the Rockets are smart – and no one says they are – they match the Dallas offer and let Bosh either find another team or re-sign with Miami.
The Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, which is played in Tempe, Arizona, is now known as the Cactus Bowl and will remain the Cactus Bowl until some new sponsor offers some cash to become the official sponsor. I liked bowl games better when they weren’t linked to a sponsor. The Citrus Bowl – “You can’t spell Citrus without a U and a T,” Steve Spurrier once quipped because the Tennessee Vols made the Citrus Bowl their winter headquarters a lot in the mid 1990s – always sounded better than the Capital One Bowl and I find it extremely hard to call the Gator Bowl the Taxslayer.com Bowl. I am still shocked that no one lost a toe or a finger to frostbite in something called the Humanitarian Bowl, which was played in a frozen snowdrift that doubled as Boise State’s Stadium in the dead of winter.
It’s a good thing this isn’t gymnastics or diving where they give points for degree of difficulty because Baylor football is skimming the bottom of the barrel when it comes to non-conference football. In the 10-team Big 12, everybody plays everybody, so that means nine conference games and three non-conference opponents. Well, that is if you wish to call the non-league teams that Baylor will face opponents. This year, Baylor’s non-conference slate is SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo. SMU is capable of putting up some points but you’re smoking something if you think that defense is going to hold Baylor to anything less than eight touchdowns. My over-under for touchdowns scored against Northwestern State and Buffalo is 22 – any combination 24 touchdowns in those two games as in 12 against D1AA Northwestern State and 10 against Buffalo of the MAC. If you think that non-league schedule is weak wait until you get a look at 2019 when Baylor plays something called Incarnate Word, Rice and Texas-San Antonio. You could probably muster more competition against a local convent or orphanage.
If it were only about talent, then P.J. Hairston would have been a lottery pick in the recently held NBA Draft. He’s that good. The reason he lasted until the 26th pick in the first round was because he is a certifiable trouble magnet. He played in the NBA Developmental League last year because he took impermissible benefits from a convicted felon, got a few speeding tickets and got busted for pot possession, all when he played basketball at the University of North Carolina. About four days ago, he allegedly sucker punched a high school kid in a pickup game at a Durham, North Carolina YMCA. Now it turns out he has a non-NBA certified agent. Saturday, troubled Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon was arrested while driving impaired. The car belonged to P.J. Hairston. As if that’s not enough, Hairston’s agent is not NBA-certified, which means the Charlotte Hornets can be fined $50,000 by the league. Hairston is a pure scorer who can stroke it from the outside or take it to the rack where he can dunk in just about anyone’s face. He’s a talent, all right, but you have to wonder if he’s worth the effort. Maybe this guy needs to fall and fall hard. That might be the only thing that knocks some common sense into him.
The last thing the New York Yankees needed was for new ace Masahiro Tanaka (12-4, 2.51 ERA and 135 strikeouts) to do down with an injury. He has a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament. No surgery is required but he’s out for a minimum of six weeks ... My guess is Dorial Green-Beckham never plays a down for Oklahoma. He has petitioned the NCAA for a waiver but it’s hard to imagine he will be allowed to play after getting kicked off the team at Missouri for multiple drug offenses. So he will either have to sit this year or go play in Canada ... Florida State wide receiver Jesus Wilson was arrested and charged with grand theft auto in the third degree Thursday. Well, it wasn’t exactly an auto. It was a scooter, but it’s still a felony that could land him five years in the big house ... Memphis already has K.J. Lawson signed, sealed and delivered for the 2014-15 basketball season. Now head coach Josh Pastner seems on the verge of hiring Lawson’s dad as an assistant coach as a way to ensure younger brother Dedric, one of the best 2016 prospects, will also join the fold. K.J. and Dedric will play in Jacksonville for Arlington Country Day this year ... Clayton Kershaw’s string of scoreless innings ended at 41 last night.
How important is it for Andre Debose to play healthy and pose a deep threat for the Gators this season?
If you grew up in the 1960s, then you know exactly what I am talking about when I say that Quicksilver Messenger Service was one of those bands that our parents thought were warping our values by turning our minds to mush. The music was called psychedelic because in those days screaming guitars and a dark venue with the smell of herb in the air led to a lot of heretofore normal folks paying $5 for a sugar cube laced with something that altered the mind. This is “Fresh Air,” the best song QMS ever did off their 1970 album “Just for Love.”