The Gators are nowhere to be found in ESPN.com’s first power rankings for 2014 that include three SEC teams in the top 10 and four others in the top 25. Florida State heads the rankings followed by (2) Alabama, (3) Oklahoma, (4) Oregon, (5) Auburn, (6) Ohio State, (7) Michigan State, (8) UCLA, (9) South Carolina and (10) Stanford in the top 10. In the top 25 are (12) Georgia, (13) LSU, (18) Texas A&M and (19) Ole Miss.
What is interesting is the ESPN.com SEC staff did its power rankings for the conference where the Gators actually rank ahead of Texas A&M. In the SEC power poll, the Gators checked in at #9 while the Aggies were #10. Here is the entire SEC poll.1. Alabama
3. South Carolina
6. Ole Miss
7. Mississippi State
10. Texas A&M
You can bet that Florida coach Will Muschamp will play the disrespect card now that he’s in a true camp mode. Until school starts in a couple of weeks, Muschamp has the Gators under his thumb 24/7. This is an intense time in which the team bonds and really puts in the packages it will be running in the fall. It is also the time when coaches get into the heads of their players.
Given a schedule that includes Alabama and Florida State on the road, Georgia in Jacksonville and homers with LSU, South Carolina and Missouri, Muschamp needs to work the Gators for whatever kind of edge he can get. You would expect Florida to drop a few notches coming off a 4-8 season, but it’s the perfect time for Muschamp to ask his team, “Ole Miss is better than you? Mississippi State is better than you? Missouri is better than you?” Get it in their heads now that the only way they’re going to rejoin the elite of the SEC is to earn it on the playing field.
Prediction: Because it’s such a tough schedule, 8-4 is a reasonable prediction although I do believe that this is a team with 9-3 or 10-2 potential.
ALABAMA: The injury report – Offensive lineman Leon Brown is back with the team after missing the first week with a foot injury ... O-lineman Dominick Jackson suffered an ankle injury at Saturday’s scrimmage ... Linebacker Denzel Devall is getting limited reps after suffering a leg injury ... D-lineman A’Shawn Robinson (knee) and tight end Kurt Freitag (toe) missed the Saturday scrimmage.
ARKANSAS: Linebacker Otha Peters is transferring out. He was running #2 in the middle behind Brooks Ellis. That moves juco transfer Josh Williams as the backup ... Running backs Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams have been dinged up. Williams missed a couple of practices with a sore hamstring while Collins missed Saturday’s scrimmage with a groin injury.
AUBURN: Juco transfer D’haquille Williams is living up to the hype at wide receiver ... There are concerns about the pass rush off the edge as no one has stepped up to fill the shoes of Carl Lawson (knee surgery) ... Josh Holsey, who missed the last seven games of 2013 with an ACL, is fully recovered and expected to play corner. He was a safety last season.
GEORGIA: As of Monday, the offensive line is left tackle John Theus, left guard Brandon Kublanow, center David Andrews, right guard Greg Pyke and Kolton Houston and Watts Dantzler alternating at right tackle ... Tight end Jay Rome, who is recovering from foot surgery, is back at full speed again.
KENTUCKY: All five freshmen wide receivers are expected to play this year, but Dorian Baker seems poised to make an impact. The 6-3, 197-pounder continues to make big catches against coverage in practice ... Freshman Drew Barker is trailing Patrick Towles and redshirt freshman Reese Phillips in the battle for the starting quarterback job.
LSU: Freshman wide receivers Malachi Dupre and Trey Quinn could be the starting wide receivers when LSU opens its season with Wisconsin in Houston ... Safety Jalen Mills says he’s thankful to be back on the team after his second degree battery charge was reduced to misdemeanor when District Attorney Hillar Moore announced that he doesn’t have enough evidence to prosecute on the higher charge. There has been no announcement whether Mills will miss any games as punishment.
MISSISSIPPI STATE: Devon Bell and freshman Logan Cooke are locked into a battle to be the starting punter. Bell averaged 41.2 yards per punt last year but struggled with placekicking (only 6-14 field goals). This year he’s focused strictly on punting. Cooke averaged 44.2 yards per punt in high school and was considered the #3 punter in the nation.
MISSOURI: The Tigers went through two light practices Monday in preparation for a situational scrimmage on Tuesday ... Held out of practice Monday were safety Braylon Webb (shoulder), safety Cortland Browning (shoulder), O-lineman Connor McGovern (pec injury), tailback Morgan Steward (hip), defensive tackle Matt Hoch (pec injury), linebacker Donavin Newson (hamstring), wide receiver Eric Laurent (hamstring) and linebacker Grant Jones (knee).
OLE MISS: Pass protection was the focus when Ole Miss started two-a-days Monday. Following Saturday’s scrimmage head coach Hugh Freeze lamented the lack of protection, “The things we tried to run this morning you have to be able to protect and we did not protect at all” ... The trouble spots on the O-line are center and right tackle. Robert Conyers and Ben Still are competing for the starting job at center. Conyers and Fahn Cooper are competing for the right tackle job.
SOUTH CAROLINA: One of Steve Spurrier’s biggest problems in fall camp is figuring out how to use do-everything Pharoh Cooper. He’s the wildcat quarterback, is vital to the running game and passing game whether he’s lined up in the slot or on the outside, and he’s vital to the return game. Where Cooper has shown the most improvement is in his ability to block linebackers and safeties.
TENNESSEE: Head coach Butch Jones is concerned about the number of mental errors. He’s not going to blame youth although the Vols will be one of the youngest teams in the SEC. “We can’t control our youth and inexperience,” Jones said. “We have to control the controllables. What is it? Our mental approach every day, our effort, our fundamentals, being assignment sound. What is the easiest way to lose a football game? Not play with great effort, be undisciplined, jump offsides, drop footballs and have missed assignments. Those are all the things that take zero talent. We call it TNT – takes no talent.”
TEXAS A&M: The Aggies are expected vast improvement on the defensive line. The infusion of energy from five freshmen has a lot to do with the optimism for a team that registered only 21 sacks last year, 10th in the SEC ... Freshman Kyle Allen and sophomore Kenny Hill worked at quarterback with both the first and second teams Monday.
VANDERBILT: Head coach Derek Mason thought the Commodores “left their tool box back in the locker room” at Monday’s practice ... Mason thought the offense put the ball on the ground far too much and considered the overall practice “mediocre ... Mason said the Commodores worked “very hard to be good” but didn’t come anywhere close to greatness.
CBSSports.com reports Tiger Woods told captain Tom Watson, “I want you to pick me” for next month’s Ryder Cup. Watson says that Tiger is still in the running for one the three discretionary picks at his control, noting that Tiger “brings a lot to the team if he has the ability to play and he’s healthy.” That’s the problem. He’s not healthy and hasn’t been all year. Add that to the fact that Tiger has never been a real ace at the Ryder Cup – his 13-14-2 all-time mark is the 34th best in history for the US team – and Watson needs to say thanks but no thanks, come back when you’re healthy and playing well.
I’m really not sure Major League Baseball is doing itself any favors by naming an insider as its new commissioner. The game needs some fresh new ideas ... Former Gator tight end A.C. Leonard was cut by the Minnesota Vikings ... Brady Quinn, who supposedly retired from the NFL for a place in the booth, has been signed by the Dolphins as a backup to Ryan Tanneyhill. The money for wearing a ball cap and carrying a clipboard is rather good these days ... The Indianapolis Colts signed Nu’Keese Richardson to a free agent contract ... O.J. Simpson must find prison cuisine to his liking. He’s topping the scales at more than 300 pounds ... Linebacker Frank Shannon, last year’s leading tackler for Oklahoma, has been suspended for the season after a Title IX investigation uncovered an alleged sexual assault ... Michael Sam might not make the St. Louis Rams’ roster. He has been outplayed in camp by undrafted free agent Ethan Westbrooks. He’s a 4-3 defensive end who is not considered quick or explosive enough to play outside in a 3-4.
Do you think the ESPN power poll is (a) on the money, (b) just about right or (c) dead wrong?
Rolling Stone Magazine came out with a poll of the top 100 guitar players of all time. While a number of the selections can be argued, it’s pretty difficult to complain about the guy at the top. Jimi Hendrix burst onto the music scene in the spring of 1967 with the album “Are You Experienced,” an album that featured “Purple Haze” and “Foxy Lady.” This was the real beginning of the era when the music was called psychedelic and Hendrix was the king. I got to see him twice in concert, once when he played for about 20 minutes, tossed his guitar down and left the stage as if he were bored, and the other when he just played and played and played. This is a live version of “Foxy Lady” from the Miami Pop Festival of 1968. If we’re going to have Screaming Guitars Week, this one has to be played.