A decision regarding the Idaho game is expected today or tomorrow. In all probability, the game will be made up on October 25, an open date for both the Gators and Idaho, but there has been no official announcement from Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley. Foley will certainly seek input from head coach Will Muschamp but the final decision will be Foley’s and it will take into consideration the financial bottom line for both Florida and Idaho as well as playoff and bowl implications moving forward. Whatever the decision, Muschamp didn’t seem all that concerned at his Monday press conference.
Asked about the possibility that the Gators will have to finish the season playing nine consecutive weeks, difficult under any circumstance but particularly for a team that figures to factor heavily in the Southeastern Conference race, Muschamp said, “I haven’t even really thought about that because I’m going to control the controllables. Right now I have zero control of that situation. Once I am told whatever we are going to do, we are going to go after it full speed.”
That is the mature approach by Muschamp, who can’t let any inconvenience affect his team, but it’s also something that he can turn into a psychological advantage. He’s already got the no respect card working in his favor. This is just one more chip to load onto the collective shoulders of his team. If he can get the Gators to play like a team that feels that something must be proven every single game, then there is no question the Gators can be in the hunt for the SEC East title.
Saturday’s game will be the second meeting all-time between the Gators and Eastern Michigan. Both times it was scheduled to be the second game of the season for UF. The first time that happened was 2004 when Hurricane Frances forced the postponement of the season opener with Middle Tennessee. A week later the Gators opened up with a 49-10 win over EMU behind Ciatrick Fason, who ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns, and Chris Leak, who threw for 244 and three touchdowns.
The Eagles are 1-0 after opening with a 31-28 win over Division I-AA Morgan State of the MEAC in the debut game for head coach Chris Creighton. EMU rallied from a 28-21 deficit, tying the game on a 14-yard touchdown run by Ryan Brumfield with 2:04 remaining in the third quarter and getting the winning points on a 45-yard field goal by Dylan Mulder with 13:04 left in the game.
The Eagles operate out of a spread offense that emphasizes the run. Pass routes are generally 5-6 yards. Against Morgan State, the Eagles ran for 292 yards (5.2 per carry) and passed for 99 (3.3 per pass attempt). Morgan State piled up 479 total yards, 269 through the air and 210 on the ground. The Bears averaged 9.6 yards per pass attempt and 5.1 per run.
Eastern Michigan is 39-125 since 2000 with no winning seasons. Over the same span, the Gators are 130-51. Creighton compiled a 139-46 record as a head coach in the NAIA, Division III and Division I-AA. Prior to taking the EMU job, Creighton went 44-22 in six seasons at Drake.
# 2 Alabama: Wide receiver DeAndrew White will miss two weeks with an injured shoulder and corner Jarrick Williams will miss at least four weeks with a fractured foot. Of the two, the injury to Williams is more significant. He’s got 10 career starts at a position where Alabama struggled in the season opener ... Corner Eddie Jackson has been cleared to begin practicing ... Head coach Nick Saban said both Blake Sims and Jacob Coker will get time at quarterback against Florida Atlantic.
Arkansas: Head coach Bret Bielema, who was very vocal about his opposition to hurry up, no huddle offenses, said Auburn’s fast paced offense was a problem for his defense in the Razorbacks’ loss but the biggest problem was poor alignment and poor tackling. “Too many yards after contact,” Bielema said. “Too much given to them [Auburn] and they earned it. I get it. But the whole thing we want to talk about is that we’ve got to make everybody earn everything. We’re going to earn everything we get. We’ve got to make our opponents earn everything they get.”
# 6 AUBURN: To get pressure on the quarterback, expect to see more blitzing from Auburn’s linebackers and safeties. Against Arkansas, only two of the nine hurries against quarterback Brandon Allen were registered by defensive linemen. Linebackers had four pressures, safeties had three and linebacker Kris Frost got the only sack.
#12 Georgia: After an impressive 24-point blowout of Clemson, the Bulldogs figure to crack the top ten when the polls come out today, but head coach Mark Richt doesn’t seem overwhelmed by the possibility. “I just think we’re really young in so many ways, and there are a few veterans that understand the deal. But I don’t know how good we are, quite frankly. We had a good performance, we had one good game and even in that one game there were some things that need to be corrected, so I’m not gonna get too excited yet.”
Kentucky: The Wildcats looked good against D1AA UT-Martin. Now they play Division I Ohio U Saturday. The Bobcats opened with a MAC win over Kent State and have won five consecutive bowl games under head coach Frank Solich. Speaking of Ohio, Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops said, “They’re a team that’s not going to beat themselves. They’re good and sound and return a tremendous amount of experience on defense. We’ll have our hands full this week.”
#13 LSU: Following the touchdown that gave Wisconsin a 24-7 lead, LSU’s defense clamped down. The Badgers averaged 9.1 yards per carry in the first 2-1/2 quarters but after that, they ran only 23 plays for 49 total yards with only 32 rushing yards on 13 attempts. In the last quarter-and-a-half Wisconsin managed only two first downs and was 1-6 on third down attempts.
Mississippi State: The defense pitched a shutout and the Bulldogs ran up 367 first half yards and 550 overall in their 49-0 win over Southern Miss, prompting head coach Dan Mullen to say, “You always want to play a clean first game and for the most part I thought we did that. There are some things we need to correct, but I was pleased with how we played. I think our offense proved we can score some point and win some games, and our defense was very solid all night.”
#24 Missouri: Quarterback Maty Mauk threw for three touchdowns in the season opening win over South Dakota State. Head coach Gary Pinkel thought Mauk was solid. “He threw 62% completion. Threw long balls, completions and big plays. He did a lot of good things. I think what we all have to remember, myself included, is that this was only his fifth career game started. He didn’t come off a full year of playing football. The timing of our passing game still isn’t that consistent as it needs to be but overall, I think he did a really good job.”
#18 Ole Miss: Head coach Hugh Freeze is concerned by the Rebels’ lack of a running game in their win over Boise State. The Rebels ran for 71 yards in 34 carries. Top rusher was Mark Dodson with 27 yards. “We played tentative and not very physical,” Freeze said. “We did a poor job of preparing our kids and we’ve got to get that fixed.”
#9 South Carolina: The Gamecocks figure to drop at least 8-10 spots in the polls after a loss to Texas A&M that caught Steve Spurrier by surprise. “I think we all were surprised,” Spurrier said. “It didn’t go according to plan but it’s history now and we’ve learned a lot about ourselves.” Regarding the offense, Spurrier said, “The strength? Oh, we don’t have one right now. Hopefully we can throw better and run better than we did last time out. We need to improve a lot running the ball and passing the ball.”
TENNESSEE: The Vols showed off a vastly improved defense in their 38-7 season opening win over Utah State, holding the Aggies to 11 first downs, 244 total yards and forcing three turnovers. The key, says head coach Butch Jones, is making sure everybody is running to the football on every single play. “We’re going to have to swarm,” Jones said. “We’re going to have to play with great effort. If we don’t we become very average.”
#21 Texas A&M: Head coach Kevin Sumlin seems surprised how many experts wrote the Aggies off after Johnny Manziel bolted for the NFL. “We aren’t a one-trick pony,” Sumlin said. The Aggies hung 52 points on South Carolina including 511 passing yards with first time starter Kenny Hill replacing Manziel at quarterback.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores didn’t score an offensive touchdown, rushed for only 54 yards on 29 attempts, fumbled the ball away four times and threw three interceptions in the 37-7 loss to Temple. “I put it on my shoulders,” said head coach Derek Mason. Just not a very good job of executing tonight. Offensively we couldn’t sustain any drives, too many penalties, just couldn’t find a rhythm. It was just a tough night at the office.”
The NCAA just got hit with another lawsuit, this one challenging the old rule that forbid multi-year scholarships as well as limitations which are set at 85 for Division I teams, 63 for Division I-AA. The suit claims that thousands of athletes were damaged when their scholarships were not renewed. That might be hard to prove. However, the challenge to the scholarship limits could be quite interesting. Back in the 1960s before there was freshman eligibility, schools like Alabama typically signed 50-60 freshmen. In 1973, the scholarship limits were set at 105 and that number was reduced to 95 in 1978. The 95 limit reduced to 85 in 1994. When scholarships were reduced from 105, then Southern Cal coach John McKay was quoted, “Mark this day on your calendar. This day is the ruin of college football. It will only go downhill from there.” It hasn’t exactly gone downhill, but there is precedent for having more players on scholarship.
Louisville totally dominated Miami in the ACC opener for both teams. Expect Hurricane fans to start beating the Al Golden has to go drum ... Former Gator Trey Burton made the active roster for the Philadelphia Eagles as a tight end ... For reasons unknown, Florida International denied a credential to the Miami Herald beat writer for the season opener with Bethune-Cookman. Rather than send another credentialed reporter and photographer, the Herald decided it wouldn’t cover the game. “The team does not get to choose who covers the program,” said Herald executive editor Aminda Marquez Gonzalez ... Texas will be without starting center Dominic Espinosa (broken ankle) the rest of the season. QB David Ash will miss Saturday’s game with BYU after suffering a concussion against North Texas in game one ... Michael Sam was cut by the St. Louis Rams, then passed over by the other 31 NFL teams. The Rams declined the option of signing Sam to their practice roster ... Following the Seminoles season opening win over Oklahoma State, head coach Jimbo Fisher said, “We’re a work in progress.” Said Matt Hayes of The Sporting News, “When is the last time you heard the coach of the defending national champions, who return a majority of last year’s roster and a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback say that?”
Does it surprise you that Michael Sam was not picked up by another NFL team?
Since the Gators are playing Eastern Michigan, which is from the Detroit suburbs, it’s only appropriate to feature The Funk Brothers. They were the band behind all the great Motown Records acts during the 1960s. They made a revival tour in the last few years including some performances with the great Joan Osborne doing the vocals. This is a clip from the documentary “Standing in the Shadows of Motown” featuring the Funk Brothers and Joan Osborne with their version of the old Jimmy Ruffin hit, “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted.” If you haven’t seen “Standing in the Shadows of Motown” that’s worth the investment of an hour or so of your time.