Florida’s game with Idaho not only was postponed because of lightning last Saturday but now it has been cancelled altogether. There will be no makeup game even though both teams have an open date October 25. Meanwhile, Darious Cummings, Jay-nard Bostwick and Demarcus Robinson, who were scheduled to serve a one-game suspension for the Idaho game, have had their suspensions lifted and all three are expected to play Saturday when the Gators play host to Eastern Michigan (4 p.m., SEC Network).
The decision to allow Cummings, Bostwick and Robinson to play this week has been met with a measure of criticism, but to those who think he’s soft on discipline, Will Muschamp fired back Wednesday.
“It’s not just about suspending players for games,” Muschamp said. “There’s a lot of things that go into discipline. It’s about altering and changing behavior, which we’ve done. I think our discipline speaks for itself and how we’ve handled our football team, okay? If it was about suspension, you’d never have an issue, right? At the end of the day, it’s more than that. There’s a lot of things that go into those situations, a lot more than people know and it’s very frustrating for me as a coach ... to have someone critical and you don’t even have all the information.”
On this one, Muschamp is 100% right and the critics are 100% wrong. If there had been a continuous series of arrests, failed drug tests and other mischief going on in the three-plus years he’s been here, then Muschamp could expect open season on his decisions, but fact is there has been a steady decline in the kind of problems that result in suspensions. We have seen quite a few transfers and probably half of them have something to do with internal disciplinary actions that weren’t publicized.
You can disagree all you want with the way Muschamp coaches the team and Muschamp wouldn’t have cause to disagree. He’s as disappointed in last year’s 4-8 as any fan. However, his discipline has been steady and consistent. There have been no claims that he plays favorites and no reason to doubt that he lacks the fortitude to deal with his players the right way.
Although Florida and Idaho have a mutual open date (October 25), their postponed game will not be rescheduled. Both teams will go with an 11-game schedule and Idaho will get to keep the entire $975,000 guarantee check it received from the University of Florida. By not rescheduling, the Gators keep the open date the week before they have to play Georgia in what could decide the East Division of the Southeastern Conference. Losing one game off the schedule doesn’t figure to hurt the Gators all that much. Barring an unforeseen rash of injuries like they saw in 2013, the Gators are going to go bowling and with a bit of luck in the SEC schedule, perhaps even play in Atlanta for the SEC championship. For the Vandals, it’s one beatdown they don’t have to endure and that could help them play better against Sun Belt Conference foes.
Key numbers after one week:
#2 Alabama: For those critical of Lane Kiffin being hired as the offensive coordinator, take a look at the numbers for Bama in game one: Alabama racked up 538 yards against West Virginia for a very respectable 6.56 yards per play. The Tide ran for 288 yards and even with a so-so quarterback performance by Blake Sims, still threw for 250 and completed 24-33 passes.
Arkansas: If the Razorbacks are going to make it offensively in the SEC, they’re going to have to do something to get eight out of the box. Quarterback Brandon Allen averaged only 5.6 yards per pass attempt (18-31, 175 yards) against Auburn. The Arkansas receivers averaged only 9.72 yards per catch.
#5 AUBURN: Auburn’s offense racked up 595 yards against Arkansas, averaging a very strong 8.5 yards per play, a well above average 6.29 yards per rush and an extraordinary 13.3 yards per pass attempt. If there is a concern it’s on the other side of the ball where the Tigers gave up 5.28 yards per rushing attempt.
#6 GEORGIA: Todd Gurley established himself as an early front runner for the Heisman Trophy when he averaged 13.2 yards per rush (15 carries, 198 yards, 3 rushing touchdowns) against Clemson. His backup, freshman Nick Chubb, averaged 17.5 per carry (4-70, 1 touchdown). Overall, Georgia’s running game produced 8 yards per carry.
Kentucky: Kentucky had one of its best offensive explosions in years against D1AA UT-Martin, but there is reason for concern in Lexington. UT-Martin squeezed off 81 plays and controlled the ball an astonishing 36:18. Those numbers have to be reduced drastically if the Wildcats expect to win an SEC game this year.
#12 LSU: For a team with three future NFL running backs (Kenny Hilliard, Terrence Magee and Leonard Fournette) sharing the football, LSU’s running stats were really rotten. The Tigers averaged only 2.68 yards per rushing attempt. Over on the other side of the ball, LSU’s pass defense was stifling. Wisconsin averaged only 2.1 yards per pass attempt (8-24, 50 yards, 2 interceptions).
Mississippi State: Mississippi State had perhaps the best overall performance of any team in the league. The Bulldogs rang up 49 points and 550 offensive yards against Southern Miss (7.05 per play) while holding the Eagles to zero points, only 2.15 yards per rush and 5.0 per pass play. Dan Mullen has to love that Dak Prescott averaged 10.9 yards per pass attempt.
#24 Missouri: Missouri opened up with a win, but the numbers aren’t exactly inspiring. The Tigers were only 3-11 on third down attempts and they allowed D1AA South Dakota State to control the ball for 35:24. The bright spot for the Tigers was defensive end Markus Golden, who had 10 tackles, three tackles for loss totaling 11 yards and 1.5 sacks for nine yards in losses.
#15 Ole Miss: Hugh Freeze had to be pleased with the overall defensive effort against Boise State. The Rebels picked off four passes, sacked the quarterback three times for 36 yards in losses and held the Broncos to a very poor 5.5 yards per pass attempt. Concerns: 14 penalties for 78 yards in losses and allowing Boise State to run 85 plays.
#21 South Carolina: The Gamecocks are supposed to have one of the best offensive lines in the entire country but they were porous against Texas A&M, allowing three sacks and six quarterback pressures while barely denting the Aggies in the running game. South Carolina runners averaged only 3.05 per carry (22-67), hardly what it takes to win in the SEC.
Tennessee: Where Butch Jones saw the most improvement from last season is on the defensive side of the ball where the Vols used their speed to limit Utah State to only 244 total yards and a poor 4.14 yards per play. The Vols registered six tackles for loss and while they only got to Chuckie Keeton for one sack, they were in his face for five quarterback pressures.
#9 Texas A&M: With Kenny Hill going 44-60 for 511 yards passing, the Texas A&M offense had that high powered look against South Carolina but while the Aggie defense looked improved over last season, there is plenty of room for growth. The Aggies gave up 366 passing yards and 9.2 yards per pass attempt and for the game gave up nearly seven yards (6.98) per play. Unless those numbers improve the Aggies are going to be involved in a lot of shootouts this year.
Vanderbilt: The numbers that stick out for Vandy are 1.86 and seven. That’s 1.86 yards per running play (29 carries, 54 yards) and seven turnovers, three interceptions and four fumbles. The Commodores really weren’t all that bad defensively (gave up only 4.33 yards per offensive play) but they kept giving Temple a short field to work with.
Okay, show of hands. How many of you believe that Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker, who wonders if someone put something in his drink back in May at the Kentucky Derby, causing him to test positive for something called MDMA, which is the designer drug ecstasy mixed with amphetamines? Welker got a four-game suspension from the NFL for failing that drug test. He was already facing the possibility of having to sit while waiting for test results for concussions after suffering his third concussion since November 17 in an August preseason game with Houston. Regarding the suspension for the failed drug test, Welker said, “That’s a joke. I don’t do marijuana, I don’t do drugs. I don’t do any drugs.” We’ve hear that what seems to be 100 times every season when a substantial number of players suspended for failed drug tests claim there was a flawed test or that someone deliberately set them up, etc. Welker may be as innocent as the pure driven snow. Pardon me if I’m skeptical.
When NFL commish Roger Goodell suspended Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay six games and fined him $500,000 for driving drunk Tuesday, it caused a number of players to claim there is a double standard for players and owners. Said Buffalo Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes, “He’s a billionaire so I’m pressure sure [$500,000] won’t hurt too badly ... it’s kind of like a slap on the wrist, but it is what it is. It’s the business.” Yes, it is the business and if there is a double standard it is because Irsay pays the bills so that players like Hughes can make the big bucks to play. Irsay’s greatest contribution is signing paychecks so that his staff can put a good team on the field. He doesn’t make coaching decisions on game day or organize practices and he certainly doesn’t play the game. Irsay’s arrest for DUI was an embarrassment for the league and he should have gotten some punishment, but his suspension isn’t going to affect whether the Colts win or lose a game. A player who gets drunk or does drugs can indeed affect outcomes. So, yes, there is a double standard.
ESPN.com’s Brian Fremeau, Florida State has the weakest schedule among the projected champions of the power five conferences. If the Seminoles had to play an SEC schedule what kind of record do you think they would finish with this season?
Since the Gators are facing Eastern Michigan, which is a suburb of Detroit, it’s only fitting to feature a couple of Detroit music classics. “Heartache Tonight” is one of the great hits of The Eagles, who actually have some Detroit roots. Glenn Frey, one of the founding members along with Gainesville High alums Bernie Leadon and Don Felder, grew up in the Detroit suburbs and cut his musical teeth in the bar scene of the Motor City. Felder was a background singer and guitarist on Detroit rocker Bob Seger’s first hit, “Rambin’ Gamblin’ Man” in 1969 and the two remained fast friends. In 1979, collaborating with Don Henley, Seger and Frey wrote “Heartache Tonight” which rose to #1 on the Billboard charts.