It is a chance for a signature win, not only for Florida head coach Will Muschamp but for quarterback Jeff Driskel, too. If the Gators can somehow do the unthinkable and knock off third-ranked Alabama Saturday in Tuscaloosa it would be a defining moment for both coach and quarterback. For Muschamp, a win over Alabama and his mentor, Nick Saban, would significantly reduce the flame that some experts claim is well lit and positioned directly under his posterior. For Driskel, it would go a long way toward erasing the stigma that he can rip and shred against the bad teams but comes up short against the good ones.
For Muschamp to get his signature win Driskel is going to have to play very well and he’s coming off a mixed bag performance in his last outing against Kentucky. In Florida’s 36-30 three overtime win over the Wildcats, Driskel had a less than spectacular first half but came back with a vastly improved second half as well as a fourth down touchdown pass to Demarcus Robinson to save the Gators from defeat at the end of the first overtime.
In the first half against Kentucky, Driskel was 7-20 for 121 yards plus he threw an interception. In the second half, he was 18-23 for 174 yards and two touchdowns. Muschamp defended Driskel’s first half play.
“We had two drops on third down,” Muschamp said. “That wasn’t Jeff’s fault. We had two protection issues on third down. That wasn’t Jeff’s fault.”
After the adjustments at the half, Driskel was much more efficient, enough that Muschamp showed no hesitation or lack of confidence with a road trip to Alabama looming.
“The key ingredient is to have an experienced quarterback,” Muschamp said. That, to me, is critical. We have an experienced quarterback that’s won big on the road in some tough places. We’ll be fine.”
Kyle Christy was named SEC Special Teams Player of the Week after punting six times for a net 45.5 average against Kentucky. Christy landed four punts inside the Kentucky 20, forced three fair catches and boomed a clutch 61-yarder to flip the field in the fourth quarter. Also honored were: Alex Collins, Arkansas (Offensive Player of the Week); Shane Ray, Missouri (Defensive Player of the Week); Corey Robinson, South Carolina (Offensive Lineman of the Week); Preston Smith (Defensive Lineman of the Week) and Garrett Johnson, Kentucky (Freshman of the Week).
The Gators in the national stats:Total offense (6): 593.5 yards per game
Total defense (15): 287.5 yards per game
Rushing offense (T24): 248.0 per game
Rushing defense (12): 80.5 per game, 2.40 per attempt
Passing offense (12): 345.5 yards per game
Pass defense (39): 207 yards per game
Scoring offense (7): 50.5 points per game
Scoring defense (T16): 15.0 points per game
Kickoff returns (16): 26.0 yards per return
Net Punting (8): 44.11 yards per punt
Penalties (T75): 18-178 yards
Third down conversions (77): 15-37
Third down defense (26): 9-30
Turnover margin (1): +7 for 3.50 per game
Individual stats:Passing yards per game (31): Jeff Driskel, 271.5
Passing efficiency (70): Jeff Driskel, 128.2
Rushing yards per game (25): Matt Jones, 110.5
Receptions per game (3): Demarcus Robinson, 10.5
Punt returns (7): Andre Debose, 24.3 per return
Interceptions (T2): Keanu Neal, 2
Punting (5): Kyle Christy, 48.6 yards per punt
Scoring (5): Frankie Velez, 15 points per game
From the Alabama Monday morning press conference came this from head coach Nick Saban when asked about Florida’s Kurt Roper:
“The new offensive coordinator has done a really good job for them in terms of what they do offensively.”
Well, Nick, isn’t that what offensive coordinators do? Wouldn’t we be a bit concerned if he was doing a really good job for them in terms of what they do DEFENSIVELY?
The numbers that matter.
#3 ALABAMA (3-0, 0-0 SEC): Offensively, Alabama averages 7.58 per play, 6.24 per rush, 9.4 per pass attempt and 568.3 yards per game … The Crimson Tide is giving up only 267 yards per game total offense, 2.14 per rush and 6.5 per pass attempt. Alabama ranks 10th nationally in total defense … QB Blake Sims is 68-95 for 894 yards, five touchdowns and one pick … T.J. Yeldon has gained X yards with two touchdowns while Derrick Henry has gained 209 with one touchdown … Amari Cooper has 33 catches for 454 yards and two touchdowns … Alabama is outscoring opponents 42-11.7 per game.
Alabama is a 14.5-point favorite over Florida.
ARKANSAS (2-1, 0-1 SEC): The Razorbacks average a scary 7.93 yards per rushing attempt and 362 yards per game on the ground. Overall, they average 503.7 yards per game and 7.79 per play ... Alex Collins has gained 411 yards (8.22 per carry) rushing for five touchdowns while Jonathan Williams has gained 322 (9.76 per carry) and scored six touchdowns … Opponents are running the ball for 145.67 yards and passing for 251 per game, averaging 4.46 per rush and 6.8 per pass attempt ... Defensive end Taiwan Johnson has 3.5 sacks for 27 yards in losses.
Arkansas is a 14.5-point favorite over Northern Illinois.
#5 Auburn (2-0, 1-0 SEC): Auburn goes into Thursday night’s game on the road at Kansas State outscoring opponents 52-17 per game … The Tigers average 7.61 yards per play, running for 330 yards per game (6.73 per attempt) and passing for 214 per game (9.5 per attempt) … Cameron Artis-Payne has run for 289 yards (6.88 per attempt) and four touchdowns while Corey Grant has 176 (8.8 per attempt) and one touchdown … Defensively, the Tigers give up 323.5 yards per game and 4.72 yards per play … Auburn gives up only 2.95 yards per rush … Wide receiver D’haquille Johnson has 13 catches for 214 yards (16.46 per catch) and a touchdown.
Auburn is a 9-point road favorite over Kansas State.
#13 Georgia (1-1, 0-1 SEC): Todd Gurley averages 9.4 yards per carry and has gained 329 yards good for four touchdowns … Georgia averages 272.5 on the ground and 161 through the air, 6.9 per carry rushing and just 6.7 per pass attempt … Against South Carolina, the Georgia defense gave up 9.0 yards per pass attempt and 447 yards overall. Georgia is allowing 4.99 yards per play … Hutson Mason has completed 34-48 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns … Inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera has three sacks for 28 yards in losses.
Georgia is a 39.5-point home favorite over Troy.
KENTUCKY (2-1, 0-1 SEC): The Wildcats are outscoring opponents 36.3-17.7 … Kentucky averages 6.79 yards per play and 502.7 yards per game … Opponents have averaged 4.91 per play and 384.3 yards per play … Through three games quarterback Patrick Towles has passed for 916 yards and five touchdowns. Last season’s passing leader had only 1,276 passing yards … The Wildcats are averaging 305.3 per game passing (8.8 per attempt) and 182.33 (4.84 per attempt) running the ball … Braylon Heard (14-155, two touchdowns) averages 11.07 per carry … Kentucky is +4 in turnovers.
#8 LSU (3-0, 0-0 SEC): The Tigers rank third nationally in scoring defense at 8.0 per game and third in total defense (205.7 per game). LSU hasn’t given up a point in nine quarters … The Tigers average 38.3 points and 440.3 yards per game. LSU averages 6.12 yards per play while giving up only 3.53 … While LSU averages 226.33 yards per game (4.32 per running play), opponents are getting only 111.33 per game and 3.59 per rush … Anthony Jennings leads the nation in passing yards per completion at 20.96. Jennings is fifth (10.88) in yards per pass attempt … Wide receiver Travin Dural (12-370, four touchdowns) is averaging a whopping 30.83 per reception … The Tigers are converting 48.84% (21-43) on third down while opponents are only 11-43 (25.58%).
LSU is a 10-point home favorite over Mississippi State.
MISSISSIPPI STATE (3-0, 0-0 SEC): Quarterback Dak Prescott accounts for 323 of Mississippi State’s 526.7 yards of offense per game. Prescott has 273 rushing yards and 696 passing. Prescott averages an impressive 9.7 per pass attempt and 6.83 per run … Prescott has nine touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns … The Bulldogs are averaging 6.72 per offensive play while giving up 5.03 … The Bulldogs are averaging 3.67 sacks per game while giving up only 2.34 yards per rush.
Mississippi State is a 10-point road underdog at LSU.
#18 MISSOURI (3-0, 0-0 SEC): Shane Ray is tied for fifth in the NCAA with 5.5 sacks while Markus Golden is tied for seventh with 4.5 … Maty Mauk is tied for first nationally with 12 touchdown passes … Missouri ranks eighth nationally in sacks with 12 for 82 yards in losses … The Tigers average 405.7 yards per game (6.12 per play) and give up 355.7 per game (4.96 per play) … The Tigers are +6 in turnovers … Russell Hansbrough leads the Tigers in rushing with 258 yards (5.49 per carry) and two touchdowns … Bud Sasser is the leading receiver with 12 catches for 215 yards and four touchdowns. Jimmie Hunt also has four TD catches and Darius White has three.
Missouri is a 14.5-point home favorite over Indiana.
#10 Ole Miss (3-0, 1-0 SEC): Ole Miss averages 519.7 yards per game (6.81 per play) and gives up 296 (4.37 per play) … The Rebels rank ninth nationally in passing at 364.7 yards per game. Bo Wallace is 71-94 for 1,023 yards (10.9 per attempt) with nine touchdown passes … The Rebels already have five receivers with 10 or more catches. Cody Core has 12-236, good for 19.67 per catch and four touchdowns … The Ole Miss secondary has already picked off eight passes. Senquez Golson leads the team with three, one of which he has returned for a touchdown.
#14 SOUTH CAROLINA (2-1, 1-1 SEC): The Gamecocks have a winning record even though they give up more points (36.7 per game) than they score (33) and more yards per game (513.7) than they average themselves (440.3) … Dylan Thompson has thrown for eight touchdowns while hitting 66-108 of his passes for 903 yards … Nick Jones has established himself as the go to guy in the passing game with 14 catches for 244 yards (17.43 per catch) and two touchdowns … The Gamecocks are allowing 172.67 yards per game on the ground and 5.29 per rush. Through the air they are giving up 341 per game and 8.0 per pass attempt.
South Carolina is a 21.5-point favorite over Vanderbilt.
Tennessee (2-1, 0-0 SEC): The Vols are averaging only 370.3 yards per game while giving up 343. Tennessee averages 4.65 per play while opponents average 5.04 … The Tennessee running game is producing only 3.33 yards per carry … Justin Worley is 70-120 for 721 yards (6.0 per attempt) with six touchdowns and three picks … Marquez North is the leading receiver with 14 catches for 173 yards and two touchdowns … A.J. Johnson has 29 tackles.
#6 Texas A&M (3-0, 1-0 SEC): Freshman defensive end Myles Garrett ranks third in the NCAA in sacks with five. The all-time freshman record in the SEC for a season is eight … Kenny Hill has 11 touchdown passes, which ranks fourth nationally. Hill is ninth in pass efficiency (178.8) and sixth in passing yards per game (364.7). He hasn’t thrown an interception this season in 117 pass attempts … The Aggies are fourth nationally in scoring (54.3 per game) and total offense (595.7 yards per game) … Texas A&M averages 7.57 per play while opponents are only getting 4.97 … Five Aggies have 10 or more catches with Malcolme Kennedy leading with 24-258 and one touchdown ... The Aggies allow 385.7 yards per game, 253 through the air.
Texas A&M is a 32-point favorite over SMU.
VANDERBILT (1-2, 0-1 SEC): The Commodores have converted only 30.77% of their third downs (12-39) … The Commodores average 107 yards per game on the ground (3.41 per carry) and 144.7 yards per game (5.3 per pass attempt) through the air … About the only offensive bright spot is running back Ralph Webb, who has gained 281 yards and is averaging 4.84 per carry … Vanderbilt has been outscored 109-44.
Vanderbilt is a 21.5-point underdog to South Carolina.
How’s this for a novel idea? Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson and head football coach Todd Graham each pledged $500,000 to the $50 million fund to renovate Sun Devil Stadium. Wouldn’t it be nice if more coaches reinvested their money into the schools where they work? … Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann issued an a public apology to Penn State after some Rutgers fans wore red “Beat Ped State” (as in Pedophile State) T-shirts to last Saturday’s Rutgers-Penn State game, won by Penn State, 13-10 … USC athletic director Pat Haden suggests that college football begin the week before Labor Day to afford all teams at least one week off and most teams two during the season … SMU, which has been outscored 88-6 in its two games and has seen head coach June Jones resign, faces Texas A&M Saturday. What did interim coach Tom Mason tell his team? “I told them we’ve hit the bottom,” Mason said … LeSean McCoy, the Philadelphia Eagles running back who left a tip of 20 cents on a $60-plus tab at a restaurant is getting hammered and deservedly so. The restaurant staff shared a copy of his tip on Facebook and it’s gone viral since. There is an auction on EBay for the signed receipt with the tip and it’s up to $90,000. The proceeds from the auction will be split with the restaurant’s staff.
For the Gators to win Saturday, Jeff Driskel has to play lights out. Can Driskel come up big on the road in Tuscaloosa?
When you listen to Brittany Howard, the lead singer/songwriter for Alabama Shakes, it’s not too difficult to imagine if Otis Redding were reincarnated as a female, this is who he would be. The Shakes are a very hot band right now and it has everything to do with Howard, who is an emerging talent of gigantic proportions. The Shakes will be performing live in Nashville at the Grand Ole Opry House on September 26. This is “Rise to the Sun” from their debut album “Boys & Girls.”