It’s not all Jeff Driskel’s fault. That is the assessment of Florida head coach Will Muschamp, who told the media Wednesday that Driskel’s numbers against Alabama – 9-28 for 93 yards, one touchdown and two picks – might have been much better with a little bit of cooperation from the receivers. Receivers dropped four passes, something that has been a problem in all three games this season, and their failure to run their routes the right way prevented three connections on deep balls. Even if the receivers had caught the passes and run the correct routes, there is no guarantee the Gators would have won but there is a chance they could have made this far more respectable.
Driskel can play better and has to. So can the receivers and unless they can get on the same page in the next nine days, the Gators are going to struggle in Knoxville on October 4. This is not the Tennessee pushover that was anticipated back in August. The Vols are vastly improved on the defensive side of the football, so the same kind of mistakes that proved costly against Kentucky and Alabama will make winning on the road an extremely difficult proposition.
It isn’t all that difficult to see the offensive mistakes and envision what must be done to correct. A receiver runs a route the correct depth or simply concentrates and catches the ball. Driskel doesn’t hold the ball too long and hits the receivers in stride. Timing and improved focus can solve some of those issues. Confidence can solve a few more. It’s not that difficult to see the offense getting better with a little more experience.
But offense is just half the equation. Over on the other side of the ball, the Gators have allowed 1,095 yards and seven passing touchdowns in the last two games and the problems seem far more advanced than simply watching the ball all the way into a receiver’s hands or hitting the receiver in stride just as he makes his break. When you get beaten straight down the middle on two streak routes that cover a combined 166 yards and forget to cover the tight end and give up a third and 23 screen pass, the problems seem far more severe. Are the problems a case of inadequate personnel? Poor decision making? Poor work by the guys in the booth and on the sideline to get the Gators in the right scheme? A lack of understanding the other team’s tendencies? Can those problems be corrected in an off week and the days leading up to October 4?
On the SEC Coaches Teleconference Wednesday, Florida coach Will Muschamp addressed the Gators’ 42-21 loss to Alabama last week, saying, “We stunk on defense.” One thing to like about Muschamp is he doesn’t sugar coat things one little bit.
When he hired former Tennessee and Southern Cal coach Lane Kiffin as his offensive coordinator back in January, Nick Saban started hearing all the criticism about what a bad hire it was and the predictions that a China Syndrome meltdown was only a matter of time. Four games into the gig, Alabama is averaging 42 points a game and has gained more than 500 yards twice, more than 600 in the other two games. That prompted Saban to take a few shots at the media at his Wednesday press conference.
Regarding the relationship with Kiffin, Saban said. “It’s never been bad. Whoever said it was bad, so why does it need to get better? I thought something had to be bad before it needed to get better. So why do you ask me has it gotten better. That assumes it was bad, that it was worse at one time. So now we’re in love, we fell out of love and now we’re back in love.”
Saban took a shot at the folks who said this was a bad hire who now are praising Kiffin.
“I mean, if I did what you all thought when I hired the guy, he wouldn’t even be here,” Saban said. “Maybe that was the assumption because nobody thought it was a good hire that all of a sudden something bad. I don’t know. I thought it was a good hire. Now I got beat up like a drum for doing it and now all of a sudden it’s great. You guys don’t have any consequences for what you say and do. Our stuff ends up out there on the field on Saturday and if it ain’t done right there’s consequences in front of a whole bunch of people.”
The lawyer for Florida State Heisman Trophy quarterback Jameis Winston says his client will cooperate with a Title IX investigation into the alleged rape committed by Winston on an FSU co-ed back in 2012. In a letter sent to FSU and reported by USAToday, lawyer David Cornwell said, “Mr. Winston will cooperate with the investigation. He looks forward to clearing his name. But Mr. Winston will not walk into a honey trap. The investigation must be a legitimate investigation.”
A legitimate investigation would be a novel approach. When Winston was investigated by the Tallahassee Police Department the case was completely botched leaving the State Attorney no choice but to dismiss for lack of credible evidence. Of course, Winston wouldn’t cooperate with the TPD or the State Attorney back then when he was facing a far more serious charge than anything Title IX can bring and with all the evidence either destroyed or tainted, his lawyer knows the only one who can get in serious trouble now is Florida State University for its poor handling of a case involving two of its students. As for FSU getting in trouble, does anyone think for even a nanosecond that Winston really gives a damn about that? Jimbo Fisher can keep on spinning that Winston is really just a good kid, but actions speak a whole lot louder than Jimbo’s words.
The fine Sporting News columnist, writing about Jimbo Fisher’s handling of James Winston:
“You’d have better luck pulling Jimbo’s fingernails off – one by one – than you would getting him to kick Winston off the team or even lay down significant punishment or deterrence. It’s against his best interest as a coach who is paid to win games.”
We know now that Winston’s suspension for both halves of the Clemson game came after Winston lied to FSU leaders about shouting the vulgarities about women. Writes Gregg Doyell, a columnist for CBSSports.com and a Florida alum:
“One half for vulgarity, another half for lying. Who’s the spineless FSU president, Roger Goodell?
Weekend forecast: The league lost three of its unbeatens last week and will lose at least one more this weekend when Florida State travels to Raleigh to face North Carolina State. Florida State is a 19-point favorite. Duke is a 7-point road dog at Miami while Georgia Tech has the week off.
American Athletic Conference (1): Cincinnati (2-0)
Weekend forecast: Cincinnati has to travel to Columbus to face an Ohio State which had an open date to tweak a few things that haven’t been running smoothly. The Bearcats are 16-point underdogs.
Weekend forecast: Oklahoma takes the week off while Baylor travels to Iowa State where the Bears are 22-point favorites and TCU makes the short trek from Fort Worth to Dallas to face SMU. The Horned Frogs are 33-point favorites to remain unbeaten.
Weekend forecast: Both Penn State and Nebraska are double digit favorites to remain unbeaten at home this weekend. Penn State is a 10-point favorite over Northwestern while Nebraska is a 20-point favorite over Illinois.
Conference USA (1): Marshall (4-0)
Weekend forecast: Marshall has the week off.
Independents (2): Notre Dame (3-0); BYU (4-0)
Weekend forecast: While BYU gets a week of rest, Notre Dame travels to Syracuse where the Fighting Irish are 12-point favorites.
Weekend forecast: The Pac-12 lost one unbeaten last week when Cal gave up 36 fourth quarter points and lost to Arizona. The league will be minus one unbeaten before the weekend arrives because UCLA faces Arizona State in Tempe tonight. Elsewhere, Oregon State is a 10-point road dog at Southern Cal; Utah is a 14-point home favorite against Washington State; and Washington is an 8-point home dog against Stanford. Both Arizona and Oregon have a bye week.
Weekend forecast: The SEC lost three unbeaten teams last week – Florida, LSU and Missouri. This week, Alabama and Mississippi State take the week off while Texas A&M is a 10-point favorite to beat Arkansas at Jerry’s World, Ole Miss is a 20-point home favorite over Memphis and Auburn is a 33-point favorite to take out Louisiana Tech.
The Brown Brothers – Mack and Watson – are on the verge of a record that will probably never be equaled much less broken. In his many years as a head coach – most recently at Texas – Mack Brown won 244 games including the 2005 national championship. Watson, now the head coach at Tennessee Tech, needs only one loss to join Amos Alonzo Stagg as the only two head coaches in college football history to LOSE 200 games. Watson is a former Vanderbilt quarterback who has been head coach at outposts such as Austin Peay, Cincinnati, Rice, Vanderbilt and UAB prior to his latest gig at Tennessee Tech, which is in his hometown of Cookeville. This is his 31st year as a head coach. He has posted 128 wins and seven winning seasons in his career. Once Watson gets that magical 200th loss, the Brown brothers will go down as the only head coaching brother duo to ever win 200 games and lose 200 games.
On which side of the football do the Gators have to make the most improvement between now and October 4?
The first time I heard Duane Allman play a guitar it was with the Daytona Beach-based band The Allman Joys. Back in those days, the band was playing other people’s music but they were really, really good. By the next time I heard them, they had changed their name to The Allman Brothers Band and their home town was Jacksonville although in the summer of 1969 they packed up and moved to Macon, Georgia. They released their first album that year, “The Allman Brothers Band,” and it featured two memorable songs, “Black Hearted Woman” and “Whipping Post,” which has become one of the real standards of southern Rock and Roll. This is “Whipping Post” from a live 1970 performance at Fillmore East in New York.