Jeff Driskel is 14-6 as the starting quarterback at the University of Florida but the 14 wins pale in comparison to the interception he threw that set up LSU’s game winning field goal last Saturday night at The Swamp. If you don’t believe it, just ask any Gator fan. Treon Harris has never started a game at the University of Florida and his entire playing career amounts to less than one quarter of one game, but he’s packed enough into his limited time on the field to leave the indelible impression that he’s got the magic touch the Florida Gators (3-2, 2-2 SEC) need to score a win over Missouri (4-2, 1-1 SEC) at The Swamp Saturday night.
It seems a majority of Gator fans think negatively of Driskel, particularly in light of that 30-27 loss to LSU. Nobody seems to remember what he did in 2012 when the Gators went 11-1 in the regular season and Driskel was a solid, although unspectacular quarterback who did what he was asked to do, which was don’t screw up and lose games.
Ask those same Gator fans about Treon Harris and it’s all positive. His first two passes as a Gator turned into long touchdowns. He did get the Gators on the scoreboard twice when he came off the bench to rescue Florida to a 10-0 win over Tennessee in Knoxville. Harris hasn’t been on the field long enough to show if there are flaws in his game so there is no reason for anyone think negative.
But is it fair? Is it fair that Driskel evokes such negativity? Did he drop the football in the end zone for what could have been the game winning touchdown against LSU. Did he tip two of those three interceptions into the hands of LSU defenders?
And is it fair to expect so much of Harris when he really hasn’t been on the field enough for a thorough evaluation? Will those same fans who praise him now have nice things to say about him if he plays like a true freshman Saturday night against Missouri?
Well, Saturday isn’t about fairness.
In a perfect world, Driskel would harness his natural born ability and become the quarterback everyone thought he would be coming out of high school. In a perfect world, Harris would be the diligent backup, soaking up football knowledge like a sponge while Driskel leads the Gators to victories.
But, this isn’t a perfect world. This is about winning and surviving another week and given the ineffective play the last three games by Driskel, it’s worth a shot to see if a two-headed quarterback is the answer. At this point, it doesn’t have to be pretty either, simply effective. As the late Al Davis used to say back in the day when he actually had lucid thoughts, “Just win, Baby!” It doesn’t have to be pretty Saturday. It just has to be a win.
Alabama: The only tough non-conference game is Wisconsin in Dallas to open the season. There is a rather tough four-game stretch of at Georgia, Arkansas, at Texas A&M and Tennessee in an otherwise middle of the pack schedule.
Non-conference games: Wisconsin (Dallas); Middle Tennessee; Louisiana Monroe; Charleston Southern
Vs. SEC East: at Georgia; Tennessee
Toughest home games: Ole Miss; LSU
Toughest road games: at Georgia; at Texas A&M; at Auburn
SEC schedule ranking: 8
ARKANSAS: The Hogs should have little trouble running the non-conference schedule. There is a tough three-game stretch of roadies at Tennessee and Alabama followed by Auburn at home after an open date. November is a nightmare: at Ole Miss, at LSU followed by Mississippi State and Missouri at home.
Vs. SEC East: at Tennessee; Missouri
Toughest home games: Texas A&M; Auburn; Mississippi State
Toughest road games: at Alabama; at Ole Miss; at LSU
SEC schedule ranking: 4
AUBURN: The only tough non-conference game is with Louisville in Atlanta so that’s like a home game. In SEC play, there is a tough back-to-back of at LSU and Mississippi State at home in September and an extremely tough five-game stretch of roadies at Kentucky and Arkansas, home against Ole Miss followed by a road trip to Texas A&M and a home game with Georgia.
Vs. SEC East: at Kentucky; Georgia
Toughest home games: Mississippi State; Ole Miss; Georgia; Alabama
Toughest road games: at LSU; at Texas A&M
SEC schedule ranking: 5
FLORIDA: Two of Florida’s four non-conference games will be tough – East Carolina and Florida State – but both are home games. The Gators have the toughest six-game stretch in the league – at Kentucky, homers with Tennessee and Ole Miss, roadies at Missouri and LSU, and following an open date, Georgia in Jacksonville.
Vs. SEC West: Ole Miss; at LSU
Toughest home games: East Carolina; Tennessee; Ole Miss; Florida State
Toughest road games: at Missouri; at LSU; at South Carolina
SEC schedule ranking: 2
GEORGIA: The only difficult game on the non-conference schedule is the season-ender at Georgia Tech. The two SEC West opponents are formidable – Alabama and a roadie with Auburn. The closest thing to a tough stretch is the three consecutive games with Florida (Jacksonville), Kentucky and at Auburn.
Non-conference games: Louisiana-Monroe; Southern; Georgia Southern; at Georgia Tech
Vs. SEC West: Alabama; at Auburn
Toughest home games: South Carolina; Alabama; Missouri
Toughest road games: at Tennessee; at Auburn
SEC schedule rank: 12
KENTUCKY: Louisville is the only non-conference game that should present any problems. The SEC schedule only has two tough stretches, back-to-back home games of Florida and Missouri in September and Auburn (Thursday night homer) and at Mississippi State in October.
Vs. SEC West: Auburn; at Mississippi State
Toughest home games: Florida; Missouri; Auburn; Tennessee
Toughest road games: at South Carolina; at Mississippi State
SEC schedule rank: 11
LSU: There is a road trip to Syracuse that has the only degree of difficulty among the non-conference slate. There are back-to-back games at Mississippi State and Auburn at home early on and brutal close of at Alabama, Arkansas, at Ole Miss and Texas A&M.
Vs. SEC East: at South Carolina; Florida
Toughest home games: Auburn; Florida; Arkansas; Texas A&M
Toughest road games: at Mississippi State; at South Carolina; at Alabama; at Ole Miss
SEC schedule ranking: 7
MISSISSIPPI STATE: The non-SEC portion of the schedule is relatively easy. In league play, there are back-to-back road games at Auburn and Texas A&M and an extremely tough closing stretch of at Missouri (Thursday night), Alabama, at Arkansas and Ole Miss.
Vs. SEC East: Kentucky; at Missouri
Toughest home games: LSU; Alabama; Ole Miss
Toughest road games: at Auburn; at Texas A&M; at Missouri; at Arkansas
SEC schedule ranking: 6
MISSOURI: The Tigers are still looking for a non-conference opponent for November 14. It’s the easiest schedule in the SEC. There is a stretch of three consecutive games with South Carolina, Florida and at Georgia that could very well decide the SEC East. There is a Thursday night homer with Mississippi State.
Vs. SEC West: Mississippi State; at Arkansas
Toughest home games: South Carolina; Florida; Tennessee
Toughest road games: at Kentucky; at Georgia; at Arkansas
SEC schedule rank: 14
OLE MISS: The non-conference schedule includes D1AA UT-Martin. The conference schedule is brutal because the Rebels face Alabama, Florida, Auburn and Mississippi State on the road. Ole Miss has the toughest five-game close of any SEC team – Texas A&M, at Auburn, Arkansas, LSU after an open date and then at Mississippi State.
Vs. SEC East: Vanderbilt; at Florida
Toughest home games: Texas A&M; Arkansas; LSU
Toughest road games: at Alabama; at Florida; at Auburn; at Mississippi State
SEC schedule ranking: 1
SOUTH CAROLINA: The Gamecocks have one of the tougher non-conference schedules with North Carolina, UCF and Clemson. The Gamecocks have a four-game stretch of Kentucky, at Georgia, UCF and at Missouri and a three-game stretch later in the season of at Texas A&M, at South Carolina and Florida.
Non-conference games: North Carolina (Charlotte); UCF; The Citadel; Clemson
Vs. SEC West: LSU; at Texas A&M
Toughest home games: Kentucky; LSU; Florida; Clemson
Toughest road games: at Georgia; at Texas A&M; at Tennessee
SEC schedule ranking: 3
TENNESSEE: The Vols get Oklahoma at home the second week of the season in the only challenging non-conference game. There is a tough four-game stretch of at Florida, Arkansas and Georgia at home and then after an open date, Alabama on the road.
Vs. SEC West: Arkansas; at Alabama
Toughest home games: Oklahoma; Arkansas; Georgia; South Carolina
Toughest road games: at Florida; at Alabama; at Missouri
SEC schedule ranking: 10
TEXAS A&M: The toughest non-conference game is Arizona State which will be like a home game since it’s played in Houston. The Aggies get Mississippi State, Alabama, South Carolina and Auburn at home. Their toughest stretch of games includes three homers – Alabama, at Ole Miss, South Carolina and Auburn.
Vs. SEC East: South Carolina; at Vanderbilt
Toughest home games: Mississippi State; Alabama; South Carolina; Auburn
Toughest road games: at Ole Miss; at LSU
SEC schedule ranking: 13
VANDERBILT: Instead of the usual non-conference pansies, Vandy plays two non-SEC teams on the road (at Middle Tennessee and at Houston). November is going to be murderous – at Florida, Kentucky and Texas A&M at home and then closing at Tennessee.
Non-conference games: Western Kentucky; Austin Peay; at Middle Tennessee; at Houston
Vs. SEC West: at Ole Miss; Texas A&M
Toughest home games: Georgia; Missouri; Texas A&M
Toughest road games: at Ole Miss; at South Carolina; at Florida; at Tennessee
SEC schedule ranking: 9
And then there were seven. Georgia Tech, TCU and Auburn bit the bullet last week, leaving only seven unbeaten teams in all of Division I and that number will drop by at least one this week because unbeatens Notre Dame and Florida State clash in Tallahassee. Of the seven unbeaten teams, the one with the best chance to run the table is #25 Marshall, coached by former Gator assistant Doc Holliday, whose defensive coordinator is another former Gator assistant, Chuck Heater.
ACC (1): The ACC is so weak that if #2 Florida State survives and wins this week against #5 Notre Dame that the only thing standing in the way of an undefeated season for the Seminoles could be the student conduct committee, which might pull the upset of the year and schedule Jameis Winston’s hearing while he is still enrolled in school.
Big 12 (1): Baylor gave up 59 points last week … and still won. The #5 Bears rallied from 21 down in the fourth quarter to beat #9 TCU and it’s defense, which came into the game ranked #7 nationally, 61-59. This week it’s off to West Virginia, which has zero in the way of defense but a sophisticated enough passing game to cause problems. Mark this on your upset watch list.
Conference USA (1): It will be homecoming this weekend for Thundering Herd quarterback Rakeen Cato, who gets to show off in Miami for the home folks when Marshall takes on FIU. All Cato has done in his Marshall career is throw for 11,874 yards and 106 touchdowns. Not bad for an undersized two-star prospect coming out of Miami Central back in 2011.
Independents (1): This weekend’s trip to Tallahassee represents the toughest of the six remaining games on the schedule for #5 Notre Dame. Should the Irish prevail over #2 FSU, the rest of the season won’t be easy, however. There are road trips to #17 Arizona State and #22 Southern Cal still on the agenda.
SEC (2): Could it be that the Egg Bowl will feature two unbeaten teams for the first time in history on Thanksgiving weekend? It could happen. #1 Mississippi State and #3 Ole Miss sport identical 6-0 records and both are 3-0 in the SEC. Ole Miss is at home this week against Tennessee while Mississippi State gets to celebrate its #1 ranking for an entire weekend because the Bulldogs are idle.
Georgia head coach Mark Richt says that the fate of running back Todd Gurley will be known sometime Friday. Suspended for allegedly taking money for signing as many as 1,000 items, Gurley was suspended for last week’s Missouri game. The NCAA could rule that Gurley has served his time and reinstate him if it’s deemed he got less than $400 for the autographs. He could lose three more games or even have his college career terminated. It’s expected that Gurley will play again, however, in large part because Georgia took a pro-active stance and suspended Gurley immediately, a far cry from what has happened in Tallhassee where Jameis Winston also allegedly signed more than 1,000 autographs while dealing with the same broker.
Do you think splitting time with Treon Harris can inspire Jeff Driskel to play the best he’s played all season?
The Honey Island Swamp Band will be one of the bands playing at Magnolia Fest this weekend at the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, a weekend of music that will feature Lyle Lovett, Dr. Joh, Bela Fleck, the North Mississippi All-Stars and plenty of others. The Honey Island Swamp Band is a group of New Orleans musicians who met in San Francisco back in 2005 when they escaped Hurricane Katrina. You can hear a lot of 1970s Allman Brothers in their music. This is “Change My Ways” from their 2013 album “Cane Sugar.”