Franz Beard's Thoughts of the Day Oct. 22

A few thoughts to jump start your Wednesday morning...

“I don’t think the offense has an identity right now and I don’t think that they know what they want their identity to be. One of the biggest problems on the offense is leadership.”

Tim Tebow said that on Jacksonville sports talk giant 1010 XL Tuesday. That’s not a disgruntled Gator launching a torpedo to the bow of an already sinking Florida football ship. It’s just an honest evaluation, something that even diehard supporters of embattled Florida head coach Will Muschamp can’t deny. Maybe the best analogy of the Florida offense just past the midway point of the 2014 season is a boat on the water that has no captain, no rudder, no sail and no engine to guide it. It simply drifts wherever the current and waves take it.

You have to wonder just what it is the Gators are trying to accomplish on offense. There is no continuity in the play calling or the decision-making. The offensive line is sporadically effective. When receivers aren’t dropping passes at critical junctures they are either cutting routes short or showing an unwillingness to fight for the football in a crowd. Because his offensive line is sporadic at best and receivers are so often playing in a different area code than the quarterback, you have to wonder how much ineffectiveness can actually be laid at the feet of Jeff Driskel.

Now that’s not to say that Driskel hasn’t contributed to this dilemma because if there is one thing certain, there is a distinctive lack of leadership on his part. When is the last time you saw Driskel in the face of a tackle who whiffed on a defensive end coming off the edge? When is the last time you saw Driskel angry and calling out a receiver who dropped an easy throw that would have resulted in a first down that kept a drive alive?

And you wonder where is Kurt Roper in all this mess? He’s the offensive coordinator with the sterling set of credentials. His Duke offenses didn’t always start the season playing like their hair was on fire, but they certainly progressed to the point that nobody wanted to defend the Blue Devils when November rolled around.

November is just a few days away and you won’t find a defense in the SEC that wouldn’t love to line up against Florida’s listless, going nowhere in a hurry offense.

So what’s the problem here? Has the head ball coach squeezed the life out of the offense and Roper with his conservative approach? You wonder because can anyone recall the last time a play call evoked an oooh or an ahhh from the fans in the stands for sheer creativity? And who makes the personnel decisions? Why is it that guys like Andre Debose and Valdez Showers make plays whenever they’re called upon, but their numbers are called so infrequently? How is it that you can call ask a 170-pound freshman scatback to run it between the tackles against a gap eight look inside the two when you’ve got 220-pounders like Kelvin Taylor and Mack Brown sitting on the bench, still fresh because they haven’t had their numbers called since what seems like the Reagan administration?

Point all the fingers you want at Driskel although it seems obvious he’s not getting a whole lot of help out there. The lack of help only tells a portion of the story, however. This is Driskel’s fourth year in the system and three offensive coordinators have yet to turn him into something other than a body by Tarzan, game by Jane quarterback. The lack of continuity has certainly taken a toll on his development, but even with so much change you would think that we would be seeing more progress than 7-19 for 50 yards, three picks and a fumble like we saw against Missouri last week. The only thing keeping that from being the worst performance by a quarterback in the SEC in perhaps three years was Maty Mauk going 6-18 for 20 yards for Mizzou.

You would also think you would see wide receivers and tight ends running crisper routes, making the routine catch and showing the willingness to fight a safety for the football. Receivers have dropped more than 20 passes so far this season. That is unfathomable.

Is it a lack of talent? A lack of focus? A lack of coaching? Or is it they don’t care enough about their job to do whatever is necessary to get better? It’s not like this doesn’t fall under the category more of same from the past three years.

Tebow’s analysis is right on the mark. Who are these guys? What are they trying to accomplish? Halfway through the season nobody seems to know the answer to either of these questions and unless someone steps up in a hurry, it’s only going to get worse in the final five games.

NCAA NIXES MAJOR VIOLATIONS CHARGES VS. OKIE STATE

The NCAA and Oklahoma State have concluded their joint investigation into a 2013 Sports Illustrated story that alleged cash payments were made to players by coaches and boosters and there was wholesale grade fixing. The NCAA enforcement staff and an outside independent investigator hired by Okie State thoroughly looked into the allegations and concluded that they were “fundamentally unfounded.” The investigation revealed three Level II violations. Level II violations are considered serious but Level I violations are the worst. The Level II violations include failing to follow NCAA guidelines for player punishment following failed drug tests and failing to oversee the campus hosting organization called “Orange Pride.”

Sports Illustrated stood by the allegations raised in its story, first reported in September of 2013.

By declaring the allegations in the SI report are unfounded, it lifts a cloud over Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, who could be a candidate for potential job openings at both Michigan and Florida if and when their current head coaches are axed.

WELCOME BACK LANE

As if the Lane Kiffin Hate-a-Thon that will take place in Knoxville this weekend needed drums of gasoline thrown on an already raging fire, Republican challenger Eddie Smith has launched an ad calling Democratic incumbent Gloria Johnson “all talk” just like former Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin. Also Rusty Manis, the owner of the Western Plaza Barber Shop, is claiming that before he bolted Knoxville for Southern Cal, Lane skipped out on a $14 haircut debt.

The hatred of Kiffin could reach epic proportions if Tennessee’s defense (#30 nationally, 326 yards allowed per game, 21.3 points) can find a way to stick a sock in the Alabama offense (#11 nationally, 513.6 yards, 36.9 points). Kiffin comes into the game after a brilliant play calling effort in Bama’s 59-0 skunking of Texas A&M but that came on the heels of a not-so-brilliant effort in a 14-13 squeaker over Arkansas.

HEY, WEREN’T YOU THE HEISMAN FAVORITE SIX WEEKS AGO?

It is absolutely amazing what a 59-0 beatdown and a three-game losing streak will do for your Heisman Trophy chances. It wasn’t all that long ago that Kenny Hill and Texas A&M were riding so high that the Aggies were thought to be potentially a #1 seed for college football’s first playoff and Hill was everybody’s favorite to become the second straight freshman to win the Heisman. Now the Aggies are no longer ranked and Hill might not even finish the season as the starting quarterback. He’s expected to start Saturday when the Aggies get to take out their frustrations on Louisiana-Monroe in a non-conference get well game, but freshman Kyle Allen will get his share of reps and it might not take long for him to take over as the starter. While Hill has a rocket of an arm, he doesn’t have the great feet and scrambling ability of Johnny Manziel and that has seriously curtailed the Aggies offensively. Allen has nearly as strong an arm as Hill and he’s a far superior runner. A change could be coming in College Station.

AUTOGRAPH-GATE

Todd Gurley has been spotted on campus wearing a “Free Gurley” T-shirt and meanwhile, over at Florida State, Jameis Winston walks around with that goofy grin while head coach Jimbo Fisher and athletic director Stan Wilcox claim there is no evidence Winston took money to sign perhaps a thousand or more autographs. In the case of Gurley, he’s claiming he only got paid $400 to sign more than 800 items that were re-sold. What that tells us about Gurley is that he’s either lying or the stupidest businessman on the planet. Why take up that much time for 50 cents an item when there are well heeled boosters all over Athens who would pay a thousand or more if Gurley were to offer a helmet or a signed jersey and no one would have to know? In the case of Winston, the stupidity is on the folks who continue to stand up and defend him. Winston beats them like a drum.

Both Winston and Gurley broke the rules and both of them knew better. Gurley continues to serve a suspension because rather than risk potential NCAA rules violations that would affect the entire football program, Georgia athletic director Greg Magarity took a pro-active stance and suspended him. Whether Gurley plays again or not has yet to be determined but Georgia is thriving without him, a reward, it seems for having the nads to do the right thing. We all know that snowballs will be a hot ticket item in hell before Florida State makes an integrity-based decision regarding Jameis Winston.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Who bears the brunt of the blame for Florida’s Keystone Cops offensive antics: (1) Will Muschamp; (2) Kurt Roper; (3) Jeff Driskel; or (4) all of the above share the blame equally?

MUSIC FOR TODAY

Moon Taxi got its break playing as the opening act for Govt Mule and the Tedeschi Trucks Band. They were a Thursday night feature act at Bonaroo in 2012. Best known for their live performances, Moon Taxi is a fusion rock band that features bouncy rhythms and distinct vocals by Trevor Turndrop. This is “Gunflower” from their 2012 album Cabaret. The band will be playing at the House of Blues in Orlando Tuesday night.


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