The time has come for Treon Harris to take over the controls of the Florida offense. Head coach Will Muschamp made that announcement Wednesday, stating that Harris is taking all the first team reps in practice during this off week as the Gators prepare for the annual showdown in Jacksonville with Georgia on November 1. Muschamp said that Jeff Driskel will still be involved in the offense against Georgia but it will be Harris’ game to win or lose.
In last week’s loss to Missouri, Harris drove the Gators for their only two touchdowns, drives that accounted for more than half the 283 yards UF managed against Missouri. He threw a touchdown pass and ran for Florida’s second score. Although Harris had some struggles against Mizzou – he fumbled and threw an interception – he was clearly the more productive of the two quarterbacks, finishing with 8-12 completions for 98 yards compared to Driskel’s 7-19 for 50 yards with two fumbles and two picks.
Typically, you don’t turn the offense over to a true freshman in the middle of the year and in the midst of a two-game skid unless there is a serious injury to the starter, but Driskel hasn’t been effective since the second half of game two against Kentucky and it’s obvious that Florida’s offense isn’t going anywhere with him in charge. For the season, Driskel is 97-183 for 927 yards (just 5.1 per pass attempt) with six touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Harris is 12-18 for 263 yards with three touchdowns and only one interception.
There are no guarantees that Harris will be the spark the Gators need to get it going offensively, but at this point of the season what have they got to lose? Take away that 65-0 blowout win over hapless Eastern Michigan in game one and the Gators are averaging only 21.4 points and 308.6 yards per game. Last year, the Gators averaged only 18.8 points and 316.7 yards per game. Take away the 655 yards in game one and the Gators are averaging only 4.3 yards per play, which is even worse than last season (4.79 per play).
The College Football Hall of Fame has announced its 2015 ballot of 81 former players and coaches, one of which is Wes Sandy Chandler, perhaps the most athletic and talented Florida skill player in history. Yes, that includes Percy Harvin. Before Percy was even an idea, Wes Chandler was a legend. Playing in Doug Dickey’s wishbone offense in the 1970s, Chandler was college football’s most under-used player. He caught 92 passes for 1,963 yards and 22 touchdowns on teams that rarely threw the ball, which was a shame because there wasn’t anyone in college football capable of covering him.
In 1977 when Florida’s offense went south despite the presence of quarterback Terry LeCount and running backs Willie Wilder, Tony Green and Earl Carr, Wes came to the rescue. That season he caught 25 passes for 490 yards and six of the nine touchdowns the Florida quarterbacks threw, plus played running back, gaining 353 yards (5.8 per carry) and scoring six touchdowns. Particularly memorable was the Georgia game, when Chandler scored all three Florida touchdowns to lead a 22-17 upset of Vince Dooley and the Bulldogs. Chandler made a spectacular one-handed grab of a Terry LeCount pass for the first touchdown, then scored in the second half on a weaving 18-yard run and a 1-yard run to lead the Gators back from a 17-10 halftime deficit. On the game-winning drive, Chandler carried the ball four consecutive times from the eight, scoring on fourth down to give the Gators the win.
Chandler was a two-time All-American who went on to catch 559 passes for 8,966 yards and 56 touchdowns in his pro career, most of which was spent with the San Diego Chargers where he was part of the Air Coryell offense that included Dan Fouts, Kellen Winslow, Roy Jefferson and Chuck Muncie.
Chandler is on the Hall of Fame ballot along with the late Jerome Brown (Miami), Brian Bosworth (Oklahoma), Paul Crane (Alabama), Raghib Ismail (Notre Dame), Ray Lewis (Miami) and Bill Snyder (coach, Kansas State). If he is elected to the Hall of Fame, Chandler will join Gators Dale Van Sickel, Steve Spurrier, Jack Youngblood, Emmitt Smith and Carlos Alvarez along with coaches Ray Graves, Doug Dickey and Charles Bachman.
When Penn State was sanctioned for lack of institutional control for its role in the Jerry Sandusky scandal, the NCAA candidly revealed how close it came to giving Penn State football the death penalty. What saved Penn State was a sparkling clean record of playing by NCAA rules in the past and a pro-active stance in firing iconic head football coach Joe Paterno when allegations surfaced that he might have covered up for Sandusky’s transgressions.
Prior to a 2010 football scandal that put the University of North Carolina on probation for improper benefits to players and improper use of tutors, UNC had a reputation for graduating players and playing by the rules. Since then, it’s a completely different picture we see and it makes you wonder if the 2010 scandal will factor in how the NCAA sanctions UNC now that an independent report proves more than 1,000 athletes were directed to fake classes for easy grades to keep them eligible during an 18-year span from 1993-2010.
It won’t play into UNC’s favor that former academic advisor Mary Willingham, who blew the whistle on what proved to be an 18-year academic scandal was terminated by the university.
Under NCAA guidelines, repeat offenders during a time in which one or more athletic programs are under major sanctions can receive the death penalty, which has only been given out three times: Kentucky basketball (1952), Southwestern Louisiana (now Louisiana Lafayette) basketball (1973) and SMU football (1986).
Matt Hayes, the fine college football columnist for The Sporting News calls Florida State the most hated team in all of college football, particularly with the way both the FSU athletic department and administration continue to make excuses and coddle human train wreck Jameis Winston. In his Wednesday column, Hayes refused to cut FSU any slack, saying:
“Cut them some slack, OK? It can’t be easy coming up with excuse after excuse after excuse.
“Then again, maybe that’s just a Word document template. Insert name, insert misstep and, most important, insert “allegedly.”
“Yeah, I don’t know why FSU is now the most hated team in college football.”
To no one’s surprise, Georgia has appealed to the NCAA to reinstate running back Todd Gurley who the school suspended immediately when it discovered he had signed more than 800 autographs with a memorabilia dealer. Gurley claims innocence and has been seen on campus at UGA wearing “Free Gurley” T-shirts. Gurley claims he was paid $400 by the dealer so if the NCAA is satisfied that he was telling the truth, the two-game, self-imposed suspension will likely be accepted and Gurley re-instated. Of course, if Gurley lied, then it could result in a harsher suspension including being banned from ever playing college football again. As if he’s worried about that since he’ll be making millions in the NFL this time next year.
In Gurley’s absence, freshman Nick Chubb has taken the Bulldogs on his back and led them to consecutive impressive road wins over Missouri and Arkansas. While Bulldog fans are drooling at the thought of Gurley and Chubb in the backfield, there is a chance it could prove counter-productive. Chubb has carried the ball 68 times in the last two games and has been at his best in the fourth quarter when he was almost the entire offense. Would he be as productive with fewer carries? And, if re-instated, will Gurley be able to pick up where he left off before the suspension when he was considered one of the two or three leaders to win the 2014 Heisman Trophy?
Baylor and Notre Dame bit the bullet last week, leaving only four unbeaten teams with more than a month remaining in the regular season. It is guaranteed that no more than three will survive since #1 Mississippi State and #3 Ole Miss play the final weekend of the regular season. Florida State has a 23-game winning streak and figures to take a 29-game streak into the national semifinals. Marshall also figures to run the table but the Thundering Herd won’t have a strong enough strength of schedule to make the playoffs.
ACC (1): Having disposed of Notre Dame last week, the #2 Seminoles probably have a rather easy path to an unbeaten season and the national semifinals. They don’t play again until next Thursday at Louisville and while Thursdays have historically been unkind to the Seminoles, Louisville doesn’t figure to offer more than token resistance. There is a matter of Miami on the road, but the Hurricanes have been anything but impressive.
CONFERENCE USA (1): Marshall (7-0) doesn’t have a tough game remaining on the schedule. Doc Holliday and The #23 Thundering Herd have the best player you probably have never heard of in Miami native Rakeem Cato, who has thrown for 110 touchdowns and 12,088 yards in his career. Although Marshall won’t make the national semifinals, the Herd figures to play in one of the next tier bowls.
SEC (2): Because #1 Mississippi State and #3 Ole Miss play on the final regular season weekend, there is no chance two SEC teams will finish with an unbeaten record. Of course, since they both play in the SEC East, there are no guarantees either will get to the Egg Bowl unbeaten. Of the two, Mississippi State has a slightly easier path. The Bulldogs already have disposed of Auburn and the only two toughies left on the schedule are Alabama in Tuscaloosa and Ole Miss in Oxford. Ole Miss has to play at LSU (this weekend), #5 Auburn (home) and #1 Mississippi State.
Do you think Treon Harris can revive the Florida offense or is it too little too late for the Gators?
When what became known as The British Invasion began in 1963, the folk music era was winding down in the United States. That led folk singers like Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark and David Crosby to found The Byrds, who became one of the most influential bands of the era. The Byrds fused folk and country music into their own unique style of harmony that produced two songs that reached #1 on the Billboard charts – their version of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Turn, Turn, Turn,” originally recorded by folk singer Pete Seeger in the 1950s, adapted from Ecclesiastes 3 in The Bible. Back in the fall of 1965 on my way to French I at McComb High School in Mississippi, I remember looking at classmate Jim Adams and we sang, “To every test, turn, turn, turn, there is a failure, turn, turn, turn.” Somehow I made a B. I still don’t know how but maybe the song inspired me.