My grandmother used to say you can put a necktie on a pig but all you have is a pig wearing a necktie. While Florida fans hope that by turning the offense over to freshman Treon Harris that the Gators will suddenly have a functioning offense that can move the football and score points, you have to wonder if it’s just putting the necktie on the pig. Can anything save the Florida offense?
If the Gators play defense the way they did against Missouri and the special teams remember to show up, then they will have a fighting chance if the offense can move the ball and put some points on the board. If Jeff Driskel were going to be running the offense, you would say no way on God’s green earth. With Harris, you think maybe.
All three units have to show up Saturday. This can’t be a two out of three ain’t bad afternoon. It has to be all three showing up and playing lights out because Georgia is playing white hot right now and the Gators are whatever step is just above dry ice.
But, if there is a chance for Florida to reverse it’s ineffective offense, it would have to be with Harris at the helm. The kid plays with the kind of confidence we have been waiting for but haven’t seen from Driskel in his four years at UF. While the first mistake seems to doom Driskel to rest of the game failure, Harris seems to have short term memory. In other words, he seems to put the past behind him and the only thing going through his brain is what he has to do to make the next play work. Still, he’s just a freshman and he has never started a game at the collegiate level.
Concerns are many, but the ones that stand out are:
1. He’s just a freshman and the playbook has been simplified to accommodate him. With fewer plays to worry about, will Georgia be able to disguise its defense and create more confusion than Harris is capable of handling?
2. While Georgia’s secondary is suspect, there’s nothing wrong with the front seven. The Bulldogs are capable of bringing the heat on every single play, particularly with linebackers who are fast, athletic and proven pass rushers. Can Harris (a) neutralize the rush by getting rid of the ball quickly and (b) avoid the tendency to tuck and run every time the pass protection shows signs of breaking down?
3. Harris is only 5-11 and 180 pounds and he’s going to be playing behind an offensive line that was about as effective as a sieve against Missouri. If the protection breaks down with any regularity, can Harris take a pounding?
4. Georgia’s rush defense allows only 105 yards per game. The strategy Saturday will be to make Florida one-dimensional by taking away the running game. Can Harris consistently find holes in a zone if Georgia forces the Gators to throw the ball nearly every down?
5. The last concern isn’t so much a Harris problem as it is a play calling problem. Can Kurt Roper mix things up enough to give Harris a fighting chance or will Saturday’s offense be the equivalent of putting a necktie on a pig?
Georgia did everything right in the way it handled the Todd Gurley suspension and as a result, Gurley will still sit out another two games. Gurley had hundreds of signed items with two prominent autograph brokers. It was evidence from the second one that got Gurley the additional two games beyond the two Georgia forced him to sit when first presented with allegations of impropriety.
By handling everything in an up front manner, Georgia avoided institutional control sanctions and forfeiture or vacancy of any games. Gurley will be back for the Auburn game, which is the toughest remaining game on the schedule.
Autograph brokers have more than 2,000 signed items by Jameis Winston, who allegedly claims he signed them for free. Most autograph brokers scoff at that idea but it doesn’t seem to faze FSU. Since FSU has continued to play Winston it will get no leniency from the NCAA if it is proven Winston got money. Gurley got four games for signing fewer autographs and that was with Georgia cooperating from the very start. If Winston got money, he could torpedo the Seminoles chances of repeating as national champs.
#11 Georgia (6-1, 4-1 SEC) over Florida (3-3, 2-3 SEC): Florida’s only chance is to load the box, stuff the run and hope the secondary can cover. If the Gators can’t score a few points and Nick Chubb gets into a groove, this could turn ugly early.
#1 Mississippi State (7-0, 4-0 SEC) over Arkansas (4-4, 0-4 SEC): Arkansas hasn’t won an SEC game since 2012. The Hogs will extend that streak to 18 games because there is no way to stop MSU’s 1-2 punch of Dak Prescott and Josh Robinson.
Missouri (6-2, 3-1 SEC) over Kentucky (5-3, 2-3 SEC): If this game were in Lexington, Kentucky would be a clear choice. It’s in Columbia so the home team gets the nod.
Texas A&M (5-3, 2-3 SEC) over Louisiana Monroe (3-4): The Aggies will get bowl-eligible in this get well non-conference game in which the scoreboard lights might need changing at halftime.
Vanderbilt (2-6, 0-5 SEC) over Old Dominion (3-5): Vanderbilt will win but it’s going to be white knuckles in the fourth quarter.
Charlie Weis, Kansas: Charlie will be somebody’s offensive coordinator in the NFL next year. Meanwhile, Willie Fritts (Georgia Southern) and Coach O want to see if they can clean up the mess Charlie left behind.
Larry Blakeney, Troy: Thursday night’s blowout loss only made the Blakeney Farewell Tour all the more painful. He’s done too much for the school by taking it from Division II all the way to Division I to go through a final season like this.
Jeff Quinn, Buffalo: Buffalo was 3-3 when Quinn was fired and that was one year after taking the Bulls to an 8-5 record and a bowl game. That really sends a message to potential coaches that this is a lump of coal just waiting to be turned into a diamond.
Norm Chow, Hawaii: All six of Hawaii’s losses are by 14 or fewer points. Close only counts in horseshoes. Norm is only 6-26 as the head coach. There are five games remaining, only one of which Hawaii will be favored to win.
Brady Hoke, Michigan: The hot new rumor is that Michigan will fire AD Dave Brandon, hire Arkansas AD Jeff Long and Long will bring Bret Bielema back to the familiar haunts of the Big Ten. Arkansas fans would gladly throw a nice send off party if Bret elected to leave since he’s 0-12 in SEC games and heading for a second straight losing season. As for Hoke, no one can figure out why he’s still coaching after that embarrassing loss to little bro Michigan State last week.
Will Muschamp, Florida: Consensus is that if Muschamp and the Gators get flogged by Georgia that the Gators will be officially in the coach hunt mode by Monday morning. Of course, Muschamp could turn the tables by springing an upset, but considering he’s 0-7 in Florida-Georgia games – 0-4 as a Georgia player, 0-3 as the Florida coach – that seems about as likely as Jimbo Fisher doing a sound bite when he sounds like something other than a hick from West Virginia.
Bill Blankenship, Tulsa: Blankenship was a legend when he was coaching high school football in Oklahoma. He will have a chance to revive that legacy next year because he won’t be coaching college ball at Tulsa. It’s 50-50 whether he makes it past the weekend. He won’t make it past Thanksgiving weekend.
Tim Beckman, Illinois: Beckman moved off Life Support by shocking Minnesota last week. There will be no shocks this week and unless Urban Meyer calls off the dogs to avoid embarrassing his former defensive coordinator from the Bowling Green days, he will be back On Life Support next weekend.
Darrell Hazell, Purdue: When your rushing defense is ranked 86th nationally and you’re going on the road to face Nebraska and Ameer Abdullah, it’s not a good sign. Hazell has three wins this year, which is two more than last year, but if he wants to be the head coach for a third year, he needs to avoid getting embarrassed in any of the last four games.
Kevin Wilson, Indiana: Who would have ever thought Michigan would be a get well game for the Hoosiers? Win and that’s four wins. Two more and it’s a bowl game and a guarantee that Wilson will be the head coach in Bloomington next year.
Bob Davie, New Mexico: Four of the Lobos five losses are by 11 points or less which is a serious improvement over how they used to lose them when Mike Locksley was the coach. The Lobos have improved but is it enough to give Davie another year? It won’t be if he loses to UNLV on the road this weekend.
Paul Rhoads, Iowa State: Expect Oklahoma to arrive in a bad humor after blowing the K-State game because of a missed 19-yard field goal. That’s not good news for Rhoads, who hasn’t had a winning season since 2009.
Ron Turner, Florida International: Like brother Norv, Ron is supposed to be an offensive genius. Offensive geniuses don’t rank 107th nationally in passing yardage, 111th in rushing yardage and 107th in points per game. It doesn’t help that Rice comes to town Saturday riding a four-game win streak and averaging 38 a game during the streak.
Randy Edsall, Maryland: The Turtles really can’t afford to fire him, but it will be tempting if he doesn’t make a bowl game. He only needs one win in the next four to go bowling, which will probably save his job although the folks who write the checks are going to get itchy sign a buyout agreement fingers the next two weeks with Penn State and Michigan State on the agenda.
Bo Pelini, Nebraska: This is awkward. Bo would gladly take another job if someone would pay him what Nebraska pays him. Nebraska would gladly excuse the buyout if he would just go. But, he’s 7-1 and probably going to win the Big Ten West which means they’re stuck with each other. Doesn’t mean they like each other, but they are stuck.
Al Golden, Miami: He’s got two things going for him. School prez Donna Shalayla won’t retire until May and she won’t fire him and he’s got a big buyout for a cash strapped athletic program.
Florida is turning the offense over to Treon Harris. What are your greatest concerns regarding a true freshman getting his first start in a high pressure rivalry game like this one?
“It’s Gonna Take a Miracle” was originally written for Little Anthony and the Imperials, but a dispute over royalties between the song writers and DCP Records torpedoed that idea. So, the Royalettes recorded it and it reached #41 on the pop charts in 1965. Laura Nyro recorded it in 1971 with Patti LaBelle singing background on the album by the same name. The album reached #46 on the Billboard charts and was Laura’s last really successful album. It seems like an appropriate song this weekend because it seems the Gators need a miracle to beat Georgia.