For awhile there Saturday night in Nashville, it must have seemed like 2013 all over again. It seemed the Gators couldn’t go through a series without an offensive lineman getting dinged up, so many that you had to wonder if Florida had enough big guys dressed out to finish the game.
There were plenty of dings but the most serious injuries belonged to Tyler Moore and Chaz Green. Moore, who started the game at guard in place of Trenton Brown, who suffered a bone bruise on his knee against Georgia the week before, went down with an ankle injury. Green, who missed all of last season with an injury, sprained a knee.
That left offensive line coach Mike Summers shuffling his personnel around with some rather odd combinations. Left tackle D.J. Humphries, who hadn’t played guard since his high school days in North Carolina, moved to left guard to take over for Moore and Summers inserted freshmen David Sharpe and Rod Johnson in to play the tackles.
Maybe it wasn’t the ideal combination, but it was effective because the Gators kept beating on the Vandy D-line for consistent yardage as the game wore on. Florida finished the game with 214 rushing yards and 215 passing yards, the kind of numbers that offensive coordinators consider ideal because of the balance. It couldn’t have been done without Summers, who is proving head and shoulders the best offensive line coach the Gators have had in the Will Muschamp era at Florida.
The proof is in the numbers.
In 2011 under O-line coach Frank Verducci, the Gators allowed 23 sacks for -169 yards, averaged only 143 rushing yards per game and just 328.7 yards of total offense. The 2011 team averaged 25.5 points per game.
In 2012 under the tutelage of Tim Davis, the Gators averaged only 334 yards of offense, 187.69 rushing yards per game and allowed 39 sacks for -283 yards. The 2012 team averaged 26.5 points per game.
Last season, under Davis once again, the Gators averaged 316.7 yards per game, ran for 145.75 yards per game and allowed 27 sacks for -227 yards. The 2013 team averaged 18.8 points per game.
Now check the numbers with Summers in charge:Total offense: 385.3 yards per game
Rushing: 206.13 yards per game.
Sacks allowed: 12 for -72 yards.
Points per game: 30.5.
Under Summers the Gators have had three 200-plus/200-plus games:Eastern Michigan: 259 rushing/396 passing.
Kentucky: 237 rushing/295 passing.
Vanderbilt: 214 rushing/215 passing.
That is as many 200-plus/200-plus games as the Gators have produced in the three seasons of Verducci and Davis. The Gators ran for 300 and passed for 212 against UAB in 2011, then had 336 rushing and 219 passing against Tennessee and 200 rushing and 203 passing against Kentucky in 2012.
Florida’s offensive line probably won’t be 100% healthy Saturday when South Carolina comes to town – it’s rare that any offensive line isn’t dinged up a bit at this time of the season – but both Moore and Green are considered probable and it’s possible Brown could be available. The Gators will probably go into the game with Humphries and Green at the tackles, Moore and Trip Thurman at the guards and Max Garcia at center.
Treon Harris was selected SEC Freshman of the Week for his performance against Vanderbilt. In winning his second consecutive game as Florida’s starting quarterback, Harris completed 13-21 passes for 215 yards and ran 10 times for 49 yards, including a 33-yard scamper for a touchdown.
If you have ever thought that perhaps there are too many bowl games at the end of the college football season, then consider this. There are 128 teams playing Division I college football and 76 will go to a bowl game this year. There are 39 bowl games if you count the national championship game as a bowl. Currently, there are 51 teams with six wins, the minimum required to be bowl eligible and there are another 20 with five wins which means the bowls are going to be scrambling to fill their slots. The situation is desperate enough that the NCAA might bend its two-year rule for teams jumping from Division I-AA to Division I and allow Georgia Southern (8-2) to go bowling in its first year in the big leagues.
If you ever wondered why so many schools schedule paycheck games against teams Division I-AA, now you have the answer. That paycheck win over a team from a lower division can mean the difference in a bowl game and missing out on those 15 extra practices.
The SEC already has eight bowl eligible teams with two others – Florida and Kentucky – needing only one more to become eligible. Tennessee only has four wins but the Vols have a favorable schedule for picking up two more, which would get them into a bowl.
Here is the current bowl-scape:
Need one more win: Florida (5-3); Kentucky (5-5)
Need one more win: North Carolina State (5-5)
Need one more win: Texas (5-5)
INDEPENDENTS (1): Notre Dame (7-2)
Need one more win: BYU (5-4)
Need one more win: Middle Tennessee (5-4); UTEP (5-4); UAB (5-5)
Need one more win: Ohio (5-5)
Need one more win: San Diego State (5-4)
SUN BELT (2): Louisiana Lafayette (6-3); Arkansas State (6-3)
Now that North Carolina’s academic scam is big news, former athletes are starting to admit they were given grades in the Afro-American Studies Department. Monday, former UNC defensive lineman Tydreke Powell, who played for Butch Davis, came clean on 102.1 FM in Greensboro.
Powell said, “Butch Davis came into a meeting one day and he said 'If y'all came here for an education, you should've went to Harvard.'"
When asked about the basketball program and head coach Roy Williams, Powell answered, "Man ... man, you know he knows. Roy Williams is a snake, man."
Still on the subject of Williams, Powell added, “If you ain't got a class with a basketball player, you better go find one. If you got one with them, you know it's an 'A.'"
Williams has steadfastly claimed he knows nothing about the academic scandal and free grade setup, recently stating that if he’s fired from UNC it won’t be because of this problem.
One of the more stinging commentaries about the academic scandal at North Carolina came recently from John McCann of the Durham Herald-Sun. Here’s an excerpt:
“But let’s not kid ourselves. There’s no reason to expect fans to hold back ovations when Hatchell and UNC men’s basketball coach Roy Williams usher their teams to tipoffs — never mind that both of them are among both current and former coaches at the university claiming they didn’t know the deal with those fake classes. You’re telling me that there was not one UNC player on any team from 1993-2011 who didn’t approach a coach and say he or she didn’t feel right about getting free grades? As much as coaches claim they love their players, none of the ballplayers felt close enough to say, “Hey, Coach, I don’t like how I’m getting these grades for work I’m not even doing,” — not one player?
Blame it on bad parenting, because the grown-ups definitely were behaving badly at UNC. Even if we convince ourselves that coaches did not have a full picture of the academics ruse, the same instincts that they tell their players to rely on should have kicked in toward doing the right thing.”
LSU coach Les Miles wasn’t exactly thrilled with the Southeastern Conference officiating crew that called Saturday night’s overtime loss to Alabama. Miles was visibly upset with a personal foul call on guard Vadal Alexander Jr., who was called for a personal foul when he apparently shoved an Alabama player at the six-yard line on a first and goal with 1:07 remaining in the game. The penalty set the Tigers back to the 21 where they eventually settled for a field goal. Alabama got the ball back with 54 seconds remaining and drove for the tying field goal, then won the game in overtime, 20-13.
Miles was also upset with the lack of pass interference calls in overtime, particularly on a fourth down throw into the end zone when it appeared the LSU receiver had his hands grabbed by the Alabama defensive back. When asked if he was satisfied with the SEC’s response to his inquiry about the personal foul Monday, Miles gave the following response:
“What has to happen in making those calls is the official must see the whole play – can’t make a partial call – he had to see the whole play. I think that call certainly upon review by the conference could have been made in a different way.”
If there is a way to say you strongly disagree without drawing a fine from the SEC, that’s it. That is what you call a tap dance.
Seen at Michigan State’s Spartan Stadium, a sign that read:
“Urban Meyer Drinks Pumpkin Spice Lattes”
Would you like to see fewer bowls and perhaps a minimum requirement of seven wins to be bowl eligible or do you think it’s okay for all these teams with 6-6 records to get a post season game?
I got hooked on The Doobie Brothers in 1973 when they released their “The Captain and Me” album that featured songs such as “Long Train Running” and “China Grove.” The band evolved in 1975 when lead singer Tom Johnston’s bleeding ulcer put him in the hospital and Michael McDonald came over Steely Dan. It was more of a soulful sound with McDonald, who took over the bulk of the song writing chores. I have always contended his best song was “What a Fool Believes,” which hit number one on the charts and was part of the multi-platinum “Minute by Minute” album.