When he took over as head coach at Colorado State in the spring of 2012, Jim McElwain knew he had a mess on his hands. Pete Thomas, a former 4-star recruit who had started all 21 games at quarterback since his freshman year before injuring his knee, elected to transfer to North Carolina State when McElwain was named as the new CSU head coach to replace the fired Steve Fairchild. That left Mac with Garrett Grayson, who chose CSU over Eastern Washington and Idaho State when he was recruited out of high school. While subbing for the injured Thomas (who has subsequently transferred to Louisiana-Monroe), Grayson was a less than spectacular 43-77 for 542 yards, two TDs and six picks, in four losing starts.
In his first year under McElwain, Grayson started four games before going down with an injury as the Rams finished 4-8. The 2012 stat line isn’t bad – 78-138, 946 yards (6.9 per attempt), seven touchdowns and only three interceptions. Those numbers improved dramatically in 2013 when Grayson was 297-478, 3,696 yards (7.7 per attempt), 23 touchdowns and 11 picks as the Rams went 6-2 down the stretch and finished the season 8-6. Grayson’s third year was off the charts – 270-420 for 4,006 yards (9.5 per attempt), 32 touchdowns and only seven picks as the Rams went 10-4.
The Grayson story is important because it highlights how Jim McElwain develops quarterbacks. With Garrett Grayson, there was immediate improvement. Had he stayed healthy, you have to figure that Grayson would have shown serious glimpses of his potential as the season moved along and that Colorado State would have shown more than a 1-game improvement over the 2011 season.
As the Gators wind down the days before August camp begins and questions abound whether Will Grier or Treon Harris – or a combination of the two – will be under center once September gets here and games begin for real, the buzz words should be player development. It’s what Florida fans didn’t see at the quarterback position from 2011-14 but it’s what they should expect this season. McElwain’s history says he develops quarterbacks and makes them better. His offensive coordinator is Doug Nussmeier, who shares a similar history of player development with McElwain.
From a physical standpoint, Grier (6-2, 200) looks more like a McElwain quarterback than Harris (5-11, 195) but Grier only has a redshirt to show for his year at Florida while Harris started six games and posted a 4-2 record. His stats weren’t spectacular – less than 50% completions (49.5%) – but Harris averaged 9.2 yards per attempt and threw more touchdowns (9) than picks (4). Plus he won.
As we saw in the spring, Grier has a stronger arm and while he doesn’t have the quickness or waterbug elusiveness of Harris, he doesn’t lack mobility. And while Harris doesn’t have prototypical SEC arm strength, we haven’t seen what he could do with months of development. Remember, he didn’t get to UF until Summer B last year. Who knows what either of these kids will do with a new quarterback friendly offense working with two coaches with a history of getting the best out of their quarterbacks?
We have no clue if Grier or Harris will respond to the coaching for another 5-plus weeks. One or both of them could thrive just as one or both of them could bust. Time will tell. What we do know is history tells us that McElwain and Nussmeier give them a real chance to succeed.
So, while on paper Florida’s quarterback situation seems like a gigantic weak spot with far more questions than there are answers, look at the history of McElwain and Nussmeier and ask yourself if their history with quarterbacks gives you more confidence than what you’ve been reading.
Bobby Petrino, who says he will finish his coaching career at Louisville and believes the Cardinals can and will win a national championship, told ESPN’s Joe Schad he once scored 33 points against Florida coach Jim McElwain in a high school basketball game.
Speaking to Chris Low of ESPN, Mac pointed out, “He (Petrino) scored a bunch of points against us, but I know who scored them all in overtime … and whose team won the game.”
Florida 62, Tennessee 37; September 16, 1995
People tend to forget that on the next play after the hit heard ‘round the world – Lawrence Wright’s near decapitation of Joey Kent in the second quarter – Danny Wuerffel fumbled and Tennessee ran it in for a touchdown to take a 30-14 lead. The hit was astonishing in its timing and impact (I only knew Kent was alive because I could see spit bubbles forming in the corners of his mouth through my binoculars) but the real wakeup call for the Gators was the fumble. From that point on, Florida took command of the game and reversed their fortunes. Once awakened, the Vols were in seriously deep trouble. Wuerffel was near perfect the rest of the way and the Gators scored 48 consecutive points, scoring seven touchdowns on seven consecutive possessions. The Gators scored with nine seconds left in the first half when Wuerffel and Ike Hilliard connected on an 11-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 30-21. In the second half, UF scored on the six straight possessions as Wuerffel went 13-15 for 181 yards. For the game, Wuerffel was 29-39 for 381 yards and six touchdowns while Hilliard caught nine passes for 112 yards and four scores. Terry Jackson led Florida’s rushing attack with 119 yards. Peyton Manning, who was brilliant in the first half when he connected on 12 of his first 14 passes, was only 11-22 in the second half and only 4-9 in the fourth quarter. The lasting memory of Manning was the cover photo of Sports Illustrated the following week. Manning was sitting on the UT bench, head bowed and rain beating down upon him, looking like a kid whose puppy had run away. Florida would go on to win its third consecutive SEC championship, going 11-0 in the regular season and knocking off Arkansas, 34-3, in the SEC Championship Game. Florida’s hopes of a first national championship and unbeaten season came to an end in the Fiesta Bowl when Nebraska steamrolled the Gators, 62-24.
Perhaps Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher would be wise to heed the words of Abraham Lincoln, who was paraphrasing the Bible when he said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”
The latest example of Jimbospeak that defies all logic is this: “Everybody last year thought the SEC West was the best, and they weren’t.”
In addition to being grammatically incorrect (it wasn’t Jimbo, not they weren’t), Fisher knows not of what he speaks when it comes to the SEC West, in which all seven members posted a winning record and went to a bowl game. The closest thing to that was the Pac-12 South. Five Pac-12 teams posted winning records but Colorado finished 2-10 and was one of the four or five worst teams among the Power 5 schools.
Before opening his mouth and inserting his foot, perhaps Jimbo and his FSU Seminoles would like to take on an SEC West schedule. There is no way FSU would have gone unbeaten in 2013 or in the 2014 regular season playing in the SEC West.
Additionally, FSU lost commitment Isaac Nauta, rated the nation’s #3 tight end, tweeting that he wants to “make sure that I make the best possible decision for my future in becoming a man and developing as a student athlete.”
Per Jerry Hinnen five candidates for the most overhyped team in 2015 are:
Citing what he claims is new information that Tom Brady ordered the cellphone that he had been using the prior four months destroyed, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the 4-game suspension of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for his role in Deflate-Gate. Goodell says the NFL received the evidence of the cell phone destruction after June 18, nearly four months after the investigation into Brady began.
Brady claims he frequently changes cell phones and had his personal assistant destroy the cell phone in question. The NFL claims Brady destroyed the phone the day he was to meet with its special investigator and notes that Brady kept possession of an older, de-activated phone that he didn’t destroy.
What happens next is anyone’s guess. Brady is threatening to take his case to federal court and you can take that two ways: (1) He is innocent and his good name has been impugned or (2) he is guilty but knows he can go to court, get an injunction that will allow him to play immediately and then use the legal system to delay going to court for months and possibly years. If Brady is innocent, then he should fight for all he’s worth to clear his name. If he is guilty, then he needs to take his suspension like a man and see if his play on the field when he’s allowed to play again can help take the stain off his career.
Tiger Woods says that he’s “a couple shots here and there” away from being a contender once again. Even with a couple of shots here and a couple more there in each of his rounds at the British Open he still wouldn’t have made the cut. While he’s working on his game, he might want to figure out how to stick an iron or wedge to the green and drop in a 12-foot putt.
Shaquille O’Neal and Scottie Pippen have been going at each other on Instagram. Shaq called Pippen a bum in his latest exchange and fired at Pippen, “Don’t make me pull up the scouting report. You wasn’t even a factor in the scouting report. It was all about Mike.”
The St. Louis Cardinals hired a female coach to work with their linebackers during training camp. Jen Welter who played rugby in college and spent 14 years playing in a women’s professional football league will intern with the Cardinals in August. She is the first female coach in the history of the NFL.
Even without getting Troy Tulowitski in a trade for Jose Reyes with the Colorado Rockies, the Toronto Blue Jays would have come out ahead. Reyes has been a defensive liability all season so someone needed to step in and take his place. In Tulowitzki, the Jays get a shortstop who may not be the flashiest fielder but doesn’t make silly errors, and certainly another bat in what is already the most dangerous hitting lineup in all of baseball. Tulowitski will be an upgrade both offensively and defensively for the Jays, whose pitching should instantly seem a whole lot better.
There are those who think the Seattle Seahawks are crazy to offer fourth-year QB Russell Wilson a $22 million a year contract. Let the numbers decide the debate. In the three years before Wilson the Seahawks were 20-30. In the three years since Wilson arrived, the Seahawks are 42-14 with one Super Bowl title and a second Super Bowl appearance.
Do you believe McElwain and Nussmeier can turn Florida’s quarterback situation positive this year or is does this look like another one of those hold your breath and hope something good happens type of seasons?
Since Mick Jagger celebrated his 72nd birthday back on Sunday, it’s only fitting that today’s music is a Rolling Stones concert in London from back in 1991 when Mick could still hit all the notes and Keith Richard looked like something other than a warmed over cadaver.