1. Brandon Powell, slot receiver: For some strange reason, last year’s offensive brain trust couldn’t figure out how to use Powell effectively, even though he had the outside speed and open space ability that the team desperately needed. He caught six passes for 66 yards against LSU and got seven carries for 37 yards the next week against Missouri, but touched the ball only four times the next four games. In Jim McElwain’s new scheme Powell will line up the majority of the time in the slot where he is expected to play a major role in both the passing and running games.
2. Alex McCalister, rush end: McCalister came to Florida in the same recruiting class as Dante Fowler Jr. While Fowler was ready to play from the day he arrived on campus, McCalister had a long skinny frame that needed muscle. He’s still skinny at 240, but he’s got enough muscle to go with the speed to become a force off the edge. As Fowler’s caddy last year, McCalister still got six sacks and nine tackles for loss. In Geoff Collins’ pin your ears back and go after the quarterback scheme, McCalister has the opportunity to become one of the top pass rushers in the SEC this season.
3. Tyler Jordan, center/guard: He is going to play as a true freshman. The only question is where? Will he surpass Cam Dillard and T.J. McCoy in training camp to nail down the starting center job or will he slide over to right guard where his mobility can be a factor on sweeps and rollouts?
4. Daniel McMillian, linebacker: He is the most athletic of Florida’s linebackers but he’s always been a bit undisciplined. It’s time for him to grow up and become the difference maker that his combination of speed, quickness and strength should allow him to be.
5. Duke Dawson, safety/nickel: Dawson had some very impressive moments as a true freshman last year. With so many teams being able to go from a two-back set to a spread on the fly without changing personnel, the Gators are going to be in nickel a majority of the time. Marcus Maye has the size to be a defacto outside linebacker and that should open the door for Dawson to step in and make a lot of plays.
1. Terry Beckner JR., Missouri: Harold Brantley was expected to be Missouri’s next great defensive lineman until a car crash during June put him out for the season. Beckner is a true freshman but he’s already a 300-pound man who throws people around like rag dolls.
2. Alvin Kamara, Tennessee: Sophomore Jalen Hurd will be the thunder. Kamara, the juco transfer tailback, will be the lightning. Hurd has go the distance speed and he can catch the ball out of the backfield, too.
3. Chad Kelly, Ole Miss: Kelly can make every throw that Bo Wallace could. As long as he doesn’t feel the urge to do something stupid like Wallace did far too often, he’ll be an upgrade to an already very good Ole Miss offense.
4. Kyler Murray, Texas A&M: The Aggies have a returning starter at QB in Kyle Allen. In Murray they have a freshman QB who reminds everyone of Johnny Football the way he keeps plays alive with his feet.
5. Marquavius Lewis, South Carolina: The Gamecocks got to the quarterback only 14 times in 13 games last year. Lewis is a juco transfer defensive end with serious speed off the edge. He will thrive in Jon Hoke’s scheme.
Florida 52, Georgia 17; November 28, 1995
There are a few things you have to know about Steve Spurrier’s deep obsession with beating the Georgia Bulldogs. Item #1: Georgia picked off Spurrier three times in his Heisman Trophy season of 1966 and beat the Gators, 27-10, ending their hopes of an SEC championship. That was bad, but Item #2 was worse in Spurrier-think. Georgia ran up the score on the Gators at the Gator Bowl in 1968. In that game Vince Dooley let his defensive tackle play quarterback and sent in a center to kick a field goal to make the score 51-0 in the closing seconds of a game played in the rain and miserable cold. Stevie Wonder has a very long memory, which has something to do with why he was 11-1 against Georgia when he coached Florida and why he takes delight at South Carolina in beating Mark Richt and the Bulldogs (four of the last five times they’ve played). In 1995, the Florida-Georgia game was played in Athens as the new stadium in Jacksonville was being constructed. The year before in Gainesville, the Gators smacked the Bulldogs around, 52-14. Georgia was totally outmatched against a Florida team both years but especially against the 1995 Gators who went 11-0 during the regular season. Danny Wuerffel threw five touchdown passes and by the time Spurrier saw fit to pull the starters at the end of the third quarter, it was already 38-17. But Spurrier wasn’t about to put the game in the deep freeze, particularly since nobody had ever hung 50 on Georgia at Sanford Stadium. So instead of killing clock, Eric Kresser and the Gators were pitching and catching all over the field, adding two more fourth quarter touchdowns for a 52-17 rout. Spurrier said afterward, “We wanted to make the game memorable for the Gators.” Spurrier also too the time to call Coach Ray Graves, who had been humiliated by Dooley and the Bulldogs, 51-0, back in 1968. Graves recalled that Spurrier’s first words were, “Coach, I got them for you.” Florida went on to beat Arkansas in the SEC Championship Game and played Nebraska for the national championship. Georgia finished the season 6-6. Ray Goff was fired as the head coach. For Georgia fans it was bad enough that he was 0-6 against the Gators. That Spurrier hung 50 on the Bulldogs on consecutive years rubbed salt in the wounds.
1. Alabama 90-16-4
2. Ole Miss 77-25-6
3. LSU 76-26-5
4. Florida 70-31-4
5. Tennessee 67-32-6
6. Auburn 65-37-2
7. Georgia 59-38-8
8. Kentucky 37-58-5
9. Mississippi State 31-63-5
10. Vanderbilt 24-70-6
Not in the SEC in the 1960s
South Carolina: 37-59-5
Texas A&M: 31-64-6
Best 5 coaches
1. Bear Bryant, Alabama: 90-16-4
2. Johnny Vaught, Ole Miss: 77-25-6
3. Doug Dickey, Tennessee: 46-15-4
4. Charlie McClendon, LSU: 61-21-4
5. Ray Graves, Florida: 70-31-4
Best 10 players
1. Lee Roy Jordan, Alabama
2. Steve Spurrier, Florida
3. Archie Manning, Ole Miss
4. Tommy Casanova, LSU
5. Steve DeLong, Tennessee
6. Jack Youngblood, Florida
7. Bill Stanfill, Georgia
8. Jake Scott, Georgia
9. Ken Stabler, Alabama
10. Jerry Stovall, LSU
1. Ohio State
5. Michigan State
7. Notre Dame
9. Florida State
12. Ole Miss
14. Southern Cal
15. Boise State
19. Arizona State
21. Georgia Tech
25. Oklahoma State
1. Stanford: Northwestern, UCF, Notre Dame
2. Texas: at Notre Dame, Rice, California
3. Virginia: at UCLA, Notre Dame, William and Mary, Boise State
4. Michigan State: at Western Michigan, Oregon, Air Force, Central Michigan
5. Georgia Tech: Alcorn State, Tulane, at Notre Dame, Georgia
6. Louisville: Auburn (neutral site), Houston, Samford, at Kentucky
7. Utah: Michigan, Utah State, at Fresno State
Tie 8. Virginia Tech: Ohio State, Furman, at Purdue, at East Carolina
Tie 8. South Carolina: North Carolina (neutral site), UCF, Citadel, Clemson
Tie 8. Michigan: at Utah, Oregon State, UNLV, BYU
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft describes Roger Goodell’s decision to uphold Tom Brady’s 4-game suspension as “unfathomable” and he’s vowing to fight back. In upholding the suspension, Goodell claimed Brady destroyed his cell phone to prevent the NFL from checking his text message history. That prompted Kraft to note “that Tom provided the history of every number he texted during that relevant time frame. We had already provided the league with every cell phone of every non-NFLPA employee that they requested, including head coach Bill Belichick.”
Backing up Kraft was attorney John Dowd, the investigator whose report led Major League Baseball to ban Pete Rose for gambling. Dowd said that Brady was “ambushed” by Goodell. Dowd says Brady’s cell phone was never an issue in the NFL investigation by Ted Wells but in making it an issue now, Goodell “has denied Tom Brady the fundamental right to notice of a charge and the right to defend it.”
Meanwhile the NFL Players Association has filed motions challenging Goodell’s decision in US District Court in Minnesota. Many believe the court will issue an injunction that will allow Brady to play immediately in a case that could go on for many, many months.
Prediction: This is not going to turn out well for the NFL. The Minnesota district court has consistently ruled in favorably in labor cases against the NFL and the league’s lack of hard evidence combined with its recent guidelines for checking the inflation of footballs will all work in Brady’s favor.
Tennessee’s season tickets bear an uncanny resemblance to the label of Jack Daniel’s sour mash whiskey, which is distilled in Lynchburg, a three-hour road trip to central Tennessee. Jack is the unofficial mascot of the Vols. If you don’t believe it just walk around the tailgate lots at Neyland Stadium before or after a game.
Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports thinks Ohio State at Virginia Tech on Labor Day Monday has the makings of an upset that would instantly change the national championship picture. Mandel says, “I don’t consider it a given that they’ll [Ohio State] walk into Lane Stadium on a Monday night and blow out a team that (a) I believe to be a legit sleeper team nationally, (b) beat Ohio State last year and (c) enters its stadium to this.”
With the NFL upholding the 4-game suspension of Tom Brady, Vegas oddsmakers have made the Indianapolis Colts the favorites to win the AFC championship. While that may sound reasonable, the last time I checked Bill Belichick is still coaching the New England Patriots. If I gambled on anything that could talk, I would put my money on any team Belichick is coaching.
Tyson Waterman, an assistant basketball coach at Southeastern Louisiana, is the latest casualty of Donnie Tyndall’s sins at Southern Miss. Waterman was forced to resign because he failed to fully cooperate with the NCAA investigation into Southern Miss.
Tight end Isaac Nauta decommitted from Florida State, saying he needs to go to school somewhere that will allow him to develop as a man. That set off a twitter war between 2 Live Crew rapper Luther Campbell, an unabashed Miami supporter, and FSU assistant Tim Brewster. Luther Campbell and an FSU football coach going at it … we’re really talking about a couple of bastions of integrity here, aren’t we?
Washington State coach Mike Leach is all for expanding the College Football Playoff. He’s not talking about expanding to eight or even 16 teams, but 32. Under the Leach scenario the first round would be played with home games and the existing bowls would cover the rest. That works in basketball. The only chance we would ever see something like this in college football would be for some network to offer an amount of money so ridiculous that the current estimates for four teams of a $500 million payday pale by comparison.
Who is your breakout player for the Gators in 2015?
I broke out my “Frampton Comes Alive” CD today and spent the afternoon having flashbacks of the 1970s. This album spent 97 weeks on the Billboard charts and remains one of the top selling live albums of all time. Recorded in San Francisco and on Long Island in 1975, the album was released in January of 1976, debuting at #191 and hitting the #1 spot in April. It spent 10 weeks at #1 and was selected “Album of the Year” by Rolling Stone Magazine.