Hoping Jim McElwain will name a starting quarterback before August 31, the Monday before the season opener with New Mexico State, might be wishful thinking. McElwain seems quite content to let redshirt freshman Will Grier and sophomore Treon Harris carry on their battle for the #1 job as long as he can. Given how young and inexperienced the Gators are, that might be a borderline brilliant decision.
Florida has four quarterbacks on its depth chart, but Luke Del Rio isn’t going to play this year unless the NCAA pulls off a shocker and gives him a waiver that makes him immediately eligible, and Vanderbilt transfer Josh Grady is the if everyone else is hurt option. So, it’s a two-man competition and the longer McElwain can keep it competitive the better off the Gators are going to be. As long as Grier and Harris know they have a legitimate shot to start, they’ll both come to practice every day focused and ready to prove something. Seeing both QBs come to practice with something to prove everyday will only help the focus of the entire offensive unit.
From a physical standpoint, Grier seems to have the edge. He’s nearly 6-3, has added muscle and weighs in at 215 now, and the ball gets to the receiver in a hurry once it leaves his hand. While Harris doesn’t have the rocket arm, he does have six games of starting experience in the SEC to go with two state championships at the high school level. He’s not going to be intimidated by playing on the big stage.
There will come a time when it’s to McElwain’s advantage to name a starting quarterback, but that time hasn’t come yet. This is a battle that needs the next couple of weeks to play itself out.
Alabama: This is Jacob Coker’s second year in the system and Lane Kiffin still hasn’t named him as the starting quarterback. Either Kiffin is trying to downplay expectations on Coker, who disappointed last year when he came to camp and couldn’t beat Blake Sims out for the job, or else the whole situation is a mess. Redshirt freshman David Cornwell was the #2 coming out of spring but freshman Blake Barnett has made some impressive throws in the first few days of fall camp.
Arkansas: Brandon Allen’s hold on the #1 job is rock solid, but younger brother Austin Allen’s hold on the backup job may not be as strong as previously thought. Head coach Bret Bielema has called into question Austin Allen’s dedication and work ethic. That could open the door for redshirt freshman Rafe Peavy or stud freshman Ty Storey.
Auburn: For a quarterback who’s only thrown 78 career passes, Jeremy Johnson is getting a lot of hype. ESPN calls him one of the best 100 players in the country. The backup is redshirt freshman Sean White although true freshman Tyler Queen has a stronger arm and is a better runner.
Georgia: Each of the three quarterbacks contending for the starting job have had two days working with the first team offense. So far there is no reported separation between Brice Ramsey, Grayson Lambert and Faton Bauta. Of the three, Ramsey has been the most consistent, Lambert has the strongest arm and Bauta has the best overall grasp of the offense. Mark Richt says he may platoon two QBs in game one.
LSU: Les Miles says he’s nowhere close to naming a starting quarterback but Brandon Harris has taken the reps with the #1 offense every single practice and Anthony Jennings has worked the second team.
Mississippi State: Dak Prescott would start for nearly everyone in the country. His backup, Damian Williams, would probably start for half the teams in the SEC, which is why Dan Mullen is contemplating a redshirt that would allow two years of eligibility. Redshirt freshmen Nick Fitzgerald has been impressive.
Missouri: Maty Mauk is the clearcut #1 and Corbin Berkstresser and Eddie Printz are listed as the backups but everyone who watches the Mizzou program says prize freshman Drew Lock is the future of the program. Mauk has a healthy shoulder and he’s dropped about 20 pounds so he’s in the best shape of his life.
Ole Miss: In somewhat of a surprise, redshirt sophomore Ryan Buchanan has been taking most of the snaps with the first team offense. It’s a close battle for the starting job, however, and most expect juco transfer Chad Kelly will eventually emerge as the #1. DeVante Kincaid is such a good runner that he will have a special package of plays designed just for him.
South Carolina: Connor Mitch continues to hold down the #1 job but all indications are that Steve Spurrier is putting in a package of plays for freshman Lorenzo Nunez, whose skill set reminds Spurrier of former Gamecock quarterback Connor Shaw. For the moment, Perry Orth is the second team QB.
Tennessee: The Vols are quite content that Josh Dobbs can lead them to the SEC East promised land, but if he goes down for any reason, the situation is rather murky since there isn’t another quarterback who has ever taken a snap. Freshman Quinten Dormady has taken the second unit snaps the last couple of days and he’s backed up by freshman Sheriron Jones.
Late Breaking: Vols top receiing target and All-SEC receiver has reportedly torn his ACL and will miss the season.
Texas A&M: Nothing has happened to dislodge Kyle Allen as the starter but the play of freshman Kyler Murray already has both coaches and Aggie observers to make comparisons to Johnny Manziel. Allen is a big arm pocket passer while Murray has the feet and arm and the ability to make big things happen when he improvises.
Vanderbilt: Although Johnny McCrary is taking the #1 unit snaps he really hasn’t done anything impressive. Wade Freebeck is the #2 and he’s also done nothing to impress. Freshman Kyle Shurmur is a one step forward, two steps backwards guy. Maybe someone will get it and start performing on a consistent level between now and September, but the best thing you can say about the Vandy QB situation right now is it’s a mess.
Rating the top five QBs in the SEC:
1. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
2. Brandon Allen, Arkansas
3. Kyle Allen, Texas A&M
4. Maty Mauk, Missouri
5. Josh Dobbs, Tennessee
The injury bug has struck at Tennessee where 18 players were held out of practice Wednesday morning including starting tailback Jalen Hurd and wide receiver Pig Howard … LSU reports that one of its assistant coaches (unnamed) has been banned by the NCAA from texting for the next six months … All-SEC wide receiver Pharoh Cooper (bruised knee) returned to practice at South Carolina … Alabama is working Kenyan Drake at both running back and in the slot … Arkansas returns nine starters on offense. Frank Ragnow (6-5, 311) has all but nailed down the right guard position, but fullback is still a battle between Kodi Walker and Tyler Colquitt … Kentucky was plagued by false starts on the O-line last year. Nothing has changed in preseason camp.
The top 25
1. Ohio State
5. Michigan State
9. Southern Cal
10. Notre Dame
11. Florida State
12. Arizona State
14. Ole Miss
15. Georgia Tech
20. Boise State
Rankings for other SEC Teams:26. Mississippi State
29. Texas A&M
35. South Carolina
Florida State 23, Florida 12; November 21, 1998
Before the game began, there was a brawl at midfield. Probably 20-30 players from each team pushed and shoved and there were some punches thrown, too. Conveniently, the only two Seminoles ejected were backup offensive lineman Ronald Boldin, who wouldn’t have played, and walk-on Josh Baggs, who wasn’t even in uniform. The only player ejected from Florida was starting corner Tony George for allegedly throwing a punch (it missed) at FSU D-line coach Odell Hagins. George says he simply reacted instinctively when Hagins grabbed him by the collar. George wasn’t the only one swinging punches on either side. Florida lost a starter that could have helped contain Peter Warrick, who caught a touchdown pass and threw a 46-yard TDP to Ron Dugans in the second half. While the brawl was going on, Doug Johnson threw a football intended for Bobby Bowden’s head. Johnson missed but hit FSU assistant strength coach Eric Johnson in the head instead. After the game, Boldin was arrested for assault and battery.
There was controversy. With 9:16 remaining in the first half and the Gators leading, 7-6, Reggie McGrew sacked Marcus Outzen at the FSU two and stripped him of the football. Gerard Warren fell on the ball and had control, but no touchdown was signaled. Two FSU players pounced on Warren, knocked the ball loose and the zebras ruled it a safety instead. Replays showed Warren had control of the ball long enough for the play to have been ruled a touchdown. There was opportunity missed. In the third quarter with the Gators leading, 12-6, Outzen threw what should have been a pick six but the ball hit Marquand Manuel square in the hands and it deflected into the hands of Peter Warrick who turned it into a 32-yard touchdown pass and a 13-12 FSU lead. Other than the touchdown pass from Warrick to Dugans, Florida’s defense was superb, but FSU’s was even better, holding the Gators to a season low 204 yards, a full 284 below their season average. FSU went on to play unbeaten Tennessee in the Fiesta Bowl for the national championship, a game won by the Vols, 23-16. Florida faced Syracuse and Donovan McNabb in the Orange Bowl, walking away with a 31-10 win to complete a 10-2 season.
On NFL Network, former New England Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest said he would have given I.K. Enemkpali a contract extension for punching out QB Geno Smith (broken jaw, out six weeks). Said McGinest:
“I would have called [Ememkpali] upstairs to give him a contract extension. I want guys like that on my team to go to war with.”
Regarding Smith, McGinest said:
“If you’re a respected player in the locker room and other players respect you at a certain level – Geno’s not a superstar; he’s not an elite quarterback; he’s not even good at this point.”
A Leon County circuit judge approved a request by attorneys of Florida State running back Dalvin Cook to expedite his trial. Jury selection will begin August 21 and the trial is set for August 24. Cook is charged with hitting a woman in the face several times outside a Tallahassee bar. His attorneys have maintained his innocence all along but State Attorney Willie Meggs has stated there is “credible evidence” to move forward with prosecution. Meggs is going to retire soon and doesn’t have to worry about re-election so maybe this will actually turn into a real trial.
A US District Court judge denied Florida State University’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Erica Klunsman, who claims FSU officials exercised “deliberate indifference” when she claimed she was raped by Heisman Trophy quarterback Jamies Winston. This is a Title IX case that has broad and long term implications against FSU if Kinsman wins. Kinsman has also filed a federal civil lawsuit against Winston that will be tried in Orlando.
Jerry Palm of CBSSports projects the following matchups for the College Football Playoff: TCU (Big 12) vs. Auburn (SEC) in the Cotton Bowl and Ohio State (Big Ten) vs. Clemson (ACC) in the Orange Bowl.
South Carolina athletic director and former baseball coach Ray Tanner has been elected to the Hall of Fame by the American College Baseball Coaches Association.
Tom Brady refuses to back down from the NFL, which is pushing for some sort of settlement. Charles Roberson of Yahoo Sports writes that for Brady to accept settlement under NFL terms – admit a measure of guilt – he would have committed perjury under oath in previous testimony. This will go to court and that probably favors Brady more than the NFL, which only has circumstantial evidence.
Two part question: Should Dalvin Cook actually go to trial, do you think it’s possible to find six people to sit on a jury in Tallahassee that will have the guts to render a guilty verdict? Do you think Cook will play in game one?
The Eagles earned their place in rock and roll history with major contributions from a couple of Gainesville High graduates – Bernie Leadon and Don Felder. When Stephen Stills moved from Gainesville to Costa Rica late in 1963, Felder needed a new guitar player for his band, The Continentals. Leadon had just moved to Gainesville and became the replacement. The band was re-named The Maundy Quintet. When the Maundy Quintet broke up, Leadon headed to California and Felder to New York. Leadon played with Dillard and Clark and The Flying Burrito Brothers before he became the final member of a new band called The Eagles in 1971. Three years later, Felder joined the band. Leadon left the band in 1975 to produce his new discovery, Linda Ronstadt. Felder was with the Eagles until their first breakup in 1980. Florida Roots Week continues with The Eagles “On the Border” album which featured both Leadon and Felder.