Franz Beard's Thoughts of the Day; August 18

A few thoughts to jump start your Tuesday morning...

It’s possible the Gators will solve their quarterback problem for the recruiting class of 2016 sometime this week. Ricky Town, who is transferring out of Southern Cal before ever playing a game, might be more than just a blip on the Florida radar. Charles Robinson, Yahoo.com’s NFL insider, tweeted that Florida could be the landing spot for Town because of Town’s great relationship with UF offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier. Town committed to Alabama in August of 2013 when Nussmeier was the offensive coordinator for Nick Saban. He backed off his commitment in January of 2014 when Nussmeier left Alabama to become the offensive coordinator at Michigan.

With 27 of Scout.com’s top 30 quarterbacks in the country already committed, the pickings are slim. Florida’s only quarterback recruit for next season is Kyle Trask, a 2-star recruit out of Texas who is long on potential but short on experience. Town is a pure pocket passer with a quick release and a strong arm who Scout.com ranked the #4 quarterback out of California and the #9 quarterback nationally in the class of 2015. Before deciding on Southern Cal, Town had offers from Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Tennessee, Texas and UCLA among others.

This would be a huge pickup for the Gators. Town has been released from his Southern Cal scholarship but would still have to use the 2015 season as a transfer so he would be eligible for 2016.

NLRB RULES AGAINST Northwestern UNION

Score one for the NCAA. Finally.

The National Labor Relations Board unanimously rejected a petition to unionize by Northwestern University football players, a huge but rare victory for the NCAA. The Monday decision was rendered by the 5-member national board, overturning a ruling by the NLRB’s regional director in 2014. The 2014 ruling concluded that athletic scholarships are the equivalent of monetary compensation and coaches have complete control over college athletes.

Monday’s ruling determined that giving the players the right to unionize would “not promote uniformity and stability in labor relations” and that collective bargaining agreements would potentially upset the balance of competition. A key element of the decision was the NLRB’s decision that scholarship football players “bear little resemblance to the graduate student assistant or student janitors and cafeteria works the Board has considered in other cases. The fact that the scholarship players are students who are also athletes receiving a scholarship to participate in what has traditionally been regarded as an extracurricular activity materially sets them apart from the Board’s student precedent.”

The NLRB did not address whether players are employees or not, which could open the door for the NCAA or individual conferences to set a maximum figure for cost of attendance stipends.

MONDAY IN THE SEC

Alabama: Considering the closeness of the quarterback race at Alabama, the foot injury that will keep Jacob Coker sidelined for what Nick Saban says is “several days” might open the door for true freshman Blake Barnett to become the starter.

Arkansas: Running back Jonathan Williams will have a screw placed in his broken foot so he’s done for the season. Williams will have the option of taking a medical redshirt for 2015 and returning next season or heading to the NFL. His family had taken out insurance prior to the injury. The Hogs still have 1,100-yard rusher Alex Collins and freshman phenom Rawleigh Williams III.

Auburn: File this under upon further review. Speaking to ESPN’s Chris Low, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn says he’s disappointed the Tigers didn’t hang 60 on Alabama last year. “We should have put 60 on them and we didn’t,” Malzahn said of Auburn’s 55-44 loss. “That was the most disappointing thing, when you have a chance to do something special and don’t and then we gave up all those fourth quarter points.” Malzahn is particularly upset with the fact Auburn had to kick five field goals, four from the red zone.

Florida: Although linebacker depth has been a concern, head coach Jim McElwain notes the Gators will be helped out by the fact that more than half the teams on the Florida roster run some version of a spread as their base offense. Three and four receiver sets will play into Florida’s strength since it means the Gators will spend a good portion of each game in nickel and dime packages.

Georgia: Senior wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley, who had meniscus surgery during the summer and a torn ACL in 2013, left Monday’s practice with a non-contact knee injury. Wesley has caught 25 passes for 498 yards and four touchdowns in his career.

Kentucky: Just a couple of days after calling the quarterback race too close to call, incumbent Patrick Towles was named Kentucky’s starting quarterback. Towles, who threw for 2,718 yards and 14 touchdowns last year, edged out redshirt freshman Drew Barker.

LSU: Even with a stud like Leonard Fournette, LSU prefers to spread the carries around. Darrel Williams will certainly get his share of carries but his backup role could be challenged by freshman Derrius Guice, who continues to impress coaches and teammates alike with his ability to find open space and run to it ... Les Miles was disappointed with five dropped passes at Saturday’s scrimmage which produced more than 200 yards passing and 193 rushing.

Mississippi State: Ashton Shumpert, who got 47 carries for 274 yards last year, is the leading candidate to replace Josh Robinson as the starting tailback. Scatback Brandon Holloway (5-8, 160) and redshirt freshmen Aeris Williams (6-1, 215) and Dontavian Lee (6-1, 220) and battling for the backup job.

Missouri: Mizzou’s run of great defensive ends apparently will continue. Charles Harris, whose job it is to replace the lost production of last year’s SEC Defensive Player of the Year and All-American Shane Ray (13 sacks), wowed the coaches with constant pressure and two sacks at Saturday’s scrimmage.

Ole Miss: The Rebels have been searching for a back who can pound the ball between the tackles. If last Friday’s scrimmage is any indication, then Akeem Judd (6-0, 220) might become the thunder complement to the lightning of Jaylen Walton (5-8, 166). Judd consistently broke tackles and got into the secondary.

South Carolina: While Gamecock fans continue to fret over the quarterback play in fall camp, the defense is looking vastly superior to the unit that couldn’t get anyone off the field last year. “Our guys tackled very well, all of them,” Steve Spurreir said after Saturday’s scrimmage, noting he could only recall one missed tackle the entire day.

Tennessee: Among the walking wounded at Tennessee’s Saturday night scrimmage were linebackers Dillon Bates and Cortez McDowell, offensive linemen Jack Jones and Jashon Robertson, defensive backs Justin Martin, Stephen Griffin and Todd Kelly Jr. and wide receivers Marquez North and Jason Croom.

Texas A&M: Kevin Sumlin believes his running backs can be more productive which is why the Aggies have switched to a gap scheme under new O-line coach Dave Christensen. “We’re putting a lot of emphasis on coming off the ball, sustaining blocks and blocking through the whistle,” Christensen said. “Just being more physical up front.”

Vanderbilt: CBS analyst Rick Neuheisel sees Vanderbilt as an improved team in 2015 and believes Derek Mason is the long term solution as the head coach. “He knows what the formula is,” Neuheisel said. “The good thing about Derek Mason is that he came from Stanford, which has the same type of admission standards so you know how to assemble a team. I think there will be improvement in year two.”

GAMES THAT SHAPED UF FOOTBALL HISTORY

Florida 30, Georgia 14; October 30, 1999

It seems only fitting that Steve Spurrier’s 100th win as Florida’s head coach would come against his personal whipping boy, Georgia, but unlike past years when Spurrier’s offense was dial-a-score against Georgia, this one was settled by defense and the running game. The 5th-ranked Gators forced two critical turnovers by the 10th-ranked Bulldogs in the fourth quarter to turn a potential white knuckler into a comfortable UF win. With the Gators leading, 16-14, and Georgia driving, Keith Kelsey knocked Jasper Sanks into next week at the Florida 10, forcing a fumble recovered by Bennie Alexander. On the Gators’ next possession, Bo Carroll, who ran for 113 yards on the day, blew through a hole for a 30-yard touchdown with 7:43 to go as the Gators increased their lead to 23-14. On Georgia’s next possession, Alex Brown stripped Quincy Carter at the Georgia two and Florida recovered. The next play, Doug Johnson ran in with the clinching touchdown with 6:43 to go. Brown also intercepted Carter on Georgia’s last series. Carter ate the Gators alive running the option in the first half, scoring two touchdowns while gaining 51 yards on nine carries but after a brutal hit from Eugene McCaslin and Kelsey on Georgia’s first possession of the second half, Carter was never the same. In the second half he as 2-10 for 21 yards passing, was sacked three times for 29 yards in losses, threw an interception and fumbled. As for the Gators, Johnson threw for 234 yards in the first half, but completed only two passes for zero net yards in the second as Spurrier was content to run the football and let the defense do its thing. The win was Florida’s third straight after their loss to Alabama and part of a 5-game winning streak the Gators took into the FSU game. The Gators lost to FSU to start a season-ending 3-game losing streak, the longest losing streak of Spurrier’s UF career.

JERRY PALM HAS GATORS IN SHREVEPORT

Jerry Palm, who does the college basketball bracketology and bowl projections for CBSSports.com, predicts a bowl season for the Gators in Jim McElwain’s first year on the job. It’s not exactly top tier but some might think a trip to Shreveport and the bowl formerly known as The Weedwacker is a step up from last year’s trip to Birmingham. The Gators are one of 10 Southeastern Conference teams that will go bowling for SEC dollars after the 2015 regular season.

Other SEC bowl projections:

Cotton Bowl: TCU vs. Auburn (College Football Playoff semifinal)
Sugar Bowl: Baylor vs. Alabama
Liberty Bowl: Kansas State vs. Mississippi State
TaxSlayer Bowl: Nebraska vs. Ole Miss
Citrus Bowl: Penn State vs. Georgia
Outback Bowl: Michigan vs. LSU
Music City Bowl: Louisville vs. Missouri
Belk Bowl: Duke vs. Tennessee
Birmingham Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Arkansas
Pinstripe Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. South Carolina

RANDOM THOUGHTS

Michael Frazier II, who went undrafted after leaving Florida a year early, has signed a contract with the Los Angeles Lakers that offers $50,000 guaranteed money. If Frazier doesn’t make the team he’ll be sent to the Lakers’ D-League affiliate. My guess is two years in the D-League then it’s off to Europe where it’s not necessary to drive to the basket or play great defense.

With wins in two majors and a runner-up and a fourth place finish in the other two, Jordan Speith is now the #1-ranked golfer in the world, the first American not named Tiger Woods to hold the #1 position since 2000. Speith’s consolation for finishing second at the PGA over the weekend was a mere $1,080,000. That’s nice work if you can get it.

With no new stadium proposal in the works, the Oakland Raiders will probably be shopping for a new home, likely Los Angeles. In the interim, San Antonio has offered the 60,000-seat Alamo Dome as a temporary home while a new stadium is built in LA. Having been to a game at the Oakland Coliseum, the Raiders should take up the San Antonio offer ASAP.

A poll of 100 NFL players shows plenty of support for Tom Brady. While 72 percent of the players think the New England Patriots deflated footballs, 78 percent felt Brady’s suspension was too harsh. The bulk of the players think a 1.5-game suspension would have been more appropriate. I wonder what they’ll say if a court overturns the NFL suspension?

QUESTION OF THE DAY

If the Gators were to land in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, what are the chances you would travel to see the game?

MUSIC FOR TODAY

One of the best nights of live music I’ve ever experienced was a night when Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown played a local club just across the street from Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. Gatemouth makes nearly everybody’s list of the greatest blues guitarists of all time but that night he made my list of great entertainers I’ve ever seen live. He was only supposed to play a couple of one-hour sets, but sets ran together and one hour became three hours of some very serious blues. “Nothing but the Blues Week” continues with Gatemouth Brown’s 1972 album “The Blues Ain’t Nothing.”


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