We spent the spring and summer waiting for Treon Harris or Will Grier to become “The Man” at quarterback but what we saw Saturday is cause to perhaps re-think conventional wisdom. Is it entirely necessary to have one guy calling the shots? Can a team function at a high level with two quarterbacks splitting the plays?
The Florida Gators are one game into the season and it’s not like Harris or Grier lit up an SEC defense but the poise, decisiveness and playmaking ability both of them showed against New Mexico State highlights the dilemma facing head coach Jim McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier moving forward. It was thought last week when McElwain announced that Harris would start with Grier also getting his share of the snaps that perhaps Harris had shown that extra something, perhaps the ability to rally his teammates around him. Grier, we know, is taller, stronger and has a better arm, but Harris did lead Booker T. Washington to consecutive state championships and he did go 4-2 as a true freshman starter for the Gators last year.
But Saturday, both quarterbacks showed the ability to lead the team while showing off their individually unique talents. Harris is waterbug quick, the kind of guy who will excel running read option and can turn a bust of a play into something positive with his very quick feet. As he did last year, he showed he can throw the deep pass but even the shorter throws seemed to get there faster than they did last year. Grier came on and looked like a guy who is going to play on Sunday when his collegiate days are behind him. He does indeed have the big arm, but he showed that he’s capable of making quick and proper decisions. He didn’t throw anything close to a pick and when the defensive line parted like the Red Sea and he had open space in front of him, he made 38 yards disappear in a hurry.
Both Harris and Grier were in total command of the huddle. If you watched them on the sideline when the Florida defense was on the field, they were sitting together and talking, presumably about what they were seeing on the field and how they should go about attacking. They seemed all about the team and helping each other help the team get better.
If you were looking for one of them to come away with an edge, then you’re still looking. Harris finished the night 14-19 for 215 yards and two touchdowns plus ran the ball five times for 23 more. That’s a 73.7 completion percentage, 11.3 yards per pass attempt and a quarterback efficiency rating of 203.47. Last year, Harris had a 146.21 quarterback efficiency rating and 49.5% completions. Grier’s numbers were 16-18 for 166 yards and two touchdowns to go with four carries for 44 yards and one TD. His quarterback efficiency rating was 203.02, his completion percentage 81.6 and his yards per attempt 9.2.
Whether you’re talking Harris or Grier, you are talking a well-coached quarterback who knows what he’s doing and shows no panic in the pocket. Neither Harris nor Grier tried to force things but instead ran the offense and knew exactly what to do if the play began to break down, whether it was to take off on the run or find an alternative receiver.
As the games get progressively more difficult, one or the other might show some separation and give McElwain and Nussmeier reason to declare either Harris or Grier “The Man” but what happens if they continue to play well? What happens if these guys can handle splitting time and the team shows no issues with a two-headed beast at QB?
Maybe in a perfect world, having one guy take command is the ideal, but this isn’t a perfect world and who says the Gators can’t do just fine with Treon and Will, the two and only?
Alabama (1-0, 0-0 SEC): Derrick Henry (13 carries, 147 yards, 3 TDs) was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week … Alabama opens the week as a 36-point favorite over Middle Tennessee State … Eight true freshmen played in Alabama’s win over Wisconsin.
Arkansas (1-0, 0-0 SEC): As well as the Razorbacks played defensively, coordinator Robb Smith is looking for serious improvement this week against Toledo. UTEP converted seven third downs in 14 tries and on all seven of the conversions, Smith says the Hogs missed a tackle ... After throwing for 308 yards and running for 182 against UTEP, offensive coordinator Dan Enos looks for more of a 50-50 balance this week.
Auburn (1-0, 0-0 SEC): Daniel Carlson, who kicked a 56-yard field goal, four extra points and put all six of his kickoffs in the end zone for touchbacks, was named SEC Special Teams Player of the Week … Running backs Roc Thomas and Jovon Robinson (both with ankles) are day-to-day. Both defensive end Carl Lawson (hip flexor) and safety Tre Matthews (shoulder) are expected to be held out this week against D1AA Jacksonville State.
Georgia (1-0, 0-0 SEC): Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt’s plan is to use Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins in multiple roles. Floyd lined up at inside linebacker, outside linebacker and defensive end against Louisiana-Monroe. Pruitt has indicated there will be situations when Floyd plays the nickel as well. Jenkins split his time between outside linebacker and defensive end but he will also play some inside linebacker.
Kentucky (1-0, 0-0 SEC): First order of business this week is shore up the run defense. The Wildcats were gashed for 247 yards on the ground by Louisiana-Lafayette … There are concerns at quarterback. After going 10-18 for 219 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, Patrick Towles was 6-16 for 38 yards in the second half, plus he was sacked three times, threw a pick and looked very indecisive.
LSU (0-0, 0-0 SEC): LSU discussed playing their cancelled season opener on Sunday, but that idea was nixed because the Tigers open their SEC season on the road in Starkville Saturday. There are no plans to find a replacement game for the open date, which is the week before LSU plays Alabama.
Mississippi State (1-0, 0-0 SEC): One of the noticeable changes in the defense was lining up 6-6, 308-pound nose tackle Chris Jones at linebacker depth then letting him pick and choose a gap to go through in passing situations. Jones was in on five tackles and broke up a pass … Senior corner Taveze Calhoun, who sat out the season opener with an undisclosed injury is expected to start Saturday when LSU comes to Starkville.
Missouri (1-0, 0-0 SEC): Kentrell Brothers, who was in on 122 tackles last year, picked up where he left off, with 16 tackles and a blocked punt in the season opener … Russell Hansbrough, who ran for more than1,000 yards last year, suffered a high ankle sprain against Southeast Missouri State. He was seen on the sideline with his ankle in a cast in the second half after suffering the injury in the first half. Center Evan Boehm also sprained an ankle, but it wasn’t nearly as severe. He’ll start Saturday against Arkansas State.
Ole Miss (1-0, 0-0 SEC): Laremy Tunsil could miss Saturday’s game with Fresno State as the NCAA continues its investigation into allegations he received improper benefits during his recruitment … Chad Kelly (9-15, 211 yards, 2 TDs; 1-20, 1 TD rushing) played very well, but do did Ryan Buchanan (4-6, 58 yards, 2 TDs) and DeVante Kincaid (6-7, 55 yards, 1 TD; 3-24 rushing). Hugh Freeze says the quarterback battle isn’t over yet, but Kelly seems to have a firm grip on #1.
South Carolina (1-0, 0-0 SEC): Skai Moore, who was in on two tackles and had two interceptions in the end zone against North Carolina, was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week … Steve Spurrier says that quarterback Connor Mitch, running back Brandon Wilds and wide receivers Terry Googer and Deebo Samuel are all “questionable” for Saturday’s SEC opener against Kentucky. Backup O-lineman Cody Waldrop broke an ankle during Saturday’s practice.
Tennessee (1-0, 0-0 SEC): In what will go down as one of the understatements of the year, head coach Butch Jones said the Vols “did not play well defensively at all in the game” against Bowling Green, which scored 30 points, racked up 557 total yards and averaged 8.9 per pass attempt … Left tackle Kyler Kerbyson was named the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week.
Texas A&M (1-0, 0-0 SEC): They’re raving about new defensive coordinator John Chavis in Aggie-land after the Aggies held Arizona State to 3.55 yards per offensive play. Last year the Aggies gave up 5.9 yards per play. The Aggies sacked Arizona State QBs nine times with ends Daeshon Hall (4) and Myles Garrett (2) combining for six and -27 yards ... Hall was named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week and wide receiver Christian Kirk was named SEC Freshman of the Week.
Vanderbilt (0-1, 0-0 SEC): You know things are really bad when “experts” are comparing what coaches like Jim Harbaugh and Frank Beamer did on their first couple of years on the job to Derek Mason. Mason went 3-9 in year one with an 0-8 SEC slate. After losing the season opener to a Sun Belt team and only scoring 12 points, another 3-9 (or worse) season is in store ... If there is a bright spot from that 14-12 loss it is the Commodores held Western Kentucky to 2-12 on third down conversions.
Per Dick’s Sporting Goods, the top 10 college teams for NFL jersey sales and their top two jerseys:
1. Florida: Maurkice Pouncey and Joe Haden. 2. Stanford: Richard Sherman and Andrew Luck. 3. Tennessee: Jason Whitten and Peyton Manning. 4. LSU: Patrick Peterson and Odell Beckham Jr. 5. Oklahoma: Adrian Peterson and DeMarco Murray. 6. Wisconsin: Joe Thomas and Russell Wilson. 7. Boston College: Matt Ryan and Luke Kuechly. 8. Pitt: Darrelle Revis and LeSean McCoy. 9. Oregon: Kiko Alonso and Marcus Mariota. 10. Cal-Berkeley: Marshawn Lynch and Aaron Rodgers.
When the Georgia Dome is demolished after the 2016 football season, the SEC Championship Game will only have to move next door to its new home. The SEC awarded Atlanta’s new Mercedez-Benz Stadium a 10-yeard deal that will run from 2017-2026. Seating capacity for the new retractable roof stadium will be 71,000 with 180 luxury suites and 7,500 club seats.
Here are the five places where the average ticket for a home game are the most expensive:
1. Notre Dame: $332.09 2. Georgia: $235.47 3. Texas A&M: $200.69 4. Tennessee: $199.46 5. Ohio State: $197.49
The current average going price for the most expensive SEC games are:
1. Alabama at Georgia: $684.44 2. Alabama at Auburn: $614.64 3. Georgia-Florida in Jacksonville: $535.32
Don’t write Braxton Miller off as a Heisman Trophy candidate just because he switched positions. Miller showed he can run great routes and make catches, then made a dazzling 53-yard run out of the wildcat for a touchdown. Ohio State is only going to get better when they bring back the four players who were suspended Monday night.
In three short years, Robert Griffin III has gone from future Hall of Famer to a quarterback whose future is cloudy at best. RGIII will be on the bench Saturday while the Washington Redskins start Kirk Cousins, who has thrown more interceptions (19) in his career than touchdowns (18). To draft RGIII out of Baylor, the Redskins traded three first round picks and a second rounder to move up.
Whoever is in charge of selecting the CBS SEC game of the week might want to find a new day job after picking the Georgia at Vanderbilt game for broadcast rather than Oklahoma at Tennessee.
Jordan Speith has missed two straight cuts but he’s back to the #1 ranking in the world after Jason Day finished in a tie for 12th and Rory McIroy finished in a tie for 29th at the Deusche Bank Championships in Boston.
One of the best stories out of the NFL is former Gator Neiron Ball making the Oakland Raiders roster as a linebacker. It wasn’t all that long ago that we were wondering if Ball would ever play football again after surgery at the base of his skull.
Former Oklahoma State basketball player Stevie Clark has sued coach Travis Ford, claiming Ford coerced him into taking mind-altering drugs. Clark also claims he was hazed and disrespected by former OSU All-American Marcus Smart.
The play of the week in college football had to be the Hail Mary pass that BYU threw to beat Nebraska in Lincoln. BYU announcer Greg Wrubell’s brings back memories of Mick Hubert’s “Doering’s got a touchdown!” call with his play call.https://soundcloud.com/img-audio/cougar-img-greg-wrubell-mitch-mathews-hail-mary-td-catch-33-28-final-9-5-15
What is the most you’ve ever paid for a ticket to see the Gators play football?
Following the suicide of his first wife, Phyllis Major, Jackson Browne wrote “Here Come Those Tears Again” with his former mother-in-law, Phyllis Farnsworth. That’s the top song on Browne’s 1976 album “The Pretender” which was released a few months after the suicide. The songwriting on this album is quite introspective and gives you a pretty good idea of the emotional gamut Browe ran through during those tough times. “The Pretender” reached #5 on the Billboard charts and is listed on many charts as one of the best albums of all time.