Franz Beard's Thoughts of the Day; Sept. 9

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

If you use predictability as your measuring stick, then Florida’s offense the last four years has been Ground Hog Day. In other words, it’s been the same thing over and over again. There were three offensive coordinators (Charlie Weis, Brent Pease and Kurt Roper), each who came to UF with a reputation for innovation and the promise of a pro style offense that would incorporate a tough ground game to open things up for an over the top vertical passing game. We saw a lot of the ground game but very little of the vertical passing game.

If Florida’s 61-13 season opening win over New Mexico State is a barometer for things to come, then predictability has been thrown out the window. The Gators ran 38 pass plays against New Mexico State of which there was an almost even split between bubble screen, dumpoffs and drag/underneath routes where the ball traveled less than 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage and medium to deep routes. The result was an average of 10.1 yards per pass attempt, far better production that any of the last four years where the top number was the 7.5 per attempt put up by the Weiss offense of 2011.

Against New Mexico State, the Gators ran clearing routes that enabled receivers to find a seam and get downfield. They ran crossing routes and used tight ends in post patterns deep down the field. It was unpredictable and it was far more sophisticated than what we grew accustomed to the last four years.

Following Tuesday’s practice, slot receiver Valdez Showers (2 catches, 24 yards against NMSU) explained the change in passing game philosophy.

“We have adjustments for everything for every coverage,” Showers said. “Last year, it was very simple, just get out there and go fast. That was basically the playbook. But this one is more complex, more pro style and everything like that.”

It’s interesting to note that 14 different Gators caught passes in game one. In 2014, only 16 Gators caught passes the entire season.

ODOME UPDATE: The UAA announced Tuesday that it’s ready to begin the renovation of the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Some of the work will be done this fall, but the bulk of the work will commence following the end of the 2015-16 basketball season. The project is estimated to cost $64.5 million. Construction will affect the 2016 volleyball season and pre-SEC games for both men’s and women’s basketball. The UF volleyball team will play home matches at Santa Fe College while both men’ and women’s basketball will play their early season games at venues around the state of Florida.

NEWS FROM AROUND THE SEC

Alabama: The Crimson Tide held Wisconsin to 40 rushing yards and 228 passing yards in game one. Nick Saban was happy with the rush defense, but felt the pass defense left much to be desired. Speaking of the secondary, Saban said, “We had three pass interference by the DBs, unnecessary penalties that were probably caused by lack of fundamental discipline and execution of technique. We didn’t give up as many explosive plays, but there’s lots of room for improvement.”

Arkansas: Bret Bielema reinstated wide receiver JoJo Robinson, tight end CJ O’Grady and punter Blake Johnson to the team. All three were suspended for the Razorbacks’ first game against UTEP … The Hogs should be very well prepared for Saturday’s game against Toledo. Offensive coordinator Dan Enos formerly coached at Central Michigan, which is in the West Division of the Mid-American Conference along with Toledo. In Enos’ five years as the CMU head coach he never beat Toledo.

Auburn: Gus Malzahn says those three interceptions heaved up by quarterback Jeremy Johnson against Louisville were a case of being “a little greedy.” Johnson explained, “I was trying to take the big plays too early in the game, trying to take the big shot, trying to make the big play too early in the game instead of hitting my check downs.”

Georgia: Brice Ramsey admits he wasn’t exactly the happiest camper when he learned he lost the starting QB job to Greyson Lambert last week. “I kind of lost focus later in the week,” Ramsey said. Lambert has another year of eligibility and the Bulldogs are bringing in stud freshman Jacob Eason next year. Ramsey has the sound of a potential transfer.

Kentucky: Offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson says quarterback Patrick Towles played very well most of the time. Dawson said, “I think he [Towles] had about four or five bad plays in the game, really, that stuck out, but the bad part about those four or five is they probably were touchdowns, so they really stuck out.”

LSU: The cost for LSU’s cancellation of the game with McNeese State: Somewhere between $1.2 and $3.2 million … Les Miles says the key for LSU winning in Starkville Saturday night is tackling quarterback Dak Prescott. “He’s as good a college quarterback as there is,” Miles said Tuesday. “I think the key piece to what we’re going to try to do this week is prepare tackling. If we do that I think it will make a difference.”

Mississippi State: Dan Mullen on how Mississippi State hopes to contain LSU running back Leonard Fournette: “Don’t assume that the first guy is going to make the tackle. You want to try to contain him as much as possible and not let him get into the wide open field where he is so dangerous because of his size and speed.”

Missouri: Although center Evan Boehm and running back Russell Hansbrough had boots on their ankles Monday, both expected to practice Tuesday and play Saturday when the Tigers visit Arkansas State … Wide receiver Wesley Leftwich and safety Cortland Browning, who missed the opener with injuries, returned to practice and will play Saturday.

Ole Miss: With so much uncertainty regarding Laremy Tunsil and the NCAA investigation, Ole Miss will be giving the bulk of the left tackle work to sophomore Christian Morris (6-6, 335). Now that he’s been cleared to return to practice, guard Rod Taylor (6-3, 320) will get practice reps at both tackle positions to provide depth.

South Carolina: Defensive back Jamari Smith has been moved to wide receiver, where the injury bug has caused depth issues … Clayton Stadnik has been moved to center since backup Cody Waldrop suffered a broken ankle in practice.

Tennessee: Freshman defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie and sophomore corner Justin Martin are expected to be available for Saturday’s game with Oklahoma … Senior safety LaDarrell McNeill is back on the practice field although in a green non-contact jersey. At this point no decision has been made about when he will be available to play.

Texas A&M: Kevin Sumlin dismisses the idea that he’s got a quarterback controversy on his hands between starter Kyle Allen and true freshman Kyler Murray after Murray’s nice showing (4-9 passing for 49 yards; 69 yards rushing) against Arizona State. “They’re two different types of guys,” Sumlin said. “They’re both capable. One guy is more experienced and was very, very level-headed going back into the game and closing out the game in the fourth quarter. So we’ll have a plan going forward but as far as controversy, we don’t have it.”

Vanderbilt: Vandy offensive tackle Jake Bernstein actually said this Tuesday: “Personally I would rather have Ralph Webb than Nick Chubb any day. He's Vanderbilt's running back and he's going to get it done.” Perhaps this explains why Vandy’s offense is continually inept. Ralph Webb is a good kid who plays hard. Nick Chubb he isn’t.

THE POLLS ARE OUT

The top ten (Associated Press poll) includes 10 teams from the SEC, which is a record.

The top ten:
1. Ohio State
2. Alabama
3. TCU
4. Baylor
5. Michigan State
6. Auburn
7. Oregon
8. Southern Cal
9. Notre Dame
10. Georgia

The rest of the top 25: (11) Florida State; (12) Clemson; (13) UCLA; (14) LSU; (15) Georgia Tech; (16) Texas A&M; (17) Ole Miss; (18) Arkansas; (19) Oklahoma; (20) Boise State; (21) Missouri; (22) Arizona; (23) Tennessee; (24) Utah; (25) Mississippi State

Conference representation: SEC (10); Pac-12 (5); Big 12 (3); ACC (3); Big Ten (2); Mountain West (1); Independent (1)

IF I HAD A VOTE

My Top Ten would be: 1. Ohio State
2. Alabama
3. Baylor
4. Southern Cal
5. Notre Dame
6. Texas A&M
7. Oregon
8. Auburn
9. TCU
10. Michigan State

The rest of my top 25: (11) Georgia; (12) Florida State; (13) Arkansas; (14) Ole Miss; (15) Georgia Tech; (16) Clemson; (17) LSU; (18) Oklahoma; (19) Boise State; (20) Missouri; (21) Arizona; (22) Wisconsin; (23) Northwestern; (24) BYU; (25) Mississippi State

AN ALL-TOO EARLY FINAL FOUR PREDICTION

1. Ohio State: Nobody has a softer schedule. The Buckeyes don’t play another tough game until Michigan State, but it wouldn’t matter. Even if the schedule were tougher the only team capable of beating Ohio State is Ohio State.

2. Alabama: We got duped into thinking there was a quarterback controversy. There isn’t. Jacob Coker is the man and Bama can beat everybody in the country except Ohio State.

3. Southern Cal: The Pac-12 isn’t what it was cracked up to be in the preseason hype. The Trojans biggest test will be Notre Dame on the road.

4. Baylor: The Bears went scoreless and had one offensive yard in the second quarter against SMU. They scored 56 points and gained 721 yards in the other three quarters and really didn’t play all that well.

If it were an 8-team playoff my all-too-early next four would be:

5. Notre Dame: There is at least one loss on a schedule that includes Georgia Tech, Clemson, Southern Cal and a Temple team that is going to shock people.

6. Texas A&M: The Aggies won’t win their division but now that they have a defense they would absolutely kill Georgia, which is what Alabama will do in the SEC Championship Game – if Georgia gets that far.

7. Georgia Tech: I like the Yellow Jackets to win the ACC. I also think the ACC isn’t good enough this year to merit a Final Four team unless one of them runs the table.

8. Oklahoma: Between Baylor and TCU, the Sooners will probably lose a game. But, they could also win those two games and make the Final Four.

WAS DEFLATEGATE GOODELL’S WAY OF REVENGE AGAINST THE PATS?

Although Roger Goodell denied on the Mike and Mike Radio show that there is any correlation between Deflate-Gate and Spygate, an Outside the Lines article that will appear in the September 28 edition of ESPN The Magazine makes it seem as if Deflate-Gate was nothing more than Goodell’s revenge against the Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots for far more extensive cheating than originally thought when the Spygate story broke in April of 2008. The ESPN story alleges that the Patriots videotaped the signals of opposing coaches in 40 games from 2000-07. One NFL owner calls Deflate-Gate Goodell’s “make up call” for the alleged extensive cheating campaign conducted by Belichick and the Patriots.

On Mike and Mike, Goodell said, “I am not aware of any connection between the Spygate procedures and these procedures (Deflate-Gate and subsequent court rulings that overturned Goodell’s 4-game suspension of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady). There is no connection in my mind between these two incidents.”

Perhaps there is no connection as in the two incidents are separate from each other, but is the harsh suspension for Brady Goodell’s way of getting even?

RANDOM THOUGHTS

Penn State’s captains dug a hold and buried the game tapes of the Nittany Lions’ 27-10 loss to Temple. Perhaps they should dig a hole and bury their offensive line, which gave up 10 sacks.

Ohio State scored 42 points, ran for 360 yards and threw for 216 more against Virginia Tech and that was without three key offensive players who were suspended. Looking at that softer than the Charmin schedule moving forward it’s hard to imagine the Buckeyes going through the season averaging fewer than 60 points and 600 yards a game.

To wake up an anemic offense at Texas, Charlie Strong has demoted offensive coordinator Shawn Watson and Joe Wickline and promoted wide receivers coach Jay Norvell to offensive coordinator. Watson will coach only quarterbacks and Wickline will only coach the offensive line. Texas scored only three points and gained 163 total yards against Notre Dame.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Although it’s September and we’re only one game into the season, what is your prediction for the four teams that will participate in year two of the College Football Playoff?

MUSIC FOR TODAY

Even though you probably won’t find Traffic’s 1971 album “The Low Spark of the High Heeled Boys” on any of your best of all time lists, a lot of rock and roll purists think this collaboration of musicians led by Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi is one of the most under-appreciated albums of all time. The cover song of the album is jazz fusion and progressive rock that has gotten widespread critical acclaim. The song was supposed to be part of music for a movie that never was filmed and has been covered by Gov’t Mule and Widespread Panic among others.


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