THESE TRUTHS WE HOLD TO BE SELF-EVIDENT
1. There are at least 5-6 SEC teams with more talent than the Florida Gators. There are exactly ZERO better-coached teams in the SEC than the Florida Gators and that includes Alabama.
2. One of the things you have to like about Jim McElwain and coordinators Doug Nussmeier and Geoff Collins is that while they might make adjustments as they go, they don’t panic and abandon the game plan. When Treon Harris threw nine straight incompletions – and let’s face it, a good many of them were ugly – Mac and Nuss didn’t abandon the passing game or the game plan. Collins was the master of the adjustment. With the exception of that one drive that ended with the pick in the end zone by Keanu Neal, Collins was always one step ahead of his counterparts on the opposite sideline.
3. At what point do we start making the inevitable comparison between Antonio Callaway as a true freshman and Percy Harvin? Percy had a great freshman year, but the Gators certainly had more weapons on that 2006 national championship team than this 2015 edition, which makes what Callaway is doing more impressive. Callaway has speed, moves and hands, but what’s most impressive about him are the instincts. He has that sixth sense that guides his feet to open space. He doesn’t have to think; his feet just take him there.
4. Isn’t it time Gator Nation gave up the love to strength and conditioning coach Mike Kent? The Gators are better conditioned than they’ve been since Mickey Marotti was in charge and they haven’t had the rash of injuries we came to expect under Jeff Dillman.
5. Kelvin Taylor is a man. Everybody in the ball yard knows he’s going to get the ball and on most of his runs he absorbs at least 2-3 hits, but he gets up, goes back to the huddle and is ready to run the ball again into the teeth of the defense. As the season has progressed, he has gotten better and he will be even more effective moving forward now that Jordan Scarlett is able to give the Gators a few carries.
6. Whenever Jonathan Bullard signs his NFL contract next spring he should immediately write a nice check to whoever it was that convinced him to come back and play another year of college football. He’s gone from a second to third round guy to a late first-early second.
7. For all his limitations, one thing you have to admit about Treon Harris is that he has the instincts of a winner. He can throw nine straight incompletions as he did Saturday against Georgia and still have the presence of mind to look downfield and the confidence to go ahead and make the throw like the one he made for a TD to Antonio Callaway. A quarterback with a head filled with doubt would have tucked the ball and tried to squeeze out a 4-yard gain. Treon might not have a rocket arm or pinpoint accuracy, but he hangs in there and makes plays when the Gators have to have them.
8. We have this tendency to look too much into total yards when we’re assessing a good offense. Take the Georgia game, for instance. Florida’s ability to get 1-2 first downs on nearly every possession allowed Johnny Townsend to flip the field when he punted. Then the UF defense did its thing and when the Gators got the ball back, they were typically working with a short field. A trademark of a good offense is one that works in cohesion with the defense and special teams. It’s not always spectacular, but it works.
COUNTDOWN TO FIRING DAY UPDATE
Frank Beamer has decided to retire when the 2015 season concludes. He’s been at Virginia Tech 29 years, during which time he made the Hokies one of college football’s most consistent programs. The Hokies are 4-5 this season. Beamer is 234-120-2 at VaTech and 276-143-4 for his coaching career.
Hawaii fired Norm Chow after Saturday night’s 58-7 loss to Air Force in Honolulu. Chow was 2-7 this season and 10-36 overall.
ACC SUSPENDS ENTIRE OFFICIATING CREW OF DUKE-MIAMI
In its infinite wisdom, the Atlantic Coast Conference has suspended the entire officiating crew – and that includes the folks in the replay booth – for two games following the debacle at the end of the Duke-Miami game. Citing numerous errors by the officiating crew, the ACC said that if the zebras had made the right calls, there would have been no touchdown after that 8-lateral fiasco and that Duke would have won the game.
What is puzzling is that the folks in the replay booth looked at it for nine full minutes and didn’t see anything that would allow them to overturn the call of a touchdown. Clearly, Mark Walton was down before releasing the football on one of the lateral. How could they not see that? Additionally, there was also an illegal block and a Miami player left the bench and ran on the field while the play was still in progress.
The ACC is right to suspend the zebras involved, but it offers little consolation to Duke, which suffered a loss in a game that it should have legitimately won.
WEEK 9: SEC POWER RANKINGS (With AP rankings)
1. # 4 LSU (7-0, 4-0 SEC): Nobody in college football has a tougher November than LSU starting Saturday at Alabama. That’s followed by Arkansas, at Ole Miss and Texas A&M. If LSU runs that table they still will have to beat Florida in a rematch in the SEC Championship Game.
2. #7 ALABAMA (7-1, 4-1 SEC): Saturday is do or die for the Crimson Tide. Lose and they’re looking at the Peach Bowl. Win and they still need someone to knock off Ole Miss to make it to Atlanta.
3. #11 FLORIDA (7-1, 5-1 SEC): Florida’s magic number to clinch the SEC East and a trip to Atlanta is one as in a Florida win over Vanderbilt this weekend or a Vanderbilt loss in any one of its four remaining SEC games.
4. #24 MISSISSIPPI STATE (6-2, 2-2 SEC): Other than Florida, Mississippi State is the SEC’s biggest surprise team. Picked last by everyone in the West, the Bulldogs could finish 9-3 or 10-2.
5. #19 OLE MISS (7-2, 4-1 SEC): At some point, Chad Kelly’s penchant for heaving the ball into double coverage is going to cost the Rebels another game. When he’s remembering to throw the ball to the open receiver wearing the same color shirt he’s wearing, he’s really good. When he goes brain dead he’s really bad.
6. #25 TEXAS A&M (6-2, 3-2 SEC): It only took Kyler Murray one start to quash the quarterback controversy for at least one week. Against South Carolina Murray threw for 223 yards and 1 TD and ran the ball 20 times for 156 and 1 more TD. Now, if Murray can continue to put up big numbers in the last month of the season then Kyle Allen will be looking for someplace to transfer. If this sounds familiar, it is. Last year, Kenny Hill lost his starting job to Allen at the end of October. He transferred to SMU.
7. TENNESSEE (4-4, 2-3 SEC): I can hear it now – Tennessee fans are going to be whining that if only they had played Oklahoma and Florida in November the Vols would be great and would probably make the final four this year.
8. GEORGIA (5-3, 3-3 SEC): It makes absolutely no sense that Georgia put in its best running QB (Faton Bauta) and then didn’t let him run the football. Heading into the Florida game Georgia knew it had no inside running game with Sony Michel or Keith Marshall so going spread with a running QB seemed to be the answer but did Georgia do it? No. And that is just one of many reasons why Georgia fans are already on hold with the talk shows just waiting for their chance to blast Mark Richt and demand a new HBC in Athens. Right now an 8-4 or 9-3 finish might require a small miracle.
9. ARKANSAS (4-4, 2-2 SEC): Okay, the Hogs scored 63 points on a D1AA team. Big deal. They won’t be favored to win another game until the final weekend of the regular season when they face hapless Missouri.
10. AUBURN (4-4, 1-4 SEC): Auburn’s defense has actually improved. The same cannot be said about the offense, which is why the only game the Tigers will be favored in during the month of November is Idaho. Without a running quarterback who makes snap decisions, the Gus Malzahn offense slows to a creep against even average defenses.
11. KENTUCKY (4-4, 2-4 SEC): Is it my imagination or is Kentucky going in the tank once again? Last year, the Mildcats just couldn’t handle their own success and went in a tailspin just when they had a chance to get bowl eligible. Consecutive blowout losses to Mississippi State and Tennessee make it seem like old times in Lexington.
12. SOUTH CAROLINA (3-5, 1-5 SEC): The Gamecocks are paying a steep price for not going after a top notch defensive coordinator when Ellis Johnson left after the 2011 season. Now that they’re starting to figure things out on offense, the defense still doesn’t have a clue, which is why South Carolina will have a 1-3 November.
13. VANDERBILT (3-5, 1-3 SEC): One step forward, two steps backward. That’s Vandy’s M.O. this season. The Houston game might have been two or three steps backward. Next week, the Dores go to The Swamp. If they thought Houston’s defense was a bunch of ball hawks, just wait until they get a load of the Florida defense.
14. MISSOURI (4-4, 1-4 SEC): Just a few days after he was reinstated, Missouri announced that QB Maty Mauk has been suspended for the remainder of the season. That’s bad news for Mizzou’s horrendous offense. Figure Mauk will transfer to a D1AA school at the end of the semester.
WEEK 9: AP TOP 25 POLL
1. Ohio State (8-0)
2. Baylor (7-0)
3. Clemson (8-0)
4. LSU (7-0)
5. TCU (8-0)
6. Michigan State (8-0)
7. Alabama (7-1)
8. Notre Dame (7-1)
9. Stanford (7-1)
10. Iowa (8-0)
The rest of the top 25: (11) FLORIDA (7-1); (12) Oklahoma State (8-0); (13) Utah (7-1); (14) Oklahoma (7-1); (15) Memphis (8-0); (16) Michigan (6-2); (17) Florida State (7-1); (18) Houston (8-0); (19) Ole Miss (6-2); (20) Toledo (7-0); (21) North Carolina (7-1); (22) UCLA (6-2); (23) Temple (7-1); (24) Mississippi State (6-2); (25) Texas A&M (6-2)
If I had a vote:
1. Ohio State (8-0)
2. LSU (7-0)
3. Baylor (7-0)
4. Alabama (7-1)
5. Clemson (8-0)
6. TCU (8-0)
7. FLORIDA (7-1)
8. Michigan State (8-0)
9. Notre Dame (7-1)
10. Oklahoma State (8-0)
The rest of my Top 25 would be: (11) Iowa (8-0); (12) Oklahoma (7-1); (13) Memphis (8-0); (14) Houston (8-0); (15) Ole Miss (7-2); (16) Stanford (7-1); (18) Michigan (6-2); (19) Florida State (7-1); (20) Toledo (7-0); (21) Mississippi State (6-2); (22) Utah (7-1); (23) North Carolina (7-1); (24) Temple (7-1); (25) Texas A&M (6-2)
RANKING THE CONFERENCES
1. SEC: LSU, Alabama and Florida belong in the top ten nationally. Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Texas A&M are top 25. There isn’t another league in the country that can match the SEC top to bottom.
2. Big 12: There will be at least one less undefeated team in the league after Saturday when TCU travels to Oklahoma State. Baylor remains unbeaten but probably won’t be challenged this week with K-State. Oklahoma can control its own destiny by beating Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State to finish out the season. The rest of the league is pretty bad.
3. Big Ten: Okay, so J.T. Barrett has been suspended a game. It’s not like Urban Meyer has to go with some scrubeenie who will pee in his pants the first time he has to play in a big game. Michigan State is unbeaten and Michigan and Iowa are very good but none of those three is a great team. The reality is the Big Ten is Ohio State, three decent teams and 10 dwarfs.
4. ACC: The ACC moves up a notch because it has three teams -- Clemson, Florida State and North Carolina – that are better than the best of the Pac-12: Stanford and Utah. The rest of the ACC isn’t all that good, but then again, the Pac-12 isn’t very good once you get past the top tier either.
5. Pac-12: After staying up late to watch Stanford-Washington State, I’m convinced there isn’t a team in the Pac-12 that could finish an SEC West schedule with a winning record and maybe only two who could finish top 3-4 in the SEC East. Even the ACC is better than this league and that tells you something.
ALL TOO EARLY HEISMAN RADAR
1. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Bye week. Season totals 1,352 rushing yards (7.68 per carry), 15 TDs
2. Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU
Boykin lit up West Virginia for 388 passing yards and 3 TDs, 84 rushing yards and 1 TD. Season totals 2,927 passing yards and 28 TDs, 524 rushing yards, 6 TDs
3. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Bye week. Season totals 1,130 rushing yards (6.77 per carry), 13 TDs; 23 catches for 160 yards.
4. Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
Bye week. Season totals 1,044 yards (5.8 per carry), 14 TDs
5. Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
In a win over Tulane, Lynch threw for 358 yards and 1 TD, ran for 43 yards. Season totals 2,709 passing yards, 18 TDs; 168 rushing yards, 2 TDs
Was it my imagination or did FSU actually look better with Sean Maguire at QB and Jacques Patrick running the ball than it does with Everett Golson and Dalvin Cook?
Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com writes, “At the moment, Mark Richt is an iPhone4 in a 6S world.”
When Frank Beamer retires, that means Bob Stoops (Oklahoma) and Kirk Ferentz (Iowa) will be the longest tenured coaches at one school in Division I. Both were hired in 1998 and are in their 16th seasons.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
In this season in which the Gators have exceeded nearly all expectations, what has impressed you the most about the way Jim McElwain goes about the business of coaching up UF?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Cleaning out some files on Sunday, I found this link to Van Halen’s “Without a Net” concert from 1986. Watching it reminded me how much this band was popular in the early to mid-1980s before David Lee Roth went solo.