The blueprint for beating Vanderbilt stays the same whether the Commodores are playing in the friendly confines of Memorial Gym or on the road. It starts with defending the 3-point because if the Commodores (11-8, 3-4 SEC) aren’t knocking down the 3-ball with any consistency, 7-footers Damian Jones and Luke Kornet just can’t seem to get anything going on the inside. The proof is in the stats. In the losses to South Carolina and Kentucky that sandwiched a 3-game winning streak, the Commodores were a collective 10-39 from the 3-point line. In the wins over Auburn, Alabama and Tennessee, Vandy hit 29-62 3-pointers.
When the Florida Gators (13-6, 5-2 SEC) take the court at Memorial Gym in Nashville tonight, Mike White will be hoping to replicate the defensive effort of South Carolina and Kentucky by forcing Vandy into a bad 3-point shooting night. The Commodores have three capable shooters in point guard Wade Baldwin IV (14.5 points, 4.4 assists, 45.5% on 3-balls), Riley LaChance (9.3 points, 40.5% on 3-balls) and Matthew Fisher-Davis (8.7 points, 48.8% of his 3-pointers). When they’re on, Vandy’s offense is lethal but when opponents shut down the 3-point line the Commodores struggle. In the losses to South Carolina and Kentucky, Baldwin, LaChance and Fisher-Davis were a combined 5-17. If Florida can force a 5-17 night from those three, the Gators have a great chance to win.
The Gators understand fully what a good shooting night from deep can do for you. The Gators come into tonight’s game with a 3-game winning streak in which they’ve hit 29-60 of their 3-pointers and that has opened things up on the inside for 6-11 John Egbunu (12.9 points, 8.3 rebounds the last three games) and inside-outside threat Dorian Finney-Smith (20.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 7-12 on 3-pointers). Finney-Smith was named SEC Player of the Week after scoring 44 points and grabbing 21 rebounds in wins over Mississippi State and Auburn last week.
TOP 10 ATHLETIC DEPARTMENTS GIVING BACK TO ACADEMICS
($$ figure represents 2011-14)
1. Texas $37,147,027
2. Ohio State $36,282,811
3. Alabama $25,420,003
4. FLORIDA $25,242.435
5. LSU $19,036,652
6. Oklahoma $11,113,675
7. Nebraska $9,717,242
8. Kentucky $8,152,294
9. Michigan $7,237,731
10. Purdue $4,112,608
FSU SETTLES FOR $950,000 WITH WINSTON ACCUSER
FSU has settled a Title IX lawsuit with Jameis Winston accuser Erica Kinsman for $950,000. Kinsman brought the suit against FSU claiming indifference in the way it handled her accusation that she was sexually assaulted by Winston. FSU claims it’s cheaper to settle than incur the costs it would occur in a trial but no matter how this is spun, most people will view it as an admission of guilt. As for Winston, he goes to trial in Orlando in April in a civil suit brought on by Kinsman and her attorneys. I would almost bet the farm that Winston’s attorneys are already making overtures for a 7-figure settlement to avoid a trial.
2016 SEC OFFENSIVE LINE UPDATES
Starters lost (2): C Ryan Kelly; RT Dominick Jackson
Backups lost (1): LG Isaac Luatua
Starters returning (3): LT Cam Robinson (6-6, 326, JR); LG Ross Pierschbacher (6-4, 298, RSO); RG Alphonse Taylor (6-5, 325, SR)
Backups returning (10): LT Korren Kirvin (6-4, 300 SR); LG Dallas Warmack (6-2, 297, SO); C J.C. Hassenauer (6-2, 295, JR); RG Bradley Bozeman (6-5, 320, RJR); RT Brandon Grene (6-5, 300, RSR); LT Lester Cotton (6-4, 315, RFR); RG Richie Petitbon (6-4, 315, RFR); RT Matt Womack (6-7, 315, RFR); C Brandon Kennedy (6-3, 290, RFR); C Josh Casher (6-1, 294, RFR)
Assessment: Three starters and five experienced backups return. The 2015 recruiting class was redshirted. Robinson and Taylor will make All-America and Bama won’t miss a beat.
Starters lost (3): LT Denver Kirkland; LG Sebastian Tretola; C Mitch Smothers
Backups lost (1): RG Marcus Danenhauer
Starters returning (2): RG Frank Ragnow (6-5, 312, JR); RT Dan Skipper (6-10, 331, SR)
Backups returning (9): LT Johnny Gibson (6-4, 330, RSO); LG Josh Allen (6-2, 300, SO); C Zach Rogers (6-1, 310, SO); RT Brian Wallace (6-6, 317, RSO); LT Colton Jackson (6-6, 303, SO); RG Reeve Koeler (6-3, 331, RSO); LG Jalen Merrick (6-4, 339, RFR); RT Klint Harvey (6-6, 344, RFR); C Jackson Hannah (6-2, 293, RSO)
Assessment: Three starters are gone but that’s not the big loss. OL coach Sam Pittman bolted to Georgia and he’s one of the best in the country. RT Dan Skipper will make a lot of preseason All-America teams.
Starters lost (2): LT Shon Coleman; RT Avery Young
Backups lost: LG/C Devonte Danzey
Starters returning (3): LG Alex Kozan (6-4, 300, SR); C Austin Golson (6-5, 304, JR); RG Braden Smith (6-6, 286, JR)
Backups returning (11): LT Robert Leff (6-6, 288, SR); RG Will Adams (6-7, 303, SR); RT Mike Horton (6-4, 312, RFR); G Jordan Diamond (6-4, 304, RSR); G Tyler Carr (6-5, 313; RFR); G Marquel Harrell (6-3, 325, RFR); RT Darius James (6-4, 332, RSO); G Kaleb Kim (6-4, 284, RFR); C Ryan Meneely (6-1, 310, RFR); G Deon Mix (6-4, 301, RJR); LT Bailey Sharp (6-5, 293, RFR)
Assessment: The Tigers will be strong up the middle but there will be inexperience on the edge as both tackles have to be replaced. C Austin Golson is one of the best centers in the SEC.
Starters lost (2): LG Trip Thurman; RT Mason Halter
Backups lost: None
Starters returning (3): LT David Sharpe (6-6, 355, JR); LG Martez Ivey (6-5, 302, SO); C Cameron Dillard (6-4, 308, RJR)
Backups returning (10): LG Tavaris Dorsey (6-2, 318, RSO); RG/C Tyler Jordan (6-4, 292, SO); RT Fred Johnson (6-6, 305, SO); RG Antonio Riles (6-4, 322, RJR); LT Kavaris Harkless (6-5, 300, RSO); C/G T.J. McCoy (6-1, 302, RFR); G Nick Buchanan (6-2, 285, RFR); G Brandon Sandifer (6-3, 357, RFR); G/T Richerd Desir-Jones (6-4, 290, RFR); LT Andrew Mike (6-6, 302, RSO)
Assessment: There is no lack of experience and that should turn the weakest position unit on the team from last year into a team strength in 2016. Martez Ivey probably will shift out to LT and David Sharpe will move inside to LG. Tyler Jordan will likely stay at RG rather than move to C.
Starters lost (3): LG Kolton Houston; C Hunter Long; RT John Theus
Backups lost: None
Starters returning (2): LT Isaiah Wynn (6-3, 280); RG Brandon Kublanow (6-3, 282, SR)
Backups returning (8): LG Dyshon Sims (6-4, 293, JR); RG Greg Pyke (6-6, 313, RSR); Kendall Baker (6-6, 310, RSO); T Pat Allen (6-4, 297, RFR); G Jake Edwards (6-4, 284, RSO); G Lamont Gaillard (6-2, 298, RSO); T Sage Hardin (6-6, 281, RFR); G Billy Seward (6-3, 270, RJR)
Assessment: Three starters are gone but there is a lot of experience. Brandon Kublanow probably slides to center and a healthy Greg Pyke will take over at LG. The concerns are at tackle. Kirby Smart made a home run hire when he poached Sam Pittman from Arkansas to coach the OL.
Starters lost (1): LT Jordan Swindle
Backups lost (1): LG Zach West
Starters returning (4): LG Nick Haynes (6-3, 308, RJR); C Jon Toth (6-5, 310, RJR); RG Ramsey Meyers (6-4, 320, RJR); RT Kyle Meadows (6-5, 298, RJR)
Backups returning (9): LT Cole Mosier (6-6, 335, RJR); C Zach Myers (6-3, 300, JR); RT George Asafo-Adjei (6-5, 325, SO); G David Baumer (6-5, 307, RFR); C Dylan Greenberg (6-2, 308, JR); T Jarrett LaRubbio (6-6, 297, RSO); C Jervontius Stallings (6-3, 335, RSO); T Logan Sternberg (6-6, 330, RFR); T Calvin Taylor (6-9, 295 RFR)
Assessment: Four starters return along with sophomore George Asafo-Adjei, who the UK coaches think has star potential. C Jon Toth will contend for All-SEC honors. There is experience, size and depth behind the starters so the UK offense should be improved.
Starters lost (2): LT Jerald Hawkins; RT Vadal Alexander
Backups lost: None
Starters returning (3): LG Maea Teuhema (6-5, 327, SO); C Ethan Pocic (6-7, 309, SR); RG William Clapp (6-5, 303, SR)
Backups returning (10): LT K.J. Malone (6-4, 298, JR); C Andy Dodd (6-4, 319, JR); RG/T Toby Weathersby (6-5, 292, SO); RG Josh Boutte (6-5, 342, SR); RG Garrett Brumfield (6-3, 294, RSO); RT George Brown (6-7, 283, SO); LT Jevonte Domond (6-5, 298, SR); T Chidi Okeke (6-6, 311, RFR); Adrian Magee (6-4, 324, RFR); T Justin Mikush (6-4, 348, RFR)
Assessment: Nobody in the SEC is as strong up the middle as LSU. C Ethan Pocic should be a finalist for the Rimington Trophy. The tackles will be young but there is no shortage of size, talent or depth.
Starters lost (2): LT Rufus Warren; LG Justin Malone
Backups lost (1): RG Damien Robinson
Starters returning (3): C Jamaal Clayborn (6-4, 315, SR); RG Devon Desper (6-4, 305, SR); RT Justin Senior (6-5, 295, RSR)
Backups returning (10): LT Elgton Jenkins (6-4, 304, RSO); LG Deion Calhoun (6-3, 303, RSO); C Jocquell Johnson (6-4, 300, RSR); RT Cole Carter (6-6, 299, RSR); T Martinas Rankin (6-5, 302, RJR); G Ronald Cochran (6-4, 308, RSO); T Harrison Moon (6-4, 285, RFR); T Jake Thomas (6-5, 320, RJR); C Darryl Williams (6-2, 305, RFR); Michael Story (6-4, 305, RFR); Mike Fairchild (6-5, 295, RSO);
Assessment: Dan Mullen will have to replace the left side of his OL but he’s got experience and the best depth he’s had in years. This won’t be a great OL but it will be very, very good.
Starters lost (4): LT Connor McGovern; C Evan Boehm; RG Mitch Hall; RT Taylor Chappell
Backups lost (1): LG Brad McNulty
Starters returning (1): LG Nate Crawford (6-5, 290, RJR)
Backups returning (10): LT Malik Cuellar (6-5, 300, SR); LG Alec Abeln (6-3, 290 RJR); C Sam Bailey (6-4, 265, RSO); RG Kevin Pendleton (6-4, 315, RSO); RT Paul Adams (6-6, 290, RSO); G Adam Roland (6-3, 315, RSO); T Tanner Owen (6-5, 280, RFR); G Al Harris (6-4, 285, RFR); T Clay Rhodes (6-5, 280, RJR); G Andy Bauer (6-3, 310, RSO)
Assessment: The bad news is four starters are gone. Of course, considering Mizzou’s OL couldn’t block anyone last year, this could be addition by subtraction. This has the making of a disaster.
Starters lost (4): LT Laremy Tunsil, LG Aaron Morris, C Ben Still, RT Fahn Cooper
Backups lost (1): C Justin Bell
Starters returning (1): RG Jordan Sims (6-4, 334, RSO)
Backups returning (10): LG Javon Patterson (6-3, 307, SO); RG Rod Taylor (6-3, 320, JR); RT Sean Rawlings (6-5, 280, RSO); C Robert Conyers (6-5, 290, RSR); G Jordan Sims (6-4, 334, RSO); T/TE/FB Jeremy Liggins (6-3, 302, SR); T Daronte Bouldin (6-5, 327, RJR); T Tyler Putnam (6-4, 300, RSO); T Talbot Buys (6-8, 310, RSR); T Alex Givens (6-6, 293, RFR)
Assessment: Even though Hugh Freeze loses four starters, he C Robert Conyers from a medical redshirt and guards Javon Patterson and Rod Taylor, who were in and out of the starting lineup. If the Rebels can find a couple of serviceable tackles the offense won’t skip many beats.
Starters lost (3): LT Brandon Shell; LG Mike Matulis; RG Will Sport
Backups lost: None
Starters returning (2): C Alan Knott (6-4, 270, RJR); RT Blake Camper (6-7, 293, SO)
Backups returning (8): LT Christian Pellage (6-7, 300, SO); LG D.J. Park (6-4, 323, RJR); C Zack Bailey (6-6, 326, SO); RG Donnell Stanley (6-3, 326, RSO); T Mason Zandi (6-8, 303, RSO); Malik Young (6-4, 298; RSO); Cory Helms (6-4, 303, RJR); G Trey Derouen (6-3, 310)
Assessment: This was not a good unit last year but a lot of young guys got playing time. A new offensive system that emphasizes unloading the ball in a hurry should help. If Mason Zandi is healthy again that will help.
Starters lost (1): LT Kyler Kerbyson
Backups lost (1): C/LG Mack Crowder
Starters returning (4): LG Jashon Robertson (6-3, 315, JR); C Thomas Coleman (6-5, 301, JR); RG Dylan Wiesman (6-4, 304, SR); RT Chance Hall (6-4, 318, SO)
Backups returning (8): RG Jack Jones (6-4, 307, SO); RT Brett Kendrick (6-6, 318, RJR); LT Dontavius Blair (6-7, 294, RSR); C Ray Raulerson (6-4, 287, RSO); G Aaron Adams (6-4, 290, RJR); T Austin Sanders (6-5, 318, RJR); T Clay Keaton (6-6, 297, RFR); Charles Mosley (6-5, 345 RSO)
Assessment: The Vols were one of the most effective running teams in the country last year and four starters return on the OL including RG Dylan Wiesman, who is one of the best in the SEC. This should be one of the strongest OL units in the country.
Starters lost (3): C Mike Matthews; RG Joseph Cheek; RT Germain Ifedi
Backups lost: None
Starters returning (2): LT Avery Gennesy (6-5, 305, RSR); LG Keaton Sutherland (6-5, 310, SO)
Backups returning (9): LT/RT Koda Martin (6-6, 300, RSO); LG Jermaine Eluemunor (6-4, 315, RSR); RG Connor Lanfear (6-6, 315, SO); RT Ryan Lindblade (6-7, 308, SR); T Trevor Elbert (6-6, 320, RFR); T J.J. Gustafson (6-5, 285, RSO); G Jeremiah Stuckey (6-4, 305, RSR); C Erik McCoy (6-4, 311, RFR); T Braden Meador (6-6, 320; RSR)
Assessment: Three starters are gone from an OL that fell apart in the last half of the season. Finding replacements for the right side and a new center isn’t going to be easy, plus the entire OL is going to be learning a new offense from coordinator Noel Mazzone.
Starters lost (3): LT Will Holden; LG Jake Bernstein; C Spencer Pulley
Backups lost: None
Starters returning (2): RG Barrett Gouger (6-4, 308, RSR); RT Bailey Granier (6-6, 315, RSO);
Backups returning (9): LG/RG Delando Crooks (6-5, 315, RJR); C Cole Hardin (6-4, 300, RSO); RT Blake Fromang (6-7, 305, RJR); LT Andrew Jelks (6-6, 307, RSR); G Bruno Reagan (6-3, 315, RSO); Egidio DellaRipa (6-4, 300, RJR); C/G Ean Pfeifer (6-4, 285, RFR); T Justin Skule (6-7, 305, RFR); G/T Jared Southers (6-4, 315, RFR)
Assessment: The Commodores get Andrew Jelks back after missing all of 2015 so that’s a plus. Run blocking should again be a strength but pass blocking was horrendous last year and has to improve.
In what would seem a step in the wrong direction, Tony Franklin left his job as offensive coordinator at California to become the OC at Middle Tennessee State. Franklin spent three years working for Sonny Dykes at Cal.
Southern Miss head coach Todd Monken left to become offensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Bucs. Southern Miss hopes to have a head coach in place by the weekend. Last year Monken made $700,000 and his assistant coaches combined to make $1,055,000, which ranked Southern Miss 87th nationally in coaching staff salaries.
Bill Belichick didn’t have to see the film of the New England Patriots’ loss to Denver Sunday to know what changes have to be made. After the beating Tom Brady took, Belichick fired OL coach Dave DeGugliemo. Brady was sacked four times and hit 20 times by the Bronco defense.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Forget optimism for a minute and take a realistic look at Florida’s offensive line prospects for 2016. Do you think the Gators have sufficient talent for the offense to at improve to at least middle of the SEC pack?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Today is the birthday of Andy Cox. He was the guitarist for Fine Young Cannibals, a band that I thought had great potential when they hit #1 with their single “She Drives Me Crazy” and #1 on the album charts with “The Raw and the Crooked” in the mid-1980s.