Kevin Kinder \ BlueGoldNews.com

Franz Beard's Thoughts of the Day; Jan. 29

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

If you want to know what Mike White wants the Gators to look like when he gets things going at the University of Florida, then take a look at Saturday’s opponent, West Virginia in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge. The 9th-ranked Mountaineers are nicknamed “Press Virginia” because they play 90 feet of defense bell-to-bell and in playing such a helter-skelter full court style, score plenty of points (81.6) and run opponents into the ground. West Virginia is 17-3 with an average winning margin of an impressive 18.1 points per game.

This is a tremendous opportunity for White and the Gators to get that statement win that has slipped through their fingers three times already. The Gators could have and probably should have beaten Miami, Michigan State and Texas A&M. Wins in those games would have Florida in everybody’s NCAA Tournament discussion but as it stands now, this is a UF team that really needs a win over a ranked opponent.

White wants the Gators to play the same up and down style as West Virginia and he wants a full court pressure game for the full 40 minutes. The Gators don’t have the personnel to run with the Mountaineers so they’re going to have to pick and choose when they can run, collapse the defense around 6-9, 255-pound Devin Williams (13.1 points/8.2 rebounds) and hit shots, which is easier said than done. The Mountaineers allow opponents only 26.8% from the 3-point line and to win, the Gators are going to have to hit at least 33-35% from the 3-point line.

UF SOFTBALL STARTS 2016 #1

Tim Walton’s Florida softball team will start the 2016 season ranked #1 nationally and predicted by the SEC coaches to win the conference championship. Florida is going for a third straight national title. Three Gators – 2B Kelsey Stewart; CF Kirsti Merritt and C Aubrey Munroe – were selected by the SEC coaches to the preseason all-conference team. Surprising by her absence was sophomore pitcher Aleshia Ocasio, a third team All-America selection in 2015. The Gators open their 2016 season in Tampa on February 5 against Illinois State.

The Top Ten

1. FLORIDA
2. Michigan
3. LSU
4. Auburn
5. Alabama

6. Oregon
7. UCLA
8. Tennessee
9. Oklahoma
10. Florida State

The rest of the top 25: 11. Louisiana-Lafayette; 12. Georgia; 13. Arizona; 14. Minnesota; 15. Minnesota; 16. Baylor; 17. UCF; 18. Kentucky; 19. James Madison; 20. Washington; 21. California; 22. Arizona; 23. North Carolina State; 24. Notre Dame; 25. South Alabama

#1 UF GYMNASTS HOST #5 ALABAMA

For the third straight week, Florida’s gymnasts will go against a top 10 opponent when they host #5 Alabama at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Through their first four meets the Gators are averaging 197.192 and they have the top score 197.675. Bridget Sloan has won four consecutive all-around titles. This might be a good night for either Sloan, Kennedy Baker or Alex McMurtry to score a perfect 10.

RATING THE SEC RECEIVERS PRE-SPRING FOOTBALL  

1. TEXAS A&M

Starters returning: WR Christian Kirk (5-11, 200, SO, 80-1,009, 7 TD); WR Josh Reynolds (6-4, 195, SR, 51-907, 5 TD); WR Ricky Seals-Jones (6-5, 240, JR, 45-560, 4 TD)

Starters/backups lost:

Backups returning: WR Speedy Noil (5-11, 192, JR, 21-226, 2 TD); WR Damion Ratley (6-1, 190, RJR/TR, 15-200, 2 TD); WR Jeremy Tabuyo (5-11, 192, SR, 9-102, 3 TD); WR Edward Pope (6-4, 170, SR, 8-65)

Early enrollees: None

Assessment: The Aggies have exceptional receivers but getting the ball in their hands is a real problem since their top two QBs transferred out and they’re breaking in Oklahoma retread Trevor Knight. Kirk, Reynolds, Seals-Jones and Noil are as good as any four receivers on any team in the SEC.

2. ALABAMA

Starters returning: WR Calvin Ridley (6-1, 188, SO; 89-1,045, 7 TD); WR ArDarius Stewart (6-1, 204, JR, 63-700, 4 TD); TE O.J. Howard (6-6, 242, SR, 38-602, 2 TD)

Starters/backups lost: WR Richard Mullaney (38-390, 5 TD); WR Chris Black (2-23; Transfer)

Backups returning: WR Robert Foster (6-2, 194, JR, 10-116, 2 TD); TE Ty Flournoy-Smith (6-3, 247, SR, 3-48); Cam Sims (6-5, 209, JR, 6-46); WR Daylon Charlot (6-0, 195, SO, 2-9); TE Dakota Ball (6-3, 254, SR, 1-8); TE Hale Hentges (6-5, 235, SO, 1-5); Derek Kief (6-4, 198, RSO); Armany Purioye (6-0, 195, JR)

Early enrollees: WR T.J. Simmons (6-2, 192); TE Miller Forristall (6-6, 210)

Assessment: Ridley, Stewart and Howard are a formidable threesome. Ridley and Howard will make a bunch of preseason All-America teams. Foster will take Mullaney’s role as the short yardage guy. There are a lot of young guys with speed ready for a chance.

3. OLE MISS

Starters returning: WR Quincy Adeboyejo (6-3, 195, SR, 38-604, 7 TD); TE Evan Engram (6-3, 227, SR, 38-464, 2 TD)

Starters/backups lost: LaQuon Treadwell (82-1,153, 11 TD); Cody Core (37-644, 4 TD)

Backups returning: WR Damore’ea Stringfellow (6-2, 220, RJR, 36-503, 5 TD); WR Markell Pack (6-2, 193, JR, 31-380, 3 TD); WR Derrick Jones (6-2, 189, SR, 6-120, 1 TD); TE Taz Zettergren (6-3, 218, SR, 4-38); WR Trey Bledsoe (6-1, 213, JR, 1-13); WR Damarkus Lodge (6-2, 190, S), 1-12)

Early enrollees: None

Assessment: Losing Treadwell and Core would be devastating anywhere else but Stringfellow has the ability to pick up the slack for Treadwell and Adeboyejo consistently beats double teams and gets deep. Pack will step in as a starter and get the ball far more often. Getting Engram back was huge. Lodge will be given every opportunity to get the ball in his hands this fall.

4. ARKANSAS

Starters returning: Drew Morgan (6-0, 195, SR, 63-843, 10); WR Dominique Reed (6-3, 180, SR, 28-535, 6 TD); WR Jared Cornelius (5-11, 202, JR, 24-393, 3 TD)

Starters/backups lost: TE Hunter Henry (51-739, 3 TD)

Backups returning: TE Jeremy Sprinkle (6-6, 255, SR, 27-389, 6 TD); Keon Hatcher (6-2, 210, RSR, 13-198, 2); Damon Mitchell (6-2, 207, JR, 6-84); WR Cody Hollister (6-4, 208, SR, 4-65); WR LaMichael Pettway (6-2, 205, RFR); Deon Stewart (5-11, 165, RFR); TE Austin Cantrell (6-4, 250, RFR)

Early enrollees: None

Assessment: Injuries forced Morgan to become a go-to guy and he responded by playing at an All-SEC level. Henry won’t be missed because Sprinkle is actually bigger, stronger and faster. Reed and Cornelius are big time receivers and getting Hatcher back from injury is huge. If the Hogs can find a QB they’ll be formidable on offense.

5. LSU

Starters returning: Malachi Dupre (6-3, 190, JR, 43-698, 6 TD); WR Travin Dural (6-2, 203, SR, 28-533, 3 TD); TE Colin Jeter (6-7, 244, SR, 12-132, 1 TD)

Starters/backups lost: WR John Diarse (Transfer; 13-137)

Backups returning: Tyron Johnson (6-1, 189, SO, 9-150, 2 TD); WR Trey Quinn (6-0, 197, JR, 5-83); TE DeSean Smith (6-5, 243, SR, 4-82); WR Derrick Dillon (5-11, 175, RFR); WR Jazz Ferguson (6-5, 205, RFR); WR Brandon Martin (6-4, 200, RFR); TE Foster Moreau (6-5, 240, RFR)
Early enrollees: WR Stephen Sullivan (6-5, 230); WR Dee Anderson (6-4, 175

Assessment: Dupre and Dural could be the most dynamic duo in the country if LSU could remember that it’s legal to throw the football when it isn’t third down and long. Tyron Johnson is a superstar in the making and there is no shortage of speed among the backups.

6. MISSISSIPPI STATE

Starters returning: WR Fred Ross (6-2, 207, SR, 88-1,007, 5 TD); WR Donald Gray (5-10, 193, RJR, 21-386, 2 TD)

Starters/backups lost: WR De’Runnya Wilson (60-918, 10 TD); TE Darrion Hutcherson (16-164, 1 TD); WR Joe Morrow (6-100, 1 TD)

Backups returning: WR Malik Dear (5-9, 220, SO, 23-226, 2 TD); WR Gabe Myles (6-0, 192, JR, 12-175, 2 TD); TE Gus Walley (6-4, 242, SR, 19-146, 1 TD)

Early enrollees: TE Dontea Jones (6-5, 250)

Assessment: The loss of Wilson would be devastating at most places, but Ross, Gray and Myles have the ability to make up for that lost production. Something will have to be done with Malik Dear. He’s a fine slot receiver but he’s also a better running back than most on the roster.

7. KENTUCKY

Starters returning: WR Garrett Johnson (5-11, 182, JR, 46-694, 2 TD); WR Dorian Baker (6-3, 208, JR, 55-608, 3 TD); WR Jeff Badet (6-0, 182, JR, 29-430, 2 TD); TE C.J. Conrad (6-5, 245, SO, 15-149, 1 TD)

Starters/backups lost:

Backups returning: WR Blake Bone (6-5, 208, JR, 20-210, 1 TD); WR Ryan Timmons (5-10, 192, SR, 12-114); WR Charles Walker (5-11, 203, JR, 5-61); WR Alexander Montgomery (6-2, 210, JR, 3-18)

Early enrollees: TE Dakota Holtzclaw (6-7, 215)

Assessment: The Wildcats don’t have great speed but they’ve got very capable receivers who can catch the football. Kentucky’s problems aren’t with the receivers but with the people who block for the QB and a QB who remembers to throw to the people who wear the same color shirt as the wide receivers. Johnson needs to get the ball more often.

8. FLORIDA

Starters returning: Antonio Callaway (5-11, 198, SO, 35-678, 4 TD); WR Brandon Powell (5-9, 184, JR, 29-390, 3 TD)

Starters/backups lost: TE Jake McGee (41-381, 4 TD); WR Demarcus Robinson (48-522, 2 TD); WR Valdez Showers (6-64) 

Backups returning: TE DeAndre Goolsby (6-4, 243, JR, 17-277, 1 TD); WR Ahmad Fulwood (6-4, 208, SR, 6-61); WR Chris Thompson (6-0, 171, SR, 5-48); TE C’yontai Lewis (6-4, 228, RSO, 4-75, 2 TD); WR C.J. Worton (4-69, 2 TD); WR Alvin Bailey (5-11, 192, RJR, 3-49); TE Moral Stephens (6-3, 240, RSO); TE Camrin Knight (6-3, 230, SO); WR Khalif Jackson, 6-4, 212, RFR); WR Ryan Sousa (6-0, 195, RSO)

Early enrollees: Freddie Swain (6-0, 177); Joshua Hammond (6-1, 179); Dre Massey (5-9, 184)

Assessment: Callaway is a superstar in the making. It’s critical for the Gators to find a receiver to balance the other side of the field. Losing McGee was tough but Lewis and Goolsby have star potential. The three early enrollees all have a chance to play early and often. Massey has the speed to stretch the field and the ability to make people miss.

9. TENNESSEE

Starters returning: WR Josh Malone (6-3, 197, JR, 31-405, 2 TD); WR Josh Smith (6-1, 216, RJR, 23-307, 2 TD); TE Ethan Wolf (6-6, 245, SR, 23-301, 2 TD)

Starters/backups lost: Von Pearson (38-409, 3 TD); TE Alex Ellis (8-117); WR Johnathan Johnson (10-116); Marquez North (6-58)

Backups returning: WR Preston Williams (6-4, 209, JR, 7-158, 2 TD); Jauan Jennings (6-3, 201, SO, 14-149)

Early enrollees: WR Jeff George (6-6, 190)

Assessment: What the Vols need is a field stretcher. They’ve got good receivers who can catch the football like Malone and Smith but they need someone fast enough to force the safeties to back off the line of scrimmage 10 yards.

10. GEORGIA

Starters returning:  WR Terry Godwin (5-11, 174, SO, 35-379, 2 TD); TE Jeb Blazevich (6-5, 248, JR, 15-144, 1 TD)

Starters/backups lost: WR Malcolm Mitchell (58-865, 5 TD); TE Jay Rome (8-88); Isaiah McKenzie (5-8, 170, JR, 10-123)

Backups returning: WR Reggie Davis (6-0, 170, SR, 12-187, 1 TD); TE Jackson Harris (6-6. 247, SO, 4-50); WR Michael Chigbu (6-2, 216, SO, 4-28); WR Jason Stanley (6-2, 204, SO, 2-23).

Early enrollees: TE Isaac Nauta (6-4, 237); Cavin Ridley (6-2, 195)

Assessment: There isn’t a lot of experience or depth here. Godwin came on strong at the end and he’ll be looked to as Mitchell’s replacement as the go-to guy. Blazevich was under-used last year as was McKenzie, who could be dynamic in the slot. Davis has stretch the field speed but drops the ball too often.

11. AUBURN

Starters returning: Jason Smith (6-1, 180, RJR, 13-203, 2 TD)

Starters/backups lost: Ricardo Louis (46-716, 3 TD); Melvin Ray (20-279, 2 TD)

Backups returning: Marcus Davis (5-9, 180, SR, 30-182, 1 TD); WR Tony Stevens (6-4, 205, SR, 14-177, 1 TD); Darius Slayton (6-2, 182, RFR); Ryan Davis (5-9, 164, RFR)

Early enrollees: TE Landon Rice (6-6, 259); WR Kyle Davis (6-3, 217)

Assessment: Auburn’s passing game was lackluster last season and the most productive receivers are gone. Someone has to step up. Smith has stretch the field ability but lacks consistency. This is a problem area that has to be resolved in the spring and in August or the Tigers are going to be in trouble.

12. MISSOURI

Starters returning: WR J’Mon Moore (6-3, 190, RJR, 29-350, 3 TD); WR Nate Brown (6-3, 205, JR, 27-326, 4 TD); TE Sean Culkin (6-6, 245, RSR, 16-139, 1 TD)

Starters/backups lost: WR Wesley Leftwich (22-285, 1 TD)

Backups returning: TE Jason Reese (6-5, 250, RJR, 15-126); WR Keyon Delosa (6-3, 200, RJR, 11-86); WR Emanuel Hall (6-3, 200, SO, 8-64)

Early enrollees: None

Assessment: As a whole this group under-achieved last year but a large part of that was the play at QB and an O-line that was horrible in pass protection. Sean Culkin has the ability to be one of the better tight ends in the country.

13. VANDERBILT

Starters returning: WR Trent Sheffield (6-0, 200, JR, 51-659, 3 TD); WR Caleb Scott (6-2, 195, JR, 24-339, 2 TD)

Starters/backups lost: TE Steven Scheu (26-231, 1 TD)

Backups returning: WR Latervius Rayford (6-1, 198, SR, 19-151, 1 TD); TE DeAndre Woods (6-3, 235, RJR, 7-129); WR Darrius Sims (5-9, 188, SR, 10-110)

Early enrollees: None

Assessment: Vandy’s offense is a mess and the receiving corps lacks field stretching speed. Sheffield has great hands but he doesn’t scare anyone that he’ll go deep and win the battle.

14. SOUTH CAROLINA

Starters returning: WR Deebo Samuel (6-0, 205 RSO, 12-161, 1 TD)

Starters/backups lost: Pharoh Cooper (66-973, 8 TD); TE Jerrell Adams (28-421, 3 TD); WR Carlton Heard (5-78)

Backups returning: WR Matrick Belton (6-3, 205, RSR 11-121); WR Hayden Hurst (6-4, 242, SO, 8-106); WR D.J. Neal (6-3, 201, SO, 8-104); WR Terry Googer (6-4, 216, RSO, 5-74)

Early enrollees: WR Bryan Edwards (6-3, 208)

Assessment: This situation is grim. Cooper and Adams were the entire passing game. Finding receivers will be one of the most important tasks for the spring.  

RANDOM THOUGHTS

Cam Newton says, “I’m an African-American quarterback that may scare a lot of people because they haven’t seen nothing they can compare me to.” Cam is a highly skilled QB, but until he’s won a Super Bowl, I don’t think anyone is exactly scared of his many abilities.

The Oakland Raiders are scouting stadium sites in Las Vegas. I’ll be very interested to see if the NFL will allow a franchise in the gambling capital of the world.

After reviewing the video that went viral and some further investigation, Missouri coach Barry Odom has said sayonara to QB Maty Mauk. Smart decision by Odom.

I almost gagged when I saw John Thompson Jr. interrupting a post game press conference with son and Georgetown head coach John Thompson III to rip the zebras after the Hoyas’ comeback win over Creighton. JT Jr.’s Georgetown teams were borderline criminal the way they beat up other teams during his coaching career. 

QUESTION OF THE DAY

With the Super Bowl a little more than a week away, there is a lot of talk about the greatest team and greatest player ever to play in the championship game. Who are your top three Super Bowl championship teams and your top three players ever to play in the game?

MUSIC FOR TODAY

I heard one of my favorite songs while driving today – “I’d Have You Anytime” by George Harrison – and that inspired me to make George’s “All Things Must Pass” album today’s musical selection. “I’d Have You Anytime” is the third cut.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_tj-CpIftI


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