Franz Beard's Thoughts of the Day; Feb. 17

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

The wakeup call for KeVaughn Allen came with 14:47 remaining in the game Tuesday night when he drove the baseline and hit a 10-foot floater to stop the bleeding for the Florida Gators. Georgia held a 31-24 lead at the time and the Bulldogs seemed poised to go on a run that would put the cold shooting Gators out of their misery but from the moment Allen’s shot found the bottom of the net there was a reversal of fortune that propelled UF to a 57-53 road win that keeps the Gators within two games of first place in the Southeastern Conference.

When Allen followed that up with a 3-pointer at the 13:06 mark to cut Georgia’s lead to 33-29, it was just the second 3-ball in 20 attempts and broke a streak of 11 straight missed from beyond the arc. Allen went on to nail two more 3-pointers, the last one with 3:30 remaining in the game to give the Gators the lead for good at 50-47.

Allen’s sudden marksmanship had ripple effect on the entire team. From the moment he hit the floater, the Gators went 11-19 the rest of the way from the field and 4-6 from the 3-point line. Florida’s spotty free throw shooting improved down the stretch also as the Gators hit 5-6 free throws in the final 33 seconds of the game.

Allen finished the game with 19 points while John Egbunu added 10 points, 7 rebounds and 5 blocked shots. For the game, the Gators were only 20-55 from the field overall (36.4%) and just 5-25 from the 3-point line. The Gators were only 12-21 from the foul line. Those are the kind of numbers that usually get you beaten, but on this night it was just enough for a win.

The win helped the Gators rebound from a devastating home loss to Alabama last Saturday and kept them in the hunt for an NCAA Tournament berth. The Gators are now 17-9 overall, 8-5 in the SEC. With five conference games remaining, two at home and three on the road, the Gators need to get to the 20-win mark to almost ensure they’ll be playing in the NCAA Tournament in March.

SEC BASKETBALL STANDINGS

T1. Kentucky (19-6, 9-3 SEC)
T1. LSU (16-9, 9-3 SEC)
T3. South Carolina (21-5, 8-5 SEC)
T3. Texas A&M (19-7, 8-5)
T3. FLORIDA (17-9, 8-5)
T6. Vanderbilt (15-11, 7-6 SEC)
T6. Georgia (14-10, 7-6 SEC)

8. Alabama (15-9, 6-6 SEC)
9. Ole Miss (16-10, 6-7 SEC)

T10. Arkansas (12-13, 5-7 SEC)
T10. Tennessee (12-13, 5-7 SEC)

12. Mississippi State (11-14, 4-9 SEC)
13. Auburn (9-15, 3-9 SEC)
14. Missouri (10-16, 3-10 SEC)
Wednesday’s games: Auburn at Arkansas; Alabama at LSU

Thursday’s game: Tennessee at Kentucky

HISTORY SAYS UF OFFENSE WILL IMPROVE IN 2016

If you are a history buff, then check out the progression in the Alabama and Colorado State running and passing games in years one and years two of Jim McElwain’s tenure. McElwain was the offensive coordinator at Alabama from 2008-11 and the HBC at Colorado State from 2012-14.

Alabama: In year one at Alabama (2008), the Crimson Tide averaged 184.64 rushing yards per game and 4.55 per carry. Glen Coffee rushed for 1,383 yards and 10 TDs and Mark Ingram gained 728 and scored 12. In year two, the running game improved to 215.07 yards per game and 5.01 per carry behind Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, who gained 1,658 yards and scored 17 touchdowns.

The 2008 passing game was good for 171.1 yards per game, 7.2 per pass attempt, 11 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. The next year, the passing game improved to 187.9 yards per game, 7.6 yards per pass attempt, 17 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.

Colorado State: In year one (2012), the Rams averaged 128.83 rushing yards per game and 3.87 yards per rushing attempt. Behind juco transfer Kapri Bibbs, the Rams increased their production to 205.14 yards per game and 5.04 yards per carry in 2013. Bibbs, who now plays for the Denver Broncos, gained 1,741 yards (6.2 per carry) and scored 31 touchdowns.  

With a running game to take the pressure off the QBs, Colorado State went from 210.2 passing yards per game and 7.2 yards per pass attempt in 2012 to 266.4 yards per game and 7.8 yards per pass attempt in 2013. The Rams threw for 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 2012 but improved to 24 TDs and only 11 INTs in 2013.

Florida: In year one of the McElwain era at Florida, the Gators averaged 126.93 yards per game and 3.48 yards per carry. The Gators had a 1,000-yard rusher in Kelvin Taylor (1,035 yards, 13 TDs) but he averaged only 4.0 per carry. Without the help of a strong running game, Florida’s passing game averaged only 207.1 yards and 7.2 yards per attempt. The Gators threw for 20 TDs and only 10 picks.

It must be noted that in the six games he played at QB, Will Grier completed 65.8% of his passes for 1,204 yards (7.5 per attempt), 10 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. In the eight games after the Grier suspension, Treon Harris completed 100-208 passes (48.7%) for 1,407 yards (6.8 per attempt), 7 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.

Given McElwain’s history of improving offenses from the first year to the second, it’s not wishful thinking to believe the Florida offense will show significant improvement in 2016. At both Alabama and Colorado State, there was a new QB in place for year two and both offensive lines improved significantly evidenced by improved yards per carry, per pass attempt and fewer sacks allowed.

Florida will return four starters and three experienced backups on the offensive line and the quarterback will definitely be new. The Gators will upgrade at running back in terms of speed and power with juco transfer Mark Thompson and there is speed and skill to take the pressure on the outside off Antonio Callaway.

FULMER, OTHER COACHES NAMED IN ALLEGATIONS AT UT

The recently filed lawsuit against the University of Tennessee athletic department focuses in on alleged events that have taken place in the last four years but the headlines have been dominated by the inclusion of an incident that took place in 1996 between quarterback Peyton Manning and associate athletic trainer Dr. Jamie Naughright. The mention of the Manning incident in the lawsuit is designed to back the contention that there is a culture of sexual harassment and violence involving the Tennessee football team that dates back 20 years or more.

It’s interesting that the lawsuit coincides with a New York Daily News story written by Shaun King (more on him later). The King story was followed up by Deadspin printing Naughright’s complaint that is more than 12 years old. The Naughright complaint alleged 27 complaints of sexual harassment and/or discrimination (the list grew to 33 complaints) and not only mentioned Manning but football coach Phillip Fulmer and other coaches and players.

These allegations – both from Naughright and the recent lawsuit – are extremely serious but are they true? An unexpected source questioned the integrity and validity of Shaun King on Tuesday. Speaking on the Dan Patrick Show, Jason Whitlock, the often controversial writer/TV journalist, said, “The guy that wrote this story for the New York Daily News, he’s not a journalist. He’s a race hustler from Twitter, from the Black Lives Matter movement who stirs racial controversy to elevate himself. Listen, the guy’s been busted. First of all, he’s white and presenting himself as black. He said that as a child in high school he was allegedly attacked by a group of white people because he was black. Well, he wasn’t black and there were people saying that wasn’t why he was attacked and there’s no proof of it. He said that it was the first hate crime in Kentucky or whatever.

“I looked into this all at the time because I interviewed this guy for a job at The Undefeated months ago (The Undefeated is the microsite Whitlock was hired to develop at ESPN). And after interviewing him I was like, ‘Holy cow.’ There’s so much suspicious, skeptical stuff to this guy that we walked away from this guy and looked into the stories he told us, and we couldn’t find proof of them.”

FOOTBALL NEWS FROM AROUND THE SEC

Alabama: The addition of Brent Key to the Alabama staff caused Nick Saban to shuffle his staff. Mario Cristobal will now coach tackles and tight ends while Key will coach the centers and guards. Bobby Williams, a longtime Saban assistant who coached tight ends and special teams, is moving to an off-the-field position on the staff.

Arkansas: Bret Bielema confirmed an earlier report that former Kansas running backs coach Reggie Mitchell will coach the running backs at Arkansas.

Auburn: Auburn has landed a graduate transfer middle linebacker from Illinois. T.J. Neal is a 6-1, 235-pounder with 25 starts under his belt. Neal was in on 245 tackles in his three years at Illinois including 109 in 2015.

Georgia: The Bulldogs might have found their right tackle to replace John Theus in 6-5, 315-pound Tyler Catalina, a grad transfer from Rhode Island who will be immediately eligible to play.

Kentucky: Rumors that former NFL All-Pro Ed Reed will take over as DB coach have been quashed along with speculation that Texas A&M secondary coach Terry Joseph and former South Carolina DB coach Grady Brown are being considered.

LSU: Wide receivers Trey Quinn and Kevin Spears have elected to transfer out. Quinn went from 17 catches as a freshman to 5 as a sophomore. Spears never caught a pass in his LSU career. Both players have two years of eligibility remaining.

Missouri: The Tigers got good news that receiver Harry Ballard got an ACT score that will allow him to play football at Mizzou in the fall.

South Carolina: Will Muschamp purchased a 9,417-square foot home on Lake Murray (Steve Spurrier lives close by on the same lake) for $1.85 million.

Texas A&M: Defensive end signee Alton Robinson was arrested Tuesday morning and charged with robbery for stealing his girlfriend’s cell phone. Bond was set at $20,000.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

If the Boston Celtics can’t make a trade to move former Gator David Lee, they plan to buy him out after the trade deadline.

Do you ever start to wonder if the people who run the Orlando Magic were dropped on their heads one too many times when they were children? Today’s trade of Tobias Harris to the Detroit Pistons for another center who plays no defense (Ersan Ilyasova) and another point guard (Brandon Jennings) makes no sense at all. But, if the Magic made sense they would have made Penny Hardaway the focus of their team while letting Shaquille O’Neal get away.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has been paid $142 million since 2011. That’s nice work if you can get it. You may find it hard to believe, but I’ve lived on less.

The new oak trees at Toomer’s Corner are already showing some spring growth and are strong enough now that the tradition of rolling the trees after an Auburn football win will resume in 2016. Let’s hope this time some idiot Alabama fan doesn’t poison them. I’m not an Auburn fan but that misdeed still perturbs me.

Josh Pastner is coaching for his life at Memphis, where the Tigers are in decline the past two years. The Tigers are 32-25 the last two seasons and that includes a 5-7 American Athletic Conference record this season. The Memphis AD says Pastner’s job is safe – for now. Usually, a statement like that is a kiss of death.

Maryland freshman stud center Diamond Stone has been suspended for Thursday’s game with Minnesota for shoving a Wisconsin player’s head to the floor while getting to his feet after a collision sent the two players to the floor.

Former Georgia and FSU assistant John Lilly has been hired to coach the tight ends for the St. Louis Rams.

Former Gator QB and Georgia OC Brian Schottenheimer received a $1.2 million buyout.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Do you believe history will repeat itself and McElwain’s second year offense will be vastly improved in 2016?

MUSIC FOR TODAY

I became a Carlos Santana film when I saw a film of Woodstock. I couldn’t wait for the release of his album “Abraxas” in 1970 and I wasn’t disappointed. The album went platinum five times and hit #1 on the US Billboard album charts. Rolling Stone voted “Abraxas” the #207 album of all time. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVpcqvkCDSA


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