Even when Will Grier was playing his best football last fall, former UF football players who watched practice on a regular basis told me that the best QB on the UF roster was Luke Del Rio. That’s what they were telling me in August and that’s what they were telling me up until the time Grier was suspended.
So I am not at all surprised that Del Rio is starting to distance himself from the pack this spring. Of UF’s four scholarship quarterbacks, he might be #4 in terms of arm strength. That’s not to say the ball is slow to the target but it isn’t. It’s just the other guys have cannons for arms. But, Del Rio’s ball gets to the receiver on time and it’s accurate. He reads the defense, knows where to go with the ball and makes the right decisions.
When you consider quarterback play at UF since 2009, knowing where to go with the ball and making right decisions is certainly a welcomed step in the right direction.
If you’ve researched McElwain’s offenses through the years, decision makers who throw the ball to the right receiver usually start and do quite well. This is an offense that requires a QB who can keep his ego in check because it’s about getting the ball in the hands of the right playmakers. Sure, the QB has to make plays, but his main role is to make the right decisions, make sure the chains move and make sure turnovers are kept to a minimum.
Some people night call it game manager, but maybe a better term is orchestra conductor because the guy who understands what everyone else is supposed to do and brings out the best in their abilities is the one who makes sure the offense is making beautiful music.
While things could change between now and September, if you are one known to wager a dollar or two, put your hard earned cash on Del Rio as the guy who’s going to make the Gators click this year.
UF SPRING SPORTS:
Softball: The new rankings won’t come out for another day but the Gators (33-1, 8-1 SEC) are the undisputed #1 after their 3-game sweep of LSU in which they outscored the Tigers 12-2 and neither of LSU’s runs was earned. Aleshia Ocasio was the star of the weekend, pitching a shutout on Friday, earning the win Saturday in relief and then getting the save on Sunday. In the three games, Ocasio allowed only five hits and struck out 10. She leads the nation in ERA (0.36) and was named SEC Pitcher of the Week. Next up for the Gators is #8 Alabama (29-6, 3-3 SEC).
Baseball: In losing two of three on the road at Kentucky, the Gators (23-3, 4-2 SEC) fell to #2 in the national rankings behind #1 Texas A&M. The Gators face #9 Florida State (18-5) in Jacksonville tonight.
Men’s swimming: Led by Caaleb Dressel, who won two national championships, the Gators finished third in the Men’s NCAA Championships in Atlanta over the weekend. Dressel’s performance earned him co-NCAA Swimmer of the Year honors.
Gymnastics: The #2 Gators go to Minneapolis for NCAA regional action this Saturday. The SEC champ Gators have posted the highest score in the nation this year at 198.175.
Lacrosse: The Gators (10-1) remain #2 nationally after clobbering Vanderbilt 16-2 in a Big East game. The Gators will host Temple Saturday in a Big East game.
Women’s Tennis: The new poll comes out today and the Gators (12-2, 7-0 SEC) should move up after taking out #8 South Carolina over the weekend. The Gators will host #15 LSU and #17 Texas A&M this weekend.
Men’s Tennis: Wins over Mississippi State and Alabama over the past weekend should help the Gators (11-4, 6-1 SEC) improve their #16 national ranking. Next up for the Gators is Vanderbilt on Friday.
FINAL FOUR: UNC SHOULD WIN IT ALL
The Tar Heels have proven during their four NCAA Tournament games that they are the best team in the country. No other team has three McDonald’s All-American point guards (Marcus Paige, Joel Berry II, Nate Britt) and no other team is as versatile. As they showed against Notre Dame, play the Heels big and they go big. Play them small and the Heels go long, athletic and quick. Nobody has an answer for Brice Johnson and if Paige is hitting shots from the outside, UNC is practically unbeatable. Next up is a Syracuse team that UNC has already beaten twice this season. Syracuse is playing better than it has played all year but should be no match for UNC.
The biggest surprise of the weekend was Villanova beating Kansas. What was amazing about that game is that Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden Jr. played their worst games of the year and Villanova still only won by five points.
Villanova’s win sets up an intriguing matchup with Oklahoma. These are the two best shooting teams in the tournament and they both like to run up and down the floor. This could be a game in the mid-80s to mid-90s. Buddy Hield could score in the 40s.
I like former UF coach Lon Kruger getting the win and getting a shot at the NCAA title that has eluded him all these years. It wouldn’t bother me in the least if Lon gets a ring, but I don’t think either Nova or Oklahoma can beat UNC. But, that’s why games are played on the floor.
I like UNC over Oklahoma in the championship game because I think UNC has too much inside game and better guards. I do like Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield to win the Wooden Award as the nation’s best player over Johnson, however.
FOOTBALL/BASKETBALL NEWS FROM THE SEC
Alabama: Although a #1 and #2 hasn’t been named, the top two QBs seem to be Cooper Bateman and David Cornwell. Nick Saban says Bateman has done some nice things but there is room to improve.
Arkansas: Bret Bielema named junior Austin Allen as the #1 QB … Former tight end Hunter Henry is being called by at least one scout “the most complete tight end to come out in years” according to New Jersey Advanced Media. Henry caught 51 passes for 739 yards and 10 TDs last year while winning the Mackey Award.
Auburn: The defensive standout for Auburn this spring has been corner Jamel Dean, who was medically discharged by Ohio State. Dean tore an ACL but got a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews.
Georgia: It’s interesting that Kirby Smart pulled aside second team QB Brice Ramsey last week and told him, “Show me that it means something to you. Show me that you want it.” That’s a question that has been asked of Ramsey for three years now. There is no way he should have sat last year while Greyson Lambert played.
Kentucky: They are actually having spring football practice at Kentucky. Really. That being said, John Calipari says that he’s expecting another wholesale migration to the NBA from his basketball team. Tyler Ulis is gone and so is Jamal Murray but the Wildcats probably will lose 2-3 more.
LSU: Point guard Tim Quarterman will declare for the NBA Draft, which is a bit of a surprise. He’s late second round or possibly not even drafted … at best. He needs another year of school. The Tigers are still waiting on freshman Antonio Blakeney to decide whether he’s staying put or going pro.
Mississippi State: Mississippi State rarely signs a 5-star, so when stud defensive end Jeffery Simmons was charged over the weekend with disturbing the peace and assault, it’s a big deal. Simmons was caught on video hitting a woman. Mississippi State says it will “continue to evaluate the situation.”
Ole Miss: LaQuon Treadwell ran a 4.63 40 at Ole Miss pro day. It will be interesting to see if that causes his draft stock to drop … Laremy Tunsil did 34 reps of 225 pounds at pro day, almost certain to guarantee he will be the #1 pick of the Tennessee Titans.
South Carolina: Will Muschamp told Tony Barnhart of Gridironnow.com that the biggest mistake he made at Florida was “trying to change schematically from what they had done before.” That should translate into trying to make Jeff Driskel into a pro-style drop back QB instead of letting him be a dual threat guy. Muschamp added, “As a result, we ended up not being very good at anything.” That is an absolute fact.
Tennessee: With LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin out for the spring with a shoulder injury, Quart’e Sapp has moved from safety to take over the position. Sapp is 6-2, 220, certainly fast enough for LB although he was considered a step slow for safety.
Texas A&M: For a guy whose image needs a serious rehab, Johnny Manziel isn’t exactly taking the straight and narrow path to a makeover. He spent Easter weekend in Las Vegas
Vanderbilt: Vandy is looking for a new basketball coach now that Kevin Stallings has departed for Pitt. Stallings spent 17 seasons at Vandy (332-220 record) and never got the Commodores into the Sweet 16.
In case you missed it over the weekend, the UConn women destroyed a very good Mississippi State team, 93-38, in the Sweet 16 game, then toyed with Texas, 86-65, to go to the Final Four. If Uconn had played hard, it would have beaten Texas by 50. Uconn has won 73 games in a row and hasn’t had a game decided by fewer than 10 points this season. Uconn is going to its ninth straight Final Four and will be trying to win its fourth straight women’s national title.
Santa Clara hired former North Carolina State and Arizona State coach Herb Sendek to head its basketball program.
Former NBA coach Kevin Dunleavy will take over at Tulane.
Arkansas State is looking for a new head coach now that Chris Beard has taken over at UNLV. In his only year at A-State, Beard was 30-5.
Former Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury, who spent the last two years helping Billy Kennedy build up the program at Texas A&M, is the new head coach at Western Kentucky. Stansbury is a Kentucky native
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Who do you see winning the Final Four games Saturday and playing for the NCAA championship next Monday?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Early Monday, the music for Tuesday was decided when I heard “Brand New Day” by Sting then about an hour later heard “Englishman in New York.” I’ve heard Sting perform those songs live and they are two of my favorite songs ever. Since they stuck in my head I found this 2015 concert of Sting and Paul Simon from 2015 that I want to share as the music for today.