Injuries are never a welcome sign in August, but especially when one of them involves a key member of the Florida offensive line. There was a chance Antonio Riles wouldn’t have started at right guard this year, but having him gave O-line coach Mike Summers a good bit of flexibility with do-it-all Tyler Jordan, who is capable of playing at a very high level at all five positions. With Riles available, Summers could move Jordan up and down the line without hesitation knowing he had a 6-4, 313-pound redshirt junior with 15 games and 6 starts under his belt to plug in at right guard.
Without Riles, there is no experienced depth behind LG Martez Ivey and Jordan and what happens if Fred Johnson or freshman Jawaan Taylor don’t work out at right tackle? That would necessitate moving Martez Ivey outside and perhaps moving center Cam Dillard over to guard with redshirt freshman T.J. McCoy taking over at center. If Dillard were to stay at center and Ivey moved outside, it would necessitate either Brandon Sandifer or Nick Buchanan – both redshirt freshmen – stepping in to a starter’s job.
Heard through the grapevine: Freshman wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland is ridiculously talented and freshman Freddie Swain not only runs great routes, but is the guy you want on your side if there is a jump ball situation. If the ball is in the air, he’s going to come down with it ... Freshman DB Chauncey Gardner is as good as advertised and will be on the field in some way, shape or form … Is Matt Rolin going to take a medical redshirt? That’s a rumor that is growing legs … Freshman RB Lamical Perine might be so good the Gators can’t redshirt him.
BAMA CAVES, RELEASES MAURICE SMITH
Maurice Smith’s persistence paid off. He has been given a release from Alabama that opens the door for his transfer to Georgia. The only thing standing in his way is the Southeastern Conference signing a waiver that will clear the transfer. A decision from the SEC should take less than 24 hours.
Smith, who graduated in three years, wants to transfer to Georgia to play for Kirby Smart, who was his defensive coordinator all three seasons at Alabama, and for Mel Tucker, the Georgia DC who coached Alabama’s secondary last year.
Regarding the decision to release Smith, Bama coach Nick Saban told AL.com, “We have done everything that we can do institutionally to allow the conference to make the decision about whatever they decide is in the best interest of the conference and the SEC rules relative to Maurice Smith. So that is past us now. It is beyond us. We don’t need to talk about that anymore and I don’t have any other comments to make.”
SEC FOOTBALL NEWS
Alabama: Reuben Foster, regarded by most experts as one of the top 3-4 linebackers in all of college football, has lost 20 pounds while adding more muscle. He plans to play at 225 this year and says, “The game is getting faster. I’m getting more lean, adding more muscle and working on my speed, agility and footwork ... I’m more explosive.”
Arkansas: Nick Saban has an ally in Bret Bielema when it comes to football transfers within the Southeastern Conference. Bielema says he’s more than happy to help any player transfer outside the SEC, but when it comes to a player wanting to transfer within the league he draws the line. “I think it opens up a box that you don’t necessarily want to dive into,” Bielema said.
Auburn: This is somewhat of a surprise. On Auburn’s week two deep chart, Byron Cowart is listed as the #3 defensive end. Marlon Davidson or Paul James III are listed as the co-starter at the position. The quarterback depth chart shows John Franklin III, Jeremy Johnson and Sean White all listed as the #1.
Georgia: Although freshman QB Jacob Eason got his shoulder worked on during Tuesday’s practice, HBC Kirby Smart said Wednesday, “There is absolutely nothing wrong” … Linebacker Tim Kimbrough, who was in on 67 tackles in 2015, is taking “a leave of absence.” Kimbrough’s father told the Athens Banner-Herald that his son “just made a decision to leave in his best interest.” Neither Kimbrough’s dad or Smart would elaborate.
Kentucky: The big news out of the Kentucky camp is the maturing of QB Drew Barker, who looked like a lost ball in the tall weeds when he took over for Patrick Towles late last year. Says wide receiver Jeff Badet, “Off the field, he’s more of a business guy. He’s not playing around how he used to. He’s just more of a leader now.” Reports out of the UK camp are that Barker is completing close to 70% of his passes in practice.
LSU: Outside linebacker Corey Thompson suffered an ankle fracture Wednesday that will keep him out for a little more than a month. The injury is not expected to be season ending. With Thompson out, Tashawn Bower and freshman Michael Divinity will get most of the snaps in August.
Mississippi State: Martinas Rankin who was one of the top juco OTs in the country when he signed with Mississippi State in 2015, has emerged as a contender to start at LT along with redshirt sophomore Elgton Jenkins.
Missouri: With Walter Brady dismissed from the team, Marcell Frazier is set to step into his place at DE. Frazier got three starts last year but he played in all 12 games and was in on 18 tackles.
Ole Miss: The Ole Miss defense might have an unexpected gem in Oregon State graduate transfer Rommel Mageo, a 6-2, 233-pound linebacker who is from American Samoa. Last year Mageo led Oregon State with 87 tackles with 2 interceptions, 2 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. The Rebels also like what they’re seeing in camp from juco transfer Detric Bing-Dukes, whose career began at Georgia in 2014, where he took a redshirt year. Bing-Dukes is a 232-pound inside linebacker.
South Carolina: D-line coach Lance Thompson, who has been around the SEC a long time, thinks folks are going to be surprised by South Carolina’s offensive line this fall. “This is a real deal offensive line,” Thompson said. “These guys are good.” Center Alan Knott has 17 career starts while right tackle Mason Zandi has 10. A difference maker could be right guard Cory Helms, a transfer who had 23 starts at Wake Forest.
Tennessee: Tailback Jalen Hurd and safety Todd Kelly Jr. have been held out of contact for what HBC Butch Jones calls “precautionary” reasons. Defensive tackle Shy Tuttle, who broke his leg last year against Georgia, went through non-contact work Wednesday. In green no-contact jerseys Wednesday were Hurd, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Jauan Jennings, D.J. Henderson, Micah Abernathy and Austin Smith.
Texas A&M: Former Aggie HBC Tom Wilson passed away after a long battle with cancer at the age of 72. Wilson was 21-19 from 1978-81 with wins in the Hall of Fame and Independence bowls … At this point in camp, it’s looking more and more like the Aggies will go running back by committee with James White, Keith Ford, Kendall Bussey and Trayveon Williams sharing the position.
Vanderbilt: The tight ends have combined for only 20 career receptions, but they are expected to be an important part of the offense this fall. The top two candidates are Nathan Marcus (10 catches, 90 yards, 2 TDs in his career) and DeAndre Woods (7-129 in his career). Also getting reps are Jared Pinkney, Sam Dobbs and Sean Dowling.
8 COORDINATORS WHO SHOULD BE SOMEBODY’S NEXT HBC SOON
1. Lane Kiffin, OC, Alabama: Okay, maybe he can be a jerk, but he’s gone 27-3 with two QBs who had never started before in two years at Alabama and has adapted the offense to fit the strengths of each one. Last year he had a Heisman winner in Derrick Henry (2,219 rushing yards) and the best freshman WR in the country in Calvin Ridley (89-1,045, 7 TDs), all with a QB (Jake Coker) who had never started a game. Kiffin is only 41 and the belief is that the time with Nick Saban has matured him.
2. Dave Aranda, DC, LSU: What he did at Wisconsin (13.7 points per game and 268 yards per) was remarkable considering the talent he had to work with. Talent is not an issue anymore. LSU could dominate this year.
3. Doug Meachan, Co-OC/QB, TCU: His offense has accounted for 76 passing touchdowns and 58 rushing TDs in the last two seasons. He could have been a HBC in each of the last two years but he’s holding out for the right job.
4. GEOFF COLLINS, DC, FLORIDA: With his new UF contract, he could make more than $1 million so he can afford to be picky about his first HBC job, but it’s just a matter of time before he gets his own program to lead.
5. Greg Schiano, DC, Ohio State: People forget what an incredible job he did to lift Rutgers from one of the five worst jobs in college football to respectability. What he will do with all the talent he’s got at Ohio State will remind folks that he has a brilliant football mind and he’s still only 50 years old.
6. Lincoln Riley, OC, Oklahoma: In his first year running the Oklahoma offense, the Sooners averaged 43.5 points and 530 yards a game, plus Baker Mayfield emerged as a Heisman contender. If the Sooners put up similar numbers this year he will be as good as gone.
7. Mike Bloomgren, OC, Stanford: What he did with Christian McCaffrey (2,109 rushing yards; 45-645 receiving) caught everyone’s attention last year. He’s known as a coordinator who adapts his offense to the personnel. McCaffrey’s back this year so Bloomgren will get his shot at HBC somewhere in all probability.
8. Dan Enos, OC, Arkansas: He’s been a head coach before (at Central Michigan) and that may or may not help him. The Chippewas went 6-18 his first two years before a three-year run of 20-18. What he did last year with Austin Allen (3,486 yards, 31 TDP) last year was spectacular. The Hogs averaged 35.9 points and 465 yards per game with one of the more balanced offenses in the SEC. He will get another shot as a head coach but it might take another year for it to happen
Top 5 countries medal count:
1. USA 32 (11 gold, 11 silver, 10 bronze)
2. China 23 (10 gold, 5 silver, 8 bronze)
3. Japan 18 (6 gold, 1 silver, 11 bronze)
4. Russia 15 (4 gold, 7 silver, 4 bronze)
5. Great Britain 12 (3 gold, 3 silver, 6 bronze)
Only a lights out fourth quarter by Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving saved TeamUSA from one of the most embarrassing losses in Olympic basketball history. I still can’t figure out why TeamUSA didn’t blow the doors off Australia.
My mind is still blown by Hope Solo’s inept performance Tuesday against lowly Colombia. Colombia’s first goal came when Solo let a shot dribble through her legs. As bad as that was, allowing a Colombia goal from a corner kick was inexcusable. If Solo doesn’t play well, you can forget a gold medal.
I’m not a great beach volleyball fan except when Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross are playing.
The 200 IM final tonight is must watch TV with Michael Phelps and Gator Ryan Lochte going head to head. They’ve won every world championship and Olympic gold in this event since 2003.
There can be no more helpless feeling in all of women’s swimming than seeing Katie Ledecky make that final turn on the last leg of any race. She should leave Rio with four golds and a silver and she’s only 19 years old.
I don’t think there is a better women’s basketball player in the world than Diana Taurasi. By the time the 2020 Olympics are staged, I think I’ll be saying the same thing about Breanna Stewart. And both of them played collegiately at UConn for Geno. Imagine that.
When Alex Rodriguez announced on Sunday that he was going to retire effectively Friday night, New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, “If he wants to play in every game, I’ll find a way.” Now Girardi isn’t playing A-Rod and says, “My job description does not entail a farewell tour.” Many in the media think he’s being vindictive and since the Yankees aren’t going anywhere this year, it does seem a bit petty on Girardi’s part.
John Saunders, a longtime staple on ESPN where he was best known as a fine studio host, died Tuesday. He was 61 and one of the really good guys in sports broadcast journalism.
When Colorado State’s new football stadium opens, it will have a beer drinking pavilion in the end zone sponsored by New Belgium Brewery. Colorado State is hoping its new stadium and the innovative New Belgium Porch will help its bid to join the Big 12.
Georgia Tech AD Mike Bobinski will replace Purdue’s retiring Morgan Burke in July of 2017.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Is the media right? Is Joe Girardi being vindictive toward Alex Rodriguez? With just a couple of nights left in A-Rod’s career, shouldn’t Girardi put A-Rod on the field?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Maybe I just haven’t watched enough of the Olympics on TV but I have yet to hear the old Pablo Cruise song “I Go to Rio” which would seem like a natural lead for one of the venues. Since I haven’t heard it on NBC, you’ll hear it here. It’s the 10th track on Pablo Cruise’s “It’s Good to Be Live” CD.