In an interesting contrast from the anonymous comments made by other SEC coaches about the Florida Gators, Oliver Connolly of seccountry.com writes that HBC Jim McElwain might be the best offensive coach in the Southeastern Conference.
Read the Connolly piece here:
Connolly notes that McElwain “has built a blend of power football, classical passing concepts disguised with a series of new-age personnel packages and constant moving parts to form a beautiful deceptive unit.” In other words, Mac makes good use of smoke and mirrors to get the job done. At its basic elements, the Florida offense really isn’t all that complicated, at least for the Gators but it looks that way because of the personnel packages, shifting and motion. You can run the same play and give it 10 different looks. The advantage is the Gators know where they are going and what they are supposed to do. For defenders, that’s a totally different story. Each new look, each shift and each man in motion creates movement by the defense that can create a crease or a personnel mismatch. That moment of indecision where a defender is trying to figure out if the tight end is eligible or covered up by an outside receiver or whether the motion man is a blocker to help a running back get to the edge or running a pass route can be the difference between a 3-yard gain and a touchdown.
Last year when Mac didn’t have much in the way of offensive personnel, the smoke and mirrors helped a team without a lot of explosive athletes or O-line experience to win 10 games. Some of the games weren’t very pretty, particularly after Will Grier was suspended for failing a PED test, but it was still enough offense for UF to make it to Atlanta, a place the Gators weren’t supposed to be.
The smoke and mirrors will still be part of the Florida offense this year but the personnel is better, faster and there is far more experience.
I don’t mean to sound like someone trying to pound home a concept, but the difference between year one of Jim McElwain offenses and year two has historically proven dramatic. I believe history is set to repeat itself in 2016.
ROLIN MOVES ON: Once promising linebacker Matt Rolin, who missed two seasons with knee injuries and 10 games of 2015 with a herniated disc has left the team. He will finish school and graduate, in all probability as a medical hardship, which means he will still be on scholarship but ineligible to play.
Discussing Rolin’s choice, McElwain said, “He just kind of lost the love for the game … So for him and the injuries he’s had, he’s just chosen that maybe there’s something else in life.”
SEC FOOTBALL NEWS
Alabama: While all the running back attention has gone to Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris, freshman B.J. Emmons continues to be a very pleasant surprise … The O-line is shaping up as Cam Robinson and Lester Cotton on the left side, Ross Pierschbacher at center, and either Bradley Bozeman or Alphonse Taylor at right guard with freshman Jonah Williams at right tackle. Taylor should regain the #1 RG position once his court case over a DUI is cleared.
Arkansas: There were a couple of injuries of note at Arkansas over the weekend. Freshman running back T.J. Hammonds suffered a season-ending knee injury and 6th-year senior running back Kody Walker injured his foot. Walker, who broke his foot during the spring, will wear a precautionary boot for several days. True freshman Devyah Whaley (95 yards, 1 TD) and Rawleigh Williams III (67 yards, 1 TD) handled the running back chores just fine in Saturday’s scrimmage. Also, wide receiver Dominique Reed will be out a week with a sprained ankle.
Auburn: Gus Malzahn still hasn’t decided on a starting quarterback but hinted Monday that it “could happen in the near future.” In Saturday’s scrimmage, John Franklin III and Sean White took all the snaps with Jeremy Johnson held out by design. Johnson is healthy and Malzahn said, “… don’t read anything in between that” regarding the decision to hold him out of the scrimmage.
Georgia: There is movement on the O-line. Graduate transfer (from Rhode Island) Tyler Catalina has taken over at LT with Isaiah Wynn (6-2, 278) moving inside to LG … Starting safety Quincy Mauger was seen in a walking boot Sunday. There is no report about how serious the injury and how long Mauger will be in the boot … With Tim Kimbrough’s decision to transfer, Georgia is moving Rashad Roundtree from safety to inside linebacker.
Kentucky: For Kentucky to make significant improvement on defense the linebackers are going to have to come through in a big way, but after Saturday’s scrimmage, their play left much to be desired. “We weren’t very good Saturday,” HBC Mark Stoops said when he met the media Monday. “We’ve got to get some things ironed out. Just assignment-wise and getting to the football.”?
LSU: Despite flooding on campus, LSU was able to hold practice Monday although a couple of players, some staff and support people and assistant Steve Ensminger had to miss to take care of families dealing with the natural disaster throughout the Baton Rouge area and Louisiana. Ensminger had to move his family to safe shelter as flood waters filled his house ... The way the O-line is developing, it’s expected that K.J. Malone (son of Karl Malone) will take over at LT from Maea Teuhema, who will move over to RT.
Mississippi State: With Elijah Staley electing to transfer out, it’s a 3-man race for the starting QB job between Damian Williams, Nick Fitzgerald and Nick Tiano. The three will split reps evenly this week and after that Dan Mullen plans to make a decision about a starter.
Missouri: OC/QB coach Josh Heupel says he’s pleased with the progress made by sophomore Drew Lock in mastering the offense, learning how to dissect a defense and improving his technique at the position. “He’s worked extremely hard since I’ve gotten here,” says Heupel. Last year, Lock averaged only 5.1 yards per pass attempt and threw two times more interceptions (8) than TDs (4).
Ole Miss: Junior safety C.J. Moore had safety to repair a torn pectoral muscle that could cause him to miss the entire 2016 season. Moore has played in 26 games the past two seasons. Moore was the #2 strong safety behind freshman Myles Hartsfield.
South Carolina: If the season were to begin today, the Gamecocks would have a 5-man rotation at wide receiver of Deebo Samuel, Bryan Edwards, Randrecous Davis, Corey Banks and Chavis Dawkins. Edwards, Davis, Banks and Dawkins are freshmen.
Tenessee: The Vols might be the most experienced team in the SEC and rated #4 in terms of experience by Phil Steele, but HBC Butch Jones said Monday, “I do think this football team is a work in progress … We need more people in our football program playing winning football.”
Texas A&M: Graduate transfer QB Trevor Knight approaches his senior year with plenty of optimism. Speaking to ESPN.com, Knight said, “I’ve got more confidence than I’ve ever had in my game just being in a new conference, a new place, new team, new offense and being named the starter again.” Knight lost his starting job at Oklahoma last year to Baker Mayfield but he and Chad Kelly (Ole Miss) are the only starting QBs in college football with wins over Alabama.
Vanderbilt: True freshman fullback Bailey McElwain is taking serious aim on the starting job. He’s shown an ability to pick up pass rushers and good enough hands that he’ll be a target coming out of the backfield.
FIVE NEW COACHES WHO WILL HAVE IMMEDIATE IMPACT
1. Dino Babers, Syracuse: Anyone who plays the Cuse better have oxygen tanks on the sideline, because Babers will have the Orange playing at a frenetic pace. They’re going to score lots of points. The only question is can they stop other teams from scoring?
2. Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech: Things had gotten stale in Blacksburg. Fuente is the right jolt of new juice to rejuvenate Virginia Tech and get the Hokies back to competing for ACC titles.
3. Mark Richt, Miami: He’s a big step up from Al Golden and he’s setting the example for the boosters by putting up a $1 million check for an indoor practice facility/stand alone football ops center. He will do at Miami what he never could do at Georgia.
4. Clay Helton, Southern Cal: There is no excuse for any coach to win fewer than 9-10 games a year at USC, not with 20 million people within a 100-mile radius of the campus and all that football talent. Promoting Tee Martin to offensive coordinator was a stroke of genius. Helton is the right guy at the right time.
5. Willie Fritz, Tulane: He’s an offensive genius who will make it exciting for Tulane fans to spend a day at the ball yard for the first time in decades. There is enough talent in metro New Orleans that he can transform the Green Wave from bottom feeder to winner.
FIVE COACHES WHO WILL BE MOVING ON UP NEXT YEAR
These head ball coaches at off the radar programs are going to be moving up to the big time.
1. Jeff Brohm, Western Kentucky: He could have taken another job after last season, but he’s picky. This will be his last year in the Kentucky hinterlands.
2. PJ Fleck, Western Michigan: He’s built the program from the ground up and after two straight 8-5 records, the Broncos are poised for a 10-11 win season that will earn Fleck a gigantic payday somewhere else in 2017.
3. Mark Hudspeth, Louisiana-Lafayette: Too many injuries contributed to a shocking 4-8 record last year, but that was an aberration. The Cajuns will rage again and Hudspeth will move on. He’s not going to turn down a big job again.
4. Rod Carey, Northern Illinois: He’s 31-12 in three seasons. If he wins more than 10 games this year – probable – he will have plenty of opportunities to move up the coaching food chain.
5. Matt Wells, Utah State: When you can win at Utah State, you can win anywhere. Logan, Utah is not exactly the garden spot of the earth and the facilities are atrocious.
Medal count top 5 countries
USA 74 (26 gold, 23 silver, 25 bronze)
China 46 (15 gold, 14 silver, 17 bronze)
Great Britain 41 (16 gold, 17 silver 8 bronze)
Russia 35 (11 gold, 12 silver, 12 bronze)
Japan 27 (7 gold, 4 silver, 16 bronze)
In what can only be considered as one of the bigger upsets of the games, American gymnast Simone Biles nearly fell off the balance beam and finished with a bronze. USA teammate Laurie Henderson took silver in the event. To Biiles’ credit, she made no excuses for her performance.
As difficult as I find it to watch table tennis on television, I am absolutely fascinated by the quickness and athleticism it takes to play badminton on the Olympic level. This is NOT the game I grew up playing in the back yard. These guys are incredible athletes.
Shaunae Miller of The Bahamas dived across the finish line to win the women’s 400 meters, edging out Allyson Felix of the US, who took silver. Felix is still the most decorated woman (7 medals) in US Olympic history.
I will be surprised if the US women’s basketball team wins its quarter-final against Japan today by fewer than 50 points.
I will clear everything on the calendar for tonight’s beach volleyball semifinals between Kerry Walsh Jennings and April Ross of the US vs. Brazil’s world champions Agatha and Barbara.
In a letter obtained by CBSSports.com, the NFL announced that James Harrison, Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and Mike Neal will be suspended if they don’t cooperate with the league’s investigation into allegations made in a report by Al Jazeera American that they received performance enhancing drugs from the Guyer Institute in Indiana. If the four don’t participate in an interview by August 25, they will be suspended indefinitely by the league. The Al Jazeera America report initially accused Peyton Manning of using PEDs from the Guyer Institute. The NFL has since cleared Manning, who is retired. Considering none of the four accused players flunked a drug test last year or in any of the previous three years, this is overreach by Rob Goodell.
Mario Kegler, one of the top small forward recruits in the country, has gotten the okay from the NCAA Clearinghouse to enroll and play at Mississippi State. Kegler is one of six 4-star recruits in the Mississippi State signing class.
Nebraska wide receivers coach Keith Williams was charged with his third DUI after he crashed into another car over the weekend. First things first: get this man in rehab. Second, he’s got no business coaching football.
Two days after he was released by the Yankees, the publicist for Alex Rodriguez says reports that A-Rod might play again this year are erroneous. “It’s not happening,” said Ron Berkowitz in a statement.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Do you agree with Roger Goodell threatening indefinite suspension of players who won’t cooperate with an investigation?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
One of my favorite discoveries of the past couple of years is The Main Squeeze, which will be performing in Gainesville on October 4. It’s a fine band with an exceptional vocal talent in Corey Frye, who moves seamlessly from funk to soul to blues to rock and roll.