Luke Del Rio is Florida’s starting quarterback, not that anyone should be the least bit surprised by that. Unless Del Rio came to fall camp ill prepared and unable to make even the basic throws accurately, this was his job to lose and he has done nothing to lose it.
If this were simply about the big arm, Del Rio would be sitting fourth on the Florida depth chart. Austin Appleby, Kyle Trask and Feleipe Franks all have stronger arms. That’s not to say Del Rio throws puff balls like we grew accustomed to seeing from Treon Harris the last couple of years, but what he might lack in zip on the ball he makes up for with decisiveness and a nice release. As we saw in the spring game, Del Rio sees the whole field, knows where his receivers are supposed to be, and he unloads the ball a whole lot quicker than we’ve seen out of any of the UF QBs of the last two seasons. The fact that he’s decisive and knows where to go with the ball should be a good sign that the Gators won’t give up 45 sacks this season. It’s amazing what a QB with a clue and a rather quick release can do for the confidence and efficiency of an O-line.
For Austin Appleby, now the official #2, the opportunity to start in the SEC isn’t over and done with. Two things to remember: (1) Luke Del Rio has never started a college football game (Appleby has 11 starts at Purdue under his belt) and (2) this is essentially Del Rio’s fourth year in this offense (he ran it for Doug Nussmeier at Alabama in 2013; ran it for Jason Garrett at Oregon State in 2014; ran it all last year when he was forced to sit by NCAA transfer rules) so he should be further along than Appleby. Appleby’s attitude should be to keep picking up the nuances of the offense and be ready to show on a moment’s notice why experience counts for something.
JUST PLAIN DUMB
Okay, has anyone in recent memory pulled a bigger brain fart than Ryan Lochte? I’ve been shaking my head all day and asking, “What the hell was he thinking? Was he dropped on his head too many times as an infant and it took this long for the side effects to show up?”
Back on Sunday I had no reason to doubt Lochte. I’ve been to 62 countries around the world and Brazil – Rio in particular – ranks with the two or three least safe places I’ve ever been, so Lochte’s story was quite believable. But after seeing the video of Lochte and the other swimmers arriving back at the Olympic Village and the surveillance video from the gas station, I am shaking my head and wondering why someone with so much to lose would risk it all by lying. With 12 medals (6 gold, 3 silver, 3 bronze), Lochte’s place in Olympic history is secure but after this incident, he probably stands to lose several million dollars in endorsements and I can’t imagine that the US Olympic Committee would welcome his participation in any future Olympiads.
Lochte is a very smart young man, but this week he went brain dead. All I can say is dumb, just plan dumb.
SEC FOOTBALL NEWS
Alabama: What keeps Nick Saban awake at night? The recent incident involving the transfer of Maurice Smith is one thing. Speaking to ESPN.com’s Chris Low, Saban said, “I’ve been coaching for 43 years, and to have what happened with Maurice Smith and his family, that’s what I lose sleep over. We’ve got 53 players in the NFL and a whole bunch of other ones who aren’t in the NFL and are very successful. But what I lay awake at night and think about is where did I fail a guy like Maurice Smith. What didn’t I do, or what could I have done better?”
Arkansas: In each of his 10 seasons as a head coach, Bret Bielema has had at least one 1,000-yard rusher. Smart money says he goes 11-11 this year with freshman Devwah Whaley going for 1,000-plus yards … Sophomore cornerback Britto Tutt will miss the entire season with a torn ACL. Tutt spent his freshman year at a California juco and was expected to either start or play significant minutes this season.
Auburn: There is some genuinely good news out of Auburn. Tashawn Manning, a 2016 defensive line signee from Apopka diagnosed with promyelocytic leukemia, has finished up an aggressive chemotherapy regimen and has had his port removed. He plans to enroll at Auburn and work his way back into football playing condition.
Georgia: Kirby Smart expects both Nick Chubb and Sony Michel ready to go by the September 3 opener against North Carolina in the Georgia Dome ... For the second consecutive day, true freshman Jacob Eason took all the reps at QB with the first team offense. Greyson Lambert and Brice Ramsey split the #
Kentucky: Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot continues to experiment with personnel packages to improve Kentucky’s pass rush. Last year Kentucky finished near the bottom nationally in tackles for loss (53) and sacks (17). Bright spots getting to the quarterback in fall drills have been juco transfer DT Courtney Miggins and outside linebacker Kobie Walker.
LSU: Heisman candidate Leonard Fournette is still out with a sprained ankle but he says he will be ready to go by the time the Tigers open their season at Lambeau Field against Wisconsin ... Injuries to outside linebackers Corey Thompson and Isaiah Washington have thrust true freshman Michael Divinity into the mix for a starting job. Meanwhile, Tashawn Bower will line up some of the time at OLB and some of the time at DE in Dave Aranda’s new 3-4 scheme ... Travone Valentine’s development at nose tackle has allowed Aranda to move Davon Godchaux out to DE.
Mississippi State: With just a couple of weeks until the season starts, maybe a bigger question than who’s going to play QB is who’s going to start at RB? By all accounts MSU will be fine with either Damian Williams or Nick Fitzgerald at QB, but there are far too many questions at RB where no one has dominated in practice although Ashton Shumpert looks like he’s got the best chance to emerge as the starter … Former MSU O-lineman Kyle Wallace passed away Wednesday after he collapsed during a gym class he was teaching at Bentonia Gibbs Elementary School in Yazoo City.
Missouri: Michael Stannard has never taken a snap at Missouri, but the 6-2, 290-pound guard is the Tigers’ most experienced offensive lineman with nine starts at Memphis last year. Stannard is a graduate transfer who is immediately eligible.
Ole Miss: Jordan Wilkins, who was in the mix to start at running back, will miss the entire season after he failed to meet NCAA standards for progress toward graduation. Ole Miss appealed, claiming an administrative error, but the appeal was denied by the NCAA.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks are very happy with the August productivity from tight end Hayden Hurst, who caught 8 passes for 106 yards last season. “He’s got receiver skills,” tight ends coach Pat Washington said. He can play the outside and play receiver, but he has gotten better as a blocker.”
Tennessee: Athletic director Dave “Spanky” Hart has announced his retirement effective June 30, 2017. Earlier in the month, Hart had expressed no interest in stepping down any time soon, which leads to speculation that he was allowed to “retire” instead of getting the axe. Expect the Vols to make a strong push to hire Kansas Sate AD John Currie, who was a top fund raiser as associate AD at UT before he took the KSU job… Chance Hall, who was competing for a starting job at right tackle, suffered a knee injury that will require surgery. He could be back in as few as 4-6 weeks.
Texas A&M: New OC Noel Mazzone, who has a history of producing 1,000-yard rushers in his offenses (Paul Perkins had 1,343 yards, 14 TDs last year at UCLA where Mazzone had 1,000-yard rushers in three of four seasons), is looking for one of his six tailbacks to take over and be THE man. “You have to be able to run the football, especially when you are rolling into the SEC,” Mazzone said. “I think that is vital. Historically, I have always had offenses that can run the football and we were good at it.”
Vanderbilt: Vandy is transitioning to a 3-4 scheme with redshirt junior Jay Woods and 312-pound Nifae Lealao the contenders for the starting job … Former Vandy starting quarterback Johnny McCrary, who transferred to Mercer, has left Mercer and is giving up football.
TOP TEN SEASONS RECEIVING YARDAGE IN SEC HISTORY
1. Josh Reed, LSU, 1,740 (2001)
2. Amari Cooper, Alabama, 1,727 (2014)
3. Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina, 1,577 (2010)
4. Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt, 1,477 (2013)
5. Mike Evans, Texas A&M, 1,394 (2013)
6. TRAVIS MCGRIFF, FLORIDA, Florida, 1,357 (1998)
7. Cobi Hamilton, Arkansas, 1,335 (2012)
8. CARLOS ALVAREZ, FLORIDA 1,329 (1969)
9. Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt, 1,323 (2013)
10. Craig Yeast, Kentucky, 1,311 (1998)
Most 1,000-yard receivers in a season: 1. FLORIDA 10; 2. Tennessee 8; 3. (Tie) Alabama, LSU and Missouri 7; 6. Vanderbilt 6; 7. (Tie) South Carolina, Kentucky and Texas A&M 5; 10. Arkansas 3; 11. (Tie) Auburn, Mississippi State and Ole Miss 2; 14. Georgia 1
Medal count top five countries:
USA 100 (35 gold, 33 silver, 32 bronze)
China 58 (20 gold, 16 silver, 22 bronze)
Great Britain 56 (22 gold, 21 silver, 13 bronze)
Russia 44 (12 gold, 15 silver, 17 bronze)
Japan 36 (12 gold, 6 silver, 18 bronze)
Gator Kerron Clement earned a gold medal in the 400 meter hurdles.
If he can anchor Jamaica’s 4X100 relay to a gold medal, then Usain Bolt will have an unprecedented threepeat – gold medals in the 100, 200 and 4X100 in three straight Olympics. Without a doubt that would be the greatest feat in the history of track and field at the Olympic level. How can you dislike someone who obviously gets so much joy from running. I love watching him celebrate with fans after his gold medal races.
When Foluke Akinradewo went down with a leg injury in the first set, the USA women’s volleyball team had no answers for Serbia’s big hitters in the semifinals. Without Akinradewo to police the net the #1-ranked Team USA lost in five sets.
Brianna Rollins (gold), Nia Ali (silver) and Kristi Castlin (bronze) led the USA to an unprecedented 1-2-3 finish in the 100 meter hurdles. One of the best visual images from this Olympiad is watching Ali take a victory lap draped in a US flag while holding her young son.
Ashton Eaton of the US joined the great Bob Mathias and Daley Thompson as the only men in history to win back-to-back golds in the decathlon.
Speaking of the decathlon, have they changed the name of the 1976 decathlon winner at the Montreal games from Bruce to Caitlyn Jenner?
Is it my imagination or are there a lot of empty seats at most of Rio’s venues?
Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com did a survey of 100 college basketball coaches, asking is recruiting cleaner or dirtier today than it was five years ago? The results – 14% say it’s cleaner, 37% say it’s dirtier and 49% say it’s about the same. I’m surprised. I think it’s dirtier than ever before. One coach nailed it when he said, “I think now you have the sneaker companies and the AAU coaches wheeling and dealing, and the club coaches are getting paid to steer kids. Whether it’s an agent or a shoe company behind it, somebody is paying somebody. It’s been going on forever. Guys are making money off these kids and where they go to college.” Your toes would curl if I gave you a lineup of players steered (or sold or bought) elsewhere when Billy Donovan was coaching at UF. Give Billy the players whose AAU coaches took the bucks and steered them elsewhere and we’re talking five or more NCAA titles since 2006. Seriously.
Parrish also surveyed coaches about which shoe company trails Nike, which was, is and for the foreseeable future will be the king of college hoops. The respondents said it’s Under Armour by 76% with adidas coming in at 24%. One coach said, “Adidas consistently puts out bad-looking gear and uniforms.” Amen to that.
The Associated Press is reporting that Houston has received Big 12 expansion guidelines from conference commissioner Bruce Bowlsby. We still don’t know if the league will expand by two or four teams? I continue to believe the league will bypass BYU either for full or football only membership. If it’s a 4-team expansion I think Cincinnati, Memphis and UCF will be the new additions.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Maybe this is apples and oranges, but do you think Usain Bolt’s 3X3 (golds in the 100, 200 and 4X100 in three straight Olympiads) trumps Michael Phelps 23 swimming golds?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Phil Perry has one of the great soul music voices of all time. For all practical purposes he was “discovered” at the age of 39 when he stepped out of the shadows as one of the great background singers in R&B and jazz to go solo. He combined with legendary keyboardist Brian Simpson for a memorable performance at the Java Jazz Festival in 2013 and this is the music for today.