Scary seems appropriate when describing Florida’s offense since Tim Tebow graduated.
When we look at all the talent and speed produced in this state and then we look at Florida’s offensive numbers, scary does indeed come to mind. It’s scary that one side of the football was so neglected. It’s scary to consider all the problems Florida has had at quarterback and yet both Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel are going to find themselves on an NFL roster this fall. It’s scary to see all those offensive linemen from Florida in the NFL and yet the Gators couldn’t protect the QB nor could they mount much of a running game for most of the last six years.
Just consider these three stats:
1. The Gators have not produced a running game that has averaged more than 5 yards per carry in any season since 2009. In 2009 the Gators averaged 5.59 yards per carry. The best UF did was 2012 when they averaged 4.53 per carry. Last year UF averaged 3.48 per carry.
2. The Gators have not averaged more than 7.5 yards per pass attempt in any season since 2009. In 2009, the Gators averaged 9.1 yards per pass attempt. They averaged 7.5 yards per attempt in 2011, ironically the year Charlie Weis was calling the plays. Last year UF averaged 7.2 yards per attempt.
3. The Gators have not averaged more than 400 yards per game since the 2009 season when they averaged 457.9. Since then the best the Gators did was 2014 when they averaged 367.6 yards per game. Last year the Gators averaged 334 yards per game.
So, yes, when you look at those offensive numbers scary does come to mind. This is why it’s so refreshing when wide receiver Brandon Powell talks scary offense for 2016. Powell isn’t talking scary bad although he’s been a part of two bad offenses the last two years. He’s talking scary good, something we haven’t seen in Gainesville in a long, long time.
And why shouldn’t the offense be really, really good this year? The offensive line is no longer the least experienced in the SEC (that honor goes to Missouri with three collective starts) and we can see potential stars developing in LT David Sharpe, LG Martez Ivey and RG Tyler Jordan. Plus there is depth for a change.
It’s not like the Gators have lacked speed at the skill positions in the past few years. In 2011 UF had Andre Debose, Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps, Deonte Thompson, Frankie Hammond Jr. and Solomon Patton were on the roster. You could score a lot of points in the sprints at the NCAA meet with that crew. But it’s one thing to have all that speed and no clue what to do with it.
HBC Jim McElwain has a clue and he’s got a triggerman in Luke Del Rio who may not dazzle you with 50-yard throws you could hang laundry on, but the ball will get there soon enough, to the right person and in position where plays can be made. If the line can get in the way of pass rushers and give just enough of a crease that the running backs have a chance to get to the second level, this offense can indeed be scary.
We haven’t seen that in quite awhile. It’s quite a concept.
SEC FOOTBALL NEWS
#1 Alabama: There are changes on the O-line. The starting group for game one against Southern Cal will be LT Cam Robinson, LG Lester Cotton, C Bradley Bozeman, RG Ross Pierschbacher, RT Jonah Williams. Pierschbacher was expected to start at C but with Alphonse Taylor contesting a DUI charge (he was found not guilty Tuesday morning; he tested 0.0 for blood alcohol when he was arrested) Pierschbacher was moved temporarily to RG. You can expect that Pierschbacher will move back to C when Taylor is fully focused on football again … Best matchup vs. #20 Southern Cal: Alabama WR Calvin Ridley vs. USC CB Adoree’ Jackson
Arkansas: Dominique Reed, who caught 28 passes for 535 yards and 6 TDs last season, is back to 100% after an ankle injury and a couple of weeks in Bret Bielema’s doghouse … Best matchup vs. Louisiana Tech: Arkansas CB Henre’ Tolliver vs. LaTech WR Trent Taylor
Auburn: Auburn will start Sean White at QB, much to the chagrin of oddsmaker Danny Sheridan, who told Paul Finebaum that with Franklin starting he could see Auburn with “10 wins” … Best matchup vs. #2 Clemson: Auburn DE Carl Lawson vs. Clemson LT Mitch Hyatt
#17 Georgia: One area that has to improve for Georgia is pass rush. Even though the Bulldogs had elite athletes to rush the passer last year they only came up with 23 sacks, one of the lower totals in the SEC. Getting more production out of Lorenzo Carter and David Bellamy will be a priority for HBC Kirby Smart and DC Mel Tucker … Best matchup vs. #22 North Carolina: Georgia P Brice Ramsey vs. North Carolina PR Ryan Switzer
Kentucky: Expect Kentucky to try to take advantage of its O-line size against a Southern Miss D-line whose largest player is DT Rod Crayton at 287. Kentucky’s O-line averages 6-5 and 315 pounds … Best matchup vs. Southern Miss: Kentucky CB Chris Westry vs. Southern Miss WR D.J. Thompson
#5 LSU: The big question in Baton Rouge is will OC Cam Cameron open up the offense this season? Last year LSU ran the ball 64.5% of the time and averaged an SEC low 179.8 passing yards per game. If the Tigers want to avoid seeing 8-in-the-box Cameron better start throwing on something other than third down … Best matchup vs. Wisconsin: LSU RB Leonard Fournette vs. Wisconsin ILB T.J. Edwards
Mississippi State: The #1 QB battle is too close to call so HBC Dan Mullen will go with a two QB system at least for the season opener against South Alabama. “I want complete clarity and having a defined #1 but I don’t think there is one yet so I plan on us playing more than one in the first quarter,” Mullen said Tuesday … Best matchup vs. South Alabama: Mississippi State WR Fred Ross vs. South Alabama CB Jeremy Reaves
Missouri: Mizzou got high praise from West Virginia HBC Dana Holgorsen, who called the Tigers’ defensive front “arguably one of the best defensive fronts I’ve ever seen.” Of course, Holgorsen said nothing about Mizzou’s offense which could end up being the worst in the country … Best matchup vs. West Virginia: Mizzou DE Charles Harris vs. WVU LT Yodny Cajuste
#11 Ole Miss: With Jordan Wilkins academically ineligible the pressure to carry the running game is on the shoulders of Akeem Judd, who had 77 carries for 421 yards and 3 TDs last year … Best matchup vs. #4 Florida State: Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly vs. FSU secondary
South Carolina: The defensive key for South Carolina in Thursday night’s season opener in Nashville is to contain Vandy’s 1,000-yard rusher Ralph Webb. Last year the Gamecocks held Webb to 58 yards, his lowest total all year of a game in which he played all four quarters… Best matchup vs. Vanderbilt: South Carolina MLB T.J. Holloman vs. Vandy RB Ralph Webb
Tennessee: The Vols are looking to make substantial improvement on defense under new coordinator Bob Shoop, whose defenses at Vandy (2011-13) and Penn State (2014-15) all ranked among the nation’s top 25. Shoop is a blitz freak whose Penn State defense got to the QB for 46 sacks last season … Best matchup vs. Appalachian State: Tennessee KR Evan Berry vs. Appalachian State KOR coverage
Texas A&M: The battle between the Aggie pass rushers and the UCLA O-line should be classic. The Bruins gave up only 14 sacks in 13 games last year while Myles Garrett (11.5) and Daeshon Hall (7.0) were one of the best tandems in all of college football … Best matchup vs. #16 UCLA: Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett vs. UCLA LT Connor McDermott
Vanderbilt: If Vandy can’t protect QB Kyle Shurmur it could be a difficult night for the offense in the season opener against South Carolina Thursday. Although Vandy gave up only 28 sacks last year, its QBs averaged a poor 5.5 yards per pass attempt because they had to unload the ball so early … Best matchup vs. South Carolina: Vandy RB Ralph Webb vs. South Carolina MLB T.J. Holloman
USA TODAY RANKS ALL 128 DIVISION I TEAMS
Top 10 (SEC teams in bold face)
2. Florida State
3. Ohio State
10. Notre Dame
The rest of the top 25: 11. Stanford; 12. Tennessee; 13. Michigan State; 14. San Diego State; 15. Ole Miss; 16. Houston; 17. Oregon; 18. Boise State; Washington; 20. Oklahoma State; 21. Iowa; 22. North Carolina; 23 FLORIDA; 24. Georgia; 25. Texas
Other SEC teams: 29. Auburn; 40. Arkansas; 46. Texas A&M; 55. Mississippi State; 74. Kentucky; 79. Vanderbilt; 84. South Carolina; 87. Missouri
Florida teams: 30. Miami; 35. South Florida; 88. Florida Atlantic; 97. Florida International; 111. UCF
YOU COULD WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP WITH THESE FIVE QUARTERBACKS
Everybody knows all about Deshaun Watson (Clemson), Baker Mayfield (Clemson), J.T. Barrett (Ohio State), Chad Kelly (Ole Miss), Luke Falk (Washington State), Josh Rosen (UCLA) and Seth Russell (Baylor) but here are five QBs from non-Power 5 Conference teams with whom you could win a championship if they played for one of the big boys:
1. Greg Ward Jr., Houston: In his first year in Tom Herman’s offense, all Ward did was throw for 2,828 yards and 17 TDs and rush for 1,108 yards and 21 scores while leading the Cougars to a 13-1 record and a win over FSU in the Peach Bowl.
2. Zach Terrell, Western Michigan: Last year he averaged 9 yards per pass attempt while throwing for 3,526 yards and 29 TDs. He completed 67% of his passes.
3. Nick Mullens, Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles went 9-5 last year when Mullens threw for 4.476 yards and 38 touchdowns.
4. Brent Stockstill, Middle Tennessee: As a redshirt freshman last year, Stockstill threw for 4,005 yards and 30 TDs while completing 66.7% of his passes.
5. Brett Rypien, Boise State: He’s the nephew of Mark Rypien, who won a Super Bowl with the Washington Redskins. As a true freshman last season, he threw for 3,350 yards and 20 touchdowns after taking over as the starting QB in game four.
FOOTBALL COACH POLL
If you had a son who was a great high school football player recruited by every big school in the country, which head coach would you want him to play for? Vote your top three and since this is a Florida site and everybody is presumably a Florida fan, add a special category – why you would or wouldn’t want your kid to play for Jim McElwain.
My choices would be:
1. Nick Saban, Alabama: Any kid who goes to Alabama is going to experience winning football, but he’s also going to have to compete because everybody at Alabama was at the top of somebody else’s wish list and the guy who comes in behind your kid is going to be just as good or better. He does a good job of graduating players and getting them involved in things that prepare them for life after football.
2. Urban Meyer, Ohio State: In many ways, he’s the mirror image of Saban. If you come to Ohio State, you’ll have to compete for playing time with someone just as good or better and Meyer is going to recruit players behind you who are also every bit as good or better. What Meyer does as well or better than anyone else is hire assistant coaches who turn position groups into family extensions. If your kid plays for Saban or Meyer you can almost figure they’ll win a national championship at some point in their careers and have a ton of pro scouts on campus every week to watch them develop.
3. Dabo Swinney, Clemson: He doesn’t get near enough credit for being an outstanding coach. Away from football, he does a tremendous job of getting his players ready for life after football. Kids love him because he can relate to growing up with an alcoholic father and they melt when they learn that Dabo used his Pell Grant money to give his mom a place do live back when he was a walk-on wide receiver at Alabama. That’s the kind of coach I want my kid to play for.
Why Mac: I love the way he disciplines. He makes it perfectly clear that you’re free to make whatever choices you want but with the choice comes the consequences. Good choice equal good consequences and bad choices equal bad consequences. I also think he’s going to win very, very big.
If you thought the Colin Kaepernick news just couldn’t get more bizarre, then read this column by Clay Travis at Outkick the Coverage. Kaepernick talks to the media wearing a Fidel Castro T-shirt … really? http://www.outkickthecoverage.com/colin-kaepernick-wears-fidel-castro-shirt-after-anthem-protest-082916
Former Gator Louis Murphy was placed on the physically unable to perform list by the Tampa Bay Bucs. Among the Gators released in the last two days are: WR Andre Caldwell (Lions; injury settlement); TE Gerald Christian (Arizona); DL Leon Orr (Raiders); KR Andre Debose (Colts); TE Tevin Westbrook (Bucs); S Major Wright (Bucs) and WR Valdez Showers (Redskins).
The Buffalo Bills traded an undisclosed 2018 draft pick to the Green Bay Packers for former Gator LB Lerentee McCray.
The season is over for Minnesota Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater, who dislocated a knee and tore his ACL.
Southern Cal starting LB Osa Masina is under criminal investigation in California and Utah. The Utah case allegedly involves a sexual assault. Masina won’t travel with the team to Dallas where the Trojans face Alabama Saturday night.
Former Air Force QB Dee Dowis, who finished sixth in the 1989 Heisman Trophy voting, was killed in a 2-car auto accident on I-85 near Atlanta Tuesday. Considered one of the best option quarterbacks in college football history, Dowis ran for 3,612 yards and 41 touchdowns in his career at AFA and he threw for 2,870 yards and 19 more TDs.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
To repeat the questions up above: (1) If your son could play for anyone in the country, which coach would you want him to play for; and (2) why would you want your son to play for Jim McElwain?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
My random shuffle music gave me an hour of Electric Light Orchestra this afternoon. That served as a nice reminder just how good Jeff Lynne is as a front man and how underappreciated he has been as a musician over the years. Today’s music is a 2014 concert he did in Hyde Park in London. He will do two nights in New York at Radio City Music Hall on September 16 and 18.