Consensus after Florida’s 24-7 win over UMass was it’s going to be more of the same on the offensive side of the ball this year but a theory from a relatively credible source has emerged that’s worth taking a moment to contemplate.
Here’s what was said in layman’s terms: The game plan against UMass was to showcase Dre Massey and establish him as that guy along with Antonio Callaway that makes the safeties back another 10 yards off the line of scrimmage, creating room both underneath for the passing game but for the running backs to get to the second level once they burst through a hole. When Massey went down with the knee a choice was made rather than fill Massey’s role in the game plan with someone else, simply eliminate those pages and go with the other stuff. To back up the theory it was pointed out that Brandon Powell is the guy who would step into the Massey role, but Powell was needed on the outside due to the absence of Tyrie Cleveland. Freddie Swain, a talented kid but a true freshman just the same, played the slot and he’s a true outside receiver.
The conclusion was that the offense will be just fine although lacking depth with Powell in the slot and Cleveland gives the Gators the explosive player on the other side to balance the field. Further, getting C’Yontai Lewis back from his 1-game suspension gives the Gators their big receiver to bust the seams in the middle of the field.
It’s a plausible theory but for the offense to make the kind of improvement that is contemplated it will depend on the good health of the receiving corps. If the Massey injury and the suspensions of Lewis and Cleveland prove, it is the Gators are at least another recruiting class away from that next man up steps in and nobody misses a beat depth that we see with Alabama. Like it or not, Alabama’s ability to replace quality with quality without a drop in productivity is what everybody in the SEC wans, especially Jim McElwain, who worked in that system for four years.
FLORIDA VS. KENTUCKY NOTES: Another addition to the offense will be WR C.J. Worton, who will be available this week. Worton had an impressive spring and is capable of playing in the slot or outside … The defense, which leads the SEC at 187 yards allowed per game and gave up only 3.6 yards per play, will have Jalen Tabor back from suspension, CB/NB Duke Dawson back from a shoulder injury and LB Daniel McMillian back from an ankle.
The strength of the Kentucky defense is the veteran secondary. Although the Wildcats gave up 258 passing yards in their loss to Southern Miss, they did pick off three passes.
Kentucky picked up 3 sacks in that game but only one came from a D-lineman and there were only 2 quarterback hurries registered, which means the Wildcats had trouble pressuring the QB on any kind of a consistent basis.
SEC FOOTBALL NEWS
#1 Alabama (1-0, 0-0 SEC): The one-game suspension of RG Alphonse Taylor is up so he’ll play this week, which should move Ross Pierschbacher back to center … Freshman DL Raekwon Davis finally got cleared by the NCAA so he’s eligible to play Saturday against Western Kentucky. Davis is a 6-7, 315-pounder.
Arkansas (1-0, 0-0 SEC): When Kenny Hill was the starting QB at Texas A&M, he torched the Arkansas defense for 386 yards and 4 TDs. Hill will start Saturday against the Razorbacks for TCU but nickel Henre’ Tolliver isn’t impressed. “He stares down his receivers,” Tolliver said Monday … The Razorbacks got good news on the injury front. Corner D.J. Dean will be 100% for Saturday’s game with TCU as will WR Jared Cornelius and backup TE Austin Cantrell.
Auburn (0-1, 0-0 SEC): Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee defended the play of the offense against Clemson, noting “if you take four plays out” that good things happened. Perhaps he was watching a different film of the game. The Tigers managed only 262 yards, averaged just 2.12 yards per rushing attempt and 3.69 yards per play.
#9 Georgia (1-0, 0-0 SEC): Starting safety Quincy Mauger and backup tight end Charlie Woerner were back in practice, Both missed the first game with ankle sprains … It should come as no surprise but true freshman Jacob Eason is taking the bulk of the first team reps at QB this week as the Bulldogs prepare for D1AA Nicholls.
Kentucky (0-1, 0-0 SEC): After giving up 34 unanswered points and more than 500 yards in the loss to Southern Miss last week, Kentucky’s defense called a team meeting Monday to discuss what went wrong. Said LB Courtney Love, “Our defense is a close defense and we understand what we have and what we’re acing this week and throughout the rest of the season” … To bolster the depth on the D-line, juco transfer Naquez Pringle and freshman T.J. Carter are expected to get more playing time starting this week at Florida.
#22 LSU (0-1, 0-0 SEC): Asked Wednesday if Leonard Fournette practiced, HBC Les Miles replied, “I’m not going to answer that question. Fournette seemed to aggravate an ankle he sprained in fall camp against Wisconsin last week but still carried 23 times for 138 yards and caught 3 passes for 38 … WR Dee Anderson, CB Savion Smith and DE Frank Herron, who were all suspended for the Wisconsin game, will be available Saturday when the Tigers host D1AA Jacksonville State.
Mississippi State (0-1, 0-0 SEC): HBC Dan Mullen hasn’t decided just how much controversial freshman DE Jeffery Simmons will play Saturday when the Bulldogs host South Carolina in their first SEC game of the year. Simmons served a 1-game suspension as a response to a video that surfaced of him punching a woman back in March.
Missouri (0-1, 0-0 SEC): HBC Barry Odom says he made a mistake to lift QB Drew Lock for Marvin Zanders in the second quarter against West Virginia. Offensive coordinator. That’s in contrast to offensive coordinator Josh Heupel who said he made the call to insert Zanders and he wouldn’t have changed a thing. Missouri’s offense bogged down and never got untracked after that. Still, Lock completed 23-51 passes for 280 yards and a TD.
#18 Ole Miss (0-1, 0-0 SEC): Jeremy Liggins, who was withheld from practice during fall camp for violations of team rules, is expected to play this week when the Rebels host Wofford. Liggins entered fall practice as the starting LT. Rod Taylor got the start at LT against FSU but if Liggins steps into the starting lineup, Taylor will likely move back to guard.
South Carolina (1-0, 1-0 SEC): The Gamecocks played only three wide receivers in the season opener against Vanderbilt. The plan is to get young wide receivers involved in the offense moving forward. “We need some of those young receivers to step up,” HBC Will Muschamp said. “They wilt in practice, in my opinion. They need to step up and become better players.”
#14 Tennessee (1-0, 0-0 SEC): Even though he had an erratic performance in game one against Appalachian State, Tennessee HBC Butch Jones says there is “no quarterback controversy or number of quarterbacks. For us it’s Josh Dobbs.” Dobbs was 16-29 passing for 192 yards with 1 TD and 1 interception plus he fumbled the ball into the end zone in overtime. Dobbs ran 9 times for -4 yards.
#24 Texas A&M (1-0, 0-0 SEC): Kevin Sumlin says the Aggies will continue to tweak the offense this week against Prairie View A&M to fit the skill set for QB Trevor Knight. Knight threw for 239 yards and a TD and ran for two other scores in the Aggies win over UCLA last weekend.
Vanderbilt (0-1, 0-1 SEC): Middle Tennessee QB Brent Stockstill has Vandy HBC coach Derek Mason’s undivided attention this week. Stockstill was 30-36 for 329 yards and 5 TDs in the Blue Raiders’ win over Alabama A&M. Mason said, “You know he’s extremely talented, great arm and he’s got weapons around him with (I’Tavius) Mathers and (Terelle) West at tailback.” West and Mathers combined for 22 carries, 145 yards and a TD last week.
RECRUITING BUDGET FOR ALL SPORTS AT SEC SCHOOLS
This is the recruiting budget not just for football but the entire athletic program at all 14 SEC schools (numbers courtesy of ESPN.com).
1. Auburn $2,410,161
2. Georgia $2,373,361
3. Kentucky $2,257,148
4. Alabama $2,174,756
5. Tennessee $2,117,501
6. LSU $1,837,925
7. FLORIDA $1,814,656
8. Arkansas $1,739,940
9. Texas A&M $1,496, 425
10. South Carolina $1,325,488
11. Missouri $1,252,674
12. Vanderbilt $1,245,435
13. Ole Miss $1,192,546
14. Mississippi State $1,139,415
RATING THE DIVISION I FOOTBALL CONFERENCES
1. BIG TEN: With four teams in the top 10 and a chance to make statements looming for Ohio State (at Oklahoma) and Michigan State (at Notre Dame), both on September 17, the league is in position to stay in the top spot all season.
2. ACC: Clemson and Florida State are the numbers 2 and 3 teams in the country but don’t count on Louisville and both Miami and North Carolina are going to be ranked in the top 25 all season. Virginia Tech could make a big statement this weekend against Tennessee.
3. SEC: Okay, so maybe this year the league really is Alabama and the 13 Dwarves. Alabama is better than any team in the country but with only four non-conference games remaining against ranked teams it’s going to be very hard for the league as a whole to move up.
4. BIG 12: Oklahoma already has a loss so all eyes are on Texas to carry the torch for the league. Baylor and TCU still have talent but not enough for the league to move up any higher.
5. PAC 12: Stanford is probably overrated. Washington could emerge as the best team and Oregon has enough offensive talent to make things quite interesting. There aren’t many studs but a lot of duds in this league.
6. AMERICAN: Houston is the best team in the league and capable of running the table. But Houston is going to be departing for the Big 12 soon and perhaps Memphis and UCF. The league will scramble to find quality teams.
7. CONFERENCE USA: The league has four quality teams in Western Kentucky, Middle Tennessee, Marshall and Southern Miss. Southern Miss already has a win over an SEC team and no one should be shocked if Middle Tennessee knocks of Vandy in Nashville this weekend either.
8. MOUNTAIN WEST: Boise State, San Diego State and Air Force can play with just about anyone in the country, but the rest of the league is at best average.
9. SUN BELT: South Alabama beat an SEC team and Appalachian State took Tennessee into overtime at Neyland. Georgia Southern probably pops the South Alabama bubble this week. The rest of the league is pretty weak.
10. MID-AMERICA: Western Michigan got a win over Northwestern on the road but the rest of the league looked mediocre, highlighted by Bowling Green’s 77-10 loss to Ohio State.
IS HOUSTON A MORTAL LOCK FOR BIG 12 EXPANSION PLANS?
By virtue of its dominant win over then #3 Oklahoma last weekend, Houston seems to have elevated its status to mortal lock when the Big 12 announces expansion plans whether the league adds two or four teams. With a schedule that includes only one ranked team the rest of the way (#19 Louisville), the Cougars have a real shot to run the table and crash the Power 5 conferences’ final four party. Some national pundits continue to push BYU as the second team for the league, but the question that no one has answered is how would the Big 12 deal with BYU’s ban of playing on Sunday? That would affect all the other sports. Also, the LGBT community has voiced its opposition to adding BYU because of the Mormon church’s stance on gay marriage and other issues. The league presidents will meet October 16-17 and expansion plans are expected to be announced at that time.
The US Olympic Committee and USA Swimming have suspended Ryan Lochte for 10 months. Lochte will also be banned from the 2017 World Championships in Budapest.
Former Baylor coach Art Briles seemed quite contrite in an interview with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi. Briles told Rinaldi, “I made mistakes. I did wrong, but I’m not doing this [interview] to make myself feel better for apologizing. I understand I made some mistakes. There was some bad things that went on under my watch. I was the captain of the ship. The captain of the ship goes down with it.” If you’re a gambling man, bet the ranch that Briles is coaching somewhere in Division I, perhaps even at a power 5 school, next year.
After Louisiana-Lafayette took a 45-10 pounding to Boise State in the season opener, HBC Mark Hudspeth fired defensive coordinator Melvin Smith. Taking over as interim DC is Mike Lucas, who coaches defensive backs.
Serena Williams needed three sets to knock off Simona Halep in the quarter-finals of the US Open Tennis. Did any of you bother to watch?
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Tiger Woods is planning to play three PGA events in October as he attempts to come back from back surgery. Do you think it’s possible that he could ever win on a consistent basis again or is this going to go down as a futile attempt to rediscover a career that’s been over for awhile?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
The Tedeschi Trucks Band is touring but they won’t be heading south this fall, spending most their tour dates on the Left Coast or the northeast until they call it a year on December 3. So, for today’s music, here is a performance by the band a couple of weeks ago at the Lockn Festival. The next to last song is a terrific cover of the Miles Davis classic “Bitches Brew.”