Kan Li / Scout

Franz Beard's Thoughts of the Day; Oct. 4

A few thoughts to jump start your Tuesday morning...

Toss the youth excuse out the window for Florida’s offensive line.

It doesn’t work anymore for HBC Jim McElwain who said Monday, “These guys have played enough. I’m not one of these coaches who’s going to sit up here and play the youth card.”

Mac is right. These guys have played enough that there should never be a game like the one we saw Saturday when Vanderbilt spent most of the day stuffing the Gators at the line of scrimmage when they weren’t making QB Austin Appleby run for his life. It’s one thing to be overpowered by the likes of Alabama, which typically sends all five of its starters to the NFL, but Vanderbilt? There isn’t a Vandy lineman who could compete for a spot on Bama’s three-deep chart.

It’s good to hear McElwain verbalizing what Florida fans have been saying all along but while it might sound good to the ear of fans who have been begging for some semblance of consistency, there is always that chance we will be filing this under the category of Happy Talk. After all, when is the last time the threat of no more excuses actually motivated an offensive line to perform better. That’s not saying it can’t be done, but only that it’s unlikely.

There is no doubt that Mac means what he says but this is only his public acknowledgement of a problem that dates all the way back to last season and has carried over through the spring, August camp and the first five games this season. Do you think for even one second McElwain hasn’t made this same appeal to his players countless times prior to his Monday press conference?

Maybe we will see improvement in the days and weeks to come. There has to be if the Gators are going to remain in the race for the SEC Eastern Division championship, but at least poor play by the O-line will no longer be glossed over.

And, while we’re on the subject of excuses, someone please explain how it is the Gators have underperformed on the O-line the last six years. Just take a look at the O-line personnel from 2010-14 that played at least one season in the NFL or spent at least one season on the practice squad.

2010: Steve Addazio’s last year as the O-line coach. He was also the OC that year.

C Mike Pouncey: An All-American at guard, moved to center for 2010. Drafted in the first round by the Miami Dolphins in 2011 and is a Pro Bowler in the NFL.

G Jon Halapio

G Maurice Hurt: Spent 3 seasons with the Washington Redskins before injuries ended his career.

T Marcus Gilbert: Starting LT for the Pittsburgh Steelers

T Matt Patchan

T Xavier Nixon

T Chaz Green

T Ian Silberman

2011: Frank Verducci was Charlie Weis’ hand-picked O-line coach.

C Jonotthan Harrison  

G Jon Halapio

G Ian Silberman

T Matt Patchan

T Chaz Green

T Xavier Nixon: Spent a year with the Indianapolis Colts and one with the Washington Redskins

2012: This was the first year coaching the OL for Tim Davis

C Jonotthan Harrison

G Jon Halapio

G Max Garcia

G Ian Silberman

T Matt Patchan: Missed  the entire 2012 season with an injury, transferred to Boston College and made second team All-ACC in 2013. Tampa Bay Bucs practice squad.

T Chaz Green

T D.J. Humphries

2013: Tim Davis was in his second year as OL coach with Brent Pease as the OC.

C Jonotthan Harrison: Has started at C but now backup C/G for the Indianapolis Colts

G Jon Halapio: Has spent 3 seasons in the NFL, two with the New England Patriots

G Max Garcia

G Ian Silberman: Transferred to Boston College after the 2013 season, made second team All-ACC as a LT. Spent one year with the San Francisco 49ers; now on New England Patriots practice squad

T D.J. Humphries

T Trenton Brown

T Chaz Green

2014: The OC was Kurt Roper and the OL coach was Mike Summers, who is now in his third season.

C Max Garcia: Starts at LG for the Denver Broncos

G Trenton Brown: Starts at RT for the San Francisco 49ers

T Chaz Green: Starts at LT for the Dallas Cowboys

T D.J. Humphries: Starts at RT for the Arizona Cardinals 2015


Chase Johnson (6-8, 205, Ripley, WV/Huntington, WV Huntington Prep) has committed to Mike White and UF, becoming the third member of the Gators’ 2017 recruiting class. A power forward in high school, Johnson is expected to play on the perimeter at the next level. He’s got a good jumper from 15-17 feet and is comfortable putting the ball on the deck and driving with either hand. Johnson joins a class that includes PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (6-4, 180, Brampton, Ontario/Chattanooga, TN Hamilton Heights Christian) and SG DeAundrae Ballard (6-4, 180, Atlanta, GA Southwest Atlanta Christian). Prior to Johnson’s commitment, the Gators had Scout.com’s 20th-ranked recruiting class.


1. BIG TEN: Ohio State and Michigan are top four, Ohio State gets the edge because of J.T. Barrett, who is playing his way onto the Heisman podium. Wisconsin shouldn’t have dropped out of the top 10 after losing 14-7 at The Big House. Nebraska is much improved. Michigan State will take another year to get the mojo back. Everybody keeps waiting for Maryland to implode but the Turtles are 5-0.

2. SEC: Alabama is still the king, but the Aggies and Tennessee are starting to look like they’re top 10 capable. No one can stop the Ole Miss offense. Who knows how good the Rebels will be if they figure out a defense? LSU and Arkansas could upset a lot of applecarts.

3. ACC: Clemson and Louisville lived up to the hype as the best two teams in the league with the best two QBs in the country in Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson. Miami hiring Mark Richt is looking like the steal of the century. If the Hurricanes put the Seminoles away this weekend they’re for real. Larry Fedora offenses can move the ball and score on anyone, but the Tar Heels have to win shootouts because the defense still doesn’t get the job done. Stick a fork in the Seminoles.

4. PAC-12: Washington is the lone hope the Pac-12 can have a playoff team. The Huskies are for real and they have a budding superstar in QB Jake Browning. Stanford has been exposed. Christian McCaffrey is a great player but it will be next to impossible for him to duplicate last year’s numbers.

5. BIG 12: An unbeaten Baylor is the league’s one hope to make it to the playoff and unless the Bears figure out defense, that’s not going to happen. Oklahoma might have been great and Texas is already in coach search mode. This league needs to expand and add Houston in the worst way.

6. AMERICAN: Houston could crash the playoff party if the Cougars can knock off Louisville in November. The league could lose Houston, Cincinnati and Memphis to the Big 12.

7. CONFERENCE USA: Southern Miss, Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky can play with a lot of power conference teams and Marshall isn’t as bad as the record might indicate.

8. MOUNTAIN WEST:  The league’s credibility was dashed when San Diego State lost to South Alabama. In the same game, Donnell Pumphrey’s longshot Heisman hopes were kneecapped. Boise State and Air Force are all but begging the Big 12 to make them part of expansion plans.

9. MAC: The good news is that Western Michigan cracked the Coaches Poll top 25. That’s also the bad news because P.J. Fleck is the league’s best coach and he’s not going to be coaching in the MAC beyond this year.

10. SUN BELT: South Alabama scored a huge win for the league by knocking off San Diego State. Appalachian State, Georgia Southern and Troy can play and win against any non-power conference team. The rest of the league is on speed dial for every AD in the county who needs a homecoming opponent.


1. Florida State at Miami: The Seminoles aren’t nearly the team everybody thought they would be when the season began but it would be a statement for Miami to knock them off. The Canes aren’t back yet, but they’re getting there in a hurry. Mark Richt was the right guy at just the right time. What happens if the Seminoles have THREE losses at midseason?

2. Tennessee at Texas A&M: If the Vols follow their recent trend and fall behind by double digits in this one, there is every good chance they lose. If they beat the Aggies, however, and then somehow beat Alabama at Neyland the next week it’s smooth sailing the rest of the way. As important as this game is to the Vols, it’s doubly important for the Aggies, who have collapsed in October the last two seasons. A win will make a statement.

3. Texas-Oklahoma in Dallas: There are huge coaching implications on both sides. If Charlie Strong and the Longhorns get blown out, there won’t be much that can be done to save his job. There are all sorts of whisperings that Bob Stoops might be ready to take on a new challenge somewhere other than Oklahoma. A third loss at midseason could be just the trigger point for Stoops.

4. Washington at Oregon: A win says that Chris Peterson has Washington turned around for good. A loss says Mark Helfrich needs to have his agent put out feelers for a new job somewhere.

5. Maryland at Penn State: A win and the Terps have to be taken seriously. A loss and James Franklin needs to start interviewing real estate agents because his days in Happy Valley are going to be numbered.  

6. Alabama at Arkansas: On paper, Alabama is a solid 14-point favorite, but the Hogs have made the Crimson Tide sweat out wins in each of the last two years including a 14-13 win in Alabama that came with a nice assist from SEC zebras. At some point Bret Bielema is going to get his signature SEC win. 


At the 1973 Masters, Milton Richman, the sports editor of UPI who was one of my mentors, grabbed me by the sleeve and said, “Leave your notebook and come with me.” I did as instructed and we walked out of the media building to the players’ parking lot, arriving at a car at the exact same time as Arnold Palmer. Arnie and Milt were friends and Milt was kind enough to introduce me. For the next 30 minutes we just stood around and talked. No notes and very little golf. This wasn’t an interview, just a friendly conversation between Milt and Arnie that I was privileged to share. I was starstruck and Arnold Palmer sensed it, so he included me in the conversation. He didn’t have to do that. I was perfectly content just to stand there and listen. When the conversation was over and we walked away, Milt Richman put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Now you know why Arnold Palmer is the king. He made you feel like a million bucks. He makes everybody feel like a million bucks. You’ll never hear him say anything condescending and he treats everyone from the corporate guys with all the money to the average Joe fan the same way. There will never be another one like him.”


Charlie Strong demoted defensive coordinator Vance Bedford and will take over the defensive play calls the rest of the year. That’s not a bad place to start but it might be a game or two too late. Strong has fired eight assistants since taking over at Texas three years ago.

Tom Brady is eligible to play again. Someone please tell me what the NFL actually accomplished with that kangaroo court and subsequent 4-game suspension of the game’s best player. I can’t say for sure Brady was complicit in Deflate-Gate and neither can Roger Goodell.

The best two coaches in college football are unquestionably Nick Saban and Urban Meyer. Saban is 196-60-1 overall as a head coach, 105-18 at Alabama and 55-6 since 2012. Meyer is 158-27 overall and 54-4 since 2012 when he took over at Ohio State. Meanwhile, Houston coach Tom Herman is 17-1 since taking over the head coach whistle.

Has any team been jinxed more with first round draft picks than the Philadelphia 76ers? Nerlens Noel missed his rookie season (2013-14) rehabbing a knee. Joel Embiid (first round 2014) still hasn’t made his pro debut due to foot injuries. Now first round pick Ben Simmons has a broken foot that required surgery and may cost him the entire season.


Given the struggles of the offensive line, what do you think is a realistic finish for the Gators in 2016?


I found this rather cool concert from 2013 in which Eric Clapton’s band put on a memorable show in Basel, Switzerland. About the 42:00 mark the band plays a classic from one-hit wonder of the 1970s, “How Long (Has This Been Going On).”


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