The way the schedule is working out, Florida’s Homecoming game with Missouri Saturday will be sandwiched between open dates. From a health standpoint, that’s not a bad deal for the banged up Gators who could be full strength for the Georgia game in Jacksonville on October 29. The downside of the scheduling is two-fold: (1) timing and (2) getting reps for younger guys in case there are some slow healers.
When it comes to timing, you have to wonder if one game is enough for quarterback Luke Del Rio to get into a groove with his receivers? Also, since there have been injuries on the offensive line, is one game enough for the line to get the cohesion that was there for a half against Tennessee but has been missing in the six quarters since?
If there are slow healers, especially on the offensive line, who can’t get it together in time for the Georgia game, an open date could be counterproductive. Practice reps help, but they aren’t the same as game reps and heading into Georgia, the Gators will need as many experienced bodies on the O-line as possible.
JUST CALL HIM “THE OSTRICH”
Another day and still no decision by Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey regarding the rescheduling of LSU at Florida. Myth has it that when an ostrich is confronted with difficulty, he buries his head in the sand. That sounds like what Sankey is doing. Just call him “The Ostrich.”
SPURRIER SUGGESTS …
This isn’t a new idea by the Head Ball Coach, just one that seems appropriate now that he’s brought it up again. Spurrier has long believed that only the divisional records should count in determining the champions of the East and West divisions, which he is suggesting once again as a possible solution to the current stalemate in the Southeastern Conference.
With the LSU-Florida game in flux and commissioner Greg Sankey unsuccessfully doing his best to placate all parties in a mess that he didn’t create but certainly complicated, this could be the best possible solution. It might very well hand the SEC East title to Tennessee since it might take a miracle of changing water into wine proportions for the Vols to lose divisional games against South Carolina, Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt but it would certainly solve the problem of insubordination and the nightmare of rescheduling games.
SEC FOOTBALL NEWS
#1 Alabama (6-0, 3-0 SEC): Linebacker Reuben Foster and right guard Alphonse Taylor will be game time decisions Saturday when the Crimson Tide faces Tennessee in Knoxville. Both suffered concussions in Alabama’s win over Arkansas last week. If they can’t go, Rashaan Evans will replace Foster and Lester Cotton will take over for Taylor.
#22 Arkansas (4-2, 0-2 SEC): Linebacker Dre Greenlaw, who broke his foot last Saturday against Alabama, is likely out for the season. On the Arkansas depth chart, both Dwain Eugene and De’Jon Harris are listed as co-starters on the weakside ... Adam McFain has replaced Cole Hedlund as the starter at PK.
Auburn (4-2, 2-1 SEC): HBC Gus Malzahn said on the Wednesday SEC Coaches Teleconference that the bye week “couldn’t have come at a better time.” The goal this week is to rest starters and get some work for the backups. The Tigers’ next game is October 22 at home against Arkansas.
Georgia (4-2, 2-2 SEC): Georgia’s defense gets a real boost for Saturday’s game with Vanderbilt with DE Jonathon Ledbetter returning from suspension, ILB Reggie Carter back at practice and cleared to play, and freshman DT David Marshall moving up to the first unit.
Kentucky (3-3, 2-2 SEC): Injured QB Drew Barker’s status is unchanged. Barker has chronic back problems. Initially, it was predicted he would be out of action 3-5 weeks but that might be a tad optimistic.
#25 LSU (3-2, 2-1 SEC): Not that he will be needed this week, but Leonard Fournette will miss a third straight game Saturday against Southern Miss because of that troublesome ankle … Tony Barnhart told Paul Finebaum that interim coach Ed Orgeron is a longshot to take over as the full time HBC. “LSU is going to want a big name with an offensive background,” Barnhart said.
Mississippi State (2-3, 1-2 SEC): Mike Bonner of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported that MSU baseball coach Joe Cohen will become the new AD replacing Scott Stricklin, who takes over at Florida on November 1. MSU president Mark Kennum dismissed the report and in a statement said, “I’m extremely disappointed that a reputable newspaper and reporter would nake such a report without seeking basic confirmation of the facts of the story being circulated.”
Missouri (2-3, 0-2 SEC): Missouri defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that changes are in the works for the defensive unit. “We’re doing some things different this week,” Cross said of a defense that is giving up 421 yards and 23.4 points per game so far.
#13 Ole Miss (3-2, 1-1 SEC): The Rebels rank next to last in scoring defense in the SEC (29.6 points per game), but HBC Hugh Freeze remains confident in defensive coordinator Dave Wommack. “We’ve had our struggles some this year, but it’s nothing Dave has not faced before and I expect him to … he’ll stay the course and continue to provide good leadership for us on the defensive side,” Freeze said.
South Carolina (2-4, 1-4 SEC): With a bye week, South Carolina is re-evaluating its quarterback situation. Perry Orth and true freshman Brandon McIlwain have taken all the snaps in the first six games, but there is a possibility the Gamecocks will make the move to freshman Jake Bentley. “We haven’t gotten enough production from the position,” HBC Will Muschamp said on the SEC Coaches Teleconference.
#11 Tennessee (5-1, 2-1 SEC): There is good news on the injury front for Tennessee as the Vols prep for Saturday’s showdown game with #1 Alabama. Middle linebacker Darrin Kirkland is practicing and could be ready to go Saturday although HBC Butch Jones says it will be a game time decision. Running back Jalen Hurd, who missed the Texas A&M game with a concussion, will be ready to go. The status of center Dylan Wiesman is unknown at this time but Jones says it’s “very, very doubtful” that Wiesman will play.
#6 Texas A&M (6-0, 4-0 SEC): With a bye week this week ahead of the October 22 showdown with #1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Aggie HBC Kevin Sumlin says the week is being used to get healthy and for extra prep for the Bama game. “We need the recovery piece but we also need to take the time for some extra preparation for Alabama,” Sumlin said on the SEC Coaches Teleconference on Wednesday.
Vanderbilt (2-4, 0-3 SEC): Running back Ralph Webb, who injured an ankle in last week’s loss to Kentucky, is expected to go Saturday when the Commodores travel to Georgia. Webb is second in the SEC with 682 rushing yards to go with 5 TDs.
EARLY SIGNING PERIOD PROPOSED AGAIN
Once again the NCAA will take up the call for an early signing period for football. It works for basketball, which has its early signing period in November before opening up a signing period after the NCAA championship game in April, but there is a huge difference in the two sports. For one thing, because of the AAU programs, basketball is a year round sport and by the time a kid reaches his senior year, he’s probably played close to 400 competitive games since his 9th grade year. At some AAU events, it’s possible to play three games in a day and eight in a single weekend. Football is once a week and the wear and tear on young bodies makes even runs to state championships a real meat grinder.
The pro-early signing day argument is that it would take the pressure off a lot of kids who make up their minds early and don’t want the hassles of coaches ignoring their commitments by continuing to recruit and apply the pressure.
The anti-early signing day argument is two-fold: (1) Late November and early December is the start of the firing season so kids who sign early might see their school fire the coach they signed to play for; and (2) more and more kids change their minds … more than once. Under the Letter of Intent rules, once that scholarship is signed it almost takes an act of God to get out of it. An additional argument against an early signing period is that some kids might sign with smaller or lesser schools only to become a shooting star across the recruiting sky midway to late through their senior seasons.
There was a time when I thought early signing was a great idea, but the more I’ve thought about it and researched, the more I’m content with the way things are now. Kids change their minds. Coaches get fired. Kids improve during their senior seasons. An early signing period might benefit some kids, but I can see the potential problems it would cause for far too many others.
When folks think about the Alabama-Tennessee rivalry, they always think of Bear Bryant and Tennessee’s General Bob Neyland, two of the four greatest coaches (Steve Spurrier and Nick Saban are the other two) in the history of the Southeastern Conference. Bryant never beat General Neyland, but that had something to do with the fact that Neyland had retired by the time Bear became the head coach at Alabama in 1958. Now when Bryant was coaching at Kentucky, the Wildcats faced the Neyland-coached Vols seven times but he was 0-5-2 against the General.
Florida State’s ailing secondary has suffered another tough blow. Safety Nate Andrews (44 games played in his career) will have season ending surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle. Already out indefinitely is starting safety – and best defensive player – Derwin James. The situation in the secondary is do desperate the Seminoles have moved receiver Ermon Lane to the defensive backfield.
Just to put some things into perspective, more people have attended Tennessee football games so far (659,875) than live in the states of Wyoming (586,107) and Vermont (626,042). The UT attendance figures get a hefty boost from the 156,990 who saw the Vols play Virginia Tech in Bristol, Tennessee back on September 10.
Currently there are 11 unbeaten teams remaining in Division I – Alabama, 6-0; Clemson, 6-0; Ohio State, 5-0; Michigan, 6-0; Texas A&M, 6-0; Washington, 5-0; Baylor, 5-0; West Virginia, 4-0; Nebraska, 9-0; Western Michigan, 6-0; and Boise State, 5-0. What are the odds there will be more than three unbeaten teams remaining when the regular season ends?
The San Francisco 49ers have restructured Colin Kaepernick’s deal. Instead of a 5-year deal, it’s been reduced to two with Kaepernick having an option to bolt after year one. Kaepernick’s salary remains $19.5 million for 2016 but will be $16.5 million if he says with the 49ers in 2017.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Currently, each SEC team plays 8 conference games – 6 division and 2 from the opposite division. Under the Steve Spurrier suggestion, the only games that would count for determining division champs would be division games. Is that a good idea or should the SEC stick with its current format?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
There are days when Steely Dan is about the only music that gets me going. Wednesday was one of those days when the jazzy sound and the funky lyrics helped turn my day around. Today’s music is a live performance from 2000 as promo for the “Two Against Nature” CD and tour. The performance includes “FM” which I always thought was one of Steely Dan’s most underrated songs.