Back on August 12, Jimmy Hyams of the gridironnow.com website, wrote about every team in the SEC, quoting coaches anonymously. Here are a few of the more interesting quotes and the reality now that we’re a week away from the end of the regular season.
Florida: “Geoff (Collins) is overrated,” the coach said. “He’s overrated as a tactician. He’s 11 to 14 among SEC defensive coordinators. He’s not in the top 10, I don’t think.”
Reality: Explain why it is the Gators have given up only 130 points in 10 games (tied for third nationally) and the defense, despite losing two All-SEC type linebackers (Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone) and a first team All-America safety to injury is allowing only 282.1 yards per game, which is second best in the SEC and fifth nationally.
Georgia: “Georgia is a team to watch,” the coach said. “Everybody is behind Kirby. They had 93,000 at the spring game. And Kirby is a get-it-done type guy. He knows how to do the deal. They’ve already got a machine rolling.”
Reality: That Georgia machine is 7-4 and probably should have lost to D1AA Nicholls State, Missouri and Kentucky. Yep, that’s really a machine and damn, they’re really rolling, aren’t they?
Kentucky: One coach said Kentucky plays “tough, hard-nosed defense, but I think the up-tempo, no-huddle offense they run has put a lot of stress on their defense, which masks the fact you don’t realize how improved they are on defense.”
Reality: That tough, hard nosed defense is giving up 30.5 points and 428.5 yards per game. Last year, Kentucky gave up 27.4 points and 394.2 yards per game. This year, opponents run for 220 yards per game and the Mildcats have given up 40+ on four occasions and more than 30 two others.
Missouri: “Missouri might win eight or nine games,” the coach said. “Barry Odom has an edge to him and his team will have an edge. They could be the surprise in the East. They’ve got good players on defense.”
Reality: Mizzou is 3-8 overall and 1-6 in SEC play. Those good players on defense are giving up 32.2 points per game and 477.5 yards per game including 239.91 on the ground. The Tigers have given up more than 40 points twice, 50 points once and 63 in last Saturday’s loss to Tennessee.
South Carolina: "Will Muschamp is a good football coach. For him, it's about generating new energy and finding some guys that are game-changers. The only one they had left, (wide receiver) Pharoh Cooper. How will they score? I don't know. It's going to take some time to generate the talent pool necessary.
Reality: Once the Gamecocks found quarterback in freshman Jake Bentley the offense suddenly became productive and South Carolina started winning. The Gamecocks are 6-5 and going to a bowl game.
Tennessee: This is Butch Jones’ fourth year, and he’s done a hell of a job,” one coach said of Tennessee’s coach. “This ain’t a make-or-break year, but this is a year where he needs to win 10. This is his double-digit year. He needs to win the East.”
Reality: This “hell of a job” coach is 8-3 but it’s not inconceivable that the Vols are 5-6. Injuries certainly haven’t helped, but even with the injuries, Tennessee has out-talented all but one or two teams on the schedule. There is no SEC East title. Again.
Vanderbilt: “If they can get consistent quarterback play, they can compete with a lot of teams,” the coach said. “They are well-coached, particularly on defense. Derek Mason has done a great job with that defense. Last year, he had a lot of good defensive players.”
Reality: Kyle Shurmur is better than he was last year but he is just now figuring out consistency. Ironically, Vandy’s best three defensive games this year (308 yards to South Carolina, 236 to Florida and 307 to Kentucky) all were losses. Vandy gives up 21.5 points per game and 401.3 yards.
GATORS IMPROVE TO 4-0
Mike White has Florida off to a 4-0 basketball start after the Gators demolished Belmont, 78-61, in Tampa Monday night. The Gators got off to a 15-0 start in the first 5 minutes of the game and then sealed the win with a 16-0 run in the second half. Four Gators scored in double figures led by Canyon Barry with 17, KeVaughn Allen with 14, John Egbuny with 12 and Devin Robinson with 11.
Florida shot an improved 45.8% from the field and added a nice 19-24 (79.2%) night from the foul line. Most impressive was a Florida defense which held the Bruins of the Ohio Valley Conference to 39.2% shooting overall and 25.7% from the 3-point line while forcing 20 turnovers.
Next up for the Gators is Seton Hall Thanksgiving night in the Advocare Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on the Disney property in Lake Buena Vista.
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM ON TUESDAY
1. Tennessee coach Butch Jones said Monday, “We just won our eighth game. That hasn’t been done here in awhile.” I guess it all depends on what your definition of awhile is. Last year the Vols went 9-4. And, 8-3 this season could just as easily be 5-6.
2. Since we’re on the subject of Butch Jones and Tennessee, do you remember back in May when new UT defensive coordinator Bob Shoop stated that nobody is going to run on the Vols this year? Well, Texas A&M gouged the Vols for 353 and the next week Alabama went off for 409. In the last two weeks, Kentucky ran for 443 and Missouri 420. In those four games (losses to the Aggies and Bama; wins vs. Kentucky and Mizzou), the Vols have given up 167 points. To put that in perspective, Alabama has given up only 125 points ALL SEASON and Florida has given up only 130. Bob Neyland is rolling over in his grave.
3. If Kevin Sumlin elects to bolt Texas A&M for what he perceives as greener pastures, he won’t have to pay a buyout if he leaves prior to January 1. It’s highly unlikely Sumlin would leave for another college job and you have to wonder if an NFL team would be willing to take a flyer on a college coach with a history of running off talented quarterbacks.
4. The Iron Bowl is this weekend and Auburn still doesn’t know if QB Sean White or RB Kamryn Pettway will be able to play. Pettway had 1,106 rushing yards before injuring a hamstring during a 60-yard run against Vanderbilt. White isn’t a prolific passer but he’s accurate and the offense runs smoothly when he offers the threat of a downfield throw. He’s gone for 1,644 yards (8.3 per attempt) and 9 TDs (3 INTs) plus he’s run for 2 more.
5. Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher is the #1 priority for LSU in its coaching search, but with Texas about to open, Jimbo might be the top choice for the Longhorns as well. Texas has more money than LSU, won’t even blink if Jimbo asks for $8 or $9 million and they’ll pay whatever it takes to hire the staff Jimbo wants. There are stories that the boosters at UT want Tom Herman, but there are also stories out of Houston that Herman may not want UT.
6. Maybe I’m hard of hearing, but has anyone heard a peep out of Crazy Joe Alleva about that loss to a Florida team he called chicken?
1. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville: Jackson remains the Heisman favorite but his performance against Houston (211 passing yards for 1 TD; sacked 11 times for -83 yards) has opened the door for someone else to win. Even with the bad game against Houston, Jackson’s stats are ridiculous – 204-357 passing for 3,109 yards (8.7 per attempt) and 28 TDs (6 INTs); 209-1,367 yards rushing (6.54 per carry) and 19 TDs. He really needs a statistically insane game against Kentucky to refocus the voters on what he’s accomplished this year.
2. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma: Mayfield was far more productive in Oklahoma’s two losses than Jackson was in the loss to Louisville. Should he light up #11 Oklahoma State in the Bedlam game on December 3, Mayfield could convince the voters that he’s the best for 2016. For the season he is 222-311 passing (71.4%) for 3,381 yards (10.9 per attempt) and 35 TDs (8 picks) with 138 rushing yards and 6 more TDs.
3. Jalen Hurts, QB, Alabama: Could he sneak in and win it as a true freshman? Don’t count him out if he lights up Auburn in the Iron Bowl and then leads the Crimson Tide to a 13-0 mark with a win in the SEC Championship Game. All things considered, his stats are eye-popping: 182-281 passing for 2,168 yards (7.7 per attempt) and 19 TDs (7 INTs); 142-803 rushing (5.65 per carry) and 11 TDs. There is a really good chance he will go into the playoffs with more than 2,500 passing yards, 1,000 rushing yards and 35 touchdowns rushing and passing.
1. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson: Watson bounced back from the loss to Pittsburgh with 1 TDP and 2 rushing TDs in the win over Wake Forest. He has been very good this year just not spectacular. For the season Watson is 279-420 passing for 3,279 yards (7.8 per attempt) and 28 TDs (13 INTs, ouch!); 107-425 rushing (3.97 per carry) for 4 TDs.
2. J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State: If he has a great game against Michigan and Ohio State wins on Saturday, Barrett probably makes the Heisman podium. His numbers are 199-314 passing for 2,304 yards (7.3 per attempt) and 24 TDs (4 INTs); 164-722 rushing (4.4 per carry) and 8 TDs.
3. Jake Browning, QB, Washington: Even if he lights up Washington State this weekend, his chances to make the Heisman podium have come and gone because of that below average performance in Washington’s only loss to Southern Cal. Browning is a sophomore and poised to be one of the early Heisman frontrunners next year. He’s 193-300 passing for 2,870 yards (9.6 per attempt) and 37 TDs (7 INTs) with 4 rushing TDs.
4. Donnell Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State: Not that he really had a chance to get on the podium, but 76 yards in a loss to Wyoming were a killer. His season totals are impressive – 287-1,855 yards rushing (6.46 per carry) and 14 TDs; 25 catches for 197 yards.
5. Zach Terrell, QB, Western Michigan: If Terrell leads WMU to wins in the final regular season game with Toledo and the MAC title game, the Broncos will finish 13-0 and that should get Terrell at least a top 10 finish and that would be outstanding. He’s 209-293 passing (71.3%) for 2,890 yards (9.9 yards per attempt) and 27 TDs (1 INT); 205 rushing yards for 6 TDs.
1. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State: If FSU were unbeaten, Cook would be on the A-list. With 3 losses, he doesn’t even sniff the podium. For the season he is 242-1,467 rushing yards (6.06 per carry) and 17 TDs with 27 catches for 400 yards and 1 TD.
2. D’Onta Foreman, RB, Texas: He will probably go over 2,000 rushing yards but it’s overshadowed by the fact his coach is about to be fired after Friday’s game with TCU. Foreman ran for 250 in the loss to Kansas last Saturday. He is 292-1863 rushing for 15 TDs this year.
3. Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina: Trubisky could make some Heisman noise next year if he comes back for his senior season. This year he is 258-370 passing for 3,188 yards (8.6 per attempt) and 25 TDs (4 INTs); 215 rushing yards for 5 TDs.
Jurgen Klinsman has been fired as the manager of the men’s national team by the U.S. Soccer Federation. There are still 8 matches remaining for the US to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, but the team is without a manager now and has lost its last two matches to Mexico and Costa Rica.
Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler reminds me of something (now) Western Kentucky basketball coach Rick Stansbury once told me while we were watching a game at the Nike Peach Jam. I asked Rick if a certain guard could play in the SEC. Rick responded, “He can play in the SEC but if he’s playing for you, you’re going to lose.” I think that about Cutler’s QB skills.
Michigan State’s 78-77 win over Florida Gulf Coast was aided by a time-keeping error at the end of the game. The zebra in charge of the clock started the clock when an inbounds pass was thrown and not when the ball was caught at the other end of the floor. The buzzer went off before Antravious Simmons could turn and take a shot. The play was reviewable but somehow the zebras ruled that the play stood. Stuff like that happens in the Big Ten.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Now that the SEC East has been decided, which team in the division was most overrated: Georgia or Tennessee? And which of the 7 teams has been the most surprising?
SECOND QUESTION OF THE DAY
This isn’t sports related. If you were alive on November 22, 1963, do you remember where you were and what you were doing when you heard that President Kennedy had been assassinated?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Despite having his pancreas removed in 2001, Chris Rea continues to make music although he no longer performs live. Todays’ music is his “Farewell Tour” from 2006. He also made another farewell tour in 2014 and performed at Montreux.