GRADING THE UF RUNNING BACKS
For the next few days, we’ll be analyzing the 2016 Gators position by position. Yesterday, the quarterbacks, today the running backs.
Jordan Scarlett: Scarlett has proven he can get the tough yards, especially at the goal line, and he has enough speed to get to the second level, but lacks that quick, make-you-miss move that a real breakaway threat has. Scarlett’s longest carry of the year is 33 yards. He’s a liability in the passing game, both as a receiver and as a pass blocker. This is his second full year in the system and he consistently makes the wrong reads when it comes to picking up the blitz. When the O-line is moving people, Scarlett is the kind of back who can carry the football play-after-play and move the chains in the fourth quarter. Regular season stats: 165-795 rushing (4.8 per carry), 6 TDs; 4-23 receiving.
Lamical Perine: Perine emerged as perhaps the go-to back of the future as a true freshman. He’s got more speed and he’s a better receiver out of the backfield than Scarlett, but he hasn’t figured out pass blocking just yet nor has he shown he can be that fourth quarter back who can keep the chains moving in the fourth quarter. He oozes potential, however. He’s a cousin of Oklahoma stud RB Samaje Perine. Regular season stats: 84-416 rushing (4.8 per carry), 1 TD; 9-161 receiving, 1 TD.
Mark Thompson: Thompson has all the skills but one to be Florida’s every down back and workhorse. He’s got power, breakaway speed and he can catch the football. He’s an average but not horrible pass blocker. His only problem is holding on to the football. He’s a fumbler and that curtailed his playing time considerably as the season wore on. Regular season stats: 66-303 rushing (4.5 per carry), 2 TDs; 3-20 receiving.
Jordan Cronkrite: He is Florida’s best pass blocker and receiver out of the backfield, but he got fewer and fewer carries and touches overall as the season progressed. He’s the one back the coaches know can pick up the blitz and make the right reads about who to block, but when he’s in the game nearly everybody knows the Gators are going to be throwing the ball. At one point, it was thought he was going to leave the team just after midseason but he was convinced to return. Will he be back next season? That’s the $64,000 question. Regular season stats: 31-148 rushing (4.7 per carry), 1 TD; 20-120 receiving, 1 TD.
Grade B: Even though one back who could play every down in every situation didn’t emerge, the running backs played reasonably well as a group. Scarlett can get tough yards but when he’s in the game, it’s almost a sure bet the Gators are going to run the football. Perine gives the Gators a receiving option out of the backfield, but he hasn’t shown the ability to be the guy who can carry the load when the goal is moving the chains and killing the clock. Thompson could be a beast if he could be trusted to hold onto the football. There is obviously some serious disconnect between Cronkrite and the staff because he was close to booking it at midseason so it remains to be seen if he hangs around for the 2017 season or transfers out. The biggest area for improvement is in the passing game where catching the football and blocking are problematic depending on who’s in the game. As a group, Florida’s backs could prove to be more than adequate if the offensive line shows dramatic improvement.
Willie Taggart is officially the new HBC at Oregon after signing a 5-year deal that will pay him $3.2 million per year. Taggart made $1.7 million at USF.
The coaching search at Houston just took a rather interesting turn. Just two days after wowing the search committee, Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley pulled his name out of the running. The Houston Chronicle says that the focus is now on defensive coordinator Todd Orlando, offensive coordinator Major Applewhite, former LSU coach Les Miles and Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. Kiffin has leverage because he’s also the top candidate to replace Taggart at South Florida. Miles is also mentioned as a candidate at South Florida along with former Texas HBC Charlie Strong and Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano. Prediction: Kiffin goes to South Florida, Houston selects Les Miles and Applewhite signs on with Ed Orgeron to be LSU’s offensive coordinator.
Oregon State wide receivers coach Brent Brennan is the new head coach at San Jose State.
Former USF coach Jim Leavitt says he’s not interested in the job at Florida Atlantic. Larry Scott, former interim coach at Miami and tight ends coach at Tennessee the last two seasons, is the latest to interview for the vacancy down in Boca Raton.
Dan Mullen’s name keeps popping up for vacant coaching jobs but he says he’s happy at Mississippi State and says a contract extension should be forthcoming.
Western Kentucky is said to be reaching out to Idaho HBC Paul Petrino. Petrino took Idaho to an 8-4 record and a bowl game this year, but Idaho will drop down to D1AA and join the Big Sky Conference next year.
Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell is emerging as a very strong candidate for the job at Cincinnati.
South Carolina offensive line coach Shawn Elliott has emerged as a strong candidate for the vacant Georgia State job.
ASSISTANT COACH SALARY POOLS FOR THE SEC IN 2016
1. LSU $5,781,500
2. Alabama $5,320,000
3. Texas A&M 4,811,000
4. Tennessee $4,545,700
5. Georgia $4,675,000
6. Auburn $4,530,709
7. Florida $4,530,000
8. Ole Miss $4,261,700
9. South Carolina $3,952,400
10. Arkansas $3,893,100
11. Missouri $3,801,800
12. Kentucky $3,403,900
13. Mississippi State $3,295,000
*As a private institution, Vanderbilt is not required to supply salary data of its coaching staff.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Here is an update on some former Gator basketball players not playing in the NBA.
Taurean Green averages 13.3 points, 2.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists for Bnei Hertzeliya in the Israeli league.
Anthony Roberson averages 13.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game for Boulazac Basket Dordogne in the French Pro B league.
Will Yeguete averages 9.8 points and 8.4 rebounds for Le Mans in the French Pro A League. Yeguete will start in the All-Star game.
Erving Walker and Erik Murphy are teammates for Strasbourg in the French league. Walker averages 10.7 points and 3.6 assists per game while Murphy averages 9.6 points and 3.7 rebounds.
Walter Hodge is averaging 14.9 points, 2.4 rebounds and 6.5 assists for Asvel Lyon-Villaeurbanne in the French league.
Through 8 games, Kenny Boynton is averaging 12.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game for Nizhny Novgorod in the Russian league.
Scottie Wilbekin is averaging 8 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists for Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul in the Turkish league.
Alex Tyus is averaging 7.1 points and 4 rebounds per game for Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul in the Turkish league.
Kenny Kadji is averaging 12.7 points and 5 rebounds for Trabzonspor Medical Park in the Turkish league.
Patric Young, still recovering from ACL surgery from last year, is averaging 5.4 point and, 2.6 rebounds per game for Olympiacos in the Greek league.
Nick Calathes averages 8.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 6.2 assists for Panathinaikos in the Greek league.
Casey Prather averages 20.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game for the Perth Wildcats in the Australia-NBL.
Michael Frazier II is averaging 18.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game for Verona in the Italian league.
Eli Carter is averaging 2.6 points and 1.8 rebounds for AE Doxa Lefkadas in the Greek league.
Chris Walker is playing (no stats currently) for Rio Grande Valley in the NBA Developmental League.
Damontre Harris is averaging 7 points and 5.3 rebounds for SK Cherkasy in the Ukrainian league.
Mike Rosario is playing for (no stats currently) Garzas De Plata Hidalgo in the Mexican league.
Cody Larson averages 8.3 points and 4 rebounds per game for UBC Magnofit Gussing in the Austria A league.
Walter Pitchford averages 9.3 points and 5.7 rebounds for Olimpi in the Georgia (country not state) super league.
Vernon Macklin averages 30 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists per game for El Jaysh Army SC Doha in the Qatar D1 league.
Nimrod Tishman plays (no current stats) for Maccabi Ashdod in the Israeli league.
David Huertas averages 24.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists for Hapoel Haifa in the Israeli league.
Eloy Vargas plays for (no stats yet) for Metros de Santiago in the Dominican league.
Jonathan Mitchell averages 16.2 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists for Chartres in the French league.
Adrian Moss plays for (no stats yet) Wolfpack BMS in the Danish league.
Bonell Colas averages 8.9 points and 7.5 rebounds for Randers Cimbria in the Danish league.
Mohamed Abukar averages 16.6 points, 6 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game for Keravnos Srovolou in the Cyprus Division A league.
James White averages 13 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists for Petrochimi Bandar Imam Harbour in the Iranian league.
When he was growing up in Gainesville, Georgia, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson wanted to play for Urban Meyer and the Florida Gators. He still keeps a photo of Meyer and Tim Tebow.
Another of Alabama’s backup quarterbacks is planning to transfer out. David Cornwell announced via Twitter that he will be leaving, marking the third Alabama quarterback to leave since true freshman Jalen Hurts took over as the starting quarterback. Cornwell, who has been on campus for three years, will graduate and be immediately eligible. Cooper Bateman announced his intention to transfer after the SEC Championship Game. Blake Barnett, who left the program in September, is transferring to Arizona State. ESPN reports that Bateman will stay with the team through the playoffs, giving Alabama an experienced backup QB if something were to happen to Hurts.
Former Gator Chris Rainey was named first team All-Canadian Football League as a kickoff/punt returner. Rainey finished the season with 939 punt return yards (13.9 yards per return) for 2 TDs and 1,359 kickoff return yards (23.4 per return).
The Baltimore Orioles won’t sign free agent first baseman/DH Jose Bautista. GM Dan Duquette says it’s because the fans have spoken. “Our fans don’t like Jose Bautista, with good reason,” Duquette said. Bautista has 208 career home runs including 22 last year in a season shortened to 116 games because of injuries.
Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants is taking heat for comments he made about the zebras in last Sunday’s 24-14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. After the game, Beckham said, “Like I said, everybody knows what is going on on the field. Stevie Wonder can see it. It is what it is. You can’t do anything about it. There is no point.”
Division II power North Alabama will join the D1AA Big South Conference for football starting in 2019.
Two days after regaining the #1 ranking, the UConn women ran their winning streak to 83 games when they ran away with a 72-61 win over #2 Notre Dame in South Bend Wednesday night.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
As you assess the Florida football program, what would you list as priority areas that require improvement moving forward?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
From 1987-1996 Anita Baker was money in the bank for Elektra records, but she chose to slow down her career to raise her two sons. That’s admirable but it left a void in rhythm and blues that really hasn’t been filled. No one has emerged that could match Anita’s throaty, sensual style that won 7 Grammy Awards. She still performs live but has released only one studio and one live album since 1994. Today’s music is compilation of her best songs.