Jim McElwain has mastered the art of saying a lot of words without offering up a whole lot of substance. Take Monday for instance.
When discussing the quarterback situation, McElwain offered up this gem.
“I think it’s starting to sort itself out and the natural question is well, what’s sorting itself out? … You’ll find out.”
Okay. We’ll find out. When? In this lifetime? If you are looking for something definitive about the quarterbacks, don’t hold your breath but that’s just Mac’s way. By now you should be used to it. Don’t look for any great quotes just look for results on the field.
Since I’m still waiting to find out what sorting itself out is, here is what I can share with you from two sources: (1) Hollywood Bob, who talks to a lot more people than I do about who’s a stud and who’s a dud at practice and (2) a former player who’s seen enough to form a rather solid opinion.
Feleipe Franks: He has tremendous physical talent and a very strong arm, but he struggles with accuracy at times and takes unnecessary chances downfield. I was told that he is reminiscent of a streak shooter in basketball, the kind of guy who can miss 7 in a row, then heat up and hit the next 10. He will make spectacular plays but can offset them with some dumb ones, too. Franks can make plays with his feet but sometimes needs a bit more pocket presence. He’s a charismatic leader and the team believes in him, which probably tells you why he’s likely to be the starter in the fall.
Kyle Trask: There isn’t a throw he can’t make and he’s a pure pocket passer, but he doesn’t have starting experience and it shows on the field. Whereas Franks got plenty of starts in high school Trask is still new to it all which makes him tentative at times. Franks will go through progressions quickly and make a decision but Trask is more methodical. But, if you’re looking for someone to make a throw in a tight window and get it there accurately, this is your guy.
Summary of the situation: Ball Park Franks is the number one although you shouldn’t expect McElwain to name him the clearcut starter after the Orange and Blue Game Friday night. The difference is experience. Franks has it. Trask doesn’t.
QUARTERBACK SITUATION AT THE OTHER 13 SEC SCHOOLS
Alabama: Everybody knows Jalen Hurts is a terrific runner. This spring it’s evident he’s been working on his passing game. He’s making better decisions and throwing the ball with better accuracy. Early enrollee freshman Tua Tagovailova is impressive but he’s no threat to take the job away from Hurts.
Arkansas: Well known quarterback guru Ken Mastrole, who runs the Matrole Quarterback Academy in Boca Raton, has been working with Arkansas QB Austin Allen, who will be a second year starter this fall. Mastrole says, “At Arkansas, they should be excited about him.” Right now the backup is 3rd-year sophomore Ty Storey.
Auburn: Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham will be the starter in the fall. Last year’s starter Sean White is injured this spring so the backup reps are going to true freshman Malik Willis and redshirt freshman Woody Barrett.
Georgia: Sophomore Jacob Eason is the returning starter but there are reports he’s being seriously pushed by early enrollee freshman Jake Fromm. When describing Eason, former Alabama QB and ESPN analyst Greg McElroy said, “Eason is a statue in the pocket, hasn’t been able to move off his spot … I think he has too much arm for his own good sometimes and can put a little too much heat on the ball.”
Kentucky: Stephen Johnson was brought in from juco to back up Drew Barker, but when Barker went down with a back injury Johnson came on to ignite the offense. Johnson is still the starter but Barker has been impressive in scrimmages as he tries to rebound from the injury. Gunnar Hoak is thought to be neck and neck with Barker.
LSU: Incumbent starter Danny Etling hasn’t done anything to lose the starting job, but he’s being pushed by sophomore Justin McMillan, redshirt freshman Lindsey Scott Jr. and true freshman Lowell Narcisse. The most talented of the LSU quarterbacks could be freshman Myles Brennan, who won’t arrive until the fall.
Mississippi State: Nick Fitzgerald is back for a second season as the starting QB. Early enrollee Keytaon Thompson is the only other quarterback on the spring roster.
Missouri: If Drew Lock improves as much this year as he did from his freshman to sophomore seasons, he could be a candidate to leave early for the NFL Draft. The backup is former juco transfer Jack Lowary, who redshirted last season.
Ole Miss: Shea Patterson is adapting easily to the offensive scheme of new coordinator Phil Longo. He’s already drawing comparisons to former Texas A&M Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. Juco Jordan Ta’amu has been very impressive as the backup.
South Carolina: The starter is Jake Bentley, who started the last seven games in 2016 when he should have been a senior in high school. Former Alabama QB and ESPN analyst Greg McElroy started on The Cube Show with Cole Cubelic, “I think Jake Bentley is a better college quarterback than Jacob Eason (Georgia) at this point and it isn’t close.”
Tennessee: The battle to replace Joshua Dobbs is so close that Butch Jones might go with a two QB system in the fall with Quinten Dormady the pure pocket passer and redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano as the dual threat guy.
Texas A&M: Kevin Sumlin says the Aggies won’t name a starting QB until the fall. The three battling for the number one job are senior and career backup Jake Hubenak, redshirt freshman Nick Starkel and early enrollee Kellen Mond.
Vanderbilt: Kyle Shurmur will return for his third season as a starter. He threw for 88 yards and a TD in the spring scrimmage. Backups are Shawn Stankavage and Deuce Wallace.
NORTH CAROLINA WINS NCAA TITLE
The final score was North Carolina 71, Gonzaga 65. The score would tell you it was an exciting game, white knuckles to the end. Unfortunately, the zebra crew took the flow from the game with far too many whistles. There were 44 fouls called, 22 on each team, and we spent the final 15 minutes with both teams playing tentatively because of the zebras, who made themselves far too much a part of the game. There was a 10 minute stretch from 15:00 in the second half to the 5-minute mark that was downright painful to watch.
Now, with that being said, the zebras didn’t change the outcome. They simply turned what could have been a great game into a grind. Give North Carolina credit for having enough composure to put it together at the end to win a third national championship for Roy Williams and a sixth for UNC, third all-time behind UCLA (11) and Kentucky (8).
North Carolina’s hero was Florida native Joel Berry, who rebounded from a dismal performance against Oregon to play the game of his life to lead the Tar Heels to the win. He scored 22 surprising points to go with 6 rebounds and came away with the Most Outstanding Player award for the Final Four.
Gonzaga will watch the film of this game and wonder why was it so many shots in the paint just wouldn’t fall. The Zags had at least 10 shots that hung on the rim and wouldn’t go in and another 10 chippies that were simply missed.
JUWAN DURHAM TRANSFERRING FROM UCONN
Juwan Durham (6-10, 215) has become the third player in a week to announce he’s transferring out of UConn. Durham spent the past season playing limited minutes while still recovering from an ACL tear his senior season at Tampa Prep. Watch this one because if two players leave Florida (Devin Robinson has declared for the NBA although he hasn’t hired an agent; I keep hearing there could be one other departure but I can’t guess who that would be) he could wind up at Florida where he was an early lean in the recruiting process. This is a very smart, very talented kid with a huge upside once he gets healthy. Miami could also be a landing spot as best bud from AAU days with Team Breakdown Dewan Huell just finished a fine freshman season playing for Jim Larranaga.
MICHAEL WILBON SAID THIS ABOUT KENTUCKY AND ITS FANS
After Kentucky lost to North Carolina in the Elite Eight game more than a week ago, referee John Higgins received death threats from rabid Kentucky fans. On the ESPN show “Pardon the Interruption,” co-host Michael Wilbon blasted the University of Kentucky administration for its lack of a strong message to its fan base.
Wilbon said, “I don’t want to hear, ‘We appreciate your support; can you dial it down?’ No! The leadership of the University of Kentucky – if there is any – they need to say to those people, ‘Hey do not do this. You are embarrassing the university. You’re embarrassing yourselves. Do not do this, or there needs to be repercussions.’ Or are they too scared of their fan base, their rabid fan base?”
De’Aaron Fox is the first of the talented Kentucky freshman class to announce he’s hiring an agent and bolting for the NBA. After a first year in which he averaged 16.7 points, 4.6 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game, Fox figures to be one of the first eight players taken when the NBA drafts in June. Malik Monk will likely declare sometime this week. There is some thought that 6-10, 250-pound Bam Abedayo may declare for the draft without hiring an agent, leaving open his option to return to Kentucky for his sophomore season. Sophomore Isaiah Briscoe is also expected to declare for the draft while sophomore Isaac Humphries might transfer out.
Georgetown has hired Patrick Ewing. While it sounds like a home run hire, do understand that Patrick is somewhere between Plan J and Plan Z. He’s never been a head coach at any level and certainly hasn’t recruited college players, nor does he know a thing about how the recruiting rules have changed in the 34 years since he was a high school senior in Boston. After coaches like Shaka Smart, Mike Brey and a few other established coaches either laughed off the Georgetown offer or simply listened only to say no, Ewing was pretty much the last man standing. Georgetown is banking on kids being drawn to the name Ewing, but consider the fact that when the typical Class of 2017 freshman was born, Ewing was 37 years old and winding down his NBA career. They know LeBron, but Patrick Ewing?
Frank Martin is looking for a new assistant coach at South Carolina after Matt Figger was hired by Austin Peay. Figger replaces Dave Loos, who retired after 27 seasons.
Adrian Peterson visited the New England Patriots on Monday but reportedly left without a contract. To join the Patriots, Peterson might have to adjust his contract demands. It is being reported that he’s asking $8 million, which is a ton of money for someone with an injury history and a diminished skill set.
Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne played high school basketball in Sheldon, Oregon, where one of the assistant coaches was Mark Few, now the head basketball coach at Gonzaga.
Former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville has filed he paperwork to run for governor of Alabama as a Republican.
Did you hear the fans in Glendale boo NCAA president Mark Emmert? Most of them were probably UNC fans. They should cheer Emmert loudly and raise the money to build a statue for him because the Tar Heels are going to skate on the greatest academic scandal in NCAA history.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
The zebras weren’t the deciding factor in Monday night’s NCAA championship game. Both teams were called for 22 fouls and both teams shot 26 free throws so neither team got a real advantage but did you find this a difficult game to watch because of all the whistles?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Before you go to New Orleans next time, check joncleary.com to find out if you can catch Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen playing at Chickie Wah Wah or Gypsy Sally’s. They’ll play the New Orleans Heritage and Jazz Festival later this month. This is New Orleans funk/blues at its best. Cleary is extraordinary on the keyboards. He’s the guy you imagine playing piano in some Bourbon Street honky tonk that’s filled with smoke and packed with people wall to wall. The band’s “Go Go Juice” album won a 2016 Grammy. Today’s music is a performance by Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen at Jazz San Javier from 2016. My favorite tune is “When You Come Back” at the 16:00 mark.