MUCH TOO EARLY TO PANIC ABOUT GATOR HOOPS Florida's 6th-ranked Gators (1-1) went down in flames at the O-Dome Sunday afternoon, a 63-51 loss to Florida State that was ugly from start to finish for both teams. FSU made more shots in the second half than the Gators, who struggled to find any kind of offensive rhythm against the very physical Seminoles.
Florida played good enough defense to win the game, holding FSU to 36.4% shooting from the field and just 5-17 (29.4% from the 3-point line). Typically, you win games when you get those kind of defensive numbers. FSU played excellent defense too, holding the Gators to a dismal 28% overall (14-50) and 18.2% (4-22) from the 3-point line.
The Gators had open shots, but this was the kind of game when they couldn't have found the ocean if they were standing on the end of the pier. They further damaged their own cause by a lack of movement and when that happens, teams get into what can best be described as a tentative funk. A tentative funk is when there is such a lack of movement that shooters become so tentative that even when they get an open shot they hesitate. That had a lot to do with Noah Locke's performance – 1-11 overall and 0-7 from the 3-point line. He missed a bunch of shots early on and then got seriously tentative in the second half, several times passing up shots that he can hit with his eyes closed in the practice gym.
Three points to consider before proclaiming this season a bust and Mike White a horrible coach even though we're just two games into the season.
(1) Florida has one upperclassman available right now because of injuries and that is Kerry Blackshear Jr. Dontay Bassett couldn't go Sunday and Gorjok Gak will be December at the earliest before he's ready. That left White with three sophomores and five freshmen. The moral of this point is that the Gators are inexperienced and still trying to find what combinations work.
(2) The Gators aren't going to shoot 28% from the field and 18.2% from the 3-point line all season. Back to point one – there are lots of kids who can shoot but they are still getting accustomed to playing college basketball. It will get better.
(3) It is November. You can neither win nor lose an SEC or national championship in November. Every year some teams burst out of the gate on fire only to burn out sometime around February. Other teams take awhile to figure things out before they put it all together. If I had to guess, this team will start playing at a very high level sometime in December and will get better as the season moves along. They're going to be very, very good.
DESPITE BIG WIN, GATORS DROP IN FOOTBALL POLLS The fallout from Minnesota's takedown of Penn State Saturday was the Golden Gophers advanced all the way to #7 in both polls, which, in turn, pushed the Gators down one notch to #11 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and #12 in the Coaches. LSU was #1 in both polls although it is absolutely shocking that Ohio State and Clemson got first place votes in both. LSU has wins over then #3 Alabama, then #7 Florida, then #9 Texas and then #9 Auburn. Ohio State's best win is over then #13 Wisconsin. Clemson has a win over then #12 (now unranked) Texas A&M.
Of course, the AP and Coaches polls are only window dressing. The only poll that matters comes out Tuesday night when the College Football Playoff Poll comes out. Florida ranked #10 in that poll and it is highly unlikely the Gators will dip a spot even with Minnesota moving up several places.
The Associated Press Top 25 Poll
(1) LSU (9-0); (2) Ohio State 9-0; (3) Clemson 10-0; (4) Alabama 8-1; (5) Georgia 8-1; (6) Oregon 8-1; (7) Minnesota 9-0; (8) Utah 8-1; (9) Penn State 8-1; (10) Oklahoma 8-1; (11) FLORIDA 8-2; (12) Baylor 9-0; (13) Auburn 7-2; (14) Michigan 7-2; (15) Wisconsin 7-2; (16) Notre Dame 7-2; (17) Cincinnati 8-1; (18) Memphis 8-1; (19) Boise State 8-1; (20) SMU 9-1; (21) Navy 7-1; (22) Texas 6-3; (23) Iowa 6-3; (24) Indiana 7-2; (25) Oklahoma State 6-3
The Coaches Top 25 Poll
(1) LSU (9-0); (2) Ohio State 9-0; (3) Clemson 10-0; (4) Alabama 8-1; (5) Georgia 8-1; (6) Oregon 8-1; (7) Minnesota 9-0; (8) Oklahoma 8-1; (9) Utah 8-1; (10) Baylor 9-0; (11) Penn State 8-1; (12) FLORIDA 8-2;(13) Auburn 7-2; (14)Michigan 7-2; (15) Wisconsin 7-2; (16) Notre Dame 7-2; (17) Cincinnati 8-1; (18) Memphis 8-1; (19) Boise State 8-1; (20) SMU 9-1; (21) Navy 7-1; (22) Iowa 6-3; (23) Texas 6-3; (24) Appalachian State 8-1; (25) Indiana 7-2
RANKING THE SEC TOP TO BOTTOM
(1) LSU (9-0, 5-0 SEC): Joe Burrow might have sealed up the Heisman Trophy with the win over Alabama. Burrow was 31-39 passing for 393 yards and three touchdowns plus he ran for an additional 64 yards. Burrow is completing 78.9% of his passes, averaging 10.7per attempt and has thrown 33 touchdown passes with only four interceptions. Next Saturday: at Ole Miss (4-6, 2-4 SEC)
(2) Alabama (8-1, 5-1 SEC): The only win Alabama has against a ranked opponent was then 24th-ranked (now unranked) Texas A&M. The schedule has been so weak that Alabama could finish 11-1 and get bypassed in the College Football Playoff by other one-loss teams with a better strength of schedule. Next Saturday: at Mississippi State (4-5, 2-4 SEC)
(3) Georgia (8-1, 5-1 SEC): The Bulldogs gave up only 198 yards to Missouri Saturday night as they posted their third shutout of the season. Next Saturday: at #13 Auburn (7-2, 4-2 SEC)
(4) FLORIDA (8-2, 5-2 SEC): With their 56-0 win over Vanderbilt, the Gators registered their third shutout of the season., the first time that's happened since 1988. The 1988 Gators gave up 15.4 points per game. Through 10 games, this year's Florida team is allowing 15.0. Next Saturday: at Missouri (5-4, 2-3 SEC)
(5) Auburn (7-2, 4-2 SEC): Obviously the Vegas oddsmakers think Auburn has a decent chance to spring the upset against #5 Georgia next Saturday. Auburn is just a 3-1/2 point underdog which is almost a pick 'em choice. Next Saturday: vs. #5 Georgia (8-1, 5-1 SEC)
(6) Texas A&M (6-3, 3-2 SEC): Almost overlooked is the progress the Aggies have made defensively this year. Although they've given up more rushing yardage and have fewer sacks than last year, they are giving up fewer points (21.9) and yards (335.1) per game than last year. Next Saturday: vs. South Carolina (4-6, 3-4 SEC)
(7) Tennessee (5-5, 3-3 SEC): With their win over Kentucky, the Vols have won three straight games and need only one win in next two (at Missouri, Vanderbilt) to be bowl eligible. Next Saturday: Open
(8) Missouri (5-4, 2-3 SEC): Although the Tigers lost to Georgia 27-0, the defense more than held its own, allowing Georgia just 166 rushing yards (Georgia averages 215) and limiting Jake Fromm to 13-29 passing for 173 yards. Next Saturday: vs. #12 FLORIDA (8-2, 5-2 SEC) (9) Kentucky (4-5, 2-5 SEC): The loss to Tennessee was disappointing but the Wildcats will still be favored to win their last three games (at Vanderbilt, Tennessee-Martin and Louisville). Considering the injuries and transfers at the quarterback position, a 7-5 season would be quite an accomplishment. Next Saturday: at Vanderbilt (2-7, 1-5 SEC)
(10) South Carolina (4-6, 3-4 SEC): Gamecock fans are starting to wonder if it's more than coincidence that South Carolina has had to deal with so many injuries the last four seasons the same way Florida had to deal with them from 2011-14. The strength and conditioning coordinator at both places – Jeff Dillman. Next Saturday: at Texas A&M (6-3, 3-2 SEC)
(11) Mississippi State (4-5, 2-4 SEC): Joe Moorhead can't feel too comfortable after Arkansas and Florida State pulled the plug on coaches with games to play in their second seasons on the job. Moorhead needs to win two of the last three (Alabama, Abilene Christian and at Ole Miss) to be bowl eligible. To feel safe he needs to win all three. Next Saturday: vs. #1 LSU (9-0, 5-0 SEC)
(12) Ole Miss (4-6, 2-4 SEC): Ole Miss ran for 447 yards in its win over New Mexico State with quarterback John Rhys Plumlee gaining 177 for two touchdowns. Plumlee also completed 11-17 passes for 124 yards. Next Saturday: vs. #1 LSU (9-0, 5-0 SEC)
(13) Vanderbilt (2-7, 1-5 SEC): Following Vanderbilt's 56-0 drubbing at the hands of Florida, HBC Derek Mason said, “I'm just letting you know, collectively, there has got to be some changes. I don't like what I see all the way around. There are things that have got to be changed. There will be some changes, and we'll make sure we get it right.” One change that might happen is Mason might get fired. Next Saturday: vs. Kentucky (4-5, 2-5 SEC)
(14) Arkansas (2-8, 0-6 SEC): It was bad enough for Chad Morris to go down in flames against Western Kentucky, even worse that WKU was quarterbacked by Ty Storey, last year's starter at Arkansas. Now that Arkansas has alleviated Morris of his coaching responsibilities, he needs to lawyer up. He's owed more than $10 million and the school is attempting to weasel out of continuing to pay the buyout of Morris' predecessor, Bret Bielema. Next Saturday: Open
ELSEWHERE IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Don't be shocked if the next coach to get fired is Michigan State's Mark Dantonio. The Spartans blew a 25-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost to Illinois, 37-34. Dantonio got a vote of confidence from the AD last Friday but that was before the loss to Illinois left the Spartans reeling at 4-5 with Michigan up next.
Maryland scored 142 points in its 2-0 start, 138 points in the eight games since. Nobody is proclaiming Mike Locksley to be a genius anymore.
Penn State could be in for a rough time Saturday against Indiana (7-2), which is proving you can do quite well with a two-quarterback system. Michael Penix Jr. has thrown for 1,394 yards and 10 touchdowns while Peyton Ramsey has thrown for 1,302 yards and nine touchdowns. If the Nittany Lions are still smarting from their loss to Minnesota and looking ahead to Ohio State, it's entirely possible they could lose to Indiana.
GOOD QUOTES FOR MONDAY Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports on the feeling of disbelief among Alabama fans after LSU's 46-41 win in Tuscaloosa: “On a day when President Trump received a rousing ovation at Bryant-Denny Stadium, Burrow's 393 passing yards and three touchdowns left American wondering what will make Alabama football great again. Amid the Alabama autopsy of penalties, turnovers and hopeless defensive lapses, Burrow's epic afternoon would still be listed as the probable cause of death on Alabama's season. He left more than 101,000 fans in a state of perpetual surrender cobra, palms glued to the temples in disbelief of what played out before them.”
Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated on the very real possibility that Alabama's weak schedule will cost any chance at making the College Football Playoff: “The body of work is soft when your non-conference schedule consists of Duke, New Mexico State, Southern Mississippi and Wester Carolina – none of which were in the top 50 of the Sagarin Ratings heading into Saturday. It is soft when your SEC crossover opponents are South Carolina and Tennessee, the former of whom lost for the sixth time this season Saturday, and both of whom have losses to Sun Belt opponents. It is soft when the distance between the top four in the West and the bottom three is a chasm.”
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Starting for Matt Stafford (fractured bones in his back), former Gator QB Jeff Driskel threw for 269 yards and a TD and ran for 37 yards in the Detroit Lions 20-15 loss to the Chicago Bears … Memphis got a court order to play 7-foot stud James Wiseman after the NCAA ruled him ineligible because his family took more than $11,000 from Penny Hardaway to move to Memphis back when Hardaway was a high school/AAU coach. A hearing is set for November 18. Expect the NCAA to win this one … Other than Tom Brady, I'm not sure there is a better football player in the NFL than Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers. I can only imagine what his numbers would be if he played for a decent team.