THOUGHTS OF THE DAY 8-29-19
By Franz Beard
GatorBait Sr. Columnist
Dan Mullen admits there is a not-so-fine line between expectations and reality.
“I want 11 guys being perfect every snap,” Mullen said while addressing the media Wednesday.
Those are his expectations but he's been in the coaching business long enough to know that he's not going to see perfect on every snap all that often. What he really wants is a reality in which he's got 11 players on the same page with consistency. He wants his players to understand that one missed assignment or even one assignment carried out with less than maximum effort can be the difference between success and failure on a play or even a football game.
When Mullen's 8th-ranked Florida Gators (1-0) beat Miami, 24-20, last Saturday night at Camping World Stadium in Orlando Mullen saw a lot of good things, but now that he's had a chance to study the film and grade every assignment on every play he knows there were far too many opportunities missed because 11 guys didn't execute.
“One guy here or there” is how he stated it and that is quite often the difference between being a good team and one that competes for championships.
“We talk to our guys all the time,” Mullen said. “Is it easy to do the right thing all the time? Yeah, it doesn't sound hard. Go to class. Make sure all you guys go to class. Turn in your work on time. Give great effort on practice. Doesn't sound real complicated, right? Is it easy to make sure 85 guys are doing that all times all the time? That's where championship teams are developed.
“I get the class attendance sheet. One guy missed class. That's a problem. That's the same thing as one guy jumped offsides; one guy didn't catch a pitch; one guy missed a block; one guy made a wrong read on a pass; one guy didn't run the route the right way. How many times are 11 guys doing it exactly right all the time? That's what you need to do to be a great team. And a lot of the things we showed were, hey, look at this. If we finish that block. If we made this throw. If we ran the route this way. If I caught the pitch. If I didn't jump offsides. A little bit different on the offensive side of the ball.”
The Gators turned the ball over four times against the Hurricanes – two first half fumbles and two second half interceptions. Without the fumbles there might not have been the two interceptions because there is every possibility the Gators would have built a commanding lead in the first half and would have been cruising home for an easy win in the second. The first fumble came on a run-pass option from the Miami seven with the Gators ahead, 7-3. Quarterback Feleipe Franks wanted to pull the ball from running back Lamical Perine then hit Trevon Grimes who left his defender at the line of scrimmage on a slant route. Only Perine didn't let go and the result was a fumble.
Seven points and a 14-3 lead gone with that one silly mistake. The Gators were leading 7-6 when the second fumble occurred. With second and seven at the Miami 37, the Gators ran an option play down the line but Franks pitch to Malik Davis was a tad high. Davis didn't make the catch and by the time the scramble for the football had ended, it was Miami ball going the other way.
“Malik Davis dropped the pitch,” Mullen said. “If you look at that on the film, it might have been a touchdown if he catches the pitch.”
One fumbled exchange. One dropped pitch. Instead of a 21-3 lead with most of the second quarter remaining and Miami teetering on the verge of getting its doors blown off, the Gators let the Hurricanes back in the game and would up with the fight of their lives. With a 21-3 lead the Gators probably aren't throwing the football late in the game when the two interceptions occurred.
There were plenty of other mistakes on both sides of the ball but none of them are the type that can't be corrected, which is good news. It is still one game into a 12-game season. If this is the middle of November and the Gators are still making the same mistakes and Mullen is still lamenting that he can't get all 11 guys consistently on the same page, then there is a massive problem.
As it stands, it's early. The mistakes can be corrected. Mullen's history says they will be.
ISAIAH STOKES TRANFERS TO MEMPHIS Isaiah Stokes, who played in 26 games in two seasons at Florida, has transferred to Memphis where he will play for Penny Hardaway. Prior to becoming the head coach at Memphis, Hardaway was Stokes AAU coach.
Stokes is one of three from the 2018-19 roster who transferred. Michael Okauru transferred to UNC-Wilmington while DeAundre Ballard transferred to South Alabama.
Florida basketball roster as of August 29, 2019 Graduates/Seniors (1):Kerry Blackshear Jr. (6-10, 250) Redshirt Juniors (2):Gorjok Gak (6-11, 254); Dontay Bassett (6-9, 237) Juniors (2):Tyree Applebee (6-1, 165); Anthony Duruji (6-7, 211) Sophomores (3): Andrew Nembhard (6-5, 191); Noah Locke (6-3, 205); Keyontae Johnson (6-5, 225) Freshmen (6):Tre Mann (6-4, 180); Scottie Lewis (6-5, 180); Omar Payne (6-10, 222); Ques Glover (5-11, 175); Jason Jitoboh (6-11, 300); * Alex Klatsky (6-3, 193) * Preferred walk-on
GOOD QUOTES FOR A THURSDAY From Stewart Mandel of The Athletic on what will be the aftermath of Jalen Hurts' debut at Oklahoma against Houston:
“... come Sunday night, Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts will either be the second coming of Baker Mayfield/Kyler Murray or the guy who reminds everyone why he lost his job at Alabama. Remember, we’re only a year removed from an offseason-long debate over whether Nick Saban should start Hurts or Tua Tagovailoa, which included a lot of criticism of Hurts’ passing ability. Sunday against Houston, he’ll either prove the doubters wrong or right. (In reality, he will have played one game, but, that’s what’s going to happen.)”
Mandel on Willie Taggart and Florida State which opens with Boise State in Jacksonville on Saturday:
“... get ready for the Florida State-Boise State Willie Taggart referendum. After a disastrous Year 1 that started in humiliating fashion against Virginia Tech, either FSU will beat a widely respected foe and everyone jumps back on the bandwagon, or the ’Noles lose and it’s time to put the guy on the hot seat. (Never mind that FSU’s athletic director, David Coburn, has been adamant that Taggart has nothing to worry about.)”
From Stephen Holder of The Athletic on former Gator Jacoby Brissett, who is now the starting quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts due to Andrew Luck's sudden and unexpected retirement:
“Brissett is among the team’s most revered members. He is universally loved. By his fellow quarterbacks. By his offensive linemen. By linebackers, defensive backs, specialists. Brissett is the rare player on a football team – a group that can often be highly segregated between offense, defense and so on – who crosses those imaginary boundaries and forms bonds with everyone.”
From Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports, UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton talks about his desire to play football once again even though he's a long way from recovering from last year's devastating knee injury:
“None of this has made me think, ‘Why am I doing this? Why do I want to do this?’ I’ve never gotten to that point. If I’m physically not able to go at a level I want to, I won’t. I feel like that would be a disservice to myself. But I think I can get back to my old self, maybe a little better.”
SEC FOOTBALL/BASKETBALL STUFF Alabama: Linebacker Dylan Moses has been lost for the season due to an ACL tear. He's the third player lost for the year during the preseason. Trey Sanders (foot) and Josh McMillon (knee) are the other two. Saturday: vs. Duke in Atlanta
Arkansas:Offensive lineman Colton Jackson, tight end CJ O'Grady and wide receiver Trey Knox are all expected to play Saturday. All three have missed practice time due to injuries. Saturday: vs. Portland State
Auburn: It will be a game time decision whether wide receiver Anthony Schwarz (broken finger) plays Saturday against Oregon … Former Auburn quarterback Malik Willis, who transferred to Liberty, had his waiver petition denied by the NCAA. Meanwhile, former Auburn defensive back Cam'Ron Kelly who transferred to North Carolina, was granted his waiver by the NCAA. Saturday: vs. Oregon in Arlington, Texas
Georgia: HBC Kirby Smart says if it takes running back D'Andre Swift carrying the ball 25 times to win, that's what he'll do. “You do what you have to do to win,” Smart said. Saturday: at Vanderbilt
Kentucky: Mark Stoops says the secondary is his biggest concern this season. Stoops said, “We lost some good players and not only good players but they played a lot of football for us … We have to do a good job of preparing those guys … that’s probably the biggest area of concern.” Saturday: vs. Toledo
LSU: Coach O says you can scratch freshman O-lineman Kardell Thomas for the season after Thomas underwent ankle surgery … The Tigers will start junior Clyde Edwards-Helaire at running back over super freshmen John Emery and Tyrion Davis-Price. Saturday: vs. Georgia Southern
Mississippi State: HBC Joe Moorhead says that QB Keytaon Thompson has yet to make a decision about staying or leaving the program. Thompson did put his name in the NCAA transfer portal after losing the starting job to Penn State grad tranfer Tommy Stevens but apparently he hasn't found a landing spot. Saturday: vs. Louisiana-Lafayette in New Orleans
Missouri: A major challenge for Missouri will be handling the altitude this weekend in Cheyenne, Wyoming where it is 7,215 feet above sea level. On the SEC teleconference, HBC Barry Odom said, “We have researched the teams that went out there and reached out to them and implemented those things.” Saturday: at Wyoming
Ole Miss: The Rebels are a 5-1/2 point underdog on the road this weekend against American Athletic Conference foe Memphis. Saturday: at Memphis
South Carolina: The Gamecocks are listed as 10 point favorites for Saturday afternoon's neutral site game with North Carolina. Saturday: vs. North Carolina in Charlotte
Tennessee: Starting linebacker Daniel Bituli, who had 79 tackles last season, will sit game one while still recovering from a knee procedure that has caused him to miss practice time ... Offensive lineman Trey Smith has been cleared to play Saturday. He missed the second half of the 2018 season with blood clots in his lungs. Saturday: vs. Georgia State
Texas A&M: Former Aggie assistant Jake Spavital will return to Kyle Field Thursday night as the HBC at Texas State of the Sun Belt Conference. Thursday: vs. Texas State
Vanderbilt: The Commodores are 22 point underdogs for Saturday night's season opener against Georgia. Saturday: vs. Georgia
ESPN'S BOTTOM TEN Ryan McGee of ESPN has put out his first Bottom Ten of the season. At #5 are Florida and Miami, which McGee says has to do with the ugliness of their season opener, won by the Gators, 24-20.
(1) UTEP; (2) Rice; (3) UConn; (4) San Jose State; (5) Florida and Miami; (6) New Mexico State; (7) UMass; (8) Central Michigan; (9) Coastal Carolina; (10) Rutgers
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Tiger Woods has had arthroscopic surgery on his knee. With all the health issues he's had the last few years it makes his Masters win back in April more impressive but also makes you realize Tiger might not win another major or even come close … Yahoo Sports is reporting that the American Athletic Conference will move to dump its divisions but still keep a conference championship game after UConn leaves the league … Kareem Hunt, who is suspended for the first eight games of the NFL season, will not be permitted inside the Cleveland Browns' facilities until the suspension has been served … With Hurricane Dorian aiming at the state of Florida, a decision is expected Thursday regarding Florida State's season opener with Boise State in Jacksonville. The game could be played earlier in the day Saturday or cancelled depending on the track of the storm.