UNHAPPY AFTER SATURDAY? CONSIDER THE ALTERNATIVE


BY FRANZ BEARD

GATORBAIT SR COLUMNIST


My old friend from south Florida, the one who actually shows up to Miami home games and goes on the road with the Hurricanes as often as possible, called Monday mornings ng offering up his for want of a nail the kingdom was lost assessment of the Hurricanes, 24-20, loss to the Florida Gators at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. He wondered if the Miami O-linemen had been drinking Valium-spiked Gatorade, cursed the Big 12 zebras, praised freshman quarterback Jarren Williams who took a licking and kept on ticking, spent another five minutes railing on the offensive line then an equal amount of time telling me there is no justice in the world if Shaq Quarterman doesn't win the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker, cursed the zebra crew some more and then told me Manny Diaz is going to be a brilliant head coach.


Then he told me I was the first Gator he had talked to that worn him out with complaints about how badly the Gators played. I told him I wasn't happy about certain aspects of Florida's play, that's for sure, but there were far more positives than negatives.


“Well, even if you were pissed,” he told me, “consider the alternative. You could be 0-1.”


It's been a long time since I heard a Miami fan with such an accurate assessment. Yes, consider the alternative. Florida could indeed be 0-1. No matter how many mistakes the Gators made they still won the game and that's all that really matters. Oh, sure, the polls rely heavily on style points and there weren't a lot of those to go around so you can almost bet the farm the Gators will drop a couple of spots when the next AP and Coaches polls come out next week. Over the course of an entire season, ugly wins will count just as much as the stylish ones and if you've got eight ugly wins come November, you're very much in the playoff hunt while the team that's been racking up style points but is 6-2 will be hoping it can go to the Gator or Outback Bowl.


We all wanted a stylish win over Miami, if nothing more than to shut up that team from north of the Florida border whose fans could go toe-to-toe and maybe win a steel cage obnoxious battle with fans from down south. A blowout would have indeed been nice. A game with fewer penalties, fewer missed tackles, fewer turnovers and more points would have been much more palatable but which would you prefer right now: a stylish 0-1 or an ugly 1-0?


I'll take the 1-0 every day of the week. Consider the alternative.


GOOD QUOTES FOR A TUESDAY


From Andy Staples of The Athletic on Florida's very entertaining but highly flawed 24-20 win over Miami:


“Mullen knows the game Florida played Saturday won’t beat the best teams in the SEC. He knows it might not beat Kentucky or Tennessee. But he also knows he has two weeks before Florida takes the field again. During that time, he and his assistants can work to stop the Gators from extending drives with pass interference or late hit penalties. Mullen knows the Hurricanes scared his Gators, and he knows his team will listen when the coaching staff demands more consistency. And they can do all that with a 1-0 record. Had the Gators lost to Miami, the sky would be falling in Gainesville. Now? Florida has the opportunity to kick the correctable can down the road until a visit to Kentucky on Sept. 14.”


From Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated on the wackiness of the final 10 minutes of Florida-Miami:


“What we saw Saturday was the Week 0 blues between two teams with remade offensive lines. Of the 10 O-linemen who took the first snap Saturday, as many as eight of them could be considered new starters. But that contributed to only some of the ugliness—pre-snap penalties, obvious holding fouls, the QBs running for their lives, the QBs making poor decisions, defenders missing dozens of tackles and, for crying out loud, a trainwreck of an ending. Clinging to a four-point lead, the Gators stopped a Miami fourth-down attempt only to hand possession back on the very next play with a Feleipe Franks interception. The real fun (or wreckage?) started then. Miami’s last-ditch drive spanned nearly the remaining four minutes of the game, included 10 plays and stretched 14 yards. If a four-minute, 10-play, 14-yard drive seems nearly impossible, it’s because it is. Miami tested the limits of ineptitude (and, honestly, so did the Gators). The drive included one play – one – of positive offensive yards, three sacks, four incompletions, three fumbles and four penalties. Two of the flags were Florida pass interference calls, one of them bailing Miami out on a fourth-and-34. There was a third flag thrown for pass interference in the end zone with less than 30 seconds left, but officials, after discussing the play, ruled it clean. As someone in the press box aptly put it, the refs were damn ready to go home and end this disaster.”


From Stewart Mandel of The Athletic on the Pac-12 and its need for some quality wins after Arizona suffered the indignity of a loss to Hawaii Sunday evening in the first game of the year for a team from the Power 5's weakest league from top to bottom:


“America’s most-maligned Power 5 conference already suffered its first indignity with Arizona’s dramatic but heartbreaking 45-38 loss at Hawaii. And, as always, no league opens with a more ambitious Week 1 slate than the Conference of (Olympic Sport) Champions. Most notably, No. 11 Oregon meets No. 16 Auburn, but also, No. 25 Stanford hosts reigning Big Ten West champ Northwestern, USC meets defending Mountain West champ Fresno State, UCLA visits Cincinnati, an 11-win team last season, and Utah visits rival BYU.


If the Pac-12 wants to be taken seriously in the Playoff conversation for the first time in three years, it needs to win the majority of these games. Most importantly, Oregon – the conference’s highest-ranked team entering the season – needs to beat Auburn. A two-loss team has yet to make the College Football Playoff, and no Pac-12 champion has gone undefeated in conference play since 2010. So you definitely don’t want to start 0-1.”


SEC FOOTBALL/BASKETBALL STUFF


#1 Alabama: A pair of freshmen, nose tackle D.J. Dale and weakside linebacker Christian Harris are listed as first teamers on Alabama's first depth chart of the season. True freshman Evan Neal is listed as one of the first team options at left guard.

Saturday: vs. Duke in Atlanta


Arkansas:Despite weekend reports that speculated Texas A&M grad transfer Nick Starkel was the apparent winner of the quarterback competition, HBC Chad Morris named SMU grad transfer Ben Hicks his starting quarterback on Monday … Senior running back TJ Hammonds has been suspended the first four games of the season for unspecified reasons.

Saturday: vs. Portland State


#16 Auburn: Bo Nix will be the first true Southeastern Conference freshman quarterback to start his team's season opener since Brent Schaeffer started for Tennessee against UNLV in 2004.

Saturday: vs. #11 Oregon in Arlington, Texas


#3 Georgia: Linebacker Nakobe Dean and offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer have missed a good bit of practice time so their status for the season opener with Vanderbilt is questionable. Running back Zamir White, who is recovering from two knee injuries, is expected to see time on special teams.

Saturday: at Vanderbilt


Kentucky:Defensive tackle Phil Hoskins will miss the first two games of the season due to some academic issues. Hoskins played in all 13 games last year and registered 21 tackles and three sacks.

Saturday: vs. Toledo


#6 LSU: Defensive back Mannie Netherly, who was in on three tackles in two years, has entered his name in the NCAA transfer portal.

Saturday: vs. Georgia Southern


Mississippi State: HBC Joe Moorhead has not announced the 10 players who will be on academic suspension for eight games ... With Keytaon Thompson in the transfer portal, true freshman Garrett Shrader is now listed as the second string quarterback behind Penn State grad transfer Tommy Stevens.

Saturday: vs. Louisiana-Lafayette in New Orleans


Missouri:Missouri's offensive line for the season opener should have Trystan Colon-Castillio at center, Larry Borom at left guard, Tre'Vour Wallace-Simms at right guard, Yasir Durant at left tackle and Hyrin White at right tackle.

Saturday: at Wyoming


Ole Miss: Right tackle Alex Givens is listed day-to-day for the season opener with Memphis. Givens is trying to recover from a back injury.

Saturday: at Memphis


South Carolina: In a little bit of a surprise, senior running back Rico Dowdle is listed as the starter for Saturday's first game ahead of Clemson grad transfer Tavien Feaster. Feaster missed some practice time the last few days with an infected tooth.

Saturday: vs. North Carolina in Charlotte


Tennessee:Left guard Trey Smith and defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon are both listed on the Tennessee depth chart but their status is up in the air. Smith is trying to recover from an injury while Solomon, a Michigan transfer, still hasn't heard from the NCAA regarding his petition for a waiver that would allow him to play immediately.

Saturday: vs. Georgia State


Texas A&M: The retooled Aggie offensive line will have former right guard Ryan McCollum taking over at center for Erik McCoy, who left early for the NFL after 39 consecutive starts, and experienced Colton Prather, who has 10 starts in his career, taking over at right guard.

Thursday: vs. Texas State


Vanderbilt:The Commodores are expected to have their best offense in years, but with three starters gone from last year's secondary and two new linebackers Vandy is expected to have its worst defense in years.

Saturday: vs. Georgia


THESE GUYS WILL BE HEAD COACHES SOONER AND NOT LATER


Graham Harrell, offensive coordinator, Southern Cal: This is the branch of the Mike Leach coaching tree that is going to be lights out as a head coach. First things first, he will save Clay Helton's HBC job … but if Helton gets pink slipped, there's a real good chance Harrell will be the next HBC at USC. He'll be someone's HBC next year.


Sean Gleeson, offensive coordinator, Oklahoma State: Maybe you've never heard of this guy but you will this year. Mike Gundy, who knows a thing or two about offense, hired him out of Princeton. So he's smart, too! What a concept.


Alex Grinch, defensive coordinator, Oklahoma:We know that any Lincoln Riley offense is going to score plenty of points. Now things get scary because Grinch's defense will get stops. He will be somebody's head coach next year.


Phil Longo, offensive coordinator, North Carolina:All you have to do is look at what he did with the Ole Miss offense to know this guy can put points on the board. Now we'll get to see him work with a super talent in freshman QB Sam Howell, the guy who jilted FSU for the Tar Heels.


Jimmy Lake, co-defensive coordinator, Washington: The NFL knows all about his defensive backs who have a habit of locking folks down. There will be quite a few HBC openings on the Left Coast after this season. Expect Lake to fill one of them.


RANDOM THOUGHTS: Former Penn State football team doctor Scott Lynch has filed a lawsuit against athletic director Sandy Barbour and HBC James Franklin, alleging he was fired after he complained that he was being pressured to clear players returning from injury … Vince Naimoli, the original owner of the Tampa Bay Rays, died Monday at the age of 81 … New England Patriots starting center David Andrews is hospitalized with blood clots in his lungs. He will miss a significant part of the season if not all of it … Serena Williams won her first match at the US Open in straight sets over Maria Sharapova, 6-1, 6-1 … In the aftermath of Andrew Luck's retirement, Indianapolis Colts HBC Frank Reich says his team is “in good hands” with former Gators Jacoby Brissett at quarterback. I still shake my head and wonder how it is that both Brissett and Jeff Driskel found enough success somewhere other than Florida to have a chance to play in the NFL while the Gators were playing with Tyler Murphy and Treon Harris as the starting QBs.


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