A few thoughts to jump start your Monday morning:
EARLY REVIEWS ARE GOOD FOR KYLE TRASK
Color Tampa Bay Bucs coach Bruce Arians impressed with Kyle Trask after a rookie mini-camp this weekend. Here are Arians’ comments couple of comments courtesy of the Tampa Bay Times:
“I thought he was great. I thought he was fantastic. He’s got three guys coaching the [expletive] out of him on each play, so they need to calm down and let him go. I’m really pleased with where he’s at right now.”
And this …
“I think he grasped it very well. He was throwing the ball where it’s supposed to go. He had a couple of drops on him, but I thought he looked really good. Just the way he processes information. He took it from the first time ever hearing it, and he was throwing it to the right guy. He was throwing against some really well-disguised coverages that he saw the first day of his career. I was real impressed with how he processed his information. He was very accurate.”
I’m not at all surprised that Trask impressed from day one. A lot of the so-called experts have claimed that Trask doesn’t have great arm strength for the NFL but Tom Brady has seven Super Bowl rings and Joe Montana three. I don’t recall either one of them having real bazookas. What Brady has and what Montana had was the ability to process information in a split second and then deliver the ball with accuracy to the right place. Quarterbacks with big arms come and go every year in the NFL but the ones who stick around a long time – big arm or not – are the ones who can look over a defense, figure out instantly what they need to do and then get the ball on time to the right receiver. Trask showed us the last two seasons that he can process the info and then get it to the right place on time. And, as Kyle Pitts told us, Trask has the ability to turn what would be a 50-50 ball for other quarterbacks into an 80-20 – or better – pass for his receivers.
Trask isn’t going to take Brady’s job in Tampa, but he’s going to learn from the best who ever played the game and he’s going to spend the next year or two playing the part of a sponge and absorbing everything he’s taught. When he finally gets his chance, don’t bet against him succeeding.
GATORS WIN SERIES BUT MISS OUT ON AN OPPORTUNITY
The good news for the Gators (35-16, 17-10 SEC East) is they won their series with Georgia (29-20, 12-15 SEC East) by taking the Friday and Saturday evening games. The bad news is that by losing their Sunday game 6-1, the Gators missed out on a chance to take over first place in the SEC East. Consider it an opportunity lost.
Had the Gators swept Georgia, they would have ended the weekend tied at the top of the SEC East Division with Tennessee (39-13, 18-9 SEC East), which lost two out of three to No. 1 Arkansas (39-10, 19-8 SEC West). Also, with a sweep the Gators could have moved past Vanderbilt (36-12, 17-9 SEC East). Vanderbilt lost two out of three to Ole Miss (36-15, 16-11 SEC West).
The Gators got a run-scoring single from Josh Rivera in the bottom of the eighth Friday night and two shutout innings from closer Jack Leftwich (7-3, 3.51 ERA) to win game one, 4-3. Kendrick Calilao homered in the second inning for the Gators.
Saturday, the Gators pounded out four homers and Hunter Barco (9-2, 4.13 ERA) went 6-1/3 innings, striking out eight, as UF cruised to a 9-2 win. It was the sixth straight win for Barco, who last lost back on March 28 to South Carolina. Jud Fabian hit his 19th and 20th home runs to take over the SEC lead. Calilao and Rivera also homered.
Sunday, Georgia took an early lead and never was threatened. Franco Aleman (1-3, 5.26 ERA) gave up a 3-run homer in the first and a solo homer in the second before settling down. Florida had opportunities to make the game interesting but the Gators left 12 men on base including the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth.
The Gators will travel to Arkansas for the final regular season series starting Thursday night, probably needing to win two out of three to have a shot winning the SEC East and securing a top eight national seed.
UF SOFTBALL: GATORS EARN A NO. 4 NATIONAL SEED The Gators (42-9) didn’t win the SEC Tournament, but they still earned a No. 4 national seed. They open up play in the NCAA Tournament at 2 p.m. against South Florida (29-17, American Athletic). Also in the Florida regional are South Alabama (30-19, Sun Belt) and Baylor (27-21, Big 12). If Florida wins its regional, it will host a super regional. The Gators are paired against the winner of the Athens regional – Duke (42-10, ACC), Georgia (SEC, 29-21); UNC-Greensboro (Southern, 34-15) and Western Kentucky (Conference USA, 31-13).
Five SEC teams were among the top eight national seeds which means they will host regionals and super regionals – 3. Alabama; 4. Florida; 6. Arkansas; 7. LSU; and 8. Missouri. Tennessee is a No. 9 but won’t get a super regional; Kentucky is a No. 14 but also won’t get a super. Georgia will host a regional but isn’t the top seed (Duke is top seed but can’t host in Durham because of Covid-19 issues on campus). Also in the tournament are Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Auburn and Ole Miss.
Florida made it to the SEC Tournament championship game in Tuscaloosa with another comeback win. The Gators blew a 5-2 lead in the top of the seventh, but tied the game at 6-6 in the bottom of the seventh on a Kendyl Lindaman sacrifice fly that scored Hannah Adams and a walkoff infield hit by Jaimie Hoover that scored Katie Kistler from third base. In the SEC Tournament championship game, the Gators had a bad first inning and then couldn’t mount a comeback against Alabama ace Montana Fouts.
UF LACROSSE ADVANCES TO NCAA QUARTERFINALS
The Gators avenged their last loss Sunday when they stomped Jacksonville 17-3 to advance to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament. The Gators lost to JU back on March 3. Since then UF has won 15 straight games.
Sunday, Grace Haus led the way for the 6th-seeded Gators (18-2) with seven goals.
Florida hits the road for the quarterfinal match with No. 3 seed Syracuse, which beat Loyola Maryland 20-8 Sunday.
Other UF spring sports
Men’s tennis: The Gators (22-2) are the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament as it advances to the quarter-final round tonight at Lake Nona. Florida will face 16th-seeded Illinois (23-2) at 7 p.m.
Track and field: The Florida men finished fourth at the SEC Championships with 74 points while the UF women finished sixth with 62 points.
Men’s golf: The Gators are the No. 3 seed in the Cle Elum, Washington Regional that begins today. Seeded ahead of the Gators are Wake Forest and Pepperdine. The Gators are ranked 21st nationally.
KIM MULKEY SAID IT …
Former Baylor and now LSU women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Saturday. The parting words from her speech should be standard for the coach of ANY college sport:
“As a coach, don’t ever forget to take care of your players and in college don’t forget to graduate your players. You can’t promise them championships. You can’t promise them they’ll be drafted but the one thing you can promise them when you sit in their home is that you can send them home with a degree in hand.”
In 21 years as a head coach at Baylor, Mulkey had a 100 percent graduation rate. Don’t you wish more coaches had this kind of commitment to the education and future well-being of their players?
OVER, UNDER, AROUND AND THROUGH THE SEC
Alabama: All-Sun Belt Conference punter Jack Martin is transferring in from Troy where he averaged 46.1 on 25 punts last year.
Arkansas: Former Arkansas quarterback Cole Kelley, who started games for the Razorbacks in 2018, won the Walter Payton Award, which is D1AA’s equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. Kelley led D1AA in passing at Southeastern Louisiana ... The Razorbacks expect to hold on to the nation’s No. 1 baseball ranking after taking two out of three from 4th-ranked Tennessee over the weekend … Both the Arkansas men and women won the SEC track and field titles.
Auburn: Bydarrius Knighten, a defensive back with 262 tackles and six interceptions in his career, is transferring from D1AA Southeast Missouri State.
Georgia: Redshirt sophomore safety Brandon Turnage, a 4-star prospect back in 2019, is transferring in from Alabama … Wide receiver Tommy Bush is transferring to North Texas. Bush is a former 4-star recruit from 2018 who caught one pass in his UGa career.
Kentucky: Sahvir Wheeler, who averaged 14 points and 7.4 assists per game at Georgia last season, could pull the trigger on a transfer to Kentucky this week. UK is thought to be a strong leader over LSU, Oklahoma State and Kansas ... Nolan Hickman, the 5-star point guard who asked out of and was released from his national LOI, will be signing with Gonzaga.
LSU: LSU’s softball team got a No. 7 seed with a 32-19 record and only 13-11 in the SEC. That was a serious shock to Washington, which finished 41-11 in the very tough Pac-12. Washington got a No. 16 seed.
Mississippi State: The nationally 3rd-ranked Bulldogs (36-13, 17-10 SEC West) were shocked over the weekend, losing two of three to lowly Missouri (14-33, 7-20 SEC East) … Tight end Powers Warren, the son of Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren, is transferring to Michigan State … Wide receiver Geor’quarius Spivey is transferring to Arizona State.
Missouri: Linebacker Jamal Brooks will be a grad transfer to South Alabama. He was in on 46 tackles during his four seasons at Mizzou.
Ole Miss: The Rebels (36-15, 16-11 SEC West) moved to within a game of 3rd-ranked and West Division second place Mississippi State (36-13, 17-10 SEC West) by taking two out three from Vanderbilt despite the absence of ace Gunnar Hoagland, who will have to undergo Tommy John surgery.
Tennessee: Four-star linebacker Katron Evans, who was released from his UT national letter of intent, is signing with Deion Sanders and Jackson State.
Texas A&M: Shadrach Banks, a former 4-star recruit who was an early enrollee wide receiver, is transferring to TCU.
ONE FINAL PITHY THOUGHT: Greg McElroy, who has a national championship ring as a quarterback not so much for what he did but because Nick Saban surrounded him with exceptional talent and didn’t ask him to do too much, couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a swipe at Tim Tebow, who not only had a better college career than McElroy but a better NFL career (the college stats are no-brainers, the pros you could look up). Speaking to Mark Heim of Al.com, McElroy said, “As a player who went through training camp with Tim, there’s going to be players rolling their eyes at how much attention the fourth or fifth string tight end gets. It’s going to piss people off. As a result, it’s going to affect locker room chemistry like it did with us with the Jets. Not because there’s animosity towards Tim, but there’s animosity toward the coverage Tim receivers. I think it’s a stupid move. You’re [Urban Meyer] staring your tenure at Jacksonville, you’re setting a tone, and people say he can help with leadership. Let me tell you what helps with leadership in the NFL, money. You want guys to be incentivized? Pay them … I think it really undercuts what Urban Meyer is trying to build.” I’m sure Urban is losing sleep as this is written because he doesn’t have Greg McElroy’s blessing.