THE DEFENSE IS GOOD, THE OFFENSE WILL COME AROUND
Step back off the ledge. Take a deep breath, then after you exhale, take another deep breath. Now repeat after me: Don't worry about the Florida basketball team and by all means, don't worry about Mike White. The Gators will be just fine. Mike White is going to get this team to a very good place. It might take a few more games, but the Gators will get there and when they do they will be formidable.
The Gators are 2-2. I know everyone expected 4-0 at this point and from a defensive standpoint, that's where they should be. In the last three games the Gators have allowed 63, 60 and 62 points and held them to 15-58 from the three-point line. That's a dismal 25.8%. That is winning defensive basketball.
The defense is good. It's Florida's offense that has to come around and it's getting there. Really. The shots will start to fall and these guys will start getting a feel for each other, one you can't get in the practice gym. The shots that fall in the practice gym are against your buddies and there aren't 10,000 or more people watching. In real games with all those people watching, you're going against guys you don't know and that's a problem for young guys.
Young guys. In case you haven't checked the roster, Florida is almost all young guys. So far this season one grad transfer (Kerry Blackshear Jr.) has played and we've had a token appearance from Gorjok Gak, who will play more and more now that he's healthy again. After that it's three sophomores and five freshmen. Do you expect these guys to play as a cohesive unit when they are just getting to know and understand each other?
When these guys grow comfortable with each other in game situations the shots will fall. Right now, they've been working harder to get their defense to a winning level so the offense is a bit behind, but it will happen. The defense is there. The shots will start to fall. The Gators will win a lot of games and the Fire Mike White folks can rest their calloused typing fingers.
So here are the magic words for today regarding Florida basketball: Patience Grasshopper!
GATORS MOVE UP TO #10 IN AP, COACHES POLLS
The combination of Florida's 23- 6 win over Missouri on the road and Minnesota dropping its first game of the season to Iowa elevated the Gators back into the top 10 in both the Associated Press and Coaches top 25 polls. Florida moved up to #10, from #11 in last week's AP and from #12 in the Coaches. LSU remained #1 in both polls and Georgia and Alabama swapped places (#4 and #5) in both polls.
The Associated Press Top 25 Poll (1) LSU 10-0; (2) Ohio State 10-0; (3) Clemson 11-0; (4) Georgia 9-1; (5) Alabama 9-1; (6) Oregon 9-1; (7) Utah 9-1; (8) Oklahoma 9-1; (9) Penn State 9-1; (10) FLORIDA 9-2; (11) Minnesota 9-1; (12) Michigan 8-2; (13) Baylor 9-1; (14) Wisconsin 8-2; (15) Notre Dame 8-2; (16) Auburn 7-3; (17) Cincinnati 9-1; (18) Memphis 9-1; (19) Iowa 7-3; (20) Boise State 9-1; (21) SMU 9-1; (22) Oklahoma State 7-3; (23) Appalachian State 9-1; (24) Texas A&M 7-3; (25) Virginia Tech 7-3
The Coaches Top 25 Poll
(1) LSU 10-0; (2) Ohio State 10-0; (3) Clemson 11-0; (4) Georgia 9-1; (5) Alabama 9-1; (6) Oregon 9-1; (7) Oklahoma 9-1; (8) Utah 9-1; (9) Penn State 9-1; (10) FLORIDA 9-2; (11) Minnesota 9-1; (12) Michigan 8-2; (13) Baylor 9-1; (14) Wisconsin 8-2; (15) Notre Dame 8-2; (16) Auburn 7-3; (17) Cincinnati 9-1; (18) Memphis 9-1; (19) Boise State 9-1; (20) Iowa 7-3; (21) SMU 9-1; (22) Appalachian State 9-1; (23) Oklahoma State 7-3; (24) Texas A&M 7-3; (25) San Diego State 8-2
RANKING THE SEC TOP TO BOTTOM
(1) LSU (10-0, 6-0 SEC): Was it hangover from the win over Alabama or a serious flaw exposed in the LSU defense? It's a legitimate question after the Tigers allowed 402 rushing yards in their win over Ole Miss. Next Saturday: vs. Arkansas (2-8, 0-6 SEC)
(2) Georgia (9-1, 6-1 SEC): Georgia's offense may have sputtered (314.5 yards per game) since its loss to South Carolina, but the defense has made the difference, allowing just 245.5 yards per game and only 31 points with two shutouts. Next Saturday: vs. Texas A&M
(3) Alabama (9-1, 6-1 SEC): With Tua done for the year with that dislocated and fractured hip, can Mac Jones (45-65 passing for 566 yards and four touchdowns) keep the Crimson Tide in the hunt for the College Football Playoff? … Tua will have hip surgery in Houston and is expected to have a full recovery.
Next Saturday: vs. Western Carolina (3-8)
(4) FLORIDA (9-2, 6-2 SEC): With two touchdown passes against Missouri, Kyle Trask has eight consecutive games with at least two touchdown passes and 21 for the season ... The Gators now have five receivers with at least 30 catches – Kyle Pitts (46), Van Jefferson (38), Lamical Perine (32) Trevon Grimes (30), Freddie Swain (30) … In the last two games, the Florida defense has given up a combined 384 yards and six points. Next Saturday: Open
(5) Auburn (7-3, 4-3 SEC): Auburn's chances to tie Georgia and send the game into overtime died Saturday when quarterback Bo Nix threw behind Harold Joiner, who had only green grass ahead of him, on fourth down from the Georgia 34.
Next Saturday: vs. Samford (5-6)
(6) Texas A&M (7-3, 4-2 SEC): The Aggies tuned up for their roadie with Georgia next week with 540 yards of offense (319 rushing, 221 passing) and allowing 260 yards on defense. Next Saturday: at Georgia (9-1, 6-1 SEC)
(7) Tennessee (5-5, 3-3 SEC): The Vols were given up for dead after a 1-4 start but they're within one win of bowl eligibility and they go into Missouri Saturday on a three-game winning streak. Next Saturday: at Missouri (5-5, 2-4 SEC)
(8) Kentucky (5-5, 3-5 SEC): With a win over D1AA UT-Martin Saturday, the Wildcats will be bowl eligible for the fourth straight year … Converted wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. has adapted well as an option QB. With 822 rushing yards he's within striking distance of a 1,000-yard season. Next Saturday: vs. UT-Martin (7-4)
(9) Missouri (5-5, 2-4 SEC): After four straight games in which the Tigers have (a) lost and (b) haven't gained 300 yards, fans, boosters and alums are calling for HBC Barry Odom to jettison offensive coordinator Derek Dooley. The Tigers were held to two field goals and 256 total yards by Florida. Next Saturday: vs. Tennessee (5-5, 3-3 SEC)
(10) South Carolina (4-7, 3-5 SEC): The injury-decimated Gamecocks were blown out by the Aggies Saturday night, after which HBC Will Muschamp stated, “I plan on taking this program, really, where it hasn't been before.” He will be the coach in 2020 no matter what happens against Clemson in a couple of weeks. Next Saturday: Open
(11) Mississippi State (4-6, 2-5 SEC): HBC Joe Moorhead, who said after the Bulldogs 38-7 blowout loss to Alabama that he doesn't “necessarily see a step back,” needs two wins to be bowl eligible. That might calm a growing tide of boosters and alums calling for his head on a pike. Next Saturday: vs. Abilene Christian (5-6)
(12) Ole Miss (4-7, 2-5 SEC): Ole Miss leads the SEC and ranks ninth nationally in rushing, averaging 261.45 yards per game. Quarterback John Rhys Plumlee isn't much of a threat throwing the ball but he has run for 989 yards and 11 touchdowns, 213 yards and four touchdowns against LSU. Next Saturday: Open
(13) Vanderbilt (2-8, 1-6 SEC): Since their stunning win over Missouri, the Commodores are 0-3 and have been outscored 118-21 and outgained 1,528-515. That might have a little something to do with why alums and boosters have lost patience with HBC Derek Mason. Next Saturday: vs. East Tennessee State (3-8) (14) Arkansas (2-8, 0-6 SEC): To compete in the SEC West the Razorbacks probably need a head coach accustomed to winning in remote locales. Will they be smart enough to lure Mike Leach from Washington State? If you can win big at Texas Tech and then Wazzoo you can probably win anywhere. Next Saturday: at #1 LSU (10-0, 6-0 SEC)
ELSEWHERE IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL
The clock struck midnight for the Cinderella dreams of unbeaten seasons for both Minnesota (9-1) and Baylor (9-1) Saturday. Minnesota, which lost to Iowa 23-19, can still win the Big Ten West if it wins its final two games (at Northwestern, Wisconsin). Baylor blew a 25-point halftime lead and lost to Oklahoma. With one more win (Texas, at Kansas) the Bears will make the Big 12 Championship game and most likely face Oklahoma in a rematch.
Southern Cal blasted California, 41-17, Saturday night to improve to 7-4. The Trojans have only one remaining game with UCLA, which was destroyed by Utah, 49-3. If somehow Utah slips up in one of its two remaining games, Southern Cal would win the Pac-12 South and would get a rematch with Oregon, a team it's already beaten, in the Pac-12 Championship Game. So the question is this: Will Southern Cal jettison HBC Clay Helton if he goes 8-4? What if he goes 9-4 with the Pac-12 championship?
Since UCLA was mentioned, the Bruins three-game win streak was ended by Utah and now they have to beat both Southern Cal and California to go 6-6 to become bowl-eligible. Chip Kelly is now 7-15 in just less than two seasons. He has lost more games at UCLA than he did in his four seasons (7) at Oregon.
By winning his seventh game, Central Michigan coach Jim McElwain got a $7,500 bonus. By winning the Pac-12 North, Mario Cristobal of Oregon got a $350,000 bonus.
GOOD QUOTES FOR MONDAY
From Aaron Suttles of The Athletic on Nick Saban who has been criticized for playing Tua Tagovailoa against Mississippi State: “If he is physically able to play, we want him to play in the game. That is what he wanted to do. That is what our team wanted to do. If I would have known if anything bad was going to happen I certainly would not have put him in that situation. We are a team. We are a team that is trying to get better in the long term and the long run to see if we can finish the season the way we want. I hated that the guy got hurt.”
From Pete Thamel of YahooSports on how Tua Tagovailoa should be remembered: “Off the field, he'll be remembered for carrying himself with real grace. How many players have defining moments that come with cheering on a teammate who has replaced them because of injury. That's exactly what happened in the SEC title game in 2018, as Tagovailoa emanated joy as Jalen Hurts rescued the Crimson Tide in the fourth quarter to topple Georgia. From monster start to painful finish, Tagovailoa has remained as classy as any star in the sport's recent history.”
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Every time I see Alvin Kamara with the football in his hands I find it hard to believe Butch Jones didn't make him his feature back at Tennessee. In the New Orleans Saints 34-17 win over the Tampa Bay Bucs Sunday, Kamara had 13-75 rushing, 10-47 receiving and 3-32 on punt returns … Colin Kaepernick worked out Saturday in Riverdale, Georgia in front of representatives from eight NFL teams. After the workout, Kaepernick told the NFL to “stop running.” Given the nature of NFL owners, who would sign a mullah from Tehran if they thought he could win for them, if Kaepernick were good enough to be playing in the NFL as anything more than a high priced backup he would be there right now … The Detroit Lions lost to the Dallas Cowboys 35-27, a game that was close thanks to former Gator QB Jeff Driskel, who was 15-26 passing for 209 yards and two touchdowns and 8-51 rushing for another TD … There isn't a more exciting player in the NFL than Lamar Jackson who passed for 222 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 86 more as the Baltimore Ravens hammered the Houston Texans, 41-7. He is on the short list for AFC MVP.