Thoughts of the Day: October 29, 2020

A few thoughts to jump start your Thursday morning:

My grandmother always told me that idle fingers made for idle minds. Just to prove my mind hasn’t been idle since taking a day off from writing to tend to family matters, here are a few of the thoughts that stormed the gates of my mind and demanded they be shared with the masses.

(1) DOES 13 POINTS SEEM A TEENSY BIT TOO HIGH?: As of Wednesday night, the 10th-ranked Florida Gators (2-1) are 13-point favorites to beat Missouri (2-2) at Ben Hill Griffin Saturday night (7:30 p.m., SEC Network Alternate Channel). That seems a teensy bit too high to me given the Gators (a) weren’t able to practice for a full 10 days; (b) might not have all their personnel available including some starters; (c) have a shaky (at best) defense and (d) Missouri is coming off a game (20-10 win over Kentucky) in which it snapped the ball 92 times including 62 running plays. In Missouri’s first win of the season (45-41 over LSU), the Tigers threw it all over the ball yard (406 passing yards) and still ran the ball effectively (180 yards). In the win over Kentucky, it was time to pound the rock (220 yards) but they still threw effectively for 201 yards. Because they knew Kentucky couldn’t throw the ball well, Mizzou played eight in the box and dared UK to open things up. Will Missouri choose a similar ground and pound offensive strategy that worked against Kentucky while dropping eight into coverage and daring Kyle Trask to throw the ball? Can the Gators get Dameon Pierce and Malik Davis going in the running game to force Mizzou to play the receivers straight up? And, can Kyree Campbell make enough of a difference at nose tackle that the Florida defense shows signs of life? Since we won’t know answers to any of these questions until Saturday night, that 13-point spread seems awfully high.

(2) LEAVING THE BRIGHT LIGHTS OF STARKVILLE: So maybe you don’t have Starkville on your must visit bucket list but a lot of people who grew up in small towns in Mississippi think of it as bright lights, big city. The tallest building in town (Davis-Wade Stadium) can be seen from 30 miles out as you make your way to Starkville and Mississippi State from Birmingham. Obviously the lure of Starkville isn’t enough to keep a few more players from bolting Mike Leach’s program. With the announced departures of defensive ends Tre Lawson and Jamari Stewart and wide receiver Tyrell Shavers plus the expected opt out of running back Kylin Hill, Mike Leach will have lost eight players off the roster he began with back in August. Leach said two or three weeks ago that some players might need to find a new bright lights, big city to live in. It’s not clear if these most recent players are departing on their own accord or if they’ve been nudged out the door.

(3) WILL THE REAL TEXAS A&M PLEASE STAND UP?: The Aggies (3-1) are ranked eighth nationally, mostly because they scored a 41-38 win over then 6th-ranked Florida. Are we reading too much into the Aggies’ success? They have unimpressive wins over Vanderbilt (0-3) and Mississippi State (1-3) and a 41-38 win over defensively challenged Florida that was an absolute gift. When the Aggies faced 2nd-ranked Alabama it was blowout city (52-24). Even though A&M played its safeties 30 yards off the line of scrimmage, the Alabama wide receivers still got behind them. Bama had little reason to run the ball that day because there was no way the Aggies could cover in the secondary. What we’ve seen so far is inconclusive. We don’t know if the Aggies are real or if they’re going to limp in at 7-3 when the regular season concludes. This weekend’s homer with Arkansas (2-2) could go a long way toward unearthing who the Aggies really are. If Barry Odom dials up a defense that reverts Kellen Mond into the indecisive QB of the last three years, then bet the farm the Aggies are way overrated. If they light up Arkansas, then maybe, just maybe they’re for real. And lest we forget, this is the Feleipe Franks redemption tour. If F-Square can avoid completing passes to the Aggies he might just have an upset in his quiver.