FOR UF TO WIN, TRASK MUST STAY UPRIGHT
Auburn defensive end Marlon Davidson has Saturday's matchup with 10-ranked Florida (5-0, 2-0 SEC) down to a science. To hear him talk, he's almost drooling at the thought of coming off the edge to bury Florida quarterback Kyle Trask, who Davidson sees as nothing more than a sitting duck because he's a pocket passer.
“That actually makes me a little more happier, having a guy that wants to sit back there and throw the ball,” Davidson said a couple of days ago. “That leads to more sacks for me.”
Davidson is 6-3, 278-pound senior who has 2-1/2 sacks this season, all against perennial MAC bottom feeder Kent State. He has ZERO sacks against Oregon, Tulane, Texas A&M and Mississippi State. He did get a quarterback hurry against Tulane.
Now Marlon Davidson is a very good football player. There is no denying that. So are the others on Auburn's front four. A whole lot of folks think Derrick Brown will be the second defensive lineman taken in the 2020 NFL Draft (Ohio State DE Chase Young is almost certain to be the first). Scouts seem to think BUCK end Nick Coe will play on Sundays for years to come. Nose tackle Tyrone Truesdale is talented but makes a lot of plays because so much attention is being devoted to Brown. So Auburn has talent up front on defense. The big question is can they bring the heat often enough to disrupt Trask and slow Florida's offense to a crawl.
The key for Florida to move the football and put points on the scoreboard Saturday will be to keep that front four out of Trask's face. Give Trask time to throw and good things happen. He has completed 51-66 passes since taking over for Feleipe Franks in the fourth quarter of the Kentucky game, good for 647 yards and a most impressive 9.4 yards per attempt. For the most part, Trask has been very good finding open receivers and getting the ball out of his hands in a hurry.
For all the talk about Auburn's defense, the Tigers have given up seven touchdown passes and have only one interception all season. The Tigers have 13 sacks, which isn't bad, but more sacks and a heavy dose of pressure on the quarterback almost always results in more interceptions. That hasn't happened with any consistency so far.
This translates into one objective for the Gators: Keep Trask's jersey clean, give him time to throw and let Florida's very talented crew of receivers do their thing. If Trask spends the majority of the game upright it will likely mean Florida's wide receivers are going to give the Gators plenty of scoring opportunities and the result will be a UF win. If Auburn's front four can spend the afternoon in the Florida backfield, Auburn probably wins.
NO CHEAP TICKETS
In an interview with Kyle Zorn of secondary market ticket broker Tick Pick, Mark Heim of Al.com reports the average price for a ticket to Saturday's Florida-Auburn game is $226.09 with the highest priced ticket is $1,017. Stub Hub has tickets in the $1,000 range while the highest priced ticket on Vivid Seats is $966.
A QUESTION FOR THE LAWYERS
California has passed its “Fair Play to Pay” law which will enable college athletes to cash in on endorsements and hire agents, a law that is seriously opposed by the NCAA on the grounds that it would give California a competitive edge not enjoyed by schools in the other 49 states. I'm not a lawyer so I don't know what the answer would be to this question, but since membership in the NCAA is voluntary at what point does California law override the NCAA bylaws, providing of course, the NCAA bylaws are not unconstitutional? From my non-legal perspective, it would seem it will be a dilemma for the California schools. Do they allow their athletes to break NCAA rules or do they forbid them, which, of course, would go against California state law.
Would some of our lawyers weigh in on this? I'm really looking for some perspective on what I think is going to be a tough issue.
SEC FOOTBALL STUFF
#2 Alabama (5-0, 2-0 SEC): Placekicker Will Reichard is being held out of practice this week to rest his ailing hip flexor. Reichard is 4-7 on field goals and 21-22 on extra points this year. Saturday: Open
Arkansas (2-3, 0-2 SEC): Tight end Cheyenne O'Grady, who caught eight passes for 91 yards in the Razorbacks' loss to Texas A&M last week, has been named Player of the Week by the Mackey Award committee. The Mackey Award honors the best tight end in the country. Saturday: Open
#7 Auburn (5-0, 2-0 SEC): Safety Jordyn Peters is healthy once again and that can't be good news for opposing punters. Peters blocked three punts last year, second most in the nation and tops in the SEC. Saturday: at #10 FLORIDA (5-0, 2-0 SEC)
#3 Georgia (4-0, 2-0 SEC): With Solomon Kindley still hobbled by a sprained ankle, Justin Shaffer will probably get the start at left guard Saturday when the Bulldogs travel to Knoxville. Saturday: at Tennessee (1-3, 0-1 SEC)
Kentucky (2-3, 0-3 SEC): Speaking of his team's mental state while on the SEC Coaches Teleconference Wednesday, HBC Mark Stoops said, “It's definitely a challenge, no doubt. We had high expectations coming into the season but we are determined to get things right.” Saturday: Open
#5 LSU (5-0, 2-0 SEC): Senior running back Lanard Fournette, the younger brother of LSU great Leonard Fournette, has withdrawn from school and is leaving the team. He is a graduate and has played in only four games this season ... Linebacker Michael Divinity has been ruled out of Saturday's non-conference matchup with Utah State. Saturday: vs. Utah State (3-1)
Mississippi State (3-2, 1-1 SEC): With rumors that he will be on the short list to replace fired Chris Ash at Rutgers, MSU HBC Joe Moorhead said, “We ask our players to be focused on the task at hand and right now I’m focused on us getting better tomorrow, us doing a great job recruiting this weekend. And then doing what we need to do with the team next week to find a way to beat Tennessee.” Saturday: Open
Missouri (3-1, 1-0 SEC): Bye weeks haven't exactly been a good thing for Missouri under HBC Barry Odom. The Tigers are 0-3 after a bye week during Odom's tenure at Missouri, 0-5 when bowl games are added to the equation. Saturday: vs. Troy (3-1)
Ole Miss (2-3, 1-1 SEC): Senior defensive back Montrell Custis has entered his name in the NCAA transfer portal. He is set to graduate in December so he won't have to sit out no matter where he transfers. Saturday: vs. Vanderbilt (1-3, 0-2 SEC)
South Carolina (2-3, 1-1 SEC): Running back Rico Dowdle (ankle) won't practice this week but is expected to be back at full speed next week. Backup QB Dakereon Joyner is still hobbled by a hamstring. His status won't be known until next week. Saturday: Open
Tennessee (1-3, 0-1 SEC): HBC Jeremy Pruitt says he was not seeking preferential treatment when linebacker Jeremy Banks was arrested on an outstanding warrant for a previous traffic citation. Pruitt, who sounded off about the arrest, says he didn't want special treatment for his player but was upset to discover there was a warrant in the first place. During Banks' arrest, he was caught on video screaming, “Where I'm from we shoot at cops.” Saturday: vs. #3 Georgia (4-0, 2-0 SEC)
#23 Texas A&M (3-2, 1-1 SEC): For the Aggies to get to the 9-10 wins they were predicted in the preseason, quarterback Kellen Mond is going to have to step it up. His play in the Aggies' losses to Clemson and Auburn really didn't give the Aggies a fair chance to win either game. Saturday: Open
Vanderbilt (1-3, 0-2 SEC): Ole Miss hasn't announced who will start at QB against Vanderbilt but Vandy HBC Derek Mason believes it will be true freshman John Rhys Plumlee. Mason said, “He’s got a cool calmness about him and guys played for him.” Saturday: at Ole Miss (2-3, 1-1 SEC)
GOOD QUOTES FOR THURSDAY
Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt on what Georgia coach Kirby Smart inherited when he took over the program in Athens:
“I think the program he took over won 20 games in its previous two years, that helped.”
From Alabama coach Nick Saban on what he thinks about rankings:
“I don’t think it really matters at all where you’re ranked or rated right now. It only matters when it’s in January. When the season’s over, that’s all that matters. It can slip away very quickly. As it did last week, it wasn’t even because the team (Clemson) didn’t win. It must’ve been somebody’s perception of how they played. So it’s not even about winning, it’s about how you played.”
From Laken Litman of Sports Illustrated on the chances Michigan's Jim Harbaugh could be fired if he manages something like a 7-5 record this year:
“But the reality in Ann Arbor is that even if Michigan finishes, let’s say, a disappointing 7-5, Harbaugh isn’t getting fired. The program desperately wants and needs him to succeed. The idea that Harbaugh wouldn’t make it to the Nov. 30 matchup against first-year head coach Ryan Day and Ohio State isn’t happening. If Harbaugh can piece together a 9-3, 10-2, or even an 8-4 season and beat the Buckeyes, he’ll certainly have bought himself more time. Michigan hasn’t beaten Ohio State since 2011 and has lost the last 16 of 18 matchups. Even if Michigan loses to its rival again, the odds of Harbaugh being fired are still very low.”
Coach O on graduate transfer quarterbacks:
“When you choose a grad transfer, you have more info than you did in high school so you can pick what you specifically need for your team. It's sort of like free agency. Guys are going to pick the schools that give them the best chance to play and the best system for them. It's like getting a mature player for your team.”
RANDOM THOUGHTS: It's on to Houston and the American League Divisional Series for the Tampa Bay Rays, who hit four home runs Wednesday night to beat the Oakland Athletics, 5-1, in the AL Wild Card Game … Bill Bidwell, the sole owner of the Arizona (formerly St. Louis) Cardinals since 1972, died Wednesday at the age of 88 … Asked what is the plan for a starting quarterback among Case Keenum, Colt McCoy and rookie Dwayne Haskins, Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden said, “We don't have one right now” … Howard University coach Ron Prince, who has had three players including Cam Newton's younger brother Caylin transfer out since the season began, has been accused of being verbally abusive and intimidating to his players … Despite Jalen Ramsey's demands to be traded, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan says there are no plans to send him to a new team … The New England Patriots have been auditioning placekickers after the team's all-time leading scorer Stephen Gostkowski was placed on injured reserve. Kai Forbath and Mike Nugent are getting the longest looks to become the replacement kicker … Due to a rash of injuries that have left only 28 healthy players on its roster, Grinnell College (Iowa) has elected to forfeit the remaining games on its schedule … Arch Manning, grandson of Archie Manning and nephew of Peyton and Eli Manning, is the starting quarterback as a freshman at Isadore Newman School in New Orleans. Archie says the grandson is probably ahead of where Peyton and Eli were at the same age.