NO GUARANTEES OR BOLD TALK FROM TRASK
Prior to the Super Bowl in January of 1969, Joe Willie Namath guaranteed the New York Jets were going to beat the Baltimore Colts. Most of the folks in the media didn't take Namath seriously, but a couple days after his bold announcement he backed up his words and led the Jets to a stunning, 16-7, win, the first time the thought to be inferior American Football league champions ever beat an NFL team for the world championship.
As the Florida-Georgia game approaches with 8th-ranked Georgia (6-1, 3-1 SEC) favored by 6-1/2 points over the 6th-ranked Gators (7-1, 4-1 SEC), you won't hear Florida quarterback Kyle Trask channeling his inner Joe Namath. Nope, no bold predictions of a Florida victory from Trask. His face has turned red in the past when confronted with the fact he has a tendency to get a little wild and crazy at practice, but when he faces the media, he's quiet, polite and anything but bold and brash.
Now the way Trask plays is anything but quiet and polite. Just ask the secondaries he's carved up since taking over for the injured Feleipe Franks in game three against Kentucky. This baby-faced assassin is in the process of becoming one of college football's feel good stories, made better by his quiet, unassuming demeanor. Even opponents would probably admit that it's really hard to hate a guy who's so nice.
Trask is well aware of what's at stake Saturday in Jacksonville, but if you think for one second he's nervous about playing Georgia with the winner taking the upper hand in the SEC East championship race, then think again. When he faced the media Monday, Trask acted as if this game is important only because it's the next game on the Florida schedule and in doing so sounded quite a lot like Dan Mullen.
"You want to treat every opponent the same way as it goes for preparation,” Trask said. “I think that's just buying into what Coach Mullen's preaching. Even if we're playing a lesser opponent we're still going to watch the same amount of film, take the same amount of notes and I think that's really stuck with me as to actually, truly, treating every game the same way and just, you know, we're not gonna take weeks off or anything like that. We've been getting better every single week and we just have to keep that going."
Those aren't the words of a kid who's even the slightest bit nervous. It's just Trask being Trask and that means listening to the coaches, focusing in on getting better every day in practice and then on Saturdays executing on the field all the things that were part of the practice agenda. He'll let his play on Saturday do all the talking for him.
So instead of some Joe Willie-like guarantee or prediction, this is the best you'll get out of Kyle Trask: “I think we’re treating it like the biggest game of the season just because it’s our next game, and we’re going to do our best just to execute at a high level and play to our standard.”
And for that reason, you have to like Florida's chances Saturday with Kyle Trask at quarterback.
SEC FOOTBALL STUFF #1 Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC): Saturday: Open
Arkansas (2-6, 0-5 SEC): Starting with Saturday's matchup with a bad Mississippi State team, Arkansas HBC Chad Morris talks about “a November to remember.” That might be a stretch. The Hogs need to go 4-0 in November to become bowl eligible and one of the games (November 23) is LSU in Baton Rouge. Saturday: vs. Mississippi State (3-5, 1-4 SEC)
#11 Auburn (6-2, 3-2 SEC): With Boobee Whitlow still limited in what he can do, freshman DJ Williams will most likely get the bulk of the carries against Ole Miss. Against LSU last week, Williams was 13-130 running the ball. Saturday: vs. Ole Miss (3-5, 2-3 SEC)
#8 Georgia (6-1, 3-1 SEC): Concerns about the Georgia passing game are legitimate. With the exception of the Tennessee game where Jake From threw for 288 yards and two touchdowns while averaging 9.9 per attempt, the numbers have been rather ordinary against Power Five competition. Against Vandy he averaged 6.8 per attempt, 7.2 against Notre Dame, 5.8 against South Carolina and 2.9 against Kentucky. Saturday: vs. #6 FLORIDA (7-1, 4-1 SEC) in Jacksonville
Kentucky (4-4, 1-4 SEC): This is a true statistical oddity. Through eight games, the Wildcats have generated 2,843 yards of offense (355.4 per game) and defensively have given up 2,843 yards. Saturday: Open
#1 LSU (8-0, 4-0 SEC): Draft guru Mel Kiper says QB Joe Burrow is moving up rapidly on his board. Kiper said, “He reminds me of Tony Romo with his delivery and the way he manipulates the pocket. But Joe Brady has made Joe Burrow the player that he is, coming from the Saints with that new offense and all of a sudden Joe Burrow is a top 10 guy.” Saturday: Open
Mississippi State (3-5, 1-4 SEC): Turnovers are the big concern for the Bulldogs right now. In the last two games (both losses) they've thrown three interceptions and fumbled the ball away three times without creating a single turnover on the defensive side of the ball. Saturday: at Arkansas (2-6, 0-5 SEC)
Missouri (5-3, 2-2 SEC): Mizzou HBC Barry Odom assesses the 2019 season like this: “We're 5-3 and we've earned 5-3. It's not where anyone wants to be. Right now that's who we are.” Saturday: Open
Ole Miss (3-5, 2-3 SEC): Freshman QB John Rhys Plumlee, who suffered a minor knee injury in the Rebels loss to Texas A&M a couple of weeks ago, will be limited in practice but is expected to play Saturday against Auburn. Plumlee is averaging 101.6 yards per game rushing (four touchdowns) and has thrown four touchdown passes (only one interception). Saturday: at #11 Auburn (6-2, 3-2 SEC)
South Carolina (3-5, 2-4 SEC): Despite criticism from the outside about HBC Will Muschamp, South Carolina players aren't buying it. Corner Jaycee Horn said, “We know how great of a coach he is and how much trust he has in his players. So we have his back 110 percent and we're going to go out there and put it all on the line for him.” Saturday: vs. Vanderbilt (2-5, 1-3 SEC)
Tennessee (3-5, 2-3 SEC): The QB situation seems chaotic at best. Jarrett Guarantano, who played his best football of the season against South Carolina, had surgery on a broken bone in his wrist Monday. HBC Jeremy Pruitt thinks Gurantano might play Saturday against UAB. Freshman Brian Maurer, who started three games but has had two concussions, may be cleared to play but that's not a certainty either. So the starter could be redshirt freshman J.T. Shrout, who was 7-11 passing against South Carolina for 122 yards and a TD. Saturday: vs. UAB (6-1)
Texas A&M (5-3, 3-2 SEC): The Aggies have started five freshmen the last three games and seven have started at least one game this season. Right guard Kenyon Green and free safety Demani Richardson have started every game. Saturday: vs. Texas-San Antonio (3-4)
Vanderbilt (2-5, 1-3 SEC): With buzzards circling the Vandy football complex and lots of locals convinced that Derek Mason's days as HBC are numbered, there are reports that former Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher could be a candidate to take over. Saturday: at South Carolina (3-5, 2-4 SEC)
GOOD QUOTES FOR WEDNESDAY
From Paul Finebaum of the SEC Network on what Notre Dame should do about football coach Brian Kelly:
“He's good, not great. He's never going to win a national championship. The wise move for Notre Dame is to buy Brian Kelly out and bring in Urban Meyer. Urban Meyer is the best available coach in the country, he wanted to go to Notre Dame 13 years ago. Florida got him instead. There are a lot of reasons why that may have happened but Notre Dame is a national championship caliber program but Brian Kelly is not a national championship caliber coach.”
From Joseph Goodman of Al.com on why Alabama doesn't have to play Tua Tagovailoa against LSU on November 9: “The College Football Playoff committee isn't going to keep one-loss Alabama out of the postseason based on a loss to No. 1 LSU that came without Tua at quarterback.”
From Mark Heim of Al.com, Kirk Herbstreit of ESPN responds to former NFL GM Michael Lombardi's heavy criticism of Auburn's offense and HBC Gus Malzahn: “I don't buy into that. You're playing a true freshman quarterback with a great defense. Your four toughest games are all away from Jordan-Hare … I'm sorry man, I don't think you hang it on Gus Malzahn has a terrible offense. You're playing a young quarterback. When Nick Marshall was running that offense we didn't say it was a terrible offense. When Cam Newton was running that offense we didn't say it was a terrible offense. Watch Bo Nix next year and the year after that run that offense and he isn't even done this year. I'm a Bo Nix fan. I think he is going to be a great player.”
From Bruce Feldman of The Athletic on Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, who has vaulted into the top tier of Heisman Trophy candidates: “The impact Young is having on opposing offenses when you dissect the numbers is remarkable. Through Week 8 he has a national-leading 13.5 sacks to go with 22 tackles, five forced fumbles, 21 hurries and 38 pressures, according to the Buckeyes defensive staff. Young has been in on 118 total pass rush plays. On those, the opponent has slid its protection to Young 53 times; he's been double-teamed 29 times and the quarterback has been rolled away from him 10 times. No doubt teams will gameplan to try and find more solutions to minimize his play-making which will probably end up making life a lot easier for the rest of the Buckeyes' loaded front seven. Young could, and almost certainly will, continue to have a profound impact on games, but he might not keep posting he jaw-dropping stat lines.”
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Cincinnati Christian's NAIA football program, which won its first two games in school history this year, will be shutting down because the school is closing its doors at the end of the fall semester … Arizona HBC Kevin Sumlin fired his defensive coordinator Marcel Yates and linebackers coach Jon Rushing …Timothy Brown, a defensive tackle from Palm Beach Gardens and a Pitt commit, has been arrested with two of his teammates and charged with robbery, felony battery and kidnapping after they allegedly attacked an 18-year-old man, abducted him and then threw him out of their moving SUV. The two teammates – both still juveniles so unnamed – reportedly have (or had) offers to play Division I football … Tiger Woods has won 82 PGA events, tying him with Sam Snead for the all-time record. What makes his win at the ZoZo Championship in Japan even more impressive is he started the tournament with three consecutive bogeys … There will be a game seven of the World Series after the Washington Nationals stuck it to the Houston Astros, 7-2, in game six Tuesday night. This marked the first time in World Series history that the visiting team has won the first six games.