Thoughts of the Day: October 5, 2020

A few thoughts to jump start your Monday morning:

On paper, Saturday’s Florida-Texas A&M game has the look of a shootout that will be determined by who plays best: Kyle Trask or Kellen Mond. Most of the preseason magazines that didn’t foolishly pick Jamie Newman as one of their top two SEC quarterbacks for 2020, had Trask and Mond 1-2 in their rankings. While Trask is off to a rather impressive start through 3rd-ranked Florida’s first two games, it’s been a mixed bag for Mond, although he did throw three touchdown passes against Alabama.

Even for a school that has produced three Heisman Trophy quarterbacks and numerous record-setters at the position, what Trask has done in two games against Southeastern Conference opponents is impressive – 51-71 passing (71.4%) for 684 yards (9.6 per attempt) with 10 touchdown passes (only one interception). With his four touchdown passes against South Carolina on Saturday, Trask tied Steve Spurrier for 10th place on Florida’s career TDP list with 36. Not bad for a QB who has only started 12 games in his Florida career. If he can throw for three against the Aggies Saturday Trask will move into a tie for ninth place with Terry Dean. Even though there are only 10 regular season games, Danny Wuerffel’s season record 39 (set in 1996) seems within reach.

Mond looked average at best in the Aggies’ season opening win over Vanderbilt, but he improved substantially against Alabama. He was 17-28 against Vandy for 189 yards and a TD. Against Alabama, Mond was 25-44 for 318 yards and three TDs but he did throw a pick six which was the turning point in the game. His season totals are 42-72 (58.3%) for 507 yards (6.8 per attempt) and four TDs (one interception). This is Mond’s fourth year as the Aggies starting QB but his numbers haven’t improved substantially. He’s a 57.8% career passer who has averaged 7.0 per attempt. He has 56 career TDPs but has thrown 25 interceptions. As a runner he has 1,379 career yards (just 37 this year) and 18 touchdowns.

The question heading into Saturday will be which defense can contain the opposing quarterback. While Florida gave up 443 yards (13.4 per attempt) against Ole Miss in the opener, South Carolina managed only 212 yards (4.5 per attempt). The Aggies gave up 150 yards (5.2 per attempt) to a true freshman QB in his first collegiate game for a bad Vanderbilt team. The Aggies were torched for 435 yards (16.1 per attempt) by Alabama in only 27 pass attempts and that included touchdown passes of 78, 87 and 63 yards.

ASSOCIATED PRESS TOP 25 POLL

(1) Clemson 3-0; (2) Alabama (2-0); (3) Georgia (2-0; (4) FLORIDA 2-0; (5) Notre Dame 2-0; (6) Ohio State 0-0; (7) Miami 3-0; (8) North Carolina 2-0; (9) Penn State 0-0; (10) Oklahoma State 3-0; (11) Cincinnati 3-0; (12) Oregon 0-0; (13) Auburn 1-1; (14) Tennessee 2-0; (15) BYU 3-0; (16) Wisconsin 0-0; (17) LSU 1-1; (18) SMU 4-0; (19) Virginia Tech 2-0; (20) Michigan 0-0; (21) Texas A&M 1-1; (22) Texas 2-1; (23) Louisiana 3-0; (24) Iowa State 2-1; (25) Minnesota 0-0

COACHES TOP 25 POLL

(1) Clemson 3-0; (2) Alabama 2-0; (3, TIE) FLORIDA 2-0; Georgia 2-0; (5) Notre Dame 2-0; (6) Ohio State 0-0; (7) Miami 3-0; (8) Penn State 0-0; (9) North Carolina 2-0; (10) Oklahoma State 3-0; (11) Cincinnati 3-0; (12) Tennessee 2-0; (13) Auburn 1-1; (14) Wisconsin 0-0; (15) BYU 3-0; (16) LSU 1-1; (17) Oregon 0-0; (18) Virginia Tech 2-0; (19) Michigan 0-0; (20) Texas A&M 1-1; (21) SMU 4-0; (22) Texas 2-1; (23) Louisiana 3-0; (24) Iowa State 2-1; (25) UCF 2-1

RUMBLING, STUMBLING, BUMBLING IN THE SEC

#2 ALABAMA (2-0): Alabama wasn’t exactly challenged by the Aggies, but they did give Nick Saban his talking points for the week by throwing for 335 yards, running for 115 and scoring 24 points on his defense. Pity the Tide defenders this week in practice as they get ready to face yet another former Saban assistant. Next week: at Ole Miss (1-1)

ARKANSAS (1-1): Feleipe Franks is feeling the love in Fayette Nam where he could run for mayor after quarterbacking the Hogs to their first Southeastern Conference win since October of 2017. He could run for lieutenant governor of the state of Arkansas if he can help engineer a win over Auburn on the road this week. Next week: at #13 Auburn (1-1)

#13 AUBURN (1-1): Consider what Auburn did against Georgia a huge step backward and it had everything to do with what happened in the trenches. To put it mildly, Auburn got manhandled on both sides of the line and it was ugly. Complicating matters, the secondary couldn’t cover and quarterback Bo Nix kept missing open receivers and making bad decisions. Next week: vs. Arkansas (1-1)

#3 GEORGIA (2-0): Stetson Bennett IV rescued the Poodles in game one against Arkansas and he won his first ever start against Auburn in spite of throwing some passes that the Georgia receivers could have called for a fair catch while waiting for the ball to descend from the stratosphere. Is Bennett the answer at quarterback or just playing over his head against subpar opponents? The first real test of the year comes Saturday against Tennessee. Next week: vs. #14 Tennessee (2-0)

KENTUCKY (0-2): How can you run for 408 yards and have three runners go for more than 100 yards and still lose? Mark Stoops is probably asking that question tonight. The Wildcats might give up 500 passing yards to Mississippi State this week. If they can run for 400 again, they might just win this one.

Next week: vs. Mississippi State (1-1)

#17 LSU (1-1): Lost in the Mississippi State debacle was the fact the Tigers still have plenty of athletes. The athletes took over against Vanderbilt and LSU looked like a real football team and not one ready to go in the tank for 2020. Myles Brennan threw four TDPs, two to Terrance Marshall Jr., and John Emery Jr. finally began to look like he’s ready for prime time. The defense held the Commodores to 256 yards and one TD. Beware. Reports of LSU’s demise are greatly exaggerated. Next week: vs. Missouri (0-2)

MISSISSIPPI STATE (1-1): Arkansas dropped eight into coverage on nearly every play which was a smart thing to do but it wouldn’t have worked all that well if K.J. Costello had remembered to throw the football to the people wearing maroon jerseys instead of the guys wearing white. Three picks on bad throws and a fumble are what did the Bulldogs in more than Barry Odom’s Arkansas defense. Next week: at Kentucky (0-2)

MISSOURI (0-2): The Shawn Robinson experiment didn’t last long. Eli Drinkwitz made the move to Connor Bazelac at QB and the offense was improved. The Tigers will have a chance to win a game if they can ever get Larry Rountree III untracked in the ground game. Next week: at #17 LSU (1-1)

OLE MISS (1-1): The Aggies put up 24 points and threw for 335 yards on Alabama with Kellen Mond at QB. Will Lane Kiffin be able to put the fear of God in Nick Saban when he unleashes Matt Corral? There is no way the Ole Miss defense can stop Alabama but can the Alabama defense derail the Lane Train offense?

Next week: vs. #2 Alabama (2-0)

SOUTH CAROLINA (0-2): It’s hard to put Vanderbilt in the must win category, but when you’re 0-2 to start the season and you still have remaining games on the schedule with Auburn, LSU, Texas A&M and Georgia, then the heat is on. The Gamecocks should have beaten Tennessee in game one and they’re fortunate Florida didn’t blow their doors off. Next week: at Vanderbilt (0-2)

#14 TENNESSEE (2-0): This is the week when the Vols find out if they are for real or it’s just Butch Jones Part Deux. Butch Jones was great about beating up all the bad teams on the schedule but he was a bust against the good ones. The Vols have won eight in a row against teams that are anywhere from bad to the low end of average. If they can beat Georgia, then it’s time to Jeremy Pruitt’s team seriously. Next week: at #3 Georgia (2-0)

#21 TEXAS A&M (1-1): The Aggie safeties were playing 20-25 yards off the line of scrimmage and yet the Alabama wide receivers still got behind them. Alabama was good for 544 total yards (435 on 20 completions) and 52 points despite putting the offense on cruise control in the second half. Next week: vs. #4 FLORIDA (2-0)

VANDERBILT (0-2): Just when the Commodores were starting to feel good about themselves along came an LSU team with a Mount Everest size chip on its shoulder. The chip on South Carolina’s shoulder won’t be nearly as large, but it will be big enough. Vanderbilt is really bad.

Next week: vs. South Carolina (0-2)

SO MUCH FOR “BEST TEAM IN THE STATE” UCF: Eighteen penalties including 10 false starts – six by center Matthew Lee – helped to end UCF’s 21-game Bounce House winning streak as well as Dillon Gabriel’s boastful claim that the Knights are the best team in the state of Florida. They would have had trouble beating Florida State Saturday night.

FSU FANS SHOULD SAVOR THE WIN: For awhile there it looked as if the Seminoles were going to go down in flames to D1AA Jacksonville State, but they rallied in the second half to turn a 21-7 deficit into a 41-21 win. The Seminoles did it without the assistance of James Blackman, who was benched in favor of true freshman Tate Rodemaker. When Rodemaker proved less effective than Blackman Jordan Travis came off the bench to save the day. The Seminoles are 1-2 and might not be favored to win another game until the season finale with Duke. Next week they play Notre Dame in South Bend. If Mike Norvell can go 3-8 with this bunch he might be ACC Coach of the Year.

WE FIND OUT IF MIAMI IS FOR REAL THIS WEEK: The 7th-ranked Himmicanes (3-0) travel to top-ranked Climpson (3-0) Saturday evening, a game that will tell us if Miami is for real or just beating up on inferior opponents. Climpson has the 12th-ranked defense in the country and the 17th-ranked offense. If The U somehow scores a win over the Tigers, their fans will be even more insufferable than normal.

THE (NOT SO) BIG 12: Could we demote the Big 12 out of the Power Five conferences this year and elevate the Sun Belt? That same Iowa State team that was hosed by Louisiana just knocked off Oklahoma, which has now lost two in a row for the first time since 1999. Kansas State, which last week beat Oklahoma, lost its season opener to Arkansas State, which trails Louisiana by two games in the Sun Belt West. Arkansas State got ripped by 30 to Coastal Carolina, which whomped up on everybody’s favorite Big 12 homecoming opponent, Kansas. Texas, which lost to TCU, almost lost to Texas Tech, which barely beat D1AA Houston Baptist. The only unbeaten team is Okie State, which struggled to beat Tulsa in its season opener. Now that the Big Ten and Pac-12 have decided to play football, a Big 12 team will have to run the table to make it to the College Football Playoff.

IT’S MONDAY AND I FEEL PITHY: My greatest fear now that the Big Ten, Pac-12, Mountain West and MAC have decided to play football is that ESPN will broadcast so many games that it will assign Beth Mowins to do the play-by-play on a Florida game. The ultimate nightmare for a football fan would be Beth Mowins on play-by-play, Rod Gilmore on color and Todd McShay on sideline. I’d rather listen to fingernails on a chalk board than Beth Mowins. Rod Gilmore sounds as if he’s doing the color commentary at a funeral attended only by deaf-mutes. Todd McShay is not always the smartest guy in the room although he thinks he is … Dak Prescott threw for 502 yards and the Dallas Cowboys still lost by 11 points to the Cleveland Browns. I wonder who Jerry Jones has on speed dial to be his next coach? … Bob Gibson died. What he did in 1968 might be the greatest year a pitcher ever had in the modern era of baseball. He went 22-9 with a 1.12 ERA while throwing 13 shutouts and 28 complete games. There were 15 complete games pitched in all of Major League Baseball in 2019. I saw Gibson pitch in person. There isn’t a pitcher in this era who could sniff his jock. One other interesting note about Bob Gibson: He was a great basketball player at Creighton (averaged 20.2 points per game) who spent a year playing for the Harlem Globetrotters before concentrating solely on baseball.

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