BOUNCING IDEAS OFF EACH OTHER
This might be one of those weeks when Florida head coach Dan Mullen and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham spend a little bit more time trying to help each other with the schemes they'll be using against 6th-ranked LSU (5-0, 1-0 SEC) Saturday night in Baton Rouge. Mullen says the two consult with each other on an almost daily basis, but the 7th-ranked Gators (6-0, 3-0 SEC) haven't seen a team with the offensive explosiveness of LSU, nor has LSU faced a defensive team as good as Florida.
Typically, Mullen might ask Grantham how he would attack certain plays in the offensive game plan while Grantham will ask Mullen to point out the weaknesses in a particular defensive scheme.
"That happens daily in and out,” Mullen said Wednesday. “Those are quick things, 'Hey, we're looking at doing this. What are your thoughts and how it affects it?' He and I will briefly get together every day about just what's going on. But those ideas as you pass, generally, those are exchanged. Offensive and defensive staff rooms are right next to each other, so guys kind of stick their head in, "What about this or what about that? How would you guys handle it if we did this or do that?' Just a kind of check with the other side of the ball."
Mullen will have to deal with a Dave Aranda defense. Aranda tends to leave his defensive backs in one-on-one situations while trying to overload the pass protection with more people than the opponent can block. On the Florida defensive side, Grantham will have to deal with the best quarterback (Joe Burrow) and the fastest set of wide receivers the Gators have seen all year. It only stands to reason Mullen and Grantham will be leaning heavily on each other for ideas that might make the difference at a critical point in the game.
Some interesting numbers for Saturday: While there is no doubt LSU has the most talented offense the Gators have seen all year, it's also true the Tigers haven't played a decent defense. Here is where the four Division I opponents the Tigers have beaten rank nationally in total defense: 60. Georgia Southern: 380 yards per game 95. Utah State: 422.2 yards per game 104. Texas: 441.8 yards per game 125. Vanderbilt: 503.6 yards per game
Against those four opponents, LSU averaged 561.25 yards and 52 points.
GATORS LAND 4-STAR BASKETBALL COMMITMENT
Almost overlooked in the commitment of wing guard Neils Lane (6-5, 195, Roselle, NJ Catholic) to the Florida Gators is his AAU affiliation. Lane, considered one of the truly elite defenders in the country and rated four stars by 247Sports, played on the Nike circuit for Philadelphia based Team Final. This is a breakthrough for the Gators, who have spent a lot of time and effort trying to land players from the Team Final program (Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Rakeem Christmas and Dion Waiters are three that come to mind). This is an AAU program that is always loaded with prospects so for Mike White to get his foot in the door with a high quality recruit is a very big deal.
Lane is an average outside shooter but a good slasher who can get to the rim. He typically scores 6-10 points per game just off his defense. He's considered an exceptional press defender. Lane chose the Gators over Texas and Miami.
This is Florida's third commitment in a week. Lane joins forward Samson Ruzhentsev (6-7, 215, Moscow, Russia/Chattanooga, TN Hamilton Heights Christian) and Osayi Osifo (6-8, 210, McKinney, TX/Melbourne, FL Eastern Florida State College) in the UF recruiting class.
The Gators are thought to be battling it with Clemson to land power forward P.J. Hall (6-9, 220, Roebuck, SC Dorman), another four-star recruit.
SEC FOOTBALL STUFF
#1 Alabama (5-0, 2-0 SEC): With the status of starting center Chris Owens (knee) in doubt, Alabama is practicing with Landon Dickerson at center and Deonte Brown at right guard. Brown was last year's starting right guard but was suspended by the NCAA for the first four games of 2019. Saturday: at #25 Texas A&M (3-2, 1-1 SEC)
Arkansas (2-3, 0-2 SEC): Wide receiver Jordan Jones, who had surgery for a high ankle sprain back in August, is expected to make his 2019 debut Saturday evening against Kentucky. Saturday: at Kentucky (2-3, 0-3 SEC)
#12 Auburn (5-1, 2-1 SEC): Leading rusher Boobee Whitlow will be out 4-6 weeks after undergoing knee surgery Tuesday. In the first six games of the season Whitlow ran for 544 yards and seven touchdowns. Saturday: Open
#3 Georgia (5-0, 2-0 SEC): Defensive tackle Jordan Davis (ankle) is expected to play against South Carolina but cornerback Tyson Campbell (foot) looks like he will be a game time decision. Saturday: vs. South Carolina (2-3, 1-2 SEC)
Kentucky (2-3, 0-3 SEC): Sawyer Smith will get the start at quarterback against Arkansas. Wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. is expected to be the backup. Saturday: vs. Arkansas (2-3, 0-2 SEC)
#6 LSU (5-0, 1-0 SEC): Wide receiver Terrence Marshall (20 catches, 304 yards, six touchdowns) missed the Utah State game with an injury. He was absent from practice Tuesday and his status for Saturday is up in the air … Coach O hopes to have linebacker Michael Divinity and defensive end Rashard Lawrence healthy for the Gators Saturday. Saturday: vs. #7 FLORIDA (6-0, 3-0 SEC)
Mississippi State (3-2, 1-1 SEC): Quarterbacks Tommy Stevens and Garrett Shrader are both dinged up so HBC Joe Moorhead isn't certain which one will be available to start Saturday. Shrader has started the last two games, throwing for 389 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 214 yards and one TD. Saturday: at Tennessee (1-4, 0-2 SEC)
Missouri (4-1, 1-0 SEC): Quarterback Kelly Bryant says he's about 90% for Saturday's game with Ole Miss … With middle linebacker Garrett Cole done for the year, Cameron Wilkins is the new starter. Saturday: vs. Ole Miss (3-3, 2-1 SEC)
Ole Miss (3-3, 2-1 SEC): Quarterback Matt Corrall, out the last two games with an injury, might be able to play Saturday at Missouri. The big question for HBC Matt Luke is can Corrall take a hit without further injuring himself. Saturday: at Missouri (4-1, 1-0 SEC)
South Carolina (2-3, 1-2 SEC): Freshman linebacker Derek Boykins has entered his name in the NCAA transfer portal. Boykins was one of only two linebackers South Carolina signed for 2019. Saturday: at #3 Georgia (5-0, 2-0 SEC)
Tennessee (1-4, 0-2 SEC): Radio host Tyler Ivens of The Sports Animal in Knoxville has vowed to stay on the roof of a local Toyota dealership until the Vols win another game. He's probably going to be up there awhile. Saturday: vs. Mississippi State (3-2, 1-1 SEC)
#25 Texas A&M (3-2, 1-1 SEC): The Aggies are 5-11 at home against top 25 teams since joining the Southeastern Conference in 2012. Saturday: vs. #1 Alabama (5-0, 2-0 SEC)
Vanderbilt (1-4, 0-3 SEC): HBC Derek Mason says the Commodores haven't hit the panic button just yet, but says “we just got to be urgent” moving forward. Saturday: vs. UNLV (1-4)
GOOD QUOTES FOR WEDNESDAY
Duke basketball coach Mike Kryzyzewski issued a statement outlining his position on California's Fair Play to Pay law:
“The Fair Pay to Play Act that was recently signed into law in California will likely lead to far-reaching change. We’ve already seen similar bills introduced in several states. I don’t – and won’t – pretend to understand all the complexities of such a change. However, it is a sign of the times that we in college athletics must continually adapt, albeit in a sensible manner. While we have made significant progress in recent years, we have not always responded to the needs and rights of our players swiftly, and frankly, we’re playing catch-up after years of stagnant rules. I hope and trust that not only will there be a plan to put the student-athletes’ best interests at the forefront, but that we’ll also have a firm plan for implementation at the national level. College athletics provides an amazing option for hundreds of thousands of talented men and women who choose to attend institutions across the country. We must adapt to ensure that it stays that way.”
Seth Davis of The Athletic on Gonzaga basketball coach Mark Few, who is quite content to remain at the small school in Spokane even though he could triple his salary by going to a Power Five or NBA job:
“Sure, he could more than double his salary by moving elsewhere, but $1.7 million a year is plenty. He and Marcy are raising their four children in a lovely 4,600-square-foot home that sits on 30 acres and offers a spectacular view of Latah Valley. They are building a second home on Hayden Lake, a 45-minute drive away. For the most part, other schools have stopped trying to pry Few away, but some still give it a shot. Earlier this year, Few was contacted by Golden State Warriors GM Bob Myers, an old pal who was helping his alma mater, UCLA, find a replacement for Steve Alford. Few told Myers thanks but no thanks and went back to work. After all these years, the Mark Few Sweepstakes finally appear to be over. Gonzaga won.”
Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports on Vanderbilt football coach Derek Mason:
“Every July, Mason charismatically makes the case that the Commodores are going to be an improved contender in the SEC. Then the season starts, and the follow-through isn’t there. The sixth-year coach hasn’t had a winning season yet, and this doesn’t look like it will be one, either – Vandy is 1-4, with every loss by at least 18 points. That includes losses to Purdue and Ole Miss, two teams the Commodores should be competing with on relatively even terms. The only win is a six-pointer over Northern Illinois.”
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Former Baylor football coach Art Briles has Mount Vernon (TX) High School off to a 5-0 start but there are reports that all five games will be forfeited for using two ineligible players … Does this sound familiar? Jim McElwain is about to lose his quarterback due to a failed drug test over a substance banned by the NCAA. Central Michigan QB David Moore has been suspended for a full year after failing the test. Moore will appeal … The Tampa Bay Rays are heading back to Houston for game five of their American League Divisional Series matchup with the Astros. The Rays touched up Justin Verlander for three first inning runs and cruised to a 4-1 win Tuesday night at the Plastic Palace in St. Petersburg … At Duke Zion Williamson was listed at 6-7. Either Duke measured him with his shoes on or inflated his height because the NBA measurements, which are generally extremely accurate, have him at 6-6 … Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred warned the mayor and city council of Oakland that if they don't approve a new stadium for the Athletics he'll approve them to move to Las Vegas.