THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: SEPTEMBER 2, 2019
PUTTING THE GAME FACE ON AGAIN
Even though Saturday's opponent is UT-Martin (1-0) from Division 1AA, a team 8th-ranked Florida (1-0) should have no problems adding to the win column, Dan Mullen will be looking for a more polished version of the Gators. Because the Gators made so many mistakes in their season-opening win over Miami, you might see Mullen stick with the guys on his two-deep longer than usual. With redshirt rules that allow a coach to play a kid four games without it counting against his eligibility, Mullen will certainly want to get the kids further down the depth chart a chance to play in a real game but his first obligation is to make sure the Gators are primed and ready for their SEC opener at Kentucky on September 13.
Following the 24-20 win over Miami, Mullen and his staff had the advantage of an open date – a teaching week if you will – that presented an opportunity to make corrections as well as put in some time on a Kentucky game plan. Since there is no school today (Labor Day) and tomorrow (hurricane day), you can expect time will be spent adding some wrinkles to the Kentucky game plan since the staff has had a chance to watch what the Wildcats did in their 38-24 win over Toledo but not at the expense of overlooking UT-Martin. The Skyhawks might be traveling to Gainesville for a paycheck, but they aren't going to roll over and the last thing Mullen needs is for the Gators to go into the game looking ahead. He needs a team fully focused and ready to inflict pain and suffering on the Skyhawks.
SATURDAY IN THE SEC
#1 Alabama (1-0): Just another day at the office for Tua Tagaovailoa, who hit 26-31 passes for 367 yards and four touchdowns against Duke. The Bama defense gave up only 204 total yards. Next week: vs. New Mexico State
Arkansas (1-0): About the only good thing you could say about the Hogs' 20-13 win over a bad D1AA team (Portland State) is that the defense played well with six sacks and three interceptions. The offense stunk, no two ways about it. When you only score 20 against a D1AA team that plays no defense you're in deepest and darkest. Next week: at Ole Miss (0-1)
#16 Auburn (1-0): Two things of note in Auburn's 27-21 win over 11th-ranked Oregon Saturday night. (1) Freshman Bo Nix didn't wilt under pressure. He was at his best in the fourth quarter when Auburn needed him the most and he delivered in a big way. (2) Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele did a tremendous job of making the adjustments after Oregon ate his defense up the first 25 minutes of the game. In the last five minutes of the first half and then the entire second half, Steele made all the right moves. Next week: vs. Tulane
#3 Georgia (1-0): Until Georgia's receivers figure out how to get open, the Bulldogs are going to pound away in the running game like they did against Vanderbilt when they ran for 325 yards and averaged 8.13 per rush attempt. D'Andre Swift had 16 carries for 149 yards.
Next week: vs. Murray State
Kentucky (1-0): In the second half against Toledo, quarterback Terry Wilson made all the right throws to help the Wildcats take control and win. Wilson's final numbers were a very efficient 19-26 for 243 yards (9.3 per attempt) and two TD passes with zero picks.
Next week: vs. Eastern Michigan
LSU (1-0): Obviously the new offensive scheme brought in by Joe Brady agrees with LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, who went 23-27 for 278 yards and five first half touchdown passes in the Tigers, 55-6, win over Georgia Southern.
Next week: at Texas
Mississippi State (1-0): The Bulldogs forced five turnovers and needed every one of them to pull off the win over Louisiana-Lafayette, which scored 28 points and racked up 431 offensive yards. DC Bob Shoop has to be concerned with the fact his pass rush only got to the quarterback for one sack.
Next week: vs. Southern Miss
Missouri (0-1):Kelly Bryant threw for 423 yards and two touchdowns in his Mizzou debut but his two turnovers (fumble and interception) were converted into 14 Wyoming points. Missouri's defense was shredded for 297 rushing yards by the Cowboys. Next week: vs. West Virginia
Ole Miss (0-1):The defense was supposed to improve under Mike MacIntyre and the offense was supposed to stay explosive under RichRod. Well, one out of two ain't bad. MacIntyre's defense did its job. RichRod's offense got 173 yards and 10 points on a Memphis defense that gave up 31.9 points a game last year. Next week: vs. Arkansas (1-0)
South Carolina (0-1): They love Will Muschamp in South Carolina. They really, really love him. They need to because he desperately needed to start the season 2-0. He gets a paycheck win next week and then gets Alabama as part of a schedule that includes Georgia, Florida, Texas A&M and Clemson. They might not love him so much when this season is over. Next week: vs. Charleston Southern
Tennessee (0-1): What made the loss to 25-point underdog Georgia State more eye-opening was the way GSU manhandled the Vols on both lines of scrimmage. Georgia State ran for 213 yards, held the Vols to 93 rushing yards, sacked the quarterback four times and had Jarrett Guarantano in his feets don't fail me now mode the entire second half. Next week: vs. BYU
Vanderbilt (0-1): Vanderbilt had no chance to make a game of it against Georgia because (a) the defense couldn't stop the Georgia running game and (b) the Vandy offense couldn't move the football, especially through the air. Georgia averaged more than eight yards per carry while grinding out 25 first downs. Quarterbacks Riley Neal and Deuce Wallace averaged a rather pathetic 3.4 yards per pass attempt. Next week: at Purdue
RANKING THE SEC
1. Alabama 1-0: Bama almost sleepwalked and still beat Duke by 39. 2. Georgia 1-0: The Bulldogs are going to have to throw the ball better than they did against Vanderbilt.
3. LSU 1-0: LSU with an explosive offense? The Tigers might be scary good. 4. Auburn 1-0: That was an impressive fourth quarter comeback to beat Oregon.
5. FLORIDA 1-0: Maybe that first game win over Miami really wasn't all that bad.
6. Texas A&M 1-0: The Aggies have talent but they haven't played anyone yet.
7. Kentucky 1-0: The first half was bad against Toledo, but the second half much improved.
8. Mississippi State (1-0): We still don't know how all these suspensions are going to play out but at least the Bulldogs started out with a win.
9. South Carolina (0-1): The last thing the Gamecocks needed was a first game loss.
10. Missouri (0-1): The Tigers were physically manhandled by a Mountain West team.
11. Vanderbilt (0-1): After falling behind 21-0 to Georgia, the Commodores only gave up three field goals the rest of the way. 12. Ole Miss (0-1): It's going to be a long, long year. 13. Tennessee (0-1): Vol fans want Jeremy Pruitt gone and we're only one game into the season.
14. Arkansas 1-0): Another losing season is on tap for the Hogs.
GOOD QUOTES FOR MONDAY
From FSU coach Willie Taggart following Florida State's 36-31 loss to Boise State:
"Those mistakes, little mistakes, little detail things. Especially when you're in a pressure situation, when the other team has momentum, someone has to step up and make a play for us. Instead of making plays, we made some mistakes in the second half. It was just lack of execution. Credit Boise, but our guys have to do a better job of executing."
From Knoxville News-Sentinel columnist John Adams on Tennessee's 38-30 loss to Georgia State:
“Calling it an “upset” doesn’t do it justice. This was the worst loss in the modern era of Tennessee football … As bad as Tennessee was in a 4-8 2017 season, it was never this bad. And that season got coach Butch Jones fired. I wrote in preseason that [Tennessee coach Jeremy] Pruitt was a long was from the hot seat because Tennessee would have to give him time to build a program. But when a UT coach loses his season opener to Georgia State, he's on the hot seat.”
From Martin Fenelly of the Tampa Bay Times on job security and Florida State coach Willie Taggart after the Seminoles lost to Boise State by giving up the game's final 23 points:
“There are roughly 17 million reasons why the second-year year Florida State head coach won’t lose his job, one for each dollar it would cost FSU to buy him out. But start the bake sales. A new season just dawned and died with an epic opening-day fold.”
Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports on UCLA coach Chip Kelly after the Bruins lost their season opener, 24-14, to Cincinnati:
“But expectations have been throttled down, and so has the buzz that accompanied his hire at UCLA. The clock isn’t getting turned back to 2012 anytime soon, which was the last time Chip Kelly was the smartest guy in the room in college football. Bruins fans will have to summon their patience to quell the nagging doubts about whether their coach can get back on the cutting edge of the sport.”
MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL STUFF
What is it about Lincoln Riley and quarterback transfers? He turned Baker Mayfield (from Texas Tech) and Kyler Murray (Texas A&M) into the last two Heisman Trophy winners. Sunday night against Houston, Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts looked like he could make it three in a row when he completed 20-23 passes for 332 yards and three touchdowns while running 16 times for 176 yards and two more scores.
Jacob Eason, who transferred to Washington from Georgia, went 27-36 passing for 349 yards and four touchdowns in his debut, a 47-14 win over Eastern Washington. There isn't a throw he can't make.
Another Georgia transfer, Ohio State QB Justin Fields, threw for 234 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 61 and another TD in the Buckeyes' 45-21 win over Florida Atlantic. It looks good on paper. I'd like to see what he does against something other than a matador defense.
Southern Cal quarterback JT Daniels was lost for the season with an ACL and meniscus tear against Fresno State. Do you think Jack Sears feels like an absolute nimnul about now after he put his name in the NCAA transfer portal when he lost the starting QB job to Daniels?
Former FSU quarterback Deondre Francois ran for one touchdown and threw for two, all in the first half, to lead Hampton to a 65-7 season opening win over DII Elizabeth City State.
Speaking of FSU, the official attendance at Doak Campbell Stadium was 50,917. Some people must have been counted twice.
The card section at Illinois took a jab at the NCAA with “Free Luke Ford 82,” a reference to the NCAA denying the Georgia transfer a waiver that would allow him immediate eligibility even though he has documented proof that he wanted to be closer to his ailing grandmother.
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Former Gator Jachai Polite, who was cut by the New York Jets, was signed to the Seattle Seahawks practice squad … Former Gators corner Duke Dawson was traded to the Denver Broncos where he will have a chance to start … The Tampa Bay Bucs signed former Mississippi State QB Nick Fitzgerald to the practice squad … Former Gator and Louisiana Tech quarterback Jeff Driskell has been placed on injured reserve by the Cincinnati Bengals. It is being reported that he could reach an injury settlement with the team … The Chicago Bears cut former Gator DT Jonathan Bullard … The Detroit Lions parted ways with former Gators, CB Teez Tabor and WR Brandon Powell … The Los Angeles Chargers cut former Gator S Jaylen Watkins … The New England Patriots cut former Gator OL Martez Ivey … The New York Giants cut former Gator P Tommy Townsend … The Jets cut former Gator WR Deonte Thompson … The Oakland Raiders cut former Gator RB Mack Brown … Justin Verlander walked one batter Sunday, the only blemish on the third no-hitter of his career. Verlander struck out 14 as the Houston Astros 2-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays … Former Gator Pete Alonso hit his 43rd homer in the New York Mets' 5-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.