Thoughts of the Day: September 24, 2019

TWO MORE O-LINEMEN NEEDED

The goal all along has been to find eight offensive linemen who can be trusted to get the Gators through the 2019 season. A third of the way through the season, Dan Mullen and his offensive line coach John Hevesy are still searching for two more guys to go with a starting five of tackles Stone Forsythe and Jean Delance, guards Brett Heggie and Chris Bleich, center Nick Buchanan and redshirt freshman Richard Gouraige, who Mullen says could actually play both tackles and both guards.


“I don't get into starting, I get into the total number of reps,” Mullen said at his Monday press conference. “Starting is the first play and that's just one play of the game. Right now there are six we feel really good about and we're still working on getting the younger guys developed and ready to go. Obviously you want that for depth purposes to get through the rest of the year.”


Saturday's game with Division IAA Towson will be the last non-conference opportunity for Mullen and Hevesy to evaluate some of the younger offensive linemen before the Southeastern Conference portion of the schedule begins in earnest next week with 7th-ranked Auburn the first of six straight SEC opponents. Although the Tigers aren't as big and strong as your typical SEC opponent, it's still different than going head-to-head in practice against the scout team.


“It’s just going at a different speed during the course of the games,” Mullen said. “You look at where we’re at and you try to simulate as best you can at practice, it’s just not gonna be the same simulation with the speed, the quickness, the size and the physicality within the run game in practice right now with our O-line going against the scout D-line.”


Defense has helped the running game: The fourth quarters of the wins over Kentucky and Tennessee have seen the Gators pick up a good bit of slack in the running game after tough going in the first three quarters. Mullen believes the Florida running game has gotten a boost from the defensive effort in both games.


“All of a sudden, the 2-, 3- and 4-yard gains became 7-, 8- 9-yard gains, and then the running game starts to click,” Mullen said. “I think it was the patience and the fact that we had the lead and we were playing great defense allowed us to be patient with that and stick with it, and it finally started to kind of wear them down in the fourth quarter."


Heggie SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week: Left guard Brett Heggie, who graded out 95% in the Gators' 34-3 win over Tennessee, was selected SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week. Others honored by the SEC were: LSU QB Joe Burrown (Offensive Player of the Week); Missouri DB Cale Garrett (Defensive Player of the Week); Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship (Special Teams Player of the Week); Auburn DT Derrick Brown (Defensive Lineman of the Week); and Mississippi State QB Garrett Shrader (Freshman of the Week).


SEC FOOTBALL STUFF

#2 Alabama (4-0, 1-0 SEC): Nose tackle D.J. Dale (strained patellar tendon) and linebacker Terrell Lewis (hyper-extended knee) didn't practice Monday but both are expected to play Saturday against Ole Miss … OG Deonte Brown's NCAA suspension has been lifted but Nick Saban says he will have to earn his starting job back. Saturday: vs. Ole Miss (2-2, 1-0 SEC)

Arkansas (2-2, 0-1 SEC): HBC Chad Morris said the loss to Mountain West bottom feeder San Jose State is “unacceptable and it's embarrassing.” Saturday: vs. #22 Texas A&M (2-2, 0-1 SEC) at Arlington, TX

#7 Auburn (4-0, 1-0 SEC): ESPN college football analyst Marcus Spears says the 2019 version of Auburn HBC Gus Malzahn is someone the rest of the SEC needs to be very afraid of. Spears says, “That is the swagger he had when they were ripping off wins against Georgia and Alabama two years ago. He feels like he has the team he needs to shock people.” Saturday: vs. Mississippi State (3-1, 1-0 SEC)

#3 Georgia (4-0, 1-0 SEC): Georgia ranks #19 nationally in total offense at 508.8 yards per game and #11 in total defense at 262.5 yards per game. Saturday: Open

Kentucky (2-2, 0-2 SEC): Quarterback Sawyer Smith suffered a shoulder injury in the loss to Mississippi State. His status for Saturday is up in the air. Walker Wood could get the start although it's possible wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr., a high school quarterback, could take some or all of the snaps against South Carolina. Saturday: at South Carolina (1-3, 0-1 SEC)

LSU (4-0, 1-0 SEC): Quarterback Joe Burrow is hitting an astonishing 80.6% of his passes (100-124) and averaging 12.3 yards per attempt. His quarterback efficiency rating is 225.6 … Wide receiver Terrence Marshall (20-304 with six touchdowns) had surgery to repair a stress fracture Monday. He could miss six or more weeks. Saturday: Open

Mississippi State (3-1, 1-0 SEC): With Tommy Stevens' status still up in the air, it's likely true freshman Garrett Shrader will get a second straight start Saturday when the Bulldogs travel to Auburn. Shrader has passed for 302 yards and run for 223 so far this season. Saturday: at #7 Auburn (4-0, 1-0 SEC)

Missouri (3-1, 1-0 SEC): Defensive back Chris Mills had surgery to repair a torn ACL so he's out for the season … The Tigers rank sixth nationally in total defense at 231.3 yards per game. Saturday: Open

Ole Miss (2-2, 1-0 SEC): Quarterback Matt Corrall, who suffered bruised ribs in the loss to California, is listed day-to-day by HBC Matt Luke. Saturday: at #2 Alabama (4-0, 1-0 SEC)

South Carolina (1-3, 0-1 SEC): South Carolina safety Jamyest Williams, who started the first three games and played a backup role in the loss to Missouri, is leaving the team to save a year of eligibility so he can enter the NCAA transfer portal. Saturday: vs. Kentucky (2-2, 0-2 SEC)

Tennessee (1-3, 0-1 SEC): Addressing the precarious job status of HBC Jeremy Pruitt, Paul Finebaum of the SEC Network said, “I think what you have to evaluate at some point this year, is whether or not it looks like Jeremy Pruitt has a clue. Right now, I think most people don’t think he does. If he can weather the storm and push the rock up the hill so to speak, then you have to stay with him.” Saturday: Open

Texas A&M (2-2, 0-1 SEC): When the Aggies face Arkansas at Jerry's World Saturday, they will be going against last year's backup QB Nick Starkel, who is a grad transfer. Saturday: vs. Arkansas (2-2, 0-1 SEC) at Arlington, TX

Vanderbilt (0-3, 0-2 SEC): In rushing for 130 yards and two touchdowns against LSU, Ke'Shawn Vaughn ripped off runs of 52 and 41 yards. Saturday: vs. Northern Illinois (1-2)

GOOD QUOTES FOR TUESDAY

From Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh on his Monday night radio show on WQAN 99.3:

“Game's not over until it's over just like you're not dead until you're dead.”


From Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on the Georgia Bulldogs four games into the 2019 season:

“With a month gone, Georgia is as we figured. It’s the third-best team in the land, still behind Clemson and Alabama, a hair ahead of LSU. There’s every reason to believe the Bulldogs can make the playoff, be it as the SEC champ or a one-loss conference runner-up. They can learn from what didn’t work against Notre Dame, but this lesson wasn’t the painful sort that comes with an “L” attached. They’re 4-0. They’re in good shape.”


From Matt Hayes, writing for Saturday Down South, regarding Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M and his guaranteed $75 million contract:

“When you’re spending that kind of capital, you want return on your investment. So far, the Jimbo Fisher experiment at Texas A&M has been like one of those fancy, big-name mutual funds that looks good – until you delve into its history and uncover the inconsistencies.”


KANSAS HOOPS GETS HIT WITH NCAA NOTICE OF ALLEGATIONS

Yahoo Sports is reporting that Kansas basketball and football have both received a notice of allegations from the NCAA. The football violations both occurred under the former head coach and involved assistant coaches no longer with the program. The basketball violations are serious and an offshoot of the college basketball corruption trials.


Reportedly, Kansas has been hit with a lack of institutional control, three Level I violations and a charge of head coach responsibility against Bill Self. Per NCAA bylaw 11.1.11, “An institution's head coach is presumed to be responsible for the actions of all institutional staff members who report, directly or indirectly, to the head coach.”


Kansas is the second of at least six schools that the NCAA said would get hit with a notice of allegations. Among the other schools that could get bad news from the Men in Blue Suits are Arizona, Auburn, LSU, South Carolina, Louisville and Southern Cal.


HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM

Apparently Dana Holgorsen isn't exactly winning friends and influencing people, at least on his University of Houston football team. Quarterback D'Eriq King and wide receiver Keith Corbin have announced they'll take a redshirt the rest of the season. King's dad said his son plans to enter the NCAA transfer portal although some sources are saying he doesn't plan to transfer, just take the rest of the 2019 season off.


Now, if you are Holgorsen, would you let a guy who quits on the team after four games come back the next season? Holgorsen is noted for his weirdness so maybe he would say it's all fine and dandy, but most coaches who think with a measure of logic would say see ya! Holgorsen's son Logan is the only QB on the Houston roster who has thrown a pass in a game (1-1 for five yards).


King, who threw for 36 touchdowns and ran for 14 last season before he was injured and missed the last two games, passed for 663 yards and six touchdowns while running for 312 and six more in the Cougars 1-3 start.


Corbin, who caught 40 passes for 691 yards and 10 touchdowns last year, caught 11 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns in the first four games.


If you are one who wagers on such things, put your money transferring with Florida State University as a highly possible destination if Kendal Briles elects to remain on Willie Taggart's staff beyond the end of this season. Briles was the offensive coordinator last year at Houston when Major Applewhite was the head coach.


RANDOM THOUGHTS: Former Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead has passed away. Snead, who played high school football in Stephenville, Texas for Chad Morris, currently the head coach at Arkansas, was committed to the Gators until Tim Tebow committed to the Gators in December of 2006. At that point, Snead pulled his Florida commitment and went to Texas. After a year at Texas he transferred to Ole Miss, where, in two seasons he threw for 5,394 yards and 46 touchdowns … We've had our first head coach firing in college football although it wasn't from Division I. Tim Chavous of Division II Saint Augustine was canned Monday after an 0-3 start … Now that he is through with the NFL, Antonio Brown has re-enrolled in school at Central Michigan, taking four classes, all of them offered online.

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