Thoughts of the Day: September 28, 2020

A few thoughts to jump start your Monday morning:

What comes to mind immediately about Florida’s 51-35 win over Ole Miss in the season opener in Oxford this past Saturday are the famous words of the late, great (before he and his mind had a parting of the ways) Al Davis who coined the phrase “Just win, Baby!”

Sometimes you have games like the one the Gators played Saturday when 90% of what you run offensively seems unstoppable and 90% of what you run defensively can’t stop anyone. Because one side of the ball plays so poorly, the fact it was a win is obscured.

Against Ole Miss Dan Mullen’s high tech offense put up 51 points, 642 yards (8.68 per play), 196 rushing yards (6.76 per carry) and 446 passing yards (9.9 per attempt). You win a lot of games when your offense can do that even on a day when the defense is taking an extended coffee break, which is what it seemed they were doing for rather lengthy portions of the game.

We can talk offense all day long in glowing terms because Kyle Trask (30-42, 416 yards, 6 TDPs) looked like the best quarterback in the nation the way he dissected the Ole Miss defense. He and Kyle Pitts (8-170, 4 TD catches) were on radar lock but Trask found 10 other receivers, a shot across the bow of any defensive coordinator convinced that the key to beating Florida is to take Pitts out of the equation. The Gators only ran the ball 29 times – why do ground and pound when your opponent hasn’t a clue how to stop your passing game – but it was effective enough that Florida leads the SEC in rushing.

Defense? It was a bad day at the office, okay? They didn’t tackle well, blew some coverage assignments and made as many mental errors as physical. Getting better is a requirement. The talent is there. The coaches on that side of the ball have a strong track record.

Sometimes you have games like that. On their way to an unbeaten season and a national championship in 2019, the LSU Tigers gave up 28 points on two occasions (to Oklahoma and Florida), 37 points to Ole Miss, 38 twice (to Texas and to a Vanderbilt team the Gators beat 56-0) and 41 to Alabama. Forget those point totals. LSU had a fine defense and the bottom line is they won.

So here is your takeaway from the Ole Miss game. It was great offensively, not so great defensively and yet Florida scored more points, walked out of Oxford with a win in the season opener and advanced to the number three ranking in both the Associated Press and Coaches polls.

Al Davis would have looked at the outcome, smiled and quipped, “Just win, Baby!”

ASSOCIATED PRESS TOP 25 POLL

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

COACHES TOP 25 POLL

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

AROUND THE SEC

#2 ALABAMA (1-0): Bryce Young might be the future of Alabama football but the present is Mac Jones. With weapons like Najee Harris, Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle at his disposal, Jones and the Alabama offense aren’t going to miss a beat. The Aggies are in trouble Saturday. Next week: vs. #13 Texas A&M (1-0)

ARKANSAS (1-0): Hog fans should savor that first half against Georgia because that might be as good as it gets for a long time. Arkansas is trying to play in the SEC with Conference USA talent across the board. Next week: at #14 Mississippi State (1-0)

#7 AUBURN (1-0): Once the Tigers got past the opening drive against Kentucky they did a good job of stuffing the run. If they can keep Georgia’s running game in check next Saturday they will have an exceptional shot at winning. Offensively, Auburn has the upper hand because Bo Nix is a difference-maker at QB and Georgia will probably have to go with Stetson Bennett again.

Next week: at #4 Georgia (1-0)

#4 GEORGIA (1-0): They can spin it any way they want, but if Arkansas had any talent at all, the Hogs would have bushwhacked Georgia in Fayette Nam Saturday afternoon. There are quarterback issues, penalty issues and offensive line issues. As for the defense, they looked good largely because Arkansas is that bad.

Next week: vs. #7 Auburn (1-0)

KENTUCKY (0-1): The good news for Kentucky is the Ole Miss defense is coming to town. The bad news for Kentucky is the Ole Miss offense is coming to town. Kentucky better be able to win a shootout because that’s what it will take to beat Lane Kiffin. Next week: vs. Ole Miss (0-1)

#17 LSU (0-1): It didn’t take long for us to see what happens when you lose 16 players (14 drafted) to the NFL plus have some key guys opt out. The question in Baton Rouge is which is worse, the O-line or the defense? The Tigers better come up with some answers in a hurry. Next week: at Vanderbilt (0-1)

#14 MISSISSIPPI STATE (1-0): Hoist the pirate flag over Starkvegas. Mike Leach is the cure for the predictable offense that Joe Moorhead ran the last two years. What the Bulldogs did in Baton Rouge should serve notice to the rest of the SEC that prepping for the Air Raid in a single week is akin to prepping for a funky triple option. K.J. Costello will lead the nation in passing. Count on it. Next week: Arkansas (0-1)

MISSOURI (0-1): Mizzou fans will think that because the Tigers scored 16 second half points on the Alabama backups there is reason for hope. Four of the next six games are against ranked opponents and the only winnable game among them is October 17 against Vandy. So much for hope.

Next week: at #20 Tennessee (1-0)

OLE MISS (0-1): Lane Kiffin is one of the better offensive minds in all of college football. He’s going to figure out ways to put points on the scoreboard. Can defensive coordinator DJ Durkin figure out a way to stop opponents from putting points on the scoreboard? Doubtful. Ole Miss is going to have to win shootouts. Next week: at Kentucky (0-1)

SOUTH CAROLINA (0-1): Two takeaways from the Gamecocks’ loss to Tennessee. (1) They gave the game away on a night when there was no excuse for losing; and (2) if the Gamecocks go with Collin Hill at QB all season they’re in deepest and darkest. Three ACL tears have taken away his mobility and he is an immobile target in the pocket for speed rushers off the edge.

Next week: at #3 FLORIDA (1-0)

#20 TENNESSEE (1-0): The Vols are trying to spin what happened Saturday as “finding a way to win.” They didn’t find a way. They got a gift. Yes, the Vols have won seven straight games, but they aren’t that good. The O-line is not dominant and Jarrett Guarantano is still the QB. Next week: vs. Missouri (0-1)

#13 TEXAS A&M (1-0): Were the Aggies so overconfident that they were looking ahead to Alabama or are they just not that good? It’s probably a little bit of both. To struggle at home against a very bad Vandy team does not bode well for the future. Next week: at #2 Alabama (1-0)

VANDERBILT (0-1): Don’t let the closeness of the loss to the Aggies fool you. Vanderbilt is bad. Really bad. The only thing that can save the Commodores from an oh-fer is that game with Mizzou in week four. Next week: vs. #17 LSU (0-1)

FLORIDA STATE IS WORSE THAN THEY LOOK: Here we were thinking FSU was at rock bottom when they lost to Georgia Tech. The loss to Miami was bad but it’s a long way from rock bottom because there are still games with Notre Dame, North Carolina, Pitt and Climpson. It’s going to take a minimum of two years just to get back to respectable and by then the athletic department might be on the verge of bankruptcy. The Seminoles should be able to avoid an oh-fer this week with D1AA Jax State coming to town.

IN TWO WEEKS WE FIND OUT HOW GOOD MIAMI IS: The Himmicanes looked like they were having tons of fun in wiping out their country cousins from Tallahassee Saturday night. They have an open date this week before their date with reality up at Climpson on October 10. It’s one thing to beat up on the likes of Lulvil and FSU. It’s something altogether different when you have to face Climpson on the road. If they can at least make it white knuckles at Climpson, they’re for real. If not, they be 7-3 or at best 8-2.

A BAD YEAR FOR THE BIG 12 JUST GOT WORSE: It’s bad enough that the league went 0-3 against the Sun Belt in the first week of the season but now the league’s bell cows Oklahoma and Texas had embarrassing efforts. Oklahoma blew a big lead to lose to K-State and Texas had to come from behind to beat a bad Texas Tech team in overtime. The common denominator for both Oklahoma and Texas is that neither one of them play a lick of defense. Now Big 12 apologists might point fingers at Florida and LSU but one thing we can count on is that defense will get better in the SEC. When it comes to defense, the Big 12 is hopeless which has everything to do with why the league hasn’t produced a national champion since Texas in 2005.

WEREN’T YOU HEISMAN HOPEFULS?: Let’s see, there was Jamie Newman who opted out and so did J’mar Chase. Lindy’s had Myles Brennan as its #6 Heisman hopeful. Uh-huh. Everyone was drooling over Oklahoma freshman Spencer Rattler but then there was that second half against K-State Saturday. Sam Ehlinger of Texas threw for five TDs and led Texas on a great comeback, but it was the Texas Tech defense, which is worse than the Oklahoma defense. Chuba Hubbard of Okie State gained 101 yards on 22 carries and has 194 (4.0 per carry) in two games against bad defenses.

PITHY REMARKS AND OTHER STUFF FOR A MONDAY: Former Gator Brady Singer is going to be a dominant starter in the big leagues as long as his arm stays healthy. He gave up three hits through seven innings Sunday to pick up his fourth win in the last five games, finishing his rookie year 4-5 with a 4.04 ERA … The Big Ten’s rookie commissioner Kevin Warren may have permanently harmed the Big Ten brand while ensuring that when (not if) the Power Five conferences break away, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey will be the grand poobah. Here is what Matt Hayes wrote in Saturday Down South about Warren’s arrogance: “A month after that, the Big Ten canceled the 2020 fall football season and declared it would try to play in the spring. Warren, according to multiple sources, believed the rest of the Power 5 conferences would follow suit – going so far as to leak information to media outlets that the college football season would be postponed within days, trying to turn public opinion toward that reality.” … The Atlanta Falcons blew a 26-10 lead in the fourth quarter. I have to wonder how much longer Dan Quinn will be the head coach. I think Dan is as good a defensive coordinator as you will find but another example of the Peter Principle as a head coach … If Major League Baseball can expand its playoffs to 16 teams on short notice then why can’t college football expand its playoff to six teams or eight teams? … It has been reported that an incredible percentage of professional athletes are dead broke within five years of playing their final game. Tua Tagovailoa is ensuring there will be plenty of money in the future because he’s already banked his $19.6 million signing bonus and banks all his contract money (he’s got $30-plus million in guaranteed salary coming his way). He lives off his endorsement money and says he intends to do that as long as he’s in the No Fun League.

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