Thoughts of the Day: September 29, 2020

A few thoughts to jump start your Tuesday morning:

Two days after throwing six touchdown passes in Florida’s 51-35 season-opening win over Ole Miss, four to tight end Kyle Pitts, the other Kyle was back to his old no-frills form before the media. He picked up right where he left off last year. Kyle Trask never seems too excited about what he did on the playing field and while he never ducks a question, he never goes overboard with an answer. There never has been nor will there ever be any bulletin board material spewing from his mouth.

Boring he isn’t but neither is he exciting. In the huddle or on the sideline maybe but not when he’s talking to the media. The way he lit up the Ole Miss defense was exciting. It’s been a long, long time since Gator fans saw one of their quarterbacks play at the level Trask played against the Rebels. They stood a better chance of stopping a stray lightning bolt than one of the darts Trask threw to 11 different receivers on a day when he tied a career-high with 30 completions for a career-high 416 yard and the aforementioned six touchdown passes.

But there he was Monday politely answering questions when you know he would rather be in the film room absorbing every possible nuance about the South Carolina Gamecocks (0-1), who he will be facing Saturday (12 noon, ESPN) in the Gators’ home opener in The Swamp. The answers weren’t robotic but they didn’t exude passion and excitement either. Maybe the most exciting thing he said was when someone asked if it’s possible for an opposing defense to take Pitts out of a game.

“I’ve yet to see it,” Trask answered. “If they do that means they’re going to be putting a lot of guys over him and just open up a lot of people all across the field.”

Pitts is the best tight end in all of college football, but Kyle Trask knows it’s a numbers game and the more people assigned to Pitts the fewer people there will be to defend his many other fast, capable receivers. Maybe we didn’t hear excitement in Trask’s voice just then, but his eyes were a dead giveaway. Thinking about his receivers in one-on-one opportunities all over the field is exciting.

Talking to the media? He’d rather be watching film.

THOUGHTS ABOUT TACKLE FOOTBALL IN THE SEC

#2 ALABAMA (1-0): Further evidence that there is no looming quarterback controversy, at least in Nick Saban’s mind. Mac Jones (18-24 passing, 249 yards, 2 TDPs vs. Missouri) is the top gun. Saban said Monday, “I think he only made maybe one bad read in the game, or one misread, I would say and the rest of the time he was pretty much on point.”

Saturday’s game: vs. #13 Texas A&M (1-0)

ARKANSAS (0-1): Arkansas HBC Sam Pittman says quarterback Feleipe Franks had to spend too much time making sure teammates were all on the same page in the Razorbacks’ loss to Georgia. “The quarterback was getting everybody lined up instead of looking at the defense seeing how we can attack that,” Pittman said. “So that has to be a big thing for us this week. We have to calm the quarterback down so he can make plays. The only way we can do that is if everyone else knows what their assignment is." Saturday’s game: at #16 Mississippi State (1-0)

#7 AUBURN (1-0): After giving up 120 rushing yards in the first half of their win over Kentucky, Auburn’s defense adjusted and held the Wildcats to 25 net yards on the ground in the second half. Auburn forced three turnovers (two fumbles and an interception) and despite a completely rebuilt secondary, held UK to 6.3 yards per pass attempt. Saturday’s game: at #4 Georgia (1-0)

#4 GEORGIA (1-0): Southern Cal transfer quarterback JT Daniels has been cleared medically and will be available Saturday when the Poodles play host to Auburn. Daniels is coming off an ACL tear and has never been known for his fleet feet. He will be working behind an offensive line that struggled against an Arkansas defense that was undersized and outmanned. Georgia’s line opened holes for a whopping 2.88 yards per carry in the running game, allowed three sacks and had close to 10 breakdowns. Saturday’s game: vs. #7 Auburn (1-0)

KENTUCKY (0-1): Auburn transfer quarterback Joey Gatewood needs a waiver from Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey to play this year. Kentucky HBC Mark Stoops thinks Sankey should grant the waiver since the NCAA is going to do a complete overhaul of its transfer rules very soon. On Monday, Stoops said, “In six months, you’re going to have an opportunity to transfer and go anywhere you want, one-time transfer.” Saturday’s game: vs. Ole Miss (0-1)

#20 LSU (0-1): The Tigers made an almost uncountable number of mistakes on both sides of the ball in the loss to Mississippi State, but the only finger Coach O was pointing Monday was at himself. “We spent all day yesterday analyzing the film and the truth is we gotta coach better, gotta start with me, gotta prepare our team better, gotta coach our coaches better,” Coach O said. “We gotta execute better, and we gotta make better in-game adjustments during the game, during halftime. Could have had a better plan on both sides of the football first game ... And I take all responsibility, but we're going to get it fixed and get it going.” Saturday’s game: at Vanderbilt (0-1)

#16 MISSISSIPPI STATE (1-0): The Pirate has questions about cardboard cutouts of fans in the stands. “I don’t know, if it’s cool and people enjoy it, great, but that is a little surreal, the fake people in the stands,” Mike Leach said Monday. “And I don’t even know how they decide the seating. Do the fake people have a lottery of where they sit? Because I know this, some of those fake people have way better seats than the other ones. I want to be one of those fake people on the 50-yard line, about row 12. But you know, some of them are still up in the rafters, you know? So I mean in this world, in this day and age, in these funny times, even a fake person can get screwed, you know?” Saturday’s game: vs. Arkansas (0-1)

MISSOURI (0-1): This is how bad it was for Missouri’s secondary, which had to try containing Alabama QB Mac Jones and stud wideouts Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. DB coach Charlie Harbison missed the game because of Covid-19, corner Chris Shearin opted out for the season before the game and the other starting corner, Jarvis Ware, went down with a knee injury on the second defensive series. Saturday’s game: at Tennessee (1-0)

OLE MISS (0-1): Lane Kiffin said he intended to use both Matt Corral and John Rhys Plumlee at quarterback against Florida but circumstances dictated that Corral (395 passing yards, three touchdowns) got most of the snaps. “With Matt playing so well and we were behind, we kind of went solely with Matt,” Kiffin said. “I think had Matt not been playing so well and us being behind, you would have seen more of John." Saturday’s game: at Kentucky (0-1)

SOUTH CAROLINA (0-1): Special teams play not only cost South Carolina a chance to knock off Tennessee in the season opener but had a big part in the Gamecocks losing the field position battle. A Tennessee punt bounced off the leg of South Carolina freshman Cam Smith with 1:28 to go in the game. The Vols recovered and ran out the clock. Freshman punter Kai Kroeger averaged a very poor 35.17 yards on six punts. Saturday’s game: at #3 FLORIDA (1-0)

#21 TENNESSEE (1-0): At his Monday press conference, HBC Jeremy Pruitt pointed out how the Vols have to improve on third down, particularly on short yardage (third-and-2, third-and-3) situations. The Vols were a dismal 1-11 on third down in their win over South Carolina. Saturday’s game: vs. Missouri (0-1)

#13 TEXAS A&M (1-0): Although the Aggies were going up against a true freshman quarterback who didn’t have a spring training and a Vanderbilt offensive line with only one returning starter they only got to the Vandy QB twice. If they can’t do better than that Saturday in Tuscaloosa, they’ll give up 40 or more points to Alabama. Saturday’s game: at #2 Alabama (1-0)

VANDERBILT (0-1): True freshman QB Ken Seals, who averaged 5.2 yards per pass attempt and threw two interceptions in Vandy’s loss to Texas A&M said, “This isn’t the same Vanderbilt that people have played in the past.” Oh really? Vanderbilt lit it up for 12 (count ‘em) points against the Aggies. Doesn’t seem like much has changed. Saturday’s game: vs. #20 LSU (0-1)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL STUFF

Clay Travis of Outkick the Coverage isn’t all that impressed with Georgia. Travis writes: “You know Kirby Smart’s defense is going to be elite and there’s always talent, but Georgia hosts Auburn, Tennessee, and then goes to Alabama before going to Kentucky and playing Florida, all before they even get to the tail end of their schedule … Based on what I saw yesterday I just don’t see the Bulldogs coming out of that stretch without at least two losses.”

Phil Ervin of the Saturday Tradition website asks the question can the Big Ten repair its image? Ervin writes “But for all their missteps, this ship isn’t sinking.” The Big Ten isn’t going to sink, but it has been sent to the corner where it will suck its thumb and wear a dunce cap for years to come. When the Big Ten made the decision to opt out for the fall, it was veiled as an “athlete safety” issue. Athlete safety had nothing to do with it, otherwise they wouldn’t be playing nine straight weeks with no open dates and no makeup dates. This was a power grab all the way and the Big Ten totally overestimated its power. Warren and the Big Ten presidents are hoping that by playing everyone will forget how they screwed things up. All the wishful thinking in the world won’t make people forget, not this year, not anytime soon.

ESPN reports that as of Monday Notre Dame had 25 players in isolation due to Covid-19 and another 14 in quarantine. Last week’s game with Wake Forest Gump was postponed. The Irish are off this week then will host Florida State on October 10.

Mike Norvell, who missed the Miami game due to a positive Covid-19 test, will be coaching Saturday when Florida State plays D1AA Jacksonville State. This might be the one game the Seminoles have a chance to win this season.

Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated lists seven quarterbacks on his all-too-early Heisman Trophy watch list. None of them are named Kyle Trask. Forde does have Florida tight end Kyle Pitts on the overall list of 13 players.

PITHY ON A TUESDAY: The Pirate Speaks. At his Monday press conference Mike Leach questioned Gus Malzahn wearing a dress shirt and a tie on the Auburn sideline against Kentucky. Leach said, “What was the deal with Malzahn dressing like Pat Dye? I saw it on TV but never got to hear the punchline.” … Shortly after Florida hired Dan Mullen, the Tennessee Vols were also in the market for a head ball coach. Then athletic director John Currie met with Washington State coach Mike Leach. An agreement was reached but former UT head coach Fattus Maximus Fulmer got wind of the agreement and led a palace coup that got Currie fired. Next thing we know, Fulmer was the AD and Jeremy Pruitt got hired as the new head coach. Pruitt has a 7-game winning streak going and a 14-12 career record at UT. Not a single one of those wins is what could be deemed a signature victory. Leach, meanwhile, got a signature victory over LSU in his debut game as Mississippi State’s HBC. I have my doubts that Jeremy Pruitt will have a long and distinguished career at UT. I don’t doubt for a second the pirate flag will be flying a long time over Starkvegas … The halftime score of both the Georgia-Arkansas and Vanderbilt-Texas A&M games was 7-5. The odds of two SEC games with a 7-5 halftime score on the same day is one in 823,423,634,235,590,234,249. So you say there’s a chance!

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