Thoughts of the Day: September 4, 2019


The people who vote in the Associated Press and Coaches Top 25 polls obviously weren't impressed by Florida's 24-20 win over the Miami Hurricanes. The Gators were eighth in both preseason polls but after that first game performance they dropped – to 10thin the Coaches Poll, 11thin the AP. It's not a huge drop and shouldn't be a concern. A first game loss and dropping out of the polls completely isn't the end of the world and can be overcome with a nice winning streak so a win and just a slight drop isn't a big issue.

With a Saturday evening game with D1AA UT-Martin, the Gators aren't likely to move up next week even if they win by 10 touchdowns. Monster wins against non-Division I opponents tend to impress voters less than sloppy first game wins over very good teams such as Miami, but there is a remedy and that is to continue to win. There are eight SEC games on the schedule and winning those games will impress the voters. So, if the Gators continue to win and have the added bonus of Miami reeling off a few wins, people will forget all about those first game struggles … for both teams. Nothing changes perceptions like winning and if both Florida and Miami are winning, the people who vote will instead credit all those mistakes to two really good teams causing problems for each other.

For the Gators, it's a matter of controlling what they can control and that's beating whoever is next on the schedule. If they get a boost from Miami that will help the strength of schedule – important when the College Football Playoff Poll comes out in October – and it will go a long way toward erasing lingering memories of game one in the minds of voters.

Coaches Top 25 (1)Clemson 1-0; (2) Alabama 1-0; (3) Georgia 1-0; (4) Oklahoma 1-0; (5) Ohio State 1-0; (6) LSU 1-0; (7) Michigan 1-0; (8) Notre Dame 1-0; (9) Texas 1-0; (10) FLORIDA 1-0;(11) Texas A&M 1-0; (12) Washington 1-0; (13) Auburn 1-0; (14) Penn State; (15) Utah 1-0; (16) Wisconsin 1-0; (17) UCF 1-0; (18) Oregon 0-1; (19) Iowa 1-0; (20) Michigan State 1-0; (21) Washington State 1-0; (22) Syracuse 1-0; (23) Stanford 1-0; (24) Boise State 1-0; (25) Nebraska 1-0

Associated Press Top 25 (1) Clemson (1-0); (2) Alabama (1-0); (3) Georgia (1-0); (4) Oklahoma (1-0); (5) Ohio State 1-0; (6) LSU 1-0; (7) Michigan 1-0; (8) Notre Dame 1-0; (9) Texas 1-0; (10) Auburn 1-0;(11) FLORIDA 1-0;(12) Texas A&M 1-0; (13) Utah 1-0; (14) Washington 1-0; (15) Penn State 1-0; (16) Oregon 0-1; (17) Wisconsin 1-0; (18) UCF 1-0; (19) Michigan State 1-0; (20) Iowa 1-0; (21) Syracuse 1-0; (22) Washington State 1-0; (23) Stanford 1-0; (24) Boise State 1-0; (25, TIE) Iowa State 1-0 and Nebraska 1-0


#2 Alabama (1-0): Last year's starting left guard, Deonte Brown, who was suspended prior to the Orange Bowl (College Football Playoff semifinal) back in December, has three games remaining on his NCAA suspension. That's important to know since the Crimson Tide is starting true freshman Evan Neal at left guard in Brown's absence. Bama averaged only 3.45 yards per rush in the season opener against Duke. Next game: vs. New Mexico State (0-1)

Arkansas (1-0): The Arkansas offense might have stunk against Portland State but the defense showed marked improvement from last season. The Hogs held Portland State to 75 rushing yards, 230 total yards, forced three turnovers and recorded six sacks. Next game: at Ole Miss (0-1)

#10 Auburn (1-0): With the game on the line against Oregon, true freshman QB Bo Nix completed 7-11 passes for 86 yards and two touchdowns including the game-winning 26-yarder to Seth Williams with nine seconds remaining. That prompted Auburn HBC Gus Malzahn to say, “He’s got some gunslinger in him. There’s no doubt. I think that’s a good thing.” Next game: vs. Tulane (1-0)

#3 Georgia (1-0): Georgia was content to run the ball against Vanderbilt (40-325, 8.13 per carry) but HBC Kirby Smart knows the Bulldogs have to do a better job throwing the ball. “We have to be able to expand and do more things, and throw the ball downfield, stretch the field and get some of the wideouts involved,” Smart said. Next game: Murray State (1-0)

Kentucky (1-0): Against Toledo, Australian Max Duffy averaged 54 yards per punt. Of his six punts, only three were returned and only for two net yards … One area that definitely needs improving on the offensive side of the ball is converting on third down. The Wildcats managed just 3-11 in the win over Toledo.

Next game: Eastern Michigan (1-0)

#6 LSU (1-0): LT Saahdiq Charles and LB Michael Divinity, who missed LSU's season-opener with Georgia Southern will be back for Saturday's game at #9 Texas. Charles has 19 starts in his career, 17 at LT. Divinity had 54 tackles last season including five sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss and an interception. Next game: at #9 Texas (1-0)

Mississippi State (1-0): Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop can't be too pleased with last Saturday's effort against Louisiana-Lafayette. The Bulldogs, who were the top defense in the nation in 2018, gave up 267 passing yards, 163 on the ground and 24 points. They gave up 13.2 points, 168 passing yards, 95.08 rushing yards and 263.1 total yards per game last season. Next game: vs. Southern Miss (1-0)

Missouri (0-1): Heading into last Saturday's game with Wyoming, Mizzou HBC Barry Odom thought he knew his team pretty well, but he admits he didn't have the proper read on what they would do when faced with adversity. Odom said, “I thought I had a pretty good feel on how we’d respond in some of those situations. I was wrong.” Next game: vs. West Virginia (1-0)

Ole Miss (0-1): The Rebels will focus on a better effort from their run defense Saturday against Arkansas. In their loss to Memphis last week, the Rebels allowed 192 rushing yards. Arkansas ran for 204 yards in its win over Portland State. Next game: vs. Arkansas (1-0)

South Carolina (0-1): The Gamecocks are going to get a second opinion about the status of quarterback Jake Bentley. If surgery is required on his injured foot, he's out for the season. If not, he's out 6-8 weeks. In Bentley's place, true freshman Ryan Hilinski is scheduled to get the start. Next game: Charleston Southern (0-1)

Tennessee (0-1): It is being reported that backup corner Terrell Bailey has elected to put his name in the NCAA transfer portal … Just how bad was the Vols' loss to Georgia State? Well, Georgia State was trolling Tennessee with a Labor Day season tickets sale. Cost for four games: $38.30. Next game: vs. BYU (0-1)

Texas A&M (1-0): The Aggies are 17-1/2 point underdogs Saturday when they travel to Clemson. Last year when they faced Clemson in College Station, Clemson was a 19-1/2 point favorite but only won the game by two, 28-26 … The Aggies are hoping QB Kellen Mond can repeat last year's effort against Clemson when he threw for 430 yards and three touchdowns and added another 33 yards on the ground. Next game: at #1 Clemson (1-0)

Vanderbilt (0-1): The Commodores have to do a better job getting wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb and tight end Jared Pinkney involved in the passing game. Against Georgia, Lipscomb caught only three passes for eight yards. He caught 87 passes for 916 yards and nine touchdowns last year. Pinkney caught two passes for 11 yards against the Bulldogs. Last year he caught 50 for 714 yards and seven TDs. Next game: at Purdue (0-1)


From Andy Staples of The Athletic on how North Carolina coach Mack Brown got his team to bond in the preseason when at each team meeting two players and one coach would stand before the team and tell their life stories:

“Brown marveled as his players laid themselves bare before their teammates. Few held back. Brown wouldn’t reveal any specific details or match players to stories because everything said in that meeting room will stay within the family, but when he asked players about the worst times in their lives, some Tar Heels unloaded. There were stories from foster care. Stories of dad beating up mom. Imagine the diversity of experience in any group of 100-plus 18- to 22-year-old college students, and you can understand why a bunch of tough guys often wound up crying.”

From John Walters of The Athletic on the Utah-BYU broadcast last Friday night:

“On Friday evening during the Holy War, ESPN’s Anish Schroff mentioned that BYU quarterback Zach Wilson took two dates to his high school prom. Stony silence followed. We chuckled and thought of how Brent Musburger would have ad-libbed an addendum to that factoid. You may recall it was Brent who, after this same Utah program put up a 35-0 first quarter against the Cougars in the Las Vegas Bowl, quipped, 'I feel sorry for my BYU friends: They don’t drink!'”

From Khadrice Rollins of Sports Illustrated, Washington State coach Mike Leach offers his thoughts about Area 51:

“I think that they test things there. I think stuff that the military and the government is developing, I would imagine they test it there. Work with the prototypes and things like that there. If they have found space men, or any Roswell stuff, that'd probably be where they would store it, if there is such things. But I think it's pretty much a test site where they test and develop everything from aircraft to bombs to some type of technology because there's got to be a place to do that. I suspect that if they didn't cryptically call it Area 51 and it didn't have the eager, cold, no-one-allowed quality that it has, it probably wouldn't be quite as exciting as it is. And of course, you throw aliens on top of that and the curiosity goes wild."

From Connor Orr of Sports Illustrated, writing about Andrew Luck's decision to retire from professional football 19 days shy of his 30th birthday:

“Those who criticize Luck’s decision don’t believe he could have truly appreciated his teammates and the game as much as he had professed. Yet for years he also told interviewers that the sport wouldn’t define him, that he would be fine teaching history or using his architecture degree from Stanford. This is where he has now arrived. People who have crossed Luck’s path outside football describe a man who genuinely loves to try everything, which is what makes him capable of doing anything.”

RANDOM THOUGHTS:Coastal Carolina, which plays at Kansas Saturday, is practicing this week in Greenville instead of at home in Conway, SC due to anticipated issues with Hurricane Dorian. The Chanticleers (their real name) will fly out to Kansas on Thursday ... The Los Angeles Rams have extended quarterback Jared Goff four more years. The deal is reportedly worth $134 million. Nice work if you can get it … Julio Jones, who has two years and $21 million remaining on his contract, is working on a deal with the Atlanta Falcons that will make him the highest paid wide receiver in the NFL … Serena Williams needed only 44 minutes to beat Qiang Wang in straight sets, 6-1, 6-0 to reach the semifinals of the US Open … Jayson Tatum hit 2-3 free throws at the end of regulation to send Tuesday's USA-Turkey basketball game into overtime, then Khris Middleton hit two free throws with 2.1 seconds left in the extra period to give Team USA a 93-92 win at the FIBA World Championships ... Former Gator wide receiver Brandon Powell has signed a practice squad contract with the Atlanta Falcons … Former Gator Pete Alonso is tied for the National League lead in home runs after hitting his 44th Tuesday night in the New York Mets' 11-10 loss to the Washington Nationals. Alonso is hitting .268 with 104 RBI to go with the home runs.

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