Franz Beard: Thoughts of the Day

THOUGHTS OF THE DAY; OCTOBER 18, 2018

STATS THAT MATTER

Since it’s an open date for 11th-ranked Florida (6-1, 4-1 SEC), it’s a good time to take a look at some of the stats that matter most. On the offensive side of the ball, it’s yards per carry, yards per pass attempt and sacks allowed that matter most. Over on the other side, the same stats are always a barometer for good defense. In every one of these categories the Gators are improved over 2017.

On the offensive side of the ball

Yards per carry (4.5 per attempt is considered average): The Gators are averaging 5.1 yards per carry, a serious improvement over last year’s 4.3 per carry. The last time the Gators averaged at least 5.0 per carry was 2009 when the Gators averaged 5.59. Since the 2009 season, the best season was 2012 when UF averaged 4.53 per carry. From 2010-17, the Gators had only four seasons when they averaged at least 4.0 per carry.

Yards per pass attempt (7.5 per attempt is considered average): The Gators are averaging 7.9 yards per pass attempt, quite an improvement over the 6.3 per attempt in 2017. In 2009, the Gators averaged 9.1 yards per attempt but since then the best year was 2011 (Charlie Weis was Florida’s offensive coordinator) at 7.5 per attempt. From 2010-17, the Gators had only two seasons in which they averaged more than 7.0 per attempt.

Sacks allowed (Less than 20 in the regular season is considered above average): In seven games, the Gators have allowed only nine sacks (for -62 yards in losses). In 11 games last year, the Gators gave up 37 sacks. The best year for the Gators in pass protection since 2009 was the 2014 season when the Gators allowed only 17 sacks (-92 yards in losses) with an offensive line that featured five future NFL starters. That 2014 season is the only time the Gators have allowed fewer than 20 sacks.

On the defensive side of the ball

Yards per carry allowed (Less than 4.0 is considered above average): The Gators are allowing 4.15 per carry, which isn’t great but it’s an improvement over last season when UF allowed 4.3 per carry. Florida’s best season since 2009 was the 2012 season when the UF defense allowed only 2.98 yards per carry. In all the years since 2009, the Gators have only allowed more than 4.0 per carry twice – 2013 and 2017.

Passing yards per attempt allowed (Less than 6.5 is considered above average): The Gators are giving up only 5.8 yards per pass attempt, a serious improvement over 2017 when UF’s defense gave up 8.0 per attempt. In 2009, Florida allowed only 5.4 per pass attempt and in 2012 the Gators gave up 5.6. Last season was the only year the Gators have given up more than 6.5 per attempt.

Sacks (More than 30 is considered above average): Through seven games the Gators have 21 sacks (-149 yards). Last year the Gators only got to the quarterback 23 times (-128 yards). Florida’s best year for sacks since 2009 was 2015 when the Gators sacked the QB 40 times (-294 yards in losses). The Gators have scored 30 or more sacks five times since 2009 and they’ve had fewer than 20 just once (2013; 19 for -123 yards).

GATORS PICKED FIFTH BY SEC HOOPS MEDIA

The SEC is primed for perhaps its best season in history as far as putting teams in the NCAA Tournament. A year ago, eight SEC teams (Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Auburn, Missouri, Arkansas, Alabama and Texas A&M) made it to the NCAA Tournament. Experts are predicting the league will get at least nine in the tournament in March of 2019 and ten is not beyond the realm of possibility.

Florida is expected to make the NCAA Tournament for a third straight season. The SEC media predicts the Gators to finish fifth in the league in its preseason poll: 1. Kentucky; 2. Tennessee; 3. Auburn; 4. Mississippi State, 5. FLORIDA; 6. LSU; 7. Alabama; 8. Vanderbilt; 9. Missouri; 10. Arkansas; 11. South Carolina; 12. Texas A&M; 13. Georgia; 14. Ole Miss

Predicted to make All-SEC: (First team) Daniel Gafford, Arkansas; Reid Travis, Kentucky; Tremont Waters, LSU; Chris Silva, South Carolina; Grant Williams, Tennessee. (Second team) Bryce Brown, Auburn; Jared Harper, Auburn; JALEN HUDSON, FLORIDA; PJ Washington, Kentucky; Quinndary Weatherspoon, Mississippi State; Jontay Porter, Missouri; Admiral Schofield, Tennessee.

CBSSports.com ranked the top 100 (+1) players in the country. Florida’s Jalen Hudson was ranked #28 and KeVaughn Allen #77.

FOOTBALL AROUND THE SEC

#1 Alabama (7-0, 4-0 SEC): This is an odd week for the Crimson Tide. Last year’s defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is now the head coach at Saturday opponent Tennessee. Last year’s Tennessee coach Butch Jones is one of Nick Saban’s offensive analysts. Saban has never lost a game to one of his former assistants.

Arkansas (1-6, 0-3 SEC): Quarterback Ty Storey, who had to leave last week’s loss to Ole Miss with a fourth quarter injury, has been cleared to play Saturday when the Razorbacks play host to Tulsa in their final non-conference game of the season.

Auburn (4-3, 1-3 SEC): Leading rusher JaTarvious “Boobee” Whitlow (81-456, 4 TDs) is listed day-to-day. The Tigers travel to Ole Miss Saturday where they are 3-1/2 point favorites.

#8 Georgia (6-1, 4-1 SEC): On the injury front, LT Andrew Thomas, who was rolled up on in the Poodles’ loss to LSU, is still not 100%. Running back D’Andre Swift has a nagging ankle injury but is expected to practice again Friday.

#14 Kentucky (5-1, 3-1 SEC): Head coach Mark Stoops says the Wildcats spent their bye week trying to “clean up some things. We got sloppy in some areas, in penalties and being more precise.” Kentucky, which plays host to Vanderbilt Saturday evening, is an 11 point favorite.

#5 LSU (6-1, 3-1 SEC): True freshman left guard Chasen Hines will get the start against #22 Mississippi State Saturday night. Hines played 75 snaps against Georgia last week after Adrian Magee gave up a sack on the game’s third play. Garrett Brumfield, who began the season as the starter at LG, hurt his knee against Louisiana Tech in week three. Coach Ed Orgeron says Brumfield won’t be able to go Saturday night. LSU is a 6-1/2 point favorite.

#22 Mississippi State (5-2, 1-2 SEC): First year coach Joe Moorhead says he hasn’t been surprised by the toughness of the Southeastern Conference. “It’s a line of scrimmage league,” Moorhead said. “The margin of error is small. The parity is impressive. If you don’t come prepared, you will get beat.”

Missouri (3-3, 0-3 SEC): The Tigers rank #124 (out of 129 teams in Division I) in pass defense, allowing 300.7 yards per game. Opponents average a stunning 9.0 per attempt. Mizzou plays its final non-conference game Saturday when Memphis (4-3) comes to Columbia.

Ole Miss (5-2, 1-2 SEC): The Rebels are averaging 197.71 yards per game rushing, the best they’ve done since 2010. Leading rusher Scottie Phillips is averaging 103.29 yards per game (108-723, 6.69 per carry, 9 TDs).

South Carolina (3-3, 2-3 SEC): The bye week might allow defensive tackle D.J. Wonnum to return from an ankle injury that has kept him sidelined since the season opener. Wonnum had 13 tackles for loss and six sacks in 2017. The Gamecocks got to the QB 26 times last season. They have only 10 sacks through six games so far in 2018.

Tennessee (3-3, 1-2 SEC): Head coach Jeremy Pruitt, formerly the defensive coordinator at Alabama, thinks former boss Nick Saban has put together a scary team in 2018. “I’ve coached with Coach Saban for a long time and this may be his best team yet,” Pruitt said.

#17 Texas A&M (5-2, 3-1 SEC): The improvement of quarterback Kellen Mond from 2017 has been dramatic. Mond was 117-227 (51.5%) passing last year for 1,375 yards (6.1 per attempt) for eight touchdowns (6 interceptions). This season, Mond is 132-214 (61.7%) for 1,800 yards (8.4 per attempt) and 10 TDs (5 interceptions).

Vanderbilt (3-4, 0-3 SEC): In their three SEC games, Vandy has allowed 784 rushing yards (5.4 per carry). Saturday, the Commodores will be going against a Kentucky team that averages 223.5 yards per game and 5.36 per carry. Says Vandy head coach Derek Mason, “Everything starts with stopping the run. We’ve had a hard time with that. We aren’t conceding the pass game, but if we allow this team to run on us they will bleed the clock on us.”

ELSEWHERE IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL: The Maryland Board of Regents will meet Friday at 9 a.m. to discuss findings of an investigation into the football program and head coach D.J. Durkin but results of the investigation and a decision about Durkin might take another week before they are announced. Maryland is 4-2 under interim head coach Todd Canada … After the offense stunk it up in a loss last week to Virginia, Miami has benched freshman QB N’Kosi Perry and gone back to Malik Rosier … Rich Rodriguez may no longer be the head football coach at Arizona, but his son is going to be the starting QB when the Wildcats face UCLA at the Rose Bowl Saturday night. Regular QB Khalil Tate will miss the game with an ankle injury … As if Bobby Petrino doesn’t have enough problems at Louisville, sophomore tight end Kemari Averett with booked into the Louisville Metro jail, charged with putting a gun to his girlfriend’s head and threatening to kill her … Charlie Strong’s unbeaten (6-0) and 21st-ranked South Florida Bulls are 33-point favorites Saturday when they host UConn. The Bulls are averaging 35.2 points and 487.3 yards per game. UConn’s vaunted defense is giving up 53.7 points and 658.2 yards per game … #3 Clemson (6-0, 3-0 ACC) has been established as a 17-1/2 point favorite over unbeaten and 16th-ranked North Carolina State (5-0, 2-0 ACC) … There are eight unbeaten teams remaining in Division I. Three of them – UCF, South Florida and Cincinnati – are from the American Athletic Conference. All three are in the Eastern Division of the league so it’s going to be tough for one of the three to run the table.

RANDOM THOUGHTS: Former Gator Bradley Beal starts his sixth year in the NBA with the Washington Wizards. He will have to squeeze by on $25,434,262 this year … Al Horford, meanwhile, will have to make ends meet on $28,928,710 while playing for the Boston Celtics … New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees is on pace to set an NFL record for accuracy. Through six games, Brees is 148-190 (77.9%) for 1,658 yards and 11 TDs. Brees has yet to throw his first interception … Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden has let it be known that there isn’t a player on his roster that he wouldn’t trade … The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Milwaukee Brewers, 5-2, Wednesday to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series. Lefty Clayton Kershaw went seven innings against the Brew Crew, allowing just one run on three hits while striking out nine … The Boston Red Sox have taken a commanding, 3-1, lead over the Houston Disastros in the American League Championship Series.