THOUGHTS OF THE DAY; NOBEMBER 6, 2018
WHAT TO DO AT QUARTERBACK?
Although quarterback is only one of the problems that have surfaced with the 19th-ranked Florida Gators (6-3, 4-3 SEC) over the last two games, both of them losses, it is the one problem that can’t be glossed over nor hidden away. So what does Dan Mullen do Saturday? Does he go status quo and hope that Feleipe Franks can break out of his funk and play like he did in the second half of that come from behind win over Vanderbilt? Or does he do something he’s never done, change quarterbacks this late in the season and go with Kyle Trask, whose entire collegiate resume’ is less than a half and all of 22 passes (14 completions for 162 yards and a TD)?
Throw out the notion that Mullen’s ego won’t allow him to admit that his starting quarterback of nine games has hit the wall. Mullen is all about winning and while it might be painful for him to tell Franks that it’s time signal in plays from the sideline, he’ll make the decision this week to start the quarterback he thinks gives the Gators the best chance to win. If he decides it is Franks it’s because Trask hasn’t seized the moment in practice.
Mullen will be looking for two things this week. First, he’ll be looking for Feleipe Franks to show the confidence that he can lead this team to a win over South Carolina (5-3, 3-3 SEC) and second, he’ll be looking for Kyle Trask to command both the huddle and the game plan. Franks hasn’t shown any measure of confidence in the last two games other than the touchdown drive on the first possession of the second half against Georgia and that touchdown drive just before the end of the first half against Missouri. Trask came in with the deck stacked against him with five minutes remaining in the third quarter of the Missouri game and in his 20 minutes he produced as many touchdowns as Franks and finished with better numbers while showing more poise and confidence.
Will Trask be able to show Mullen that all he needs is a chance to be the guy that can lead the Gators these last three regular season games? Will Franks respond to the possibility that he’ll be a clipboard commando the rest of the way and play up to his considerable arm talent?
Mullen has always said that leadership begins with the quarterback position. We’ve seen very little in the way of leadership from Franks these last two games which leads us to wonder if the team lacks confidence that he can get the job done. If they lack the confidence in Franks will they rally around Trask?
GATORS OPEN HOOPS SEASON AT FSU
Snapping a four-game losing streak to Florida State will be on the Gators’ minds tonight when they open the basketball season with the 17th-ranked Seminoles in Tallahassee (9 p.m., ESPN2). This will be the first time the Gators and Seminoles have played in a season opener since 2000.
The Gators will go with four veteran starters and a freshman in the starting lineup – 6-8 Keith Stone, 6-9 Kevarrius Hayes, 6-6 Jalen Hudson and 6-2 KeVaughn Allen will be joined by 6-5 rookie Andrew Nembhard at the point. This promises to be the most athletic and best shooting team from top to bottom of the Mike White era.
MONDAY STORY LINES IN THE SEC
#1 ALABAMA (9-0, 6-0 SEC): Clay Travis of Fox Sports Radio has no doubt Alabama is the best team in the country for 2018. He also thinks the Crimson Tide might be the best college football team of all time. “I honestly believe this,” Travis said. “I think we are debating now whether Alabama is the greatest college football team of all time. When you talk about greatest, it’s hard to wager against the greatest team because their ability on the offensive and defensive lines is so great.”
Saturday: vs. #18 Mississippi State (6-3, 3-3 SEC), 3:30 p.m., CBS
ARKANSAS (2-7, 0-5 SEC): The Razorbacks expect wide receiver Jared Cornelius, linebacker Dre Greenlaw and defensive back Kevin Richardson to be available for Saturday’s game with LSU. Head coach Chad Morris said that tight end Jeremy Patton won’t be available.
Saturday: vs. #9 LSU (7-2, 4-2 SEC), 7:30 p.m., SEC Network
AUBURN (6-3, 3-3 SEC): Auburn ran the ball for 19 total yards and gave up 201 on the ground yet somehow managed to beat Texas A&M. The Tigers will be facing a Georgia team Saturday that ran for 331 yards on Kentucky and held the Wildcats to 84 yards.
Saturday: at Georgia (8-1, 6-1 SEC), 7 p.m., ESPN
#5 GEORGIA (8-1, 6-1 SEC): The Bulldogs should be very healthy for Saturday’s matchup with Auburn. Center Lamont Gilliard, right guard Cade Mays and wide receiver/kick returner Mecole Hardman should all be ready to go and there is a chance that offensive guard Ben Cleveland will also be available.
Saturday: vs. Auburn (6-3, 3-3 SEC), 7 p.m., ESPN
#12 KENTUCKY (7-2, 5-2 SEC): With his 73-yard performance against Georgia, Benny Snell Jr. went over the1,000-yard mark for the third straight season. Heading into Saturday’s game at Tennessee, Snell has run for 3,432 career yards and 42 touchdowns in less than three full seasons.
Saturday: at Tennessee (4-5, 1-4 SEC), 3:30 p.m., SEC Network
#9 LSU (7-2, 4-2 SEC): The Tigers couldn’t run the ball against Alabama (25 carries for a net 12 yards). This week they get the cure for the common running game, going against an Arkansas defense that has given up a combined 720 yards in its last three SEC games.
Saturday: at Arkansas (2-7, 0-5 SEC), 7:30 p.m., SEC Network
#18 MISSISSIPPI STATE (6-3, 3-3 SEC): The Bulldogs rank 2nd nationally in scoring defense (12.3 points per game, 6th in total defense (278.7 yards per game), 7th in pass defense (167.2 yards per game) and 11th in rushing defense (111.4 yards per game). This week they will be asked to stop an Alabama team that leads the nation in scoring (51.3 points per game) and total offense (565.6 yards) while ranking 5th in pass offense (341.6 yards).
Saturday: at #1 Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC), 3:30 p.m., CBS
MISSOURI (5-4, 1-4 SEC): In the last two seasons against Florida, Drew Lock is a combined 39-52 (75%) for 478 yards (9.19 per attempt) and six touchdowns with only one interception. Lock’s three touchdown passes against the Gators gave him 90 for his career, third best in Southeastern Conference history.
Saturday: vs. Vanderbilt (4-5, 1-4 SEC), 12 noon, SEC Network
OLE MISS (5-4, 1-4 SEC): The NCAA denied the Ole Miss bowl ban appeal, but it did lift the ban prohibiting unofficial campus visits by prospects. Ole Miss can’t go to a bowl game this season but will be eligible once again in 2019.
Saturday: at Texas A&M (5-4, 3-3 SEC), 12 noon, CBS
SOUTH CAROLINA (5-3, 3-3 SEC): South Carolina’s depleted secondary got more bad news as Jamyest Williams and Javon Charleston are out for the rest of the season. Williams will have shoulder surgery and Charleston will have foot surgery. The Gamecocks are allowing only 222.6 yards per game and have limited opponents to just six touchdown passes.
Saturday: at #19 Florida (6-3, 4-3 SEC), 12 noon, ESPN
TENNESSEE (4-5, 1-4 SEC): The Vols didn’t exactly inspire the masses with their 14-3 win over Charlotte last Saturday. This week they’ll be going against a Kentucky defense that ranks #15 nationally (311.8 yards per game) and #8 in scoring defense (15.3 points per game). The Vols average just 24.3 points and 333 yards per game.
Saturday: vs. #12 Kentucky (7-2, 5-2 SEC), 3:30 p.m., SEC Network
TEXAS A&M (5-4, 3-3 SEC): Center Erik McCoy, who had to leave the Auburn game in the fourth quarter with an injury, is expected to be back in the lineup Saturday against Arkansas. Also, safety Derrick Tucker, who missed the Auburn game, is expected to be ready to play. The news is less certain for offensive lineman Jake Hocker and wide receiver Jhamon Ausbon. Hocker is still listed week-to-week since his injury against Mississippi State while Ausbon is day-to-day.
Saturday: vs. Ole Miss (5-4, 1-4 SEC), 12 noon, CBS
VANDERBILT (4-5, 1-4 SEC): Vandy coach Derek Mason says running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn reminds him of Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott. “He has great lower body strength and the ability to step out of arm tackles,” Mason said of Vaughn, who has run for 667 yards and eight touchdowns.
Saturday: at Missouri (5-4, 1-4 SEC), 12 noon, SEC Network
A 90% chance it’s one of these two
TUA TAGOVAILOA, QB, ALABAMA: Oh my gosh! He threw an interception. Finally! So now his season stats are tainted. Tua is 132-194 passing (68%) for 2,361 yards (12.2 per attempt) with 27 TDPs (1 pick). He’s also 29-172 yards (5.92 per attempt) rushing for three more TDs.
KYLER MURRAY, QB, OKLAHOMA: You have to wonder what the hell Kevin Sumlin was thinking when he ran Murray off from Texas A&M. Murray is having one of the great seasons in college football history and he would be a runaway Heisman winner if not for Tua. His stats are 154-218 (70.6%) for 2,689 yards (12.3 per attempt) and 31 touchdowns (5 interceptions) with 82-574 rushing (7.0 per carry) and seven more TDs.
Trying to get on the podium
WILL GRIER, QB, WEST VIRGINIA: If anyone can sneak up on Tua or Murray, this is the guy, especially after that dramatic finish against Texas where he threw the TDP with 16 seconds left and then ran for the two-pointer that beat the Longhorns in Austin. Through eight games he’s 182-261 passing (69.7%) for 2,618 yards (10.0 per attempt) with 28 TDs (7 interceptions) and one rushing TD.
MCKENZIE MILTON, QB, UCF: Milton is posturing for next season. He could get on the podium if UCF runs the table and finishes the regular season with 25 straight wins. His stats are 136-233 passing (58.4%), good for 2,109 yards (9.1 per attempt) and 19 TDs (5 interceptions); 55-223 rushing (4.05 per carry) for seven more TDs.
DWAYNE HASKINS, QB, OHIO STATE: Haskins has had two so-so games in a row and his stock is dropping but his numbers are really, really good. He’s 242-347 passing (69.7%) for 3,053 yards (8.8 per attempt) and 32 TDs (6 interceptions). He has also run for one more TD.
TRAVIS ETIENNE, RB, CLEMSON: His Heisman stock is rising. If Clemson runs the table in the regular season he could make the podium. He’s 116-998 rushing (8.6 per carry) and 15 touchdowns. He’s also caught a touchdown pass.
Blips on the radar
BENNY SNELL JR., RB, KENTUCKY: He’s had a great season but to get on the podium he had to dominate Georgia and lead UK to a win. He had 20 carries and 73 yards. For the season 199-1,008 and 10 TDs.
A.J. DILLON, RB, BOSTON COLLEGE: His numbers would be much better if he hadn’t missed two games with injuries. They’re still pretty good – 162-897 yards rushing (5.54 per carry) and eight touchdowns. He has also caught a TDP.
KARON HIGDON, RB, MICHIGAN: Because Michigan is winning and looking like a playoff team, Higdon is on the radar if only a blip. He’s 173-963 rushing (5.57 per carry) for seven TDs.
D’ERIQ KING, QB, HOUSTON: His hopes to get on the podium took a hit with a so-so game in a loss to SMU. He’s 180-284 passing (63.4%) for 2,578 yards (9.1 per attempt) and 30 touchdowns (5 interceptions) with 82-467 rushing (5.7 per carry) and 12 more TDs.
JONATHAN TAYLOR, RB, WISCONSIN: He leads the nation in rushing but his big games are always against bad or average teams like last Saturday vs. Rutgers (27-208 rushing for 3 TDs). He is an impressive 208-1,363 yards rushing (6.55 per carry) and 11 TDs.
RANDOM THOUGHTS: New York Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen says former Gators Peter Alonso will be given a chance to win the first base job in spring training. Splitting time between AA and AAA last year, Alonso hit .285 with 36 home runs and 119 RBI … One Kansas source is telling Bruce Feldman of The Athletic that the Jayhawks have a legitimate interest in hiring former LSU coach Les Miles to replace fired David Beaty … Robb Smith, the defensive coordinator who got Bret Bielema fired at Arkansas, has been fired as DC at Minnesota by P.J. Fleck after giving up 55 points to Illinois … Justin Rose regained the #1 position in the world golf rankings when he won the Turkish Airlines Open in a playoff Sunday … The college basketball season gets under way tonight with the kind of game you expect to see in March – #4 Duke vs. #2 Kentucky in Indianapolis. In the preliminary game, #1 Kansas will go against #10 Michigan State.