Franz Beard: Thoughts of the Day

THOUGHTS OF THE DAY, JULY 29, 2019

MULLEN ON THE OPENING OF FALL CAMP

With the season opener against the Miami Hurricanes looming in 26 short days, Dan Mullen has the Gators on a timetable. He’s got to get the team in shape, on the same page both offensively and defensively, find out who’s ready to start, who’s ready to back up, who might need a redshirt season and what plays are going to work for Miami and what plays will be saved for a later date. And all this is before August 18 when the Gators depart from their training camp mode into their game-week mindset. Here is how Mullen described the next three weeks at last week’s UF media day:

“As we talk of transitioning right now we’re transitioning from off season mode mindset into football mindset. At the back end of training camp you got to transition from training camp mindset to game week mindset. The practices, everything you do is how you prepare, the practices, what you’re doing is completely different when you get in season than training camp. You’re going from an install, teach mode of learning the offense as a whole. You’re going out to practice you try to compartmentalize and install, but even in scrimmages you might have 175, we got 195, 200 plays in in training camp. When you get into game one you’re going to have 70 calls in that you’re going to focus on against that specific opponent instead of all of our plays on offense against all of our plays on defense. All of our defensive calls against all the different formations we show. You hone it into kind of a game week game plan. So it’s accelerating that when you’re playing a big time Game One, you got to accelerate the transition period into game week.”

FLORIDA FLASHBACK: MASTER OF THE 2-INCH PASS

Necessity, so they say, is the mother of invention. The necessity on November 2, 2002 was figuring out a way to compensate for Rex Grossman’s sore arm and coming up with some sort of running game while at the same time negating unbeaten and 5th-ranked Georgia’s ferocious pass rush.

This was Ron Zook’s first year on the job and with three losses heading into the Georgia game, Florida fans were already calling this “The Ron Zook Error” and questioning the sanity of athletic director Jeremy Foley, who had hired a replacement for Steve Spurrier that had never been a head coach at any level of football. Georgia was a heavy favorite to go to 9-0 and nobody figured Zooker or offensive coordinator Ed Zaunbrecher capable of coming up with practical solutions that could give the Gators a fighting chance.

But in the week leading up to the game, Florida completely re-tooled the offense. Instead of Grossman throwing the ball downfield consistently, the game plan called for one bubble screen after another with only occasional downfield shots. There would be some running up the gut but the hope was the quick passes to the perimeter would substitute for a running game while neutralizing the Georgia pass rush. It looked good on paper.

It also worked out quite well on the field. Georgia kept waiting for Grossman to take seven step drops, load up and heave it downfield, but throws that traveled more than 10 yards were few and far between on this night. Grossman threw 46 passes, probably two-thirds of which were of the horizontal variety. Carlos Perez caught 12 of Grossman’s 36 completions for 76 yards while Kelvin Kight caught nine for 115 yards. Grossman threw two touchdown passes to his tight ends, a 5-yarder in the second quarter to Aaron Walker and a 10-yarder to Ben Troupe to win the game in the fourth.

Guss Scott’s 47-yard pick six in the second quarter was one of many big plays for an inspired UF defense that forced three turnovers and sacked Georgia quarterbacks David Greene and D.J. Shockley four times.

Georgia, meanwhile, couldn’t take advantage of four UF turnovers (two Grossman picks and two fumbles). Placekicker Billy Bennett missed two field goal attempts and wide receiver Terrence Edwards dropped a sure TDP when Greene actually made the right read on the blitz in the fourth quarter.

This was the biggest win of Zooker’s first UF season thanks to a change in offensive strategy that saw Rex Grossman become the master of the 2-inch pass. Rex went horizontal early and often in throwing for 339 of Florida’s 381 total yards as the Gators dealt Georgia its only loss of the season.

Except for that loss to Florida, Georgia would have finished the season ranked #2 and would have played Miami for the national championship in Tempe, Arizona. It was only when Georgia lost to Florida that eventual national champ Ohio State moved ahead in the polls and got the chance to play Miami.

Georgia fans still refer to this as a “near national championship.” They haven’t had a real one in 14,454 days.

But who’s counting?

MOVE OVER MICHAEL PHELPS

At the 2017 World Championships, Caeleb Dressel earned his place in swimming history when he tied the great Michael Phelps record of seven gold medals. This past week, Dressel one-upped Phelps by taking home eight medals – six golds and two silvers – at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea. One of the golds for the Gator alumnus was the 100 meter butterfly in which he broke Phelps’ world record with a time of 49.50 in the semifinals then won the event with a 49.66, the second fastest 100 fly time in history.

SOME GOOD QUOTES FOR MONDAY

From Bruce Feldman of The Athletic, Hal Mumme talking about the time when Mike Leach worked for him at Iowa Wesleyan as the O-line coach, offensive coordinator, recruiting coordinator, equipment manager, video coordinator and SID. The school’s director of public relations was angry because Leach was calling newspapers like USA Today:

“It was one of those deals where she was yelling at him for like 30 seconds straight and he has the phone pulled away from his ear. And then Mike, in that monotone voice of his goes, ‘Iowa Wesleyan sports information had gotten Iowa Wesleyan into the USA Today three times this year. Your office couldn’t get Iowa Wesleyan into the USA Today unless there was a mass murder on campus.’ And then she really lost it.”

From Andy Staples of The Athletic on some of the dumber moves pulled off by Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott and his minions who run the conference:

“Ticking off the nation’s largest satellite provider so much that it probably will never carry your network seemed like a poor long-term strategy. Choosing not to cover the first early football signing period at all on the conference channel seemed like a gross misunderstanding of football’s place as the chief revenue provider for all those Olympic sports that win national titles. Allowing an associate commissioner to dictate an officiating outcome during a game was a breach of the coaches’, players’ and consumers’ trust. The lack of agitation for an expanded College Football Playoff seems like a willingness to accept the league being left out out of the playoff in most years. Trying to sell a piece of a conference that is effectively owned by 10 public universities and two private universities across six states to venture capitalists for a Band-Aid of a cash infusion seems fraught with all sorts of regulatory peril (but still might happen at some point).”

From David M. Hale of ESPN.com, University of Miami coach Manny Diaz talks about some of the problems that have to be corrected now that the transfer floodgates have been opened:

“Before we get the transfer house in order, we have to figure out how to replace the initial scholarships. What happens is, you can use three or four guys at one position, but because we made a rule to stop over-signing, that rule is now ironically hurting player movement. Let’s say we give them free access and be immediately eligible. There’s nowhere for them to go because we’re bound by only bringing in 25 initials each year. You have to put something in place where, if a player’s in good standing at your school academically, and opts to transfer, that you can replace that number. Because otherwise, none of us will be at your 85 [allowed scholarships], which hurts our depth but also offers less opportunity for them to move.”

From Dave Hooker of Saturday Down South, how would Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh stack up against coaches in the SEC:

“So do Michigan fans have reason to be disappointed in Harbaugh’s tenure, especially if he can’t have more success this season? Certainly. Despite his past coaching record, signature khakis and quotable nature, he’d be a middle-of-the-pack coach in the SEC.”

From Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, TCU coach Gary Patterson talks about how the New England Patriots’ defense dominated the Los Angeles Rams in the last Super Bowl:

“I loved what New England did against the Rams. They called two defenses. The thing that they did that I thought was interesting, what we’ll see a little bit is, they’d call it, knowing they were gonna look to the sideline, they were always gonna check. As soon as they checked, they went into the defense they actually wanted to be in … That’s the thing that’s phenomenal about what New England’s done. They still make people in ballgames play their game. They weren’t a fast football team. But they still made those other teams play their game, on both sides of the ball.”

SEC FOOTBALL/BASKETBALL STUFF

Former Vanderbilt backup quarterback Jamil Muhammad has transferred to Georgia State. A 2019 signee who enrolled early, Muhammad has four years of eligibility remaining.

Quarterback Nik Scalzo, who tore his ACL during his senior season at Cardinal Gibbons in Fort Lauderdale, has been cleared medically to participate once Kentucky opens fall camp.

Kyle Henderson of Bama Insider is predicting that linebacker Eyabi Anoma will end up transferring to Maryland, now coached by former Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley. This should be interesting to follow. If that happens, don’t expect a warm and fuzzy relationship between Nick Saban and his former assistant anytime soon.

A twitter that Michigan OL transfer Aubrey Solomon has gotten an NCAA waiver that will allow him to play immediately has been discredited by Solomon, who continues to wait for an NCAA ruling.

From The Missourian regarding the discrepancy in reported attendance for home Mizzou football games and the actual attendance: “According to NCAA reporting documents obtained by the Missourian through an open-records request, the average number of tickets scanned for the football team’s seven home contests in 2018 was 24,377 per game, or roughly 47 percent of what the school reported in its game box scores.”

RANDOM THOUGHTS: You don’t have to be a math major to figure out that the University of Connecticut took a few stupid pills. The school is swimming in $41 million of athletic department debt and now it will pay the American Athletic Conference $17 million to leave so it can join the Big East. Oh, and by the way, in leaving UConn gives up the $7 million a year in media rights for football in the ESPN contract. In the future let’s see how many fans will be packing 41,000-seat Rentschler Field for those exciting games with fellow independents like UMass, Liberty and New Mexico State … J.B. Holmes (yes, the same guy who shot an 87 on the final round of the British Open) lettered 10 years at Taylor County High School in Kentucky. No, he didn’t set a record for repeating grades. He was on the TCHS golf team from the time he was in the third grade until he graduated 10 years later. That an 8-year-old could letter in golf at a high school tells us either Taylor County doesn’t have a lot of decent golfers or Holmes was a prodigy. I’ll go with the former although he’s a fine golfer … Brooks Koepka, who had problems getting putts to fall at the British Open, regained his putting stroke over the weekend, going 64-65 to close out the Fed Ex-St. Jude Open in Memphis for a 3-shot win (-16 for the tournament) worth $1,745,000 … File this under give me a break! A writer at Sports Illustrated says Georgia freshman defensive end Nolan Smith has been snubbed by its staff when it came up with its list of the top 100 players in college football for 2019. A freshman DE who has never played a down isn’t included and that’s a snub? Oh please.