At 25-1, Bruce Feldman thinks Florida’s chances to win the national title are undervalued. The Gators just have to nip and tuck a few places, and voilà!
… Yes, the Gators are coming off a clunker of a showing in the Sugar Bowl against Louisville, but they have a budding star in dual-threat QB Jeff Driskel, a good O-line and lots of speed on defense. They do need to have a go-to guy emerge at receiver and having some key guys to replace up the middle of their defense, but by all accounts Will Muschamp has recruited very well.
Um… that offensive line? It’s in such bad shape right now that Florida may not be able to put on a traditional spring game.
Guard Jon Halapio underwent a scope on his knee in January. Tackle Chaz Green underwent a scope on his ankle around the same time. Tackles Trip Thurman and Ian Silberman are both battling shoulder injuries, and Muschamp said on Tuesday that Thurman’s “does not look good right now.” Guard Jessamen Dunker is indefinitely suspended as he faces charges of felony grand theft auto and misdemeanor driving with a suspended license.
Guard Max Garcia, now healthy, has battled back issues during the spring, and tackle Quinteze Williams was listed at defensive tackle last season.
Counting on fashioning a solid two deep out of that bunch and six recruits seems a tad optimistic to me. But what do I know? A lot of people seem to be much higher than I am on a Gator offense that, besides the offensive line flux, has real issues in the receiving corps, no depth at quarterback and must replace its workhorse tailback.
Maybe the Gators are destined to go +20 in turnover margin this season.
Parsing the tea leaves from the reports of yesterday’s scrimmage, there’s justification for optimism in certain areas.
- Tray Matthews seems to have made quite the impression for a freshman at a key position. Chris Conley’s quote is pure Dawg porn: “He’s fearless. He’s got a great sense of where the ball is going to be even if you can’t see it. He’ll be going the right direction even if there’s a misdirection play. His sixth sense and his football IQ is out of the roof as a freshman.” But the coaches had Matthews playing with the first unit and he held up his end of the deal, so there’s more there than just teammate gushing. Given the departures at the position, this could turn out to be a big deal.
- Likewise, it was good hearing that Ray Drew had a dominant day. (“From what I noticed, Ray Drew was really unblockable today,” quarterback Hutson Mason said.) It’s his time to shine.
- While the defense didn’t give up a run longer than 13 yards all day, it’s worth noting that Gurshall averaged better than 6.5 yards per carry. Not missing a beat.
- By all accounts, Mason looked like he knew what he was doing out there running the first team offense. It’s what you’d expect, given his experience level, but it’s still good to have confirmation.
- Speed on defense. My favorite quote of the day belongs to Ramik Wilson: “We’re much faster and quicker,” he said. “They’re throwing screens to Malcolm (Mitchell) and we’ve got our D-ends already out there. It’s crazy, our team speed.”
C’mon, G-Day, get here.
… has to be the number of excuses/explanations Mark Richt comes up with to portray the reasons behind certain, er, shortcomings in offensive performance.
By my count there were:
- the weather, which was the reason for all the drops and interceptions in the passing game;
- the drops themselves, which was how LeMay’s brutally ugly 1-11 passing line was put in context;
- situational plays, to explain the many sacks (“The amount of sacks shouldn’t be a reflection of a poor performance by the offensive line. Richt said a lot of them were in a third-and-long drill. Richt estimated about half of them happened there.”);
- third-team rust, to explain Ramsey’s three picks (to be fair, Ramsey completed more passes for more yards than LeMay did); and
- weather and situational calls, as to Marshall Morgan’s 1-3 day (“He made the one realistic yardage kick,” Richt said.)
All in all, it sounds like a typical spring scrimmage day.
The difference between Georgia’s first and second string quarterbacks? Aaron Murray gets amped up and throws interceptions. Hutson Mason gets amped up and throws punches.
… Mason and linebacker Amarlo Herrera got into a scuffle during the scrimmage after Herrera slapped Mason on the helmet on a play.
“There was a little scuffle between them,” outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins recounted. “Hutson swung at him and Amarlo, he’s hot-headed, and he didn’t like that. So he started swinging back, and all six offensive linemen came running and squatted up on Amarlo. His helmet came off, and the defense came up.
“It was a short little scuffle. It was pretty fun. Everybody was just pushing everybody around, no hard blows.”
The heated exchange only endeared Mason to Georgia’s defensive players.
“He doesn’t back down from nothing,” Jenkins said with a laugh. “He tried to come at us a couple of times. We had to let him know, ‘you’ve got a black jersey for a reason. Don’t let us catch you in a red jersey.’”
Said cornerback Sheldon Dawson: “When they got into it, that was crazy, a quarterback with a linebacker. But he showed how tough he was, and that’s a good thing when your quarterback’s tough.”
Yeah, well, at least until he gets his clock cleaned by an opposing player who doesn’t have six teammates sitting on him.
The first championship game in college football’s new four-team playoff is going to be played in Arlington, Texas, because
it’s a site imbued with so much tradition Jerry Jones is willing to outbid one and all for the privilege of playing host. (“Because Cowboys Stadium, which hosts the AT&T Cotton Bowl, is such an overwhelming favorite for the inaugural championship, several communities opted not to bid, sources said.”)
When it comes to college football, money is the only tradition that matters these days. I give the whole farce of a bid process five years before they decide to make Arlington the permanent home of the title game. On the bright side, that’ll give Bill Hancock another opportunity to assure us about how high quality the whole thing is.