Dean Legge, with an interesting comparison…
Because, back to Justin Scott-Wesley and Nick Marshall, even though both players were charged with the same crime – possession of less than an ounce of marijuana – one was arrested (JSW) and one was ticketed (Marshall). So even though they were in the same state, the guy in Athens was taken to jail, and the guy arrested in Reynolds was given a ticket for $1,000. So if the punishment is not applied the same for the exact crime in the State of Georgia how in the world is the same crime going to be applied the same in all SEC jurisdictions?
In addition to that – it is very possible that JSW’s “ticket” for weed would have gone totally unnoticed by the press because of the simple way that the Athens-Clarke County jail report works. He would have been given a ticket, and likely paid it. No one would have never noticed his one-game suspension because he would still be coming back from his ACL injury that happened last October.
I’m not sure I buy that last point he makes completely – we found out about Marshall’s arrest quickly enough – but overall, there’s certainly some food for thought when it comes to advocating a universal drug policy for a conference.
Count me in the group that thinks Georgia’s linebacking corps is an obvious team strength. (Seth Emerson lays out what he calls the team’s ice cream here.) Some of my optimism is based on improved coaching in that I believe Pruitt is going to do a better job of deploying the talent than Grantham did – I doubt we see Floyd dropping back in coverage very much and I’ll be shocked if Herrera and Wilson are on the field together in obvious passing situations nearly as often as they were last season – but most is due to having all four starters back. Experience, talent and better coaching is a nice formula for quality play.
And here’s some context for you to digest. South Carolina is making noises about shifting from the 4-2-5 scheme it’s run as its base for several years to some version of the 3-4 (per Lorenzo Ward, “At the end of the season I would be shocked if we didn’t play two-to-one 3-4 to 4-2-5…”) because the strength of the defense is at the linebacking position. And that strength is reckoned as top five in the conference by SB Nation’s SEC bloggers.
They rank Georgia second, three spots ahead, and a hair’s breadth behind what’s been the conference standard, Alabama. I’ll gladly take that.
Let’s just hope And The Valley Shook hasn’t delivered a 2014 epitaph for them: “This is a deep, talented unit surrounded by, unfortunately, the rest of the Georgia defense.”
It’s just that I’m starting to hear some of the same “why Florida will be good this year” talk that I questioned before the start of last season. It’s not that I don’t think the Gators won’t be improved; a better health situation will take care of that. But that offense, with its third coordinator in four years, a quarterback who missed most of last season and has no experienced depth behind him, a lackluster receiving corps and an offensive line with its own depth issues, looks like it’s as big a hot mess as it was a year ago. So, while a certain amount of optimism may be warranted, it seems to me that there’s an element of wishful thinking in play, as well.
Take, for instance, this piece, entitled “Five Reasons Florida Will Win the East”. Here are two of the five:
2. Jeff Driskel – Though Driskel has yet to live up to the lofty expectations with which he entered college, he is still an athletic signal caller with tons of potential. The schematic changes on offense will benefit no individual player more than Driskel, who appears to be an ideal fit for Roper’s style of play-calling. Lining up in the shotgun and having more opportunities to use his legs as a weapon, Driskel should be able to increase his production of explosive plays exponentially. Bouncing back from a season-injury leg suffered in just the third game of the 2013 season, Driskel will be helped along by his clean bill of health, in addition to the fact that this is fourth season at the collegiate level.
3. Team Health – While injuries were a major issue for numerous SEC teams last fall, there is no question that the Gators were bit worst by the injury bug. According to Phil Steele, Florida lost by far the most starts due to injury in the conference in 2013 (51). That equates to nearly 20 percent of the Gators’ starts being lost due to health problems, the third-highest percentage in the country. The overall lack of depth and experience made life difficult for the Gators in 2013, but the team has the vast majority of its players at 100 percent health heading into fall camp. The likelihood of Florida experiencing a rash of injuries similar to last season is exceptionally rare, meaning that it should expect to take serious strides forward in 2014.
Maybe it’s just me, but putting your hopes on Driskel using his legs more while brushing off the chances of serious injuries seems like a weird juxtaposition.