Another reason to love Kirby Smart: he overcame Cam Newton to sign Justin Fields.
Fields had played in Newton’s seven-on-seven league after his junior season at Harrison, and the Carolina Panthers QB had offered some advice to the hot-shot recruit.
Newton’s career began at Florida, where he rode the bench behind a legend named Tim Tebow. Thing is though, Newton thought he was better than Tebow, and he wasn’t alone. The problem, however, was Tebow was ensconced, a fan favorite, a guy they ended up building a statue of at Florida. The way Newton saw it, that’s all that mattered to Florida’s coaches.
“I’m a Tebow fan, so I can’t say definitively Cam was better,” Pablo Fields said, “but that was a quote from Cam to Justin.”
Newton ended up transferring to Auburn, winning a Heisman and a national championship and being selected first overall in the 2011 NFL draft, but the end result wasn’t the point. Newton told Fields to be sure that, wherever he landed, they were willing to give him a fair shot from day one.
That all seemed reasonable enough last October and November. But then Georgia won the SEC, won the Rose Bowl, came within one defensive snap of winning the whole darn thing. Would the Bulldogs really bench Fromm, the guy who took them to the brink of a national championship, in favor of a true freshman?
“That’s a roll of the dice,” Pablo Fields said.
In the end, Smart convinced the family Justin would get a fair shot, and it’s a sentiment that, however far-fetched it still seems, has been repeated by Georgia’s staff this month.
You’ve got to respect the serious cognitive dissonance of an ESPN piece that lays out the proposition that Alabama is the SEC team with the most to prove right next to a chart showing six ‘Bama players on their preseason All-SEC team. (No other school has more than two.)
For all of you sneering and nodding along with Will Muschamp’s evaluation of journalism in the context of reporting on his good buddy DJ Durkin’s woes at Maryland, there is this one thing to consider:
There’s a reason why ESPN used a lot of anonymous sources in its story. Those players were afraid of retribution and/or the loss of their scholarships. And yeah, those anonymous sources were good enough for Maryland to put Durkin and several staffers on leave, basically fire their strength coach and open an investigation.
This neatly sums up my view of South Carolina going into the season:
But while the Gamecocks went 9-4 last season, they only had 7.1 second-order wins. That essentially means that given how the Gamecocks actually performed in their games last year — based on stats like success rates, explosive plays, field position, turnovers, etc. — the Gamecocks could have expected to lose the North Carolina State game 79 percent of the time and the Vanderbilt game 57 percent of the time. Significantly fewer second-order wins than a team’s actual record generally gives some indication that a team could be due for some regression to the mean. That’s reflected in South Carolina’s 2017 F/+ ranking of 57th — near Missouri, Texas A&M, and Ole Miss, who all went either 7-6 or 6-6. The Gamecocks were the second-worst nine-win team in the country last year (behind just 9-5 North Texas).
The Gamecocks return an insane amount of offensive production from last season, but they return just 47 percent of their defensive production from 2017 (119th). They lose four of their top five defensive playmakers in end Dante Sawyer, linebacker Skai Moore, safety Chris Lammons, and corner JaMarcus King. Together those four accounted for 17 tackles for loss and 30 pass breakups. Moore led the team in tackles, run stuffs, and interceptions, and was second in tackles for loss. The pass defense is a particular concern with Lammons and King gone from a unit that ranked 55th in passing S&P+, 86th in passing success rate, and 89th in adjusted sack rate last season. Moore’s importance can’t be overstated, either — he led the team in tackles every season that he was healthy.
None of this is to say South Carolina is going to be bad this season. Peltier says the ‘Cocks should be solid in 2018, and that’s likely a fair assessment. But between regression to the mean, big holes to fill on defense and a new offensive scheme, there would seem to be more questions about Boom’s team than there are about Georgia. Plus, any comparison between the two starts with a talent deficiency in Columbia.
As Peltier concludes, “… their odds in the East should be viewed as roughly equivalent to Florida’s”. Sounds right to me.
I still get the regular question about how my cord cutting experiment is going — just fine, thanks — so I thought I’d share this article about it than an alert reader sent my way.
For what it’s worth, after trying several options, I’ve stuck with YouTube TV and been quite happy about it.
But, then again, I’m not this guy:
Steve Young of Holly Springs is an N.C. State fan with nine TVs in one room. He says he has researched cord-cutting and it doesn’t make sense for him. “These cord-cutting features are designed for using one TV at a time,” he says.
Shit, dude, nobody’s got a brain designed for nine at once.