How it started.
How it’s going.
Just a reminder: G-Day is April 17th.
How it started.
How it’s going.
Just a reminder: G-Day is April 17th.
Kirby Smart has a message for Dan Mullen.
No, not that message. This one:
If you were to tell me that the SEC’s top team in yards before contact per rushing attempt in 2020 was Georgia, I wouldn’t believe you. But here we are.
That, in a transitional year for the position coach, both starting tackles from the prior season gone to the NFL and no spring practice. Honestly, Matt Luke may be better at his job than I thought, and I thought he was pretty good.
I dunno, maybe this is too inside ball for some, but I did find one interesting tidbit from Dabo’s presser yesterday.
Yeah, interesting, like I said. If Ross is back to full health, I would assume that’s going to put some stress on a different area of the secondary than the corner positions in Georgia’s opener. For example, if Brini builds on his solid performance in the bowl game at the Star position, does he have the chops to cover someone with Ross’ skill set?
Staples has been on that kick for a while now. Here’s what he said about it all the way back in 2015:
Do Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Tennessee, South Carolina and others come in and poach Georgia talent? Absolutely. But there’s such an abundance of it in the state that Georgia can afford to lose a few top in-state targets and still field a team capable of competing for SEC and national titles. Alabama and Auburn have to invade Georgia. During that five-year period, their state produced 36.4 Power Five signees a year. People talk about LSU’s monopoly in its state, but the numbers between Louisiana and Georgia aren’t even close. Louisiana’s average number of Power Five signees during that span was 38.6 a year.
Add to this great facilities (now that the Bulldogs are building an indoor), great tradition, a sharp athletic director, possibly the best college town in America and the fact that they play in the easier division of the nation’s deepest conference. That’s the recipe for a great job that just about every coach in America would crawl over broken glass to take.
I dinged him for that “sharp athletic director” comment, and, really, it’s amazing to think that back then, folks outside the program considered Greg McGarity to be an asset. The reality is that Georgia football from that period was something of a dysfunctional mess and that Richt and McGarity were essentially working at cross-purposes with each other.
If Georgia since then has in fact become the nation’s paragon in that regard, it’s because Kirby Smart was given carte blanche to remake the program and nobody, especially including McGarity, stood in his way.
When Smart accepted the job, McGarity didn’t issue marching orders. He asked questions. What did Smart now need from the administration to build a championship program? “He needed to educate us,” McGarity says, “about what it meant to go big-time.”
I don’t know if it’s the best job in the country, but I do believe it’s a better place to be a head coach at than it was when Mark Richt had to pay his assistants’ bonuses out of his own pocket. Then again, maybe I don’t understand college football at all.
Gone are LeCounte, Stokes, Campbell and Stevenson. Who are their replacements in Georgia’s secondary this season?
Talent won’t be the problem. Experience, though?
Let’s just say I don’t think Addae is following Derion Kendrick on Twitter because he’s lonely.
Okay, we’re Georgia fans, so it’s natural for us to write off last season as an anomaly and expect Florida to return to its recently natural place as the division runner up in 2021, but it looks like the Gators are taking shit from behind now, too.
You hear that? It’s a faint sound, but it’s there. That is the sound of the wheels falling off of Dan Mullen’s Florida football program.
Mullen has been successful on the field. The Gators are 30-9 since he became the head coach, including two New Year’s Six wins. In 2020 he had a Heisman Trophy finalist in Kyle Trask and a generational talent at tight end, Kyle Pitts, that will be one of the first ten picks in this year’s NFL Draft. Off the field, it’s been a different story. He isn’t lying with shark but he went on a bizarre “pack the stadium” rant after they fell to Texas A&M, he wore a Darth Vader costume to a postgame presser and his team’s brawl at halftime against Mizzou were all black eyes on the Gators’ brand, a point of pride for athletic director Scott Stricklin.
In addition to the off the field antics, they lost momentum on the field as soon as an LSU shoe was hurled through the air at The Swamp. Florida lost its final three games of the season, including a blowout loss in the Cotton Bowl while seemingly half the roster opted out of playing in the game.
You can see the momentum slipping on the recruiting trail too. Florida isn’t even the best recruiting team in the state, finishing behind Miami at No. 13 overall. To make amends for poor high school recruiting, Mullen has hit the portal hard. On Sunday, it hit back.
Arik Gilbert is arguably the most talented non-quarterback to ever enter the transfer portal. A five-star prospect just a year ago, 247 Sports ranked Gilbert as the best player available in the portal once he announced his intentions to leave LSU. On the final day of January, Gilbert committed to Florida. On the final day of February, he re-entered the transfer portal.
Harsh, but true.
It’s great news for Kentucky fans for multiple reasons. In the short term, a mismatch problem has been eliminated in the Wildcats’ Oct. 2 date with the Gators at Kroger Field. There’s no reason to completely short-sighted. There’s plenty of smoke around Mullen in Gainesville as he attempts to negotiate a contract extension with Florida brass not long after his name was floated for NFL coaching vacancies. This could turn into a fire at Florida, one the Wildcats can dance around to the top of the SEC East.
I don’t think he’s predicting UK wins the East, so much as he’s saying the ‘Cats could take the Gators’ place as Georgia’s main challenger to a division title. Bold talk for a team that’s only beaten Florida once in the last… well, it seems like forever. Not that I mind so much.
Greg Sankey, in his inimical, yet ambiguous, style, clues us in on what to expect this football season.
Sankey shared his thoughts on a range of subjects in advance of the SEC men’s basketball tournament, which begins in Nashville at Bridgestone Arena on March 10. But while basketball was the primary focus, the commissioner looked ahead six months to the beginning of 2021 football season.
Thirteen of the 14 SEC teams have a season-opening game scheduled for Sept. 4. Mississippi is slated to play Louisville on Sept. 6 in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game in Atlanta.
Sankey indicated it is possible the coming season could be affected in similar ways to the 2020 season. The SEC shifted to an all-conference schedule and did not start until Sept. 26 last season. Some games were postponed due to COVID-19 cases and contact tracing within programs. Four teams only played nine of 10 scheduled games.
“Some of the adaptations we had to put in place last year may have to remain,” he said. “Maybe not as dramatic as having to play conference-only football, but the potential for disruptions and readjustments of schedules may be there. The potential for having to continue to swab our nose.”
“There is a light at the end of this tunnel, but we are not done. We are not at the finish line. I want to be at the finish line more so than anyone, I think. I think the first step is to recognize we don’t know when it will fully end. …
“If we can get through this continuing decline in the COVID rates to a place where it is manageable, perhaps that toward normal is more like back to normal.”
Translation: we need the money, so we’re playing all the games we can. Unless we can’t.
Who would have thought the key to the restoration of greatness for Tennessee football would run through Mark Richt’s former Georgia staff?
Tennessee plans to fill its final assistant coach opening with a versatile coach who has experience coaching special teams and defense.
The Vols are finalizing a deal to hire North Texas special teams coordinator Mike Ekeler, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to Knox News.
… His first on-field SEC job was at Georgia, where he coached inside linebackers and was co-special teams coordinator in 2014-15 under coach Mark Richt. Former Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt was Georgia’s defensive coordinator during those two seasons.
Ekeler couldn’t stand the sight of Pruitt, so I’m sure he’s thrilled for the opportunity. Meanwhile, that makes thirty percent of Heupel’s assistants who once coached under Richt, for better or worse. The Vols are back, baby!