BOUNCING BACK BIG
Florida’s loss to LSU last week was all about toughness. LSU was the tougher team and that had plenty to do with why the Tigers knocked off the Gators in a showdown game in Baton Rouge. When the Gators take on Missouri in Columbia this afternoon, it’s a chance for Will Muschamp to rally the troops and define what is to be the rest of this season. It will take toughness that the Gators didn’t show last week in Baton Rouge, but sometimes it takes a game like that to test a team’s resolve. If this is a tough team, determined still to turn this into a memorable season, then the Gators will show up ready to play from the opening kickoff. If ever there was a game when the Gators can’t afford to be slow out of the gate this is it. To bounce back big, Florida has to take it to Missouri from the beginning and never let up.
THE DEFENSE WILL HAVE TO LEAD THE WAY
With reports that quarterback Tyler Murphy is not 100%, Florida’s reliance on the defense will only increase. You hate to go into any game thinking that if the defense makes more than one or two mistakes that you can kiss winning good-bye, but if the Gators are forced to play Skyler Mornhinweg for any significant amount of time, then the defense might have to pitch a shutout and get some help from special teams that will have Frankie Velez kicking field goals for only the second time and a new punter in Johnny Townsend. The key for Florida will be the ability for corners Vernon Hargreaves III, Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson to play physical at the line of scrimmage and for safeties Cody Riggs and Jaylen Watkins to keep everything in front of them. If the Gators can keep Missouri from getting the big play in its passing game, then Florida should win this game. I think the Gators get just enough offense and take a 20-14 win.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty is averaging 14.87 yards PER PASS ATTEMPT this year and 21.27 yards per completion. That’s staggering. Comparitively speaking, LSU’s Zach Mettenberger averages 10.86 per attempt and 16.29 per completion to lead the SEC. Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy averages 7.96 per attempt and 11.94 per completion. Murphy’s numbers are superior to those posted last year by Jeff Driskel – 6.72 per attempt and 10.55 yards per completion – but they pale in comparison to Mettenberger, Aaron Murray (9.31 per attempt and 14.83 per completion) and Johnny Manziel (10.25 per attempt and 14.01 per completion).
GOOD, JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH
Louisville can scratch those dreams of an unbeaten season and consideration to play in the national championship game after blowing a 21-point second half lead and falling to UCF, 38-35, Friday night. It’s a game that shouldn’t have been close. Louisville blew two touchdowns with turnovers, one a fumble into the end zone that killed a touchdown when UCF was teetering on the bring and the other a fumble that gave UCF a 15-yard field to work with which resulted in another TD. Charlie Strong has a very good team, just not one that’s good enough to compete with the best teams in the country.
SCRATCH TEDDY BRIDGEWATER FOR THE HEISMAN
Barring a five-game barrage in which he throws for 5-6 touchdowns a game, you can forget Teddy Bridgewater winning the Heisman Trophy, too. Against that weakling schedule, Bridgewater almost had to go unbeaten to win the Heisman. It’s supposed to go to the best player in the country – and he very well might be – but the voters will look at the weak schedule and hold it against Bridgewater that he didn’t lead Louisville to an unbeaten season. It’s not exactly Bridgewater’s fault that Louisville lost Friday night. He was 29-38 for 341 yards and two touchdowns with zero picks. Great stats, for sure, but he didn’t get the W and that’s what he needed to overcome the perception that Louisville has been beating up on the Little Sisters of the Poor.
BAMA REINSTATES CLINTON-DIX
The only surprise in the reinstatement of Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix by the NCAA is that it’s a tad early. Nobody expected Dix to be suspended by the NCAA for any games that actually matter after accepting a $500 loan from a strength coach on the Bama staff who has ties to an agent. Thanks to the NCAA decision, Dix, who missed games with Georgia State and Kentucky, will get to play in Bama’s “exhibition games” with Arkansas and Tennessee before facing sixth-ranked LSU on November 9.
GRAMBLING ON STRIKE
Further evidence of just how far Grambling has fallen is evidenced by a player strike earlier in the week that remains unresolved. Grambling’s game with Jackson State has been cancelled because its disgruntled players refused to travel. The once-mighty Tigers are 0-7 this year and they’ve already seen one coach (Doug Williams) fired. Citing problems with travel arrangements and the poor condition of facilities, the players refused to practice and that led to the firing of interim head coach George Ragsdale on Thursday. Grambling’s players are upset with travel arrangements, the poor condition of their facilities and the coaching situation. The program that Eddie Robinson turned into a powerhouse that used to play games in Yankee Stadium, the Cotton Bowl and other famous venues, is in total disarray. He’s probably rolling over in his grave right about now.
THE FEARLESS FORECAST
Besides Florida over Misery, I like South Carolina over Dollywood USA, Texas A&M over Aubrin, Alabama over Bill and Hilary State Clinton U, Rainy Night in Georgia over Gloria Vanderbilt and LSU over The Last Bastion of the Confederacy.
Last week: 6-1
MUSIC FOR TODAY
There was a lot of good music coming out of Florida in the mid-to-late 1960s but one of my favorite bands was Dennis Yost and the Classics 4. They didn’t have the screaming guitars or sultry blues sound of The Allman Brothers or that group over in Jacksonville that was just getting started, Lynyrd Skynyrd, but they had something those guys didn’t have – a real singer. Dennis Yost could sing. What a mellow voice. I heard them in concert several times and the thing I always remembered was the voice and the melodies. They had three really big hits nationwide but the one that I always liked best was “Stormy.”