Thoughts of the day: October 6, 2013


Next Saturday’s Florida-LSU game will be hyped as the immovable object (Florida’s defense) meets the irresistible force (LSU’s offense) and with good reason. The last time Florida’s defense gave up more than 20 points in a game against an SEC opponent was November 5, 2011 against Vanderbilt. Since then 12 straight opponents have been held to fewer than 20 including Saturday night when Arkansas could only dent the Gators for 10. LSU, which has been parking its offense in the handicapped spots the last three years, might be the SEC’s most prolific unit now. Against Mississippi State Saturday night, the Tigers threw for 340 yards and ran for 223 while scoring 59 points to raise the specter that it’s capable of picking apart any defense in the league. While the Tigers are certainly capable of scoring points, this might very well be an LSU defense every bit as inconsistent as those at Tennessee and Kentucky. The Tigers gave up 468 yards to an offensively challenged Mississippi State team that would kill to have Florida’s skill people. LSU’s defense certainly makes the possibility of Florida sneaking into Baton Rouge and stealing a win a rather decent possibility.


If you were around in the 1970s, then you probably remember that John Lennon-Yoko Ono (I still can’t believe John thought she was pretty) anti-Viet Nam collaboration “Give Peace a Chance.” If the Jacksonville Jaguars had a clue – seriously debatable if they even have a pulse – then they would be doing everything they can to make that Tim Tebow to Jacksonville rumor a reality. What have they got to lose besides maybe the possibility of another 40,000 fans showing up for every game the remaining of the season? I am convinced of two things: (1) Tebow can’t play NFL quarterback in a conventional offense; and (2) go with a shotgun spread with a bit of up-tempo and some read option and he can. Given the Jags dreary prospects for the rest of the season, it’s worth a shot. So, sing along with me: “All we are saying, is give Tim a chance!”


Given the pansies that dot the Ohio State (6-0) schedule until the appointed rounds at The Big House the last weekend of the regular season, it’s safe to say that Ohio State is on the verge of a 23-game winning streak that won’t have a prayer to end before the Michigan game. The 18th straight win came Saturday night against Northwestern and it wasn’t without a certain amount of trepidation. Northwestern had Buckeye fans on the ledge and ready to jump until two touchdowns, one on the last play of the game, sealed a 40-30 win. Ohio State’s schedule favors an unbeaten season, but it won’t resonate with the BCS unless the Buckeyes are one of two unbeaten teams left standing at the end of the year. You can pencil Alabama in if the Crimson Tide runs the table and maybe if they lose a game but win the SEC title. The Buckeyes won’t have enough quality wins over quality teams to jump an unbeaten from the Pac-12 or ACC so even though a Nick Saban vs. Urban Meyer matchup might have the network execs drooling, it probably doesn’t happen.


If he can keep going at his present pace, you might as well start engraving the name Marcus Mariota on the Heisman Trophy. All the Oregon (5-0) quarterback did against Colorado was throw for 355 yards and five touchdowns and run for another 43 and two. Through five games, Mariota has thrown for 1,358 yards and 14 touchdowns without throwing a pick plus he’s run for 338 yards on just 28 carries (12.0 per carry) for seven more touchdowns. Colorado actually held a 10-8 lead in this game before the Ducks decided enough was enough. Oregon rang up 756 total yards in its 57-16 win. It could have been Dial-a-Score. The Ducks simply shut things down in the fourth quarter.


By the time the clock struck zero – at halftime mind you – Baylor (4-0) already had 56 points and 617 yards. That’s Art Briles offense for you. Across the field was Dana Holgerson, who used to be thought of as an offensive genius. Emphasis on used to. When he was calling plays for Kevin Sumlin at Houston or Mike Gundy at Oklahoma State, Holgerson could dial up a touchdown almost at will it seemed. No more. West Virginia is embarrassingly bad on offense and the defense is pretty bad too as evidenced by the schooling Briles handed out. Baylor won the game 73-42 and finished with 864 total yards – 396 through the air and 468 on the ground. Briles will be talked about as a possible successor to Mack Brown. Holgerson will be talked about as the soon to be ex-coach at West Virginia.


This is why it’s called the Almost Competitive Conference. Maryland (4-1) came into Tallahassee with a defense ranked number one in the ACC and touted as good enough to give Famous Jameis problems. All Jameis Winston did was throw for 393 yards and five touchdowns as FSU (5-0) laid a 63-0 whipping on the Turtles that could have been worse if Jimbo Fisher hadn’t put the game in the deep freeze the final 10 minutes. This game points out two things: (1) For all the talk about how good the ACC is, it’s still a two- or three-team league with a bunch of dwarfs; and (2) we will have to wait for the Clemson game to find out just how good FSU is. As for Maryland, figure that Randy Edsall will go back on the Endangered Species List after this embarrassment. FSU has next week off to get ready to travel to Clemson on October 19 in a game that could very well decide the ACC championship.


Louisville (5-0) could go unbeaten and have the Heisman Trophy winner in Teddy Bridgewater yet might not even sniff the national championship game. You get no respect when the toughest games on the remainder of your schedule are UCF, Rutgers and Cincinnati. The Cardinals didn’t help national perceptions with a 30-7 win over Shirley Temple Saturday. Bridgewater threw for 348 yards and two touchdowns but it was pretty obvious Louisville is bored stiff.  But, even if they destroy every team remaining on the schedule, they have no chance to get past an unbeaten Alabama, Oregon, Stanford, Ohio State, Clemson or Florida State in the BCS standings. Louisville’s only hope is to run the table and be the last unbeaten standing.


That same Duke Johnson who couldn’t even get three yards a carry against Florida sure didn’t have any problems carving up Georgia Tech. Johnson ran over, under, around and through the Georgia Tech defense for 184 yards on 22 carries to supplement a 324-yard, three touchdown passing game by Stephen Morris as Miami stayed unbeaten (5-0) with a 45-30 win. Barring some sort of Moses parting the Red Sea miracle (North Carolina and Wake Forest Gump are next on the schedule), the Hurricanes will go into Tallahassee on November 2 with an unbeaten record. FSU and Miami both unbeaten and playing in a game that is actually meaningful on a national level? Seems like old times.


I saw Jimi Hendrix in concert north of Atlanta on July 4, 1970 at the Atlanta Pop Festival that also featured Rare Earth, the Chambers Brothers and Jethro Tull. A few months later, Hendrix died of an overdose of heroin, but on this particular day he was in rare form. My favorite song that day – and probably my favorite Hendrix song ever – is today’s selection, “All Along the Watchtower” which was a Bob Dylan song. When Bob did it, it was one of the most boring songs ever. When Jimi did it, wow!

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Franz Beard
Back in January of 1969, the late, great Jack Hairston, then the sports editor of the Jacksonville Journal, called me on the phone one night and asked me if I wanted to work for him. I said yes. The entire interview took 30 seconds. It's my experience that whenever the interview lasts 30 seconds or less, I get the job. In the 48 years that I've been writing and getting paid for it, I've covered Super Bowls, World Series, NCAA basketball championships, BCS championship games, heavyweight title fights and what seems like thousands of college football, baseball and basketball games. I'm a columnist and special assignments editor for Gator Country once again, writing about the only team that ever mattered to me, the Florida Gators.