Thoughts of the day: October 7, 2013


Two of the best college football coaches ever at adjusting on the fly were Bear Bryant and John McKay. While some coaches like Woody Hayes believed that if his guys simply executed it didn’t matter what the other team was doing, both Bear and McKay were willing to scrap a game plan altogether at the half, sometimes even when they were winning. What we are seeing at Florida is a maturing head coach in Will Muschamp who is starting to expand his comfort zone. Last year, Muschamp showed the ability to make the exact adjustment needed with the defense at the half. Just ask Texas A&M and Heisman winner Johnny Manziel, who lit up the Gators for 283 yards in the first half en route to a 17-10. Muschamp adjusted the defense at the half and the Gators held the Aggies scoreless and to only 51 total yards in the second half.


When Muschamp adjusted last year, it was almost always on the defensive side but Saturday night he showed how he’s growing into a complete head coach. By electing to cut Tyler Murphy and the offense loose with 75 yards and less than two minutes to go, he caught Arkansas completely by surprise and not only picked up a touchdown that stretched the UF lead to 10, but he created momentum that carried over into the first drive of the second half. That’s something that Muschamp wouldn’t have done last year and maybe wouldn’t have done it if Jeff Driskel were still healthy. It was adjustment on the fly and it showed the growth as a head coach, plus the trust he has that Murphy will both take care of the football and make plays. It bodes well for the future.


The Southeastern Conference has two unbeaten teams remaining — #1 Alabama and #25 Missouri. There are seven SEC teams ranked in the Associated Press poll — Alabama, #7 Georgia, #9 Texas A&M; #10 LSU, #14 South Carolina; #17 Florida and Missouri … Florida continues to dominate the SEC defensive stats. The Gators are #1 in scoring defense, total defense, rushing defense, pass defense, pass efficiency defense, third down defense, fewest first downs allowed and red zone defense. The Gators are also #1 in time of possession …  The Gators are averaging 25 points and 393.4 yards per game. Contrast that to Baylor and Oregon. Baylor is averaging 70.5 points 779.5 yards per game and Oregon is averaging 59.2 points and 630.4 yards. In other words, Florida’s offense is barely a good half at Baylor or Oregon.


If you have seen the replays of a reversed call with 1:16 remaining in Stanford’s 31-28 win over Washington Saturday night, then you have to question the zebras in the booth. The official on the field ruled that Washington’s Kelvin Smith made a diving catch along the sideline at the Stanford 35 on a fourth and 10 play. Stanford was out of challenges but the men in the booth reviewed the play and overturned the call on the field, calling the pass incomplete. Unless they’ve come up with something in the last 24 hours, there was not a single replay angle that gave a clear picture of the ball hitting the ground. The rule book says a play can’t be overturned unless there is indisputable evidence. In this case, the only thing you can surmise is that Washington got screwed.


The Heisman Trophy campaign for Jadeveon Clowney was over before it started. His All-America campaign ended about a week later. Right now it doesn’t seem likely that Clowney will even make All-SEC. He pulled himself out of the lineup against Kentucky claiming pain from strained muscles in his rib cage was just too much to bear. Now, maybe Clowney really is injured, but from the outside looking in it seems like he’s a guy trying to do everything he can do to prevent an injury that could keep him from being one of the first five players selected in the May NFL Draft.


The road to a return trip to the SEC Championship Game just got harder for Georgia, which announced Sunday that tailback Keith Marshall and wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley will miss the rest of the season after tearing their ACL. Additionally, wide receiver Michael Bennett is out for an undetermined number of games. He will have arthroscopic surgery Tuesday. Georgia might have to face unbeaten Missouri Saturday without stud tailback Todd Gurley, who missed the win over Tennessee with a high ankle sprain. Punter Colin Barber could miss the game because of a concussion he suffered against Tennessee and safeties Jonathon Rumph and Tray Matthews are day-to-day.


You’re 0-5 and you just got hosed by the St. Louis Lambs, who are one rung above catfish on the bottom feeder ladder. You’re going to get hosed next week by Denver so by the time San Diego comes to town on October 20, you’ll be lucky to have 50,000 people in the stadium. Do the math. Sign Tim Tebow and that’s 20-25,000 more people in the stadium. Just say that’s at $40 a pop. That means he paid for himself with one game. And what happens if he actually helps win some games? Or are you guys smart enough to actually consider that possibility?


Has there ever been a more snakebitten player than Tony Romo? How many times has he made the critical mistake in a game the Dallas Cowboys absolutely, positively had to win? He did it again Sunday in most spectacular fashion. Having thrown for 506 yards and five touchdowns in a near-flawless performance, Romo had the Cowboys in position to march down the field to kick a field goal to break a 48-48 deadlock with the Denver Broncos. But, like it’s happened so many times before, Romo picked that exact moment to throw his only interception of the game and that led to the game-winning field goal by the Denver Broncos with three seconds left. The game produced 99 points and 1,039 total yards. Peyton Manning’s 414 passing yards for Denver moved him past Dan Marino for second place all-time in the NFL with 61,371 yards.


The first time I heard “Brown Eyed Girl” was during my family’s three-year exile to Mississippi in the 1960s. The song took WNOE and KAAY, the two radio stations we listened to religiously, by storm. That was May of 1967 and about the same time our McComb High School baseball team started our march the state finals against Pascagoula. It’s a song that still stirs up plenty of memories. It started my lifetime love affair with the music of Van Morrison. After years of hoping to catch him in concert, I got lucky in December of 1996 and caught his performance at the Bob Carr Auditorium in Orlando, then saw him in the spring of 1997 at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. Probably my favorite Van Morrison song is “Someone Like You” which was on his “Poetic Champions Compose” CD.

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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.