We are just over one week into the Jim McElwain era and so far, I am impressed. He has been globetrotting around recruiting – seemingly developing some good relationships – and creating some new excitement around the University of Florida that hasn’t been felt in a few months. Sure, there is a long way to go – coaches to hire, players to commit – but all in all his first week and a few days have been about as good as they can be.
On Monday, we entered a recruiting dead period until January 15, which will allow McElwain time to evaluate the current staff, but bring in his new staff to begin hitting the recruiting trail for the last two weeks before National Signing Day.
Now I know there has been some criticism of McElwain not hiring a staff just yet (sans Geoff Collins), or announcing much of anything in the way of coaching, but let’s not assume that that is a bad decision – in fact, I think it is a brilliant decision.
Hear me out: The recruiting dead period limits coaching staffs from reaching out to players and making first contact, but what it doesn’t limit is, allowing players to reach out to coaching staffs and talking to coaches. Now, if Florida is recruiting a wide receiver that wide receiver is going to reach out to UF and talk with the new wide receiver coach and offensive coordinator, because they are curious and want to learn more; whereas, if a relationship had already been pre-established, there is a less of a likelihood that a player would randomly call to talk to a coach. This nine day delay in hiring a staff could pay dividends because 1) it allowed McElwain to recruit and 2) it builds a buzz around a coaching staff when other coaches can’t call prospects and negatively recruit prospects about said coaches.
I like the strategy, let’s see it pays off.
Thoughts on Travaris Robinson
Over the past few days there have been countless rumors on the status of Travaris Robinson and whether he will be back as a coach at the University of Florida. And to clear the air – nobody knows what he will do, and we probably won’t know for at least a few weeks.
I have read a number of message board posts on how important it is to keep Robinson, and while I generally agree that he is an outstanding recruiter, I am not completely sold on the number of posts begging to keep him.
Robinson is a heckuva recruiter and is a young, up-and-coming coach, but I am not sure that he is infinitely better than other options and keeping him just to appease a few recruits that he is recruiting is not a good strategy long term.
I would love to see T-Rob stay on staff and grow as a coach, recruiter, and person; but I would love even more to see Jim McElwain assemble a staff he thinks will give them the best chance to be successful.
I think there are real questions whether the success of the Gators defensive backs were because of T-Rob, or Muschamp, or just pure raw talent. We never really saw much development out of players that weren’t consider “studs” coming out of high school. Vernon Hargreaves and Jalen Tabor – five star players; Quincy Wilson and Keanu Neal – four star players. But what about Marcus Roberson? Willie Bailey? Loucheiz Purifoy? We saw almost zero-to-little development out of them over their years at UF…
After going 10-13 over the last two seasons, no coach should be considered a lock to keep, nor should they be entitled to stay.
Thoughts on Geoff Collins
I am sold.
I never believed that D.J. Durkin would stay on the Gators staff in a defensive coordinator capacity because I felt like there would need to be a changing of the guard just because they needed change for the sake of change. That doesn’t take anything away from Durkin, but I just thought it needed to happen.
Geoff Collins, in my opinion, is as strong as a candidate that was both available and would not leave after one season (should things go well).
Collins, a nominee for the Broyles Award (nation’s top assistant coach), is a firecracker on the sideline, a rising up-and-comer, and considered one of the brightest minds on the defensive side of the ball.
Collins has been a defensive coordinator four times in his career – two seasons at Albright College (1997 – 1998), Western Carolina (2002 – 2005), Florida International (2010), and Mississippi State (2011-2012 (co-defensive coordinator), 2013 – 2014).
At FIU, Collins took the 119th ranked total defense in 2009 to ranking 61st in 2010. Further, he improved scoring defense from 111th to 65th; rush defense from 116th to 77th; and passing defense from 108th to 32nd.
At Mississippi State, his total defenses (including time as co-defensive coordinator) averaged a ranking of 47th, with his highest of 18th coming in 2013 and lowest of 82nd coming in 2014. Now, total defense doesn’t tell the full story. For example, last season, Collins’ defense ranked 22nd in run defense, but 123rd in passing defense. Pass defense struggled mightily, but they certainly didn’t have the players that Florida has in their secondary. I may let that pass, but keep a watch on it.
From the film that I have watched (not a ton, to be honest), he is a big on substitution — playing 30 players on defense in 2014 (UF played 24); has a 4-3 base defense, but often plays nickel packages; and seems very aggressive with lots of hits, lots of turnovers, and lots of blitzing and sacks.
While Collins’ defense did give up a high yards per game average, his team thrived in sacks with 36 (16th in the country); 22 turnovers (38th in the country); ranked 1st in the country in red zone stops (opponents only scored 60% of the time); ranked 13th in opponent 3rd down conversion percentage; and ranked 10th in the country in fewest points per game allowed.
Solid hire and should do well at UF.
I can just see Verne Lundquist, Mick Hubert, and Nat Moore try to pronounce his name….
Great player and good momentum starter.
Season in Stats
A few of you have messaged wanting to see UF season in stat form ( a collection of the ones that I used in my articles) – I will have that after the Birmingham Bowl in this article. Please let me know if you would like the data in .xls format and please let me know if I should continue to do it.
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Song of the Week
In honor of the hiring of Geoff Collins and his being from Conyers, GA — this week we will focus on Matt Kennon, a guy I have known for a while, and still kind of surprised he never broke it bigger into the country music scene.
He had one hit (sort of) that he wrote and performed called, “The Call” — a rather dramatic song, but pretty good overall.