Thoughts of the day: April 14, 2014

A few thoughts to jump start your Monday morning.


There is plenty to like about the potential four-headed running back monster the Gators could throw at opponents in the fall. Kelvin Taylor and Mack Brown are proven commodities who know how to move the chains. Adam Lane looks to be the best pure power back of the bunch and then there’s Brandon Powell, who missed the spring due to an injury but is the kind of speed back who could be a nightmare in the right matchups … After a year in which it seemed there were never any open targets in the passing game, the receivers spent the entire day running free. Last year only three receivers caught more than 20 passes. It’s a safe bet that at least six or seven will catch that many this year … A lot of folks who saw the offense go for 606 yards in a 48-minute game in which the clock never stopped running are now concerned about the defense. There were a lot of missed tackles Saturday and there were (by Will Muschamp’s count) 22 in the previous full contact scrimmage. While that’s a concern, it’s nothing to lose sleep over. Muschamp has an offensive coordinator in Kurt Roper who he knows can run the show, leaving him to concentrate on what he does best, which is develop a defense. Also, remember this: Muschamp needed to generate excitement and optimism for the 2014 season. He wasn’t going to do that if he turned the defense loose. Can you imagine the fan reaction if Muschamp had cut Dante Fowler Jr. loose and brought the blitz on every play? The defense will have its time to develop into a dominant unit in August. The offense will get better too.


The Gators (23-13, 9-6 SEC) not only won the weekend series with South Carolina (28-7, 8-7 SEC) but took over sole possession of first place in the Southeastern Conference East Division when they rallied for four runs in the eighth inning to take a 6-5 win over the Gamecocks. South Carolina built a 4-2 lead through seven innings thanks to five Florida errors, but the Gators combined five eighth inning hits and an error to take a 6-4 lead. South Carolina got a leadoff home in the eighth inning to cut the margin to 6-5, but Eric Hanhold settled down and held the Gamecocks scoreless the rest of the way to get the save. Since starting the season 6-6, Florida’s freshman and sophomore dominated team has run off a 17-7 record including 8-7 away from Gainesville. The Gators are 10-5 in 1-run games and 4-2 in games decided by two runs.


It was a perfect day for Florida sports as both the men’s and women’s tennis teams closed out their regular seasons with wins over Kentucky and women’s lacrosse scored a win over Vanderbilt in its last home game of the year … Men’s tennis (13-8, 8-4 SEC), ranked #15 nationally, beat #14 Kentucky, 4-2. Florida finished fourth in the SEC regular season and will be the #4 seed in the SEC Tournament in Nashville … Women’s tennis (19-4, 11-2 SEC), ranked #11 nationally, beat Kentucky, 4-1. The Gators are among three teams tied for second and will go into the SEC Tournament in Missouri seeded #1. Vanderbilt, who the Gators beat Friday, is the #1 seed and SEC champion … Sammi Burgess scored four goals and Mollie Stevens three as the 4th-ranked Gators (14-2, 5-0 American Lacrosse Conference) beat Vanderbilt, 14-9, to claim a share of the ALC championship. The Gators can win the regular season outright with a win over Northwestern next Saturday in Evanston.


Hutson Mason completed 18-27 passes for 241 yards and a touchdown in Georgia’s G-Day game, attended by 46,073. Faton Bauta was 16-28 for 232 years and two touchdowns as he solidified his spot as the #2 quarterback … Dylan Thompson completed 8-11 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown to women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley in the second quarter of South Carolina’s spring game, which was attended by 36,412 … SEC Network radio host Paul Finebaum attended the South Carolina spring game to personally and publicly apologize to Jadeveon Clowney for calling him the biggest joke in college football back in October … I’Tavius Mathers ran for 121 yards on just four carries in the Grove Bowl, the Ole Miss spring game … Three quarterbacks threw for 653 yards in Mississippi State’s spring game, which was attended by 21,710. Starter Dak Prescott was 7-9 for 131 yards and a touchdown in limited play. Backup Damian Williams was 21-32 for 347 yards and four touchdowns … Ralph Webb ran for 114 yards and scored on a 60-yard run in Vanderbilt’s spring game in front of a crowd of 8,400 … Freshman receiver Josh Malone caught six passes for 181 yards and three touchdowns in Tennessee’s spring game, attended by 68,548.


Matt Walsh averages 15.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists for Granarolo BC (Italy) … Taurean Green averages 9.0 points, 2.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game for Limoges (France) … Erving Walker averages 8.4 points and 2.8 assists per game for Chalon (France) … Lee Humphrey averages 10.8 points, 2.3 rebuonds and 1.5 assists for Alba (Hungary) … Kenny Boynton averages 12.8 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game for Galil Gilboa (Israel) … Alex Tyus averages 9.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game for Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel) … Nimrod Tishman averages 6.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game for Galil Gilboa (Israel) … Mike Rosario averages 15.6 points and 3.1 rebounds per game for Ponce (Puerto Rico) … Walter Hodge averages 19.1 points and 2.2 assists for Areceibo (Puerto Rico) … Anthony Roberson averages 12.3 points per game for Ikaros (Greece) … Justin Hamilton averages 5.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists for Spirou (Belgium) … Brent Wright averages 8.3 points and 5.6 rebounds for Oostende (Belgium) … Vernon Macklin is a free agent after averaging 12.9 points and 5.7 rebounds for Liaoning (China) … Donnell Harvey averaged 13.8 points and 11.8 rebounds for Shandong FB (China) … Adrian Moss is averaging 9.4 points and 9.1 rebounds for Bambitious Nara (Japan) … Bonell Colas is averaging 17.6 points and 13.1 rebounds for Randers (Denmark) … James White averages 16 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists for Grissin Bon RE (Italy) … Mohamed Abukar averages 12.3 points and 3.1 rebounds for Lugano (Switzerland) … Kenny Kadji finished the season averaging 6.5 points and 3.6 rebounds for the Rio Grande Vipers in the NBA Development League.


On the par 5, 510-yard 13th hole at Augusta National, Bubba Watson launched a 366-yard missile that nearly found another area code and left 20-year-old Jordan Speith in awe. That Bubba was 144 yards from the pin and had to settle for a birdie on a hole he should have eagled tells you just how much in command he was on the back nine of The Masters. Watson was down two strokes after seven holes when he went birdie-birdie and Speith went bogey-bogey. From that point on, nobody really challenged Watson. The only golfer on the course who could have beaten Bubba Watson was Bubba Watson, and the yips he had on Saturday when he blew a 4-shot lead, disappeared, which meant there was no one to stop him from winning a second green jacket in three years.


Rule #1 when going through TSA security checks at any airport: Do NOT make any comment that you have a bomb or plan to hijack the plane. And if you have a friend named Jack that you see standing in line, do not say, “Hi Jack,” but instead say something like, “Hey, let’s chat when we get through security.” So, what did San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith do Sunday afternoon at LAX? When he was randomly selected for a secondary screening, Smith became belligerent and while verbally sparring with a TSA agent, claimed he was in possession of a bomb. Smith was arrested, of course. Smith missed five games last season while in treatment for alcoholism but still managed 12 sacks. He’s got a ton of talent but he’s got some serious personal issues that need to be worked through and soon before he does something really stupid that causes injury or a life.


Today’s question comes from Raymond Lu: Are our weakest links in football the safeties and offensive line guards? How do you see us progressing those positions? 

Maybe the better way to put it is, are those the most inexperienced positions and the answer would be yes they are. However, there is talent and reason to believe that both positions could be areas of strength. When Trenton Brown moved inside to guard it gave the Gators a true mauler on the insider who will be as big as any tackle he faces. Tripp Thurman has been in the system four years so he should be ready to contribute at guard and Tyler Moore is far better suited for guard than tackle. When his elbow is fully healed he should be very good there. At safety, I think Marcel Harris, Nick Washington and Keanu Neal have the talent to develop into SEC caliber safeties who are hard hitters and good in coverage.

Each day one question will be chosen as Question for Today. Submit your question to:


As much as I love the music of Jackie Wilson, his life was such a tragedy. His music made the record companies millions but he was always broke because the people in charge of his money exploited him. He got shot by one of his girlfriends, lost his son in a shooting and battled cocaine addiction. He had a heart attack on stage performing today’s song, “Lonely Teardrops,” in 1976 and spent the last eight years of his life in a semi-comatose state. When he was buried, it was in an unmarked grave because there was no money to purchase a headstone. A 1087 fundraise raised the money for the headstone.

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.


  1. The reason Gator receivers ran free is because UF” defensive backs did not play like they usually play. UF likes to get close and personal with receivers which is why UF gets a lot of interference or holding calls in the secondary. We didn’t see that Saturday. The big question is whether this new offense that is predicated on short passes and precise timing will be effective against an aggressive secondary like UF usually presents. Normally what you do to counteract that is run some deep patterns that force the defense to back off. The problem with that is that Driskel still is not accurate on deep throws. Unless Driskel shows he can actually make ab accurate deep pass, teams will crowd the line of scrimmage and be very physical with the receivers to hinder their ability to run their routes. We keep hearing about Morningweg’s lack of arm strength, but if you’re not accurate throwing long passes, does it matter how strong your arm is?