Thoughts of the day: October 9, 2013


NFL talent. That’s what the Florida Gators will be charged with defending Saturday in Baton Rouge against 10th-ranked (AP) LSU. The Tigers have offensive weapons to die for in future NFL wide receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who is playing his way into the first round of the May Draft, and four running backs, headed by Jeremy Hill, all of whom would start ahead of Florida’s starter if they were in Gainesville. Florida’s game plan will be simple: stuff the run with the front seven and get pressure on Mettenberger without blitzing. The key will be stuffing the run without involving the safeties. Will Muschamp runs a gap sound scheme that relies on the linemen clogging the lanes so the linebackers can clean up behind them. This is a game that calls for Antonio Morrison and Michael Taylor to come up big. If they can get the job done without the help of a safety in the box, the Gators will have a shot at springing the upset. If they can’t make the tackles, LSU could wear the Gators out.


When Skyler Green ran back Eric Wilbur’s first punt of the game 80 yards for a touchdown with 11:51 left in the first quarter, the Tiger Stadium faithful knew a righteous stomping was about to take place. Sixth-ranked LSU was loaded with pro prospects on both sides of the ball and the 3-3 Gators were coming off an embarrassing home loss to Ole Miss. Adding to Florida’s alleged futility, freshman quarterback Chris Leak was making his first start on the road in a place they call Death Valley. This is a place where careers of experienced quarterbacks go to die, and here was Ron Zook starting Leak? Oh, the things those Tigers were going to do to Chris Leak. Oh, the things Chris Leak and the Florida defense did to those Tigers, who never scored again.


LSU’s ferocious defense did get to Leak six times that day for 56 yards in losses, but if the Tigers thought they were going to rattle the kid, they had another thing coming. He threw two touchdown passes to running backs, both times when he checked down at the line of scrimmage. He went 18-30 throwing the ball for 229 yards with scoring passes of 22 yards to Ran Carthon and 35 to Ciatrick Fason. Over on the other side of the ball, the Gators got to Matt Mauck three times, plus they forced two interceptions, both by Keiwan Ratliff. Ratliff’s second pick came in the fourth quarter and that was followed on the next possession by a Johnny Lamar hit that not only knocked Devry Henderson into next month but separated him from the ball. Daryl Dixon recovered for UF and after Fason broke a 62-yard run, Leak was able to take two knees to end the game for a shocking, 19-7, UF win. The LSU defensive coordinator that day? Some guy named Muschamp.


With the announcement that stud tailback Todd Gurley (high ankle sprain) is doubtful Saturday, Georgia’s game with unbeaten Missouri just got a bit more interesting. When healthy there are few in college football who combine the power and speed of Gurley and his backup, Keith Marshall, is through for the year (ACL). That leaves Georgia’s running game in the hands of 5-9, 183-pound freshman J.J. Green, who is really quick but can’t give the Bulldogs the power game that Gurley delivers. So what happens on third and short or fourth and short? Gurley can block and so can Marshall. Can Green pick up a blitzer and protect Aaron Murray? Now throw in the fact that Murray will be without his two best wide receivers and there is potential trouble. Given that Georgia’s defense hasn’t stopped anyone all year, suddenly this game that seemed to be a blowout on paper a month ago looks very, very interesting.


Pat Dye told Alabama Online ( that he’s totally opposed to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice being on the selection committee for the national championship playoff that begins in 2014. Dye said, “All she knows about football is what somebody told her or what she read in a book, or what she saw on television. To understand football, you’ve got to play with your hand in the dirt.” Rice’s dad was a football coach and she grew up helping her father dissect film. From all accounts, she understands the Xs and Os as well as most coaches. So is playing the game a necessity? If so, then I guess somebody like Jeremy Foley doesn’t have a clue. Foley was a lacrosse player at Hobart. Judging by his success as an athletic director, I’d say he knows plenty about the game. Maybe if you didn’t play you don’t understand first hand the blood, sweat, tears and pain but it doesn’t mean you don’t know the game inside out. As for Pat Dye, I think he must have taken many blows to the head in his day. He needs to just shut up while he can.


University of Houston quarterback David Piland, who threw for 5,790 yards and 41 touchdowns and set an NCAA record for 77 pass attempts in a single game without an interception last year against Louisiana Tech, walked away from college football Tuesday. Piland has suffered multiple concussions and the decision was arrived at mutually after a meeting with the Houston medical team. Piland and the doctors at Houston should be applauded. But you have to wonder how many kids are out there playing who shouldn’t be? For every kid who walks away for the right reasons I would guess there are tens or maybe even hundreds playing for the wrong reasons.


At UCLA Dr. Vijay Gupta, a materials science engineer who grew up in India but became enamored with football while studying at MIT, has developed an energy absorbing polymer that can fit inside a helmet and potentially eliminate a large percentage of concussions. The same material placed on the outside of a helmet actually increases the force of a big hit. Years ago at Duke University, it was discovered that coating a helmet in a half inch of a special energy absorbing rubber-like compound could reduce impacts considerably. That research needs to be applied today.  The people who make the Kevlar bullet-proof vests have been experimenting with materials that will make thigh, knee and kidney pads safer and there is a plan to market new shoulder pads that actually air condition the body. There is no way to take contact out of football, but there are definitely ways to increase the safety using the materials research going on in the country right now.


Although the NBA was, is and always will be the dream destination for college basketball players, it’s possible to live the good life in Europe where the basketball season isn’t nearly as long and the good teams take care of all the taxes, both American and European. Here is where a few former Gators will be playing this year: Taurean Green (Limoges CSP/France); Lee Humphrey (BC Kyiv/Uktaine); Kenny Boynton (Netanya/Israel); Mike Rosario (Ponce/Puerto Rico); Alex Tyus (Maccabi-Tel Aviv/Israel); Adrian Moss (Bambitious Naras/Japan); Bo Colas (Randen/Denmark); Erving Walker (Stelmet ZG/Poland); Justin Hamliton (Spirou/Belgium); Brent Wright (Oostende/Belgium); Matt Walsh (Granarolo BO/Italy); Walter Hodge (Laboral Kutxa/Spain); Vernon Macklin (Barrangay Ginebra/Philippines); Donnell Harvey (Talk N Text/Philippines); Dan Werner (Ferro-ZNTU/Ukraine); Mohamed Abukar (Spirou/Belgium); James White (Grissin Bon RE/Italy); David Huertas (Halc. Rojos/Mexico); Anthony Roberson (Boulazac/France); Nimrod Tishman (Galil Gilboa/Israel).



The original Blood, Sweat and Tears was the idea of Al Kooper, who had played the organ on tour with Bob Dylan and had fronted The Blues Project. Kooper was with BS&T for only one album, “Child Is the Father to Man,” leaving in 1967 because of creative differences. He wanted a blues band with a great horn section. The rest of the band wanted to go more commercial, which is why they brought on David Clayton-Thomas to handle vocals. But before he broke out on his own, he left us with this gem: “I Love You More than You’ll Ever Know.”

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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.