Thoughts of the day: September 21, 2013

FIVE THINGS TO LOOK FOR AGAINST TENNESSEE: (1) Crossing patterns by the wide receivers will get big gains; (2) Jeff Driskel will throw at least one touchdown pass when he pump fakes and and a Tennessee corner will think he’s jumping the route; (3) Better play by the safeties with Jaylen Watkins moving over from corner to his more natural position; (4) Ronald Powell won’t line up in the same place two times in a row; and (5) The right side of the offensive line (Jon Halapio and Tyler Moore) will have a huge day in a running game that gives Kelvin Taylor his first real chance to show what he can do.

WHY FLORIDA WILL WIN: Tennessee’s only chance to win this game is to have enough success running the ball that the Vols will be able to complete some passes on play action. The Gators will stack the box and trust that the athletes in the UF secondary won’t let UT’s inferior skill people to get off the line cleanly. The game is over the moment the Gators turn the Vols one-dimensional. Florida’s secondary is that good. Because of its lack of defensive talent, the Vols will blitz a lot and take a lot of chances jumping routes and going for the pick. As long as Jeff Driskel is patient and uses play action and an occasional pump fake, Florida will move the ball through the air. Florida’s running game will come up big on delays and sprint draw plays. I like the Gators to win it 38-14.

LEGEND HAS IT … : The Gators traveled to Knoxville with an unbeaten record (8-0) in December of 1928, hoping to land a berth in the Rose Bowl. There had been a drought in East Tennessee for months so imagine the Florida team’s surprise when they arrived at the stadium on Saturday to discover the field was a quagmire. According to the legend, Colonel (he wasn’t a general yet) Bob Neyland explained that it had rained and rained very hard the night before. Only it didn’t rain anywhere else. The Vols had longer cleats but there weren’t enough to give the Gators any and oddly all the sporting goods stores in Knoxville were closed. Imagine that. The faster Gators slipped and slid all over the field and Tennessee took a 13-12 win when future Georgia Tech coach Bobby Dodd blocked Florida’s game-tying extra point attempt.

BIG VISIT WEEKEND FOR BASKETBALL: Justise Winslow (6-6, 210, Houston, TX St. John’s) is doing his official visit to Florida this weekend and he’ll be joined by 2014 commitments Chris Chiozza (5-10, 160, Memphis, TN White Station) and Brandone Francis (6-5, 210, Jacksonville, FL Arlington Country Day) plus 2013 McDonald’s All-American Chris Walker, who has completed coursework and is waiting word that he will be eligible to enroll at UF in December. Winslow can defend four positions and doesn’t have to have the ball in his hands a lot to get his points because he is so good in transition, on the offensive glass and at getting points off his defense. Although it was thought Winslow was a longshot to Florida, a lot of people close to him indicate that Florida might be far closer than anyone expects. Just to be sure he gives Winslow his best shot, Billy Donovan is bringing in former Gators Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Corey Brewer, Taurean Green and others.

THOSE ZANY ACC REFEREES: If you were at The Swindle in the Swamp in 2003 then you can sympathize with North Carolina State Thursday night. The Wolfpack lost to Clemson, 26-14, with no help from the zebra crew which incorrectly called Bryan Underwood out of bounds on what would have been an 83-yard touchdown run that would have given NC State a 14-13 lead. Two officials had a view of the play. Line judge Richard Misner called him out of bounds at the Clemson 47-yard line. Field judge Mike Cullin had a clear view and he didn’t overrule Misner. Replay officials in the booth didn’t overrule the call on the field either even though there was no replay that showed Underwood’s foot hit the chalk on the sideline. It was early in the game, so I’m not sure North Carolina State would have sprung the upset, but that was a play that could have changed the game and the zebras got it wrong. They’re from the ACC. It’s to be expected.

T.J. YELDON SUSPENDED FOR A QUARTER: That throat slash by Alabama tailback T.J. Yeldon last week against Texas A&M is going to cost him. The gesture cost Alabama a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in a game that Bama squeaked by, 49-42. It’s going to cost him playing in the first quarter Saturday against Colorado State, too. “That’s not us; that’s not our program,” Alabama Coach Nick Saban said. Even though it’s just Colorado State and a game that Alabama should win by at least 40 points, it’s a fine gesture by Saban. More coaches should be willing to take a stand like that.

THE FEARLESS FORECAST: In addition to taking Florida over Tennessee, I like LSU over Aubrin, The Fighting Mullens of Mississippi State over Helen of Troy, Missouri over Indiana, Alabama over Colorado State, Texas A&M over SMU, the Georgia Poodles over North Texas, Bill and Hilary Clinton State U. over Rutgers and Gloria Vanderbilt over UMass. Last week: 8-0. Season: 33-2.

ANOTHER FADE BY TIGER WOODS: Tiger Woods has had some impressive wins this year, but he’s also had some notable collapses in the final rounds in majors. This week he’s at the Tour Championship in Atlanta where he’s 14 shots behind leader Henrik Stenson at the halfway point. It’s the first time since the 2011 PGA that Woods started a tournament with back-to-back over par rounds. Having seen what he did at Bay Hill earlier this year, there is no doubt that Woods still has the physical ability to be a great player, but he doesn’t seem to have it between the ears anymore. Also, there is no longer that Tiger mystique, which at one time was worth about five shots.

MUSIC FOR TODAY: Considering the disdain some Florida fans have for Will Muschamp’s defense-first mentality, it seemed only appropriate to offer up this song from a “Live at Daryl’s House” TV show. This is the great Todd Rundgren teaming with Daryl Hall and his band to sing “It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference.” That song is fitting because no matter how many Florida fans wish for wide open start throwing when you get off the bus offense, that’s not Muschamp’s mentality and it really wouldn’t make any difference what Florida fans want. He is what he is and that’s a defense-first coach and he’s not going to change.

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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.