Yeah ... but this is absurd since UGA played a 5-4 team this week while A&M didn't play at all. So no, UGA doesn't get to jump a team that has a better overall record and a better record against common opponents merely because they played and A&M's game got cancelled. Sorry, UGA has no case. You are just giddy to have an SEC caliber QB. Other programs who had that already aren't going to be nearly as impressed.
You presume that JT Bennett would play great or even good in a close game against a talented defense. I never presume such things until I see it happen. Example: Jake Fromm was terrible against teams with athletic defenses that could match UGA's talent. 0-2 against Alabama, with virtually no points in the second half in either game 0-2 against LSU 0-1 against Texas The only good team matching that description that he had consistent success against was Auburn, and even there it is debatable how "good" Auburn actually was. Other teams were successfully able to exploit Fromm's average arm strength and mobility and force him into bad decisions under pressure. Is Bennett better than Fromm, who won 3 straight SEC East titles and was 1 play away from winning a national title? More to the point, Alabama made every QB who isn't a future Heisman winner, #1 NFL draft pick or both look bad. Even Kyler Murray - the Heisman winner AND #1 pick who has Arizona in the playoff hunt in his 2nd year - was shellshocked against Bama (for a half anyway). So, the 400 yards against an atrocious Mississippi State team and 3 TDs against a badly overmatched Mizzou team has you convinced that Bennett is a Heisman candidate and future #1 pick? Also, the main data point that matters: won/loss record. UGA has 2. A&M has 1. To put it another way, UGA went 0-2 against Florida and Alabama (which are the only 2 ranked teams that UGA played this year). A&M went 1-1. Yes, UGA was playing Stetson Bennett in those games, but it isn't A&M's fault that Kirby Smart handled the QB situation so badly. More to the point, UGA shouldn't get very much credit for finally fielding an SEC caliber player at QB 3/4 into the season, because A&M managed to do the same from the very start. If anyone should be rewarded for that, it is A&M and not UGA.
This blog is officially more impressed with Sarah Fuller than with Texas A&M. That is fine. I am done here. I will read about my SEC football in another place. By the way ... the idea that Auburn - the #6 program in the SEC - should hire Steve Sarkisian, who failed at Washington and USC (the #1 and #2 programs in the Pac-12) is totally idiotic. The idea that Auburn should hire Lane Kiffin, who ALSO failed at USC (Ed Orgeron did a better job and had USC made him the permanent head coach after firing Kiffin THEY would have been the one to win a national title) and prior to that at the Oakland Raiders based on two mediocre SEC seasons (one at Tennessee, one at Ole Miss) is even more ridiculous. More utterly insane still: the idea that Auburn should hire a Saban assistant at all AS NO SABAN ASSISTANT HAS BEATEN SABAN. The only people to have success against Saban in the SEC are the guys who DIDN'T coach for the guy. But hey, this blog is too stupid to realize that "winning ugly" against LSU - like A&M did - IS BETTER THAN LOSING TO LSU BECAUSE YOU ARE TRYING TO RACK UP STYLE POINTS AND PAD STATS FOR YOUR QB'S HEISMAN CAMPAIGN. That's right. LSU knew that Florida was going to put the ball in Kyle Trask's hands, so they ignored run defense and maxed out on pass coverage while applying pressure. Florida could have exploited that at any time, especially while in the red zone. They didn't and Trask - who gets happy feet and makes terrible decisions when pressured - responded the way he did last year in losses to LSU and UGA. Even that critical turnover at the end of the first half. Take a knee - or run a draw play up the middle - and LSU doesn't get 3 easy points. But hey, this blog is more impressed by Sarah Fuller kicking a field goal in a game that Vandy got slaughtered by another terrible team IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WORST SEASON IN VANDERBILT HISTORY than they are Texas A&M, which isn't even one of the SEC's traditional big 6 and nor were they ever an upper echelon team in the Big 12 (indeed MISSOURI had a better recent winning record than A&M did the 10 years prior to their joining the SEC) going 7-1 against SEC conference games, with 8-1 very likely. Not even Johnny Manziel won 7 conference games in a season. A&M has only won 7 conference games in a season ONCE since leaving the SWC ... back in 1998. A&M not getting to play Ole Miss is tragic because that took away their shot to win 10 games in a season for only the third time since leaving the SWC, which after Arkansas left was worse than several mid-major leagues! But yeah, Sarah Fuller kicking a field goal is more important than all that. Because - as we all knows - social agendas and narratives are more important than what actually happens on the field. That is why A&M and Mond gets bashed for playing to avoid an upset and succeeding, which is precisely what Mullen and company failed to do. And by the way, Mond's game against Florida wasn't his best of the season. His 5 TD and 0 sack game against South Carolina was. His 3 TD game with 81% completions against Arkansas was almost as good. But you didn't notice either game. Sarah Fuller's kick? That you did notice. Which speaks more about you and the site that you write for.
And your objective case for UGA being better than A&M is based on what? Let's see an analysis of won/loss records and common opponents.
"The Gators could have had an undefeated season had their defense not let them down against A&M and now LSU." Will people please stop it with this? Kyle Trask had even more to do with the LSU loss than the defense did. He gave them 10 points (a pick 6 and a field goal) for which LSU literally did not have to move the ball. A red zone INT as well as back-to-back intentional grounding/delay of game penalties after 1st and goal - both of which took place on first down - cost them at least 3 and as many as 11 more points, as it could have (should have?) been 2 TDs on those red zone possessions instead of a field goal. If you are going to blame the defense anyway when your "star QB" messes up, then why not just recruit tailbacks instead and run the ball 50 times a game?
Gator fans have been dismissing A&M's accomplishment of beating them on the field ever since the loss and particularly since the Gators took down UGA. It should have never required the Gators' being exposed like this to acknowledge the loss to A&M and its implications in the first place. Instead, it has been "yeah the scoreboard says we won BUT ..." which has been thoroughly insufferable.
Not just the buyout. That PLUS in the past, whenever Auburn would come close to firing Chizik, he would beat Alabama, giving him another year. Also, we all predicted that the "all conference schedule" plus the havoc created by the rescheduling (no more "circle this date" on the calendar and spend your entire season building up to it) was going to expose certain teams. The most likely candidates were taken to be Auburn, Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida and Texas A&M. While the latter two just barely made it - yes UF losing to LSU stinks they still got back to Atlanta and A&M gutted out close wins against UF, Auburn and this same LSU team - the first 3 were exposed to be what they always were. It isn't a big deal for Kentucky - who are what they are - or even Tennessee who everyone knows doesn't have a QB and can't compete (though next year will be his last chance to beat one of UF, UGA or Alabama) - but Chizik is in year 8 with the 5 star son of one of the most beloved QBs in recent Auburn history pulling the trigger. There was no room to claim that Auburn was ever going to be anything more than a middling program under Chizik.
Ugh. So UGA has a good QB. What about all the other teams that have what UGA has that Florida has beaten this year? UGA has an SEC caliber athlete playing QB now. Congratulations. It is what you are supposed to have, and it is what the other 13 teams in the SEC have always had, even Vanderbilt (unfortunately for Vandy they don't have much else). Even Guarantano would look a lot better with UGA's OL, defense and running game. So maybe UGA beats UF with Daniels, or maybe UGA loses 31-28 like UF did against A&M. We will never know.
Two things. 1. UGA has a new starting QB that - while almost certainly not the Heisman winner and future #1 overall draft pick that UGA fans are making him out to be - is actually an SEC caliber athlete (and may in fact be better than Jake Fromm). While the polls shouldn't reflect that TOO MUCH - UGA's issues with handling QBs isn't the fault of teams who actually did manage to field a capable QB prior to the season being effectively over - it IS something that you can use to - say - choose one team over another when both have the same record against similar competition. 2. Florida has had real issues the past 2 years. Folks have just chosen to ignore them because "kid who didn't start in high school who takes the starting job from 5 star recruit" has been "such a good story." But now, you can't ignore those issues anymore, especially since Trask actually had more to do with UF losing that game than the convenient scapegoat shoe thrower and more than the corner blitz calls. Maybe now that the rails are finally off the Trask fairy tale revealing that the fancy carriage was just a pumpkin after all, Florida can get back to running an offense that they can contend in the SEC with instead of Mike Leach football. How was UF supposed to contend for the top tailback recruits in the southeast when running a scheme where a handoff is effectively "a trick play to keep defenses honest" even in the red zone?
Trask had 2 turnovers that led to 10 LSU points, plus a 3rd turnover in the red zone and an intentional grounding penalty on 1st and goal that almost certainly took 2 TDs off the board. Trask helped LSU's cause mightily, much more than any other Gator. The announcers never talked about it during the game because they just assumed that the Gators were going to win anyway, right up until the kicker hooked it.
Star QB Kyle Trask commits 3 turnovers and a critical penalty on 1st and goal that results in a 17 point swing. Who blames him? No one. Marco Wilson commits a single penalty. Who blames him? Everyone. Gee, that's fair I guess ... The difference in the game was the QB stat lines. The true freshman from LSU had no turnovers or critical penalties. The redshirt senior QB from Florida ... not so much.
"It even trumps UGA Pickens splashing water on Tennessee QB earlier in year!!" Only because of the result. Not because of the play itself. Also, if you want to talk about penalties, sure focus on that - which cost the Gators 3 points - when Trask's intentional grounding penalty on 1st and goal cost them 4. That plus the 3 turnovers ... yeah it was the penalty's fault. That was the single biggest factor in the Gators losing the game.
No, it is not ALL on him. Corner blitzes work when you have the personnel. Florida doesn't. Because Florida doesn't have elite talent on the front 7, their only recourse is to blitz to make plays in the backfield. Otherwise, teams march straight down the field. Also, Kyle Trask's turnovers resulted in a 13 point swing. Also, a totally boneheaded intentional grounding penalty ON FIRST AND GOAL almost certainly cost the Gators a TD. But sure, blame anyone and everyone but the star QB I guess. If it had not been for those errors the Gators would have never been in that situation at the end of the game to begin with.
Why is everyone scapegoating Grantham? Trask turned it over 3 times. 2 of those led to 10 LSU points. A third happened on 1st down in scoring position, taking away at least 3 - and possibly 7 - points. Florida got away with it all year but was finally exposed, though a week earlier than I predicted. They have no running game, no option attack and Trask - who is a pocket passer - makes bad decisions when blitzed. Trask is a good player but not a great one. He is in a great scheme and has a bunch of weapons at WR and TE - plus RBs who are great at blitz pickup and running routes/catching the ball out of the backfield - but he can't carry an offense. Now I refuse to concede Trask's victory over UGA, because UGA was the walking wounded on defense and their starting QB got injured in the 1st quarter (note that he was playing well and moving the ball before then). So that makes Trask 0-4: winless against UGA and LSU last year and against Texas A&M and LSU (again) this year. After they play Alabama it will be 0-5. I know it seems like I am kicking Trask when he is down, but this is more aimed at Gator fans who have been treating Trask as if he was this transformational talent ever since he took over for Feleipe Franks. Well Franks accomplished something Trask never did: beating LSU, and did it against the LSU team that beat UGA and won the Sugar Bowl. Trask is at best the #4 QB that Mullen has produced - behind Alex Smith, Dak Prescott and Tim Tebow - and among Gator QBs that I have seen since I have been watching college football, isn't as good as Kerwin Bell, Danny Wuerrfel, Rex Grossman or Tim Tebow were either. As for the loss itself, I blame this more on Mullen and Johnson than on Trask and especially Muschamp. (All you Muschamp bashers, name the 10 year NFL players on Florida's front 7. Exactly.) Trask's limitations when pressured have been known since last year when UGA and LSU won by bringing the heat. He takes bad sacks - often when running backwards - commits penalties and turns it over. They should have done SOMETHING to create more balance on offense. I suppose that throwing to the RBs instead of handing off to them were better for Trask's Heisman campaign, but now that's dead in the water too.
The reason why he doesn't get a lot of attention from the SEC media: 700 yards in 2017 1220 in 2018 (got some attention but was overshadowed by Drew Lock) 830 in 2019 835 in 2020 Those aren't big single season rushing numbers. It is impressive that Rountree will join the top 20 in the SEC career rushing list during the first quarter and can make top 15 with two big games - I hope Mizzou gets a Sun Belt or lesser AAC foe in a bowl game and just lets Rountree cut loose - but he did it without a top 50 single season rushing performance.
"If UGA wants to be regarded as the best 2 loss team in the country, they need to beat Alabama" ... I don't know where I was going with that. I guess I meant to type "they need to beat Missouri" but that isn't true because beating Mizzou - and I like the Tigers (at least when they are not pursuing their strange obsession with bashing Florida) - isn't the equal of beating Texas and especially Oklahoma.
"As much outcry as there was about Georgia being ranked No. 8, I think there should be even more outcry with the Cyclones’ ranking. They have wins against Oklahoma and Texas, which are solid, but those still aren’t top-10 teams." 1. Georgia has ONE WIN over a team with a winning record: 5-4 Auburn (who really should be 3-6 and everyone knows it). 2. Georgia's two games to ranked teams: 41-24 and 44-28. And neither game was that close. 3. Does Georgia have a QB? What was 400 yards against 2 win Mississippi State supposed to tell us? (Remember: Stetson Bennett looked good against Tennessee, Auburn and Arkansas.) And then there was the 130 yards against 2 win South Carolina. If UGA wants to be regarded as the best 2 loss team in the country, they need to beat Alabama. Finally with respect to: "At least Georgia wasn’t ranked ahead of teams with an actual Playoff path" CINCINNATI HAS NO PLAYOFF PATH, neither the Bengals or the Bearcats. Their victories are over Austin Peay, Army, South Florida, SMU, Memphis, Houston, East Carolina and UCF. That is ... A. zero ranked teams. (#24 Tulsa will drop out when they lose the AAC title game) B. zero games against P5 teams. (Not their fault, but it still matters.) Also, the AAC is down this year. Apart from Cincinnati and Tulsa, everyone has at least 3 losses. There are years when an undefeated P5 team has a legit argument, but this is not one of those years. Especially since - if Florida beats Bama and Clemson beats ND - there will be 5 majors with legitimate cases this year. Even if Bama hammers Florida and ND beats Clemson there will be 4 (ND, Bama, A&M, Ohio State). And if Miami beats UNC and Georgia Tech to finish 10-1, I say stick them at #5 too.
Replace Ohio State with ... who? A Pac-12 team that will play even fewer games? Oh, you want a 2 loss SEC, Big 12 or ACC team then? Why pray tell? Better a 7-0 team than a 2 loss team from anywhere. Even the fact that the Big 10 stinks this year helps Ohio State, as it is very reasonable to presume that they would have easily handled the 4 Big 10 teams that they didn't play.
Nah. Similar to the issues with the WRs in 2019, the problems weren't due to anything bad or wrong this year but rather the result of bad recruiting decisions made the several previous years. As few college football players make an impact during their true/redshirt freshman seasons - for contenders anyway - you can generally trace an issue a team is having on the field today to things they didn't do in recruiting 2-3-4 years ago. UGA's problem is Smart only recruiting 1 true scholarship QB each year he has been in Athens. Year 1: Eason. Year 2: Fromm. Year 3: Fields. Year 4: Mathis. Year 5: Beck. Which is nuts. You need to recruit at least 2 QBs every year, even if one of them is generally a dual threat guy who is recruited knowing he may be asked to move positions. This whole "guys don't have the patience or team mentality to sit 3-4 years ... if they don't play right away they're gone" excuse is just that. No one says that all or even most of the guys you recruit need to be 5 star guys. Instead in each class you would take one 5 star guy who thinks he can get on the field right away and declare for the draft as soon as he is eligible and a (very well scouted and upper tier) 3 star player who knows that he isn't a 5 star for a reason and that his best path to the NFL is starting his redshirt junior and senior seasons and maybe parlaying that into being a 4th round pick. This isn't some new crazy cutting edge recruiting strategy. Instead it is literally what nearly every college program has always done. Smart was on Bama and LSU staffs with Saban that recruited multiple guys a year. Case in point: JaMarcus Russell and Matt Flynn were in the same recruiting class. Russell was the #1 overall pick in 2006, Flynn won a national title in 2007 and had a long career as an NFL backup. It is amazing that UGA fans are spending more time bashing QBs who decided to look out for themselves (college football is a billion dollar business after all) and leave Athens and not the coach (you know, the one who unlike the athletes makes $6.5 million a year) for only recruiting maybe half the QBs that other major programs do in the first place. THAT'S how you wind up having to choose between Stetson Bennett IV, D'Wan Mathis and a transfer recovering from serious knee surgery in the first place.
It doesn't matter. Texas A&M is in if: A) Alabama beats Florida + B) Notre Dame beats Clemson The talk otherwise on that earlier column was just nonsense. No one believes Cincinnati would go 8-1 against A&M's schedule. Also, a first round rematch could be avoided by simply leapfrogging either Notre Dame over Bama or A&M over Ohio State. While Buckeye and (especially) Tide fans will never admit this, BOTH are VERY justifiable in their own right without needing to artificially create a reason to avoid an unappealing first round matchup.
Some context: Dabo Swinney had been a career WR coach - minus 3 years where he sold real estate when he couldn't get a coaching job - when hired as head coach at Clemson. He got the job because he was: A) he was an EXCELLENT recruiter B) he was knowledgeable on how to hire assistants, build and run a program (which he learned at ALABAMA) See, that's the deal. LOTS of assistants are great at Xs and Os. Lots are great at recruiting. But being able to build a program and maintain it through ups and downs through changing conditions at an institution and sport? That's what determines who succeeds long term and who doesn't. Not saying that Beamer is the guy. After all, how many sons of great college/NFL coaches became great coaches also? Not as common as people think. But you can get a lot further with "isn't an Xs and Os guy but can recruit, identify and manage good assistants and run a program" than the other way around.
Nick Fitzgerald got destroyed by UGA only because he had a bunch of 2-3 star recruits as teammates. Put him on this same UF team and the Gators beat UGA by 3 scores this year too. You haven't seen anything from Emory Jones? The guy has spent the last 3 seasons backing up upperclassmen who won a ton of games. What have you expected to see from him and why? UGA fans have been rooting for Jones to fail ever since Kirby Smart chose to recruit Justin Fields over him. Instead, Jones being willing to sit on the bench in Gainesville where Fields clearly wasn't in Athens merely proves that Smart recruited the wrong guy. Just as he picked the wrong guy to replace Fields when he chose Dwan Mathis over John Rhys Plumlee.
Remember "A Fish Called Wanda" where Kevin Kline played a hilarious character who constantly read, quoted and attempted to live by philosophy books that he actually didn't understand? The same thing HAS to describe UGA fans ... who watch plenty of football but don't seem to understand it. First off: if Dan Mullen was able to produce a ranked team playing Nick Fitzgerald at Mississippi State - who couldn't hit the broad side of a barn and on any other team would have been playing TE or LB - he will have no problem building a formidable offense around Emory Jones, especially if the Gators can land a decent tailback in the offseason. Speaking of which, it is hilarious that you believe that JT Daniels is this future star ... based on his having 400 yards against a terrible Mike Leach-coached team followed by 10-16-138 against a South Carolina team that had mailed it in for the season. But hey, this is the same fanbase that was absolutely convinced that Jake Fromm was the next Tom Brady and would be the #1 pick in the draft. To everyone else, Fromm was always a guy with limited physical tools mostly being carried along by a great running game, OL and defense who struggled whenever he had to make plays that required actual ability.
Huh? South Carolina's last 3 hires were Muschamp (former UF head coach), Spurrier (former UF, Duke, USFL and NFL head coach) and Lou Holtz (former Notre Dame, Arkansas, Minnesota, NFL and NC State head coach). Of those, Spurrier was the only hire who panned out. Holtz was a flash in the pan who left South Carolina on probation and Muschamp was just a disaster. South Carolina hasn't hired an assistant since Brad Scott in 1994, and he did about as well as Muschamp and Holtz did, especially considering that recruiting to Columbia was a lot harder in the mid 90s than it is now with both the Atlanta suburbs and the Charlotte region being two of the biggest talent markets in the country. Bashing a hire is fine I guess but don't be 180 degrees opposite with the facts. Finally South Carolina wanted to hire a coach before ESD in order to make sure they land some 5 star QB ... who might otherwise fly the coop to wide open QB situations at Georgia, Tennessee and Florida (if Mullen decides to keep his current offense that is bad news for #2 Emory Jones and #3 Anthony Richardson). Hiring the Coastal Carolina guy or some other current head coach would have meant waiting until December 19th at the earliest and possibly until next year. That is unless your guy with head coaching experience is someone like Steve Sarkisian ... a guy who has been fired and is working on someone else's staff until another opportunity comes along.
The SEC East WAS in a down period. Look, your Mizzou teams would be #5 in this SEC behind Alabama, A&M, Florida and Georgia and would be no better than 50/50 against Auburn on the road depending on which Bo Nix chooses to show up. It is debatable whether those Mizzou teams would have beaten Kentucky in 2018 and 2019.
True but there was a scenario where BYU could have snagged that 4th playoff spot had they won. At the very least they would have been guaranteed their first big bowl win since the LaVell Edwards heyday of the 1980s.
Huh? I guess you didn't see Trevor Lawrence run down a Georgia Tech defender after an INT. Lawrence was the last man to beat, and Clemson's defense held GT out of the end zone. What is the relevance? After a QB throws an INT, he is no longer a QB or even an offensive player. He is a DEFENDER. Which means that it is totally legitimate to block him. To pancake him and to hit him again if he gets back up. If QBs don't want to get hit after throwing an INT, they need to get down and stay down or make a beeline to the sideline. I remember the "controversy" when Brett Favre got absolutely creamed after throwing an INT. He was watching the DB return the ball downfield, wasn't paying attention and some 300 lb. DT saw him, measured up and launched himself right into Favre's upper torso. While today it would be called targeting, no penalty was called on that play either. So it was not a cheap shot. It was not a penalty. I won't make any WAC jokes because BYU is an independent now, but everyone in the southeast and even in the midwest in Big 10 country knows that if a QB throws an INT, it is open season on the guy and he needs to protect himself. That the author of this piece doesn't know this is amazing and he needs to acquaint himself with the rule book. The only position that gets that type of protection is the kicker, and even a kicker can be blocked, hit or have his legs taken out from under him if he runs downfield or towards the ball/ballcarrier, because once he does that he is a defender.
"His 60 rushing yards helped him join Tim Tebow and Dak Prescott as the only SEC quarterbacks to pass for 9,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards. Both of those quarterbacks changed the perception of their respective programs. They had signature wins." Good grief. The starter for the 2006 title team was Chris Leak. Not Tim Tebow. And it wasn't a 2 QB situation where Tebow was this difference-maker either. Instead, nearly all Tebow's 22 completions for 360 passing yards and 5 TDs were in garbage time. (Exception: the 2 TDs against LSU ... both from the 1 yard line. Even if you make the case that Tebow's 3 TDs against the TRUE #2 team in the country last year were what won the game, Florida won 13 games that season against one of the toughest schedules in history for a national champion.) Tebow's primary contribution that year was ... call him a 2nd string tailback to DeShawn Wynn. Meanwhile Leak had 26 TDs and almost 3000 yards of total offense that year.
That was ... not quite how things happpened. Especially since - according to UGA fans - Florida was supposed to lose 4 or 5 games with Mullen exposed and on the hot seat this year anyway. (Which is the same thing that UGA fans predicted about 2019 and 2018.) Or don't you realize that your conspiracy theory requires the SEC knowing that Florida would beat Georgia in advance? And while we are at it, Alabama not playing Florida versus Georgia not playing Texas A&M. 6 of one and half a dozen of the other. Especially since BOTH Alabama and Florida had defending national champs LSU on their schedule. Meanwhile, unless Auburn upsets A&M, Florida and Alabama are going to wind up being the only ranked teams that UGA plays this year ... and both were double digit losses.
To say a bit more: the ACC, SEC and Big 12 - let's not leave them out just because Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State got exposed as frauds a few weeks earlier than usual ... especially since we are actually seeing stops on defense in that league this year - performed a master class of crisis management and planning, with the single best job being done by the ACC commissioner John Swofford, who is so different from the people who led the league of losers (plus FSU) in the 1990s and 2000s. The folks running our state and federal governments should learn a lot from Swofford and the rest. Meanwhile, the guys running the Big 10 and Big 12 are no different from the folks we have running our governments right now.