SDS Mailbag: What if JT Daniels played vs. Florida, SEC basketball Player of the Year and best Christmas song
Hello there, friends! I hope you all had a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving. I spent the day eating a ton of food, drinking some excellent drinks and watching a ton of football. But, also, college basketball is back!
Yesterday, No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 6 Kansas squared off. This weekend features several other big-time matchups. Yes, basketball is going to be weird this year due to COVID-19, but any basketball at all is something to be thankful for.
Anyway, here are your questions for this week’s SDS Mailbag:
Let’s say JT Daniels started vs. Florida. What do you think would have happened?
That’s a great question, and one Georgia fans will be asking themselves for the rest of this season. However, I don’t think the biggest issue against the Gators was QB play. Yes, it was a big issue, but the defense was not elite in the Cocktail Party.
The Bulldogs allowed 38 points in the first half against the Gators. That’s not going to cut it. Yes, Florida only scored 6 points in the second half of the 44-28 victory, but that’s because the game was mostly in hand. The Gators were balanced in the second half, with 18 pass plays to 16 rushes. But, that’s mostly because the Bulldogs weren’t posing much of a threat.
I do think Daniels would have made that game more competitive, but that’s assuming he was healthy back then. I trust Kirby Smart when he says they needed to take things slowly. He sees Daniels every day. I’ve never met JT in my entire life. He knows how Daniels is moving at practice, so I’ll believe him when he says this was when Daniels was first able to start.
The important thing is this — if Daniels is the real deal, he’ll be back running the Georgia offense next year. James Cook, Zamir White, George Pickens and Jermaine Burton could all be back. That has all the potential for Georgia’s best offense of the Smart era.
When does Luke Fickell get a look at a Power 5 job and what school is the most likely candidate?
It’s coming. And it’s coming this offseason. Fickell is going to be connected to a lot of openings over the next few months. He’s not in the mix at South Carolina (yet), but that’s because it doesn’t make sense for him. He’s an Ohio guy through-and-through, having played at Ohio State and coached there at the start of his career.
Unfortunately for him, Ryan Day might be coaching the Buckeyes for the next 2 decades (or more), so he might have to leave the Buckeye State. I think he’ll be a Big Ten head coach in the next 2 seasons.
But, he’s not just going to take any job. If Illinois fires Lovie Smith, Fickell will be in the mix, but I don’t think he’ll go there. And, don’t worry Ohio State fans, I don’t think he’d be interested in the Michigan job. Nor do I think Michigan would be interested in an Ohio State guy, to be fair.
There are 3 Big Ten jobs that might come open in the next 2 years that I think he’d take — Nebraska, Penn State and Iowa. Kirk Ferentz is the longest-tenured coach in the FBS, so he could retire soon. And, based on the negative headlines coming out of the Hawkeyes’ program, the administration might not want to simply hand the keys over to Ferentz’s son when the time comes. Fickell could be a good fit there.
Meanwhile, Nebraska and Penn State are both having disastrous 2020 seasons, so Scott Frost and James Franklin are finding that their seats are heating up at a rapid pace. I could see Fickell at either one of those schools entering the 2022 season.
Now, if a school like USC comes calling, Fickell would be crazy not to take that job. But, he’s a Midwestern guy, so I see him leading a Big Ten program by 2022, if not sooner.
Last year, there were 3 SEC co-Players of the Year — Immanuel Quickley, Reggie Perry and Mason Jones. Who wins the award this season?
I’ve gone back and forth on this quite a bit. I think Kentucky and Tennessee both have too much talent this year for one player to stand out. I also think John Petty Jr. and Jaden Shackelford are going to split votes at Alabama. The 2 guys I’m looking at are Florida’s Keyontae Johnson and LSU’s Trendon Watford.
I’m thrilled that Watford came back for his sophomore season, because he has the potential to work his way up NBA Draft boards in a big way this year. He’s a big who can score from anywhere on the court and doesn’t mind having the ball in his hands.
Johnson is an undersized forward at only 6-5, but he plays much bigger than his height. He’s one of the strongest guys in the SEC and has a better handle than most forwards.
If Florida successfully plays the up-tempo style we’ve heard so much about this offseason, I’m going with Johnson as the Player of the Year. We’ll see what happens once conference play starts, though!
Now that we’re past Thanksgiving, it’s officially Christmas season. What’s your favorite Christmas song?
I’m not a huge fan of the slower Christmas songs, so “White Christmas” and others are out. I do like “Silent Night,” but that’s definitely not my all-time favorite. If I had to choose a favorite, I’d choose “Sleigh Ride.” It’s light, quick and just an overall good song.
A ton of people/bands sing that song, but I honestly like Relient K’s version best. Yes, I know that reveals my true colors as an early-2000s alternative/emo lover, but it’s true. I’ll be playing that song a lot over these next few weeks.
At the time you’re reading this article, I’m probably putting up my Christmas tree. Safe to say my wife and I will have appropriate music playing the whole time. Can’t wait!
Have a question for next week’s Mailbag? Tweet at us using #SDSMailbag or email me at ASpencer@SaturdayDownSouth.com.