We are so damn late with this week’s Top 25 that it is basically pointless to even look back at all. But in case you hadn’t noticed, we’re not professionals here. Sometimes, the day jobs, the kids, the drinking, get in the way of this hobby. For that, we apologize. We’ll work less.
We’ll drink less. We’ll spend less time with the kids.
Two weeks ago was sweet for Florida. Last week was sweeter. We now have a chance to do some big things this year. Most of the preseason predictions for the Gators notched W’s for both of those games, no matter how difficult it actually was to accomplish, so we can’t celebrate too much. And both Texas A&M and Tennessee may not be ranked again this season. But make no mistake, winning back-to-back road games in the SEC is something that only good teams do. The Gators right now are a good team. This week against Kentucky won’t tell us if they are a great team or not. October 6th will.
As I wrote about last week, the sophomore seasons for Florida quarterbacks have been filled with a whole lot of success. With the performance at Neyland, it is safe to say Jeff Driskel is well on his way. His numbers were excellent but they don’t tell the full story. The growth in his decision making was epic. Checking down through progressions, pre-snap reads of coverage and blitzes… Driskel no longer seemed like a quarterback who has played in SEVEN games at UF with just TWO starts at QB. The leap he made just from College Station to Knoxville was arguably greater than any made game-to-game by any QB in Florida history. There is no doubt we have our next great QB.
Driskel had some help of course. Mike Gillislee continued to show what we’ve all always known… give him the rock and big production will follow. Frankie Hammond might be making a leap along with Driskel, which could be even bigger. Trey Burton is a weapon that can’t be contained because of the versatility he offers and the matchup mismatches he creates by lining up in so many different spots on the field.
And don’t forget about the growth this coaching staff is showing. The play calling, which was downright disastrous last season, had some spotty moments in the first two games. The fumbled reverse to start the Tennessee game had me foaming at the mouth with rage on Twitter. But two straight weeks of halftime adjustments that put the opposition under their boots has this staff humming. The addition of Brent Pease has been a revelation. Dan Quinn has turned the defense into a tougher, nastier, angrier and most importantly deeper group that can withstand a few big plays or a few big injuries. Will Muschamp is growing into himself as a head coach.
Switching gears, I quickly wanted to spend a few words on a coach who hasn’t grown up and if anything is regressing… quickly. Certainly, there has never been much love… or respect… for Lane Kiffin. He ran his mouth the entire 20 minutes he spent at Tennessee as their head coach, attacking Florida and Urban Meyer from the start. When he ran out on the Volunteers in the middle of the night, it showed the class we in Gainesville knew he lacked. But Kiffin had a bit of an awakening last year in Los Angeles. His Trojans finished the year strong with an awesome offense and the potential for great things. Top recruiting classes since his arrival at SC, despite the Reggie Bush sanctions, stocked the cupboard at Troy. Many thought the Trojans were destined for greatness again this year. But in a week’s span, the wheels have come off.
Kiffin had SC implement a policy that requires members of the media to promise not report on what they see at practice, including injuries. Last week, one of SC’s beat writers wrote about kicker Andre Heidari’s injury, which didn’t occur at practice. Kiffin tried to suspend anyway him from practices and games, only to be overruled later by his level-headed athletic director Pat Haden. The distraction I’m sure had no effect on SC’s pathetic no show on the Farm against Stanford days later. I mean, it isn’t like one of his players said they weren’t prepared or anything.
Then on Wednesday of this week, Kiffin topped himself. Reporters gathered around him for the usual post-practice interviews and he began with an upbeat statement. The first question, which for some reason you don’t hear on the video below, is about when SC’s injured center might return. Kiffin immediately shuts down and runs off to grab his blankie and curl up on his bed.
Of course, this meltdown isn’t going to touch the great Mike Gundy.
Nor does it give me as much pleasure as listening to Dan Hawkins.
But keep at it, Lane. We have faith you can get there. Here’s this week’s OTB poll:
5. Florida State
7. South Carolina
9. West Virginia
10. Notre Dame
11. Ohio State
16. Kansas State
19. Southern Cal
22. Mississippi State
25. Michigan State