Thursday, October 1, 2015

SEC QBs and the NFL: I did NOT see that coming

A few days ago,'s Andrew Adams posted this story about the college football landscape. His basic argument is that the SEC is no longer the dominant conference it once was because, while the other conferences have caught up to the SEC in terms of talent at the skill positions, offensive and defensive lines, the SEC trails the other conferences in terms of talent at quarterback. I don't argue the point - I think it's fair to say the SEC has never been thought of as a "quarterback's conference." But it got me thinking about SEC QBs and the NFL.

A short amount of research led me to a startling revelation. Would it surprise you to know that the SEC has more current starting NFL quarterbacks than any other conference? It surprised me, but it's true. Of the 32 current starting quarterbacks in the NFL, six are from the SEC (will be seven once the Browns come to their senses and re-instate Johnny Manziel as starter), five from the Pac-12, and three each from the Big Ten, Big 12 and ACC.

The six quarterbacks from SEC schools starting in the NFL are Auburn's Cam Newton (Carolina), Vanderbilt's Jay Cutler (Chicago, although he's "day-to-day"), Georgia's Matthew Stafford (Detroit), Arkansas' Ryan Mallett (Houston), Tennessee's Peyton Manning (Denver) and Mississippi's Eli Manning (NY Giants).

Yes, the Mannings probably would be starters in the NFL even if they had gone to [insert school here] and [insert other school here], but they chose the SEC, so there.

What's fascinating about the SEC quarterbacks currently starting for NFL teams is that only one came from a team that either won a national championship or was in the mix for a national championship, and that's Cam. In fact, since the start of the BCS era, of the 10 quarterbacks that led an SEC team to either a national championship, an appearance in the national championship game or an appearance in the playoffs, only three are currently on an NFL roster, and only two are quarterbacks. Cam is a starter, Alabama's AJ McCarron is a backup with the Bengals and Auburn's Nick Marshall is a cornerback with the Jaguars.

So what I've learned here today is that the SEC actually IS a quarterbacks conference; unfortunately, those quarterbacks aren't coming from the national championship contenders.

In the end, Adams is right, and also wrong, but unfortunately the aspect he's right about is what is probably going to keep the SEC from winning a national championship this season.

SEC Quarterbacks now Starting in the NFL
Cam Newton (Auburn), Carolina
Jay Cutler (Vanderbilt)*, Chicago
Matthew Stafford (Georgia), Detroit
Ryan Mallett (Arkansas), Houston
Peyton Manning (Tennessee), Denver
Eli Manning (Ole Miss), NY Giants
Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)^, Cleveland

^-coming soon

Quarterbacks that led SEC Teams to the National Championship Game/Playoffs
1998, Tennessee, Tee Martin
2003, LSU, Matt Mauck
2006, Florida, Chris Leak (sigh)
2007, LSU, Matt Flynn
2008, Florida, Tim Tebow (double sigh)
2009, Alabama, Greg McElroy
2010, Auburn, Cam Newton
2011, Alabama, AJ McCarron*
2012, Alabama, AJ McCarron
2013, Auburn (nat'l runners-up), Nick Marshal
2014, Alabama (playoff), Blake Sims

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Gators 28, Tennessee 27 - My Two Bits

First, if you haven't watched the highlight along with the Voice of the Gators Mick Hubert's call of the gamewinning touchdown, do that now. It's magic.

My Two Bits on the Game
Would it surprise you to know that Demarcus Robinson has led the team in receptions in each of their four games this season? It surprised me. Part of that is because although he leads the team in receptions, he ranks third in yards, his long is only 17 and he has just one TD. Against Tennessee, he again led the team in receptions (six), but five of those came in the second half, including four in the TD drive that brought the Gators to within six. He also had a really, really bad drop on the gamewinning drive, setting up the eventual fourth and 14. The Gators need him to be a dominant receiver throughout the game, not just in one drive. He can be more than a series-changing receiver; he can be a game-changing receiver.

That Said...
That said, it was nice to see the Gators win thanks to a passing offense and not just defense and run the ball enough to run out the clock. The final two drives showed what this offense could be, and hopefully the team can build off of that and start putting those types of drives together throughout the game. The 17-play, 86-yard drive that brought UF to within six was really a thing of beauty.

QB Play
In terms of Will Grier's development, it was probably good that Treon Harris was suspended, because it meant that Grier was staying in the game no matter what. I think anyone watching that game had the sense that Grier was floundering, and probably would have been pulled had Harris been available. But Grier stayed in and finally found his rhythm in those final two drives - hopefully that is a sign of things to come.

I get why Coach McElwain called timeout right as Tennessee kicker Aaron Medley attempted the possible gamewinning field goal. But as I said screamed at my tv at the time, WHY WOULD YOU ALLOW MEDLEY TO SEE WHAT HE NEEDS TO DO TO MAKE THE KICK?!? He had never - repeat, NEVER - attempted a kick longer than 50 yards before in his career. I'm sure he's kicked them in practice/pre-game, but there's no way that's the same as during a game. So he probably had no idea how much he needed to put into that kick, and you know I'm right because he was well short on his first attempt. But thanks to McElwain's timeout, Medley was able to adjust, and his second attempt had the leg but was thankfully just wide. To my recollection, Mike Shanahan popularized the "call a timeout right before the snap on a field goal attempt so that the kicker kicks it but it doesn't count" strategy, but I wouldn't have used it in this situation. I would either have not called a timeout at all, or called a timeout well before the snap to make Medley think about it longer.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

NFL Dictions

I can't rightfully call these predictions, because the season has already started, so here are my dictions. They're probably all wrong.

East: Patriots, duh. (Alleged) winners cheat, and (alleged) cheaters win. Pretty sure that's how the saying goes.
North: Bengals, but it's cool because they still won't get past the first round of the playoffs.
South: The Fightin' Mariota's!
West: Broncos. Peyton Manning will have another great REGULAR season.
Wild Cards: Bills, Ravens. How much fun would it be to see Rex Ryan vs. Bill Belichick in the playoffs?

East: Cowbeagles. Eagoys? One of those teams.
North: Packers. Aaron Rodgers is similar to Tom Brady in this respect: doesn't matter who his receivers are, he'll make them look good.
South: Falcons, but only because Dan Quinn used to be defensive coordinator of the Gators.
West: Seahawks. They're always due for a weird loss or two, but they'll still win the division.
Wild Cards: Cardinals for sure, and I guess...Panthers? Yeah, let's go with that. Panthers.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Important Public Service Announcement

We interrupt your daily Friday to bring you an important public service announcement.

Something to remember as we head into flu season: when you sneeze, PLEASE DO SO INTO YOUR ELBOW AND NOT YOUR HAND. I do not want your sneeze-filled hands coming in contact with anything that I might then touch.

This PSA is brought to you by Common Sense. Common Sense: much less common than the Common Cold. Probably because people sneeze into their hands.

Friday, October 10, 2014

In Jeff Driskel We (have no choice but to) Trust

Last Saturday at around 3 pm ET, Gator Nation was excited about our new quarterback.

Last Monday at around 11 am ET, Gator Nation was disappointed in our new quarterback.

Today at around 3 pm ET, Gator Nation received news that our new quarterback will soon be our new quarterback again.

Tomorrow at around 7:30 pm ET, despite the news we received Friday at around 2pm ET, Gator Nation will cheer (hopefully) our old quarterback.

With Treon Harris and a fight over shoes dominating the Gators’ headlines this week, Saturday’s game against LSU has fallen on the way side.

Tomorrow night, the quarterback we thought we were done with is back, and it’s a little awkward, because we’re all, “hey Jeff, we said some not so nice things about you, but no hard feelings, right? Do great on Saturday!” and he’s all, “man I really didn’t think I would be starting anytime soon after my last two performances, but sure why not hopefully I’ll play well on Saturday.”

I think we need to remember a few things about Jeff Driskel: 1) he was the top overall quarterback in high school; 2) he was originally recruited by Urban Meyer; 3) he has not noticeably improved from his freshman year, but 4) he also is on his third OC in four seasons.

Oh and 5) he played well in the first two games of the season, both at home, including a career performance in a win over a Kentucky team that defeated South Carolina last week.

Also 6) he had receivers drop multiple passes against both Bama and UT. Hey Demarcus Robinson: if you’re going to tweet that you want the Gators to bench the starting quarterback, you better catch EVERY SINGLE BALL that comes into your vicinity.

And not for nothing, but if you’re a Gators fan and you were disappointed that the Gators beat Tennessee because it meant that Muschamp wouldn’t be fired, then you’re not a Gators fan. That’s just the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read. And to compare Muschamp to a coach who sent a concussed player back into a game is just lazy and troll…-ey.

So to recap: yes, Driskel has stunk the last two games, and yes, the offense has stunk with Driskel the last two games, and yes, he needs to show us that he’s the quarterback who played well against Eastern Michigan and Kentucky (both at home, BTW) and not the one who played terribly against Alabama and Tennessee (both on the road, BTW). But we, as fans, need to support him and cheer him on and cheer on the team.

And if he stinks again this week (frantically knocking on wood), then in Treon We Trust.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sports Illustrated's Don Banks is a Pretentious Jerk

On Friday, I unfollowed Sports Illustrated’s Don Banks on twitter. If you follow him, you should do the same, because he’s a pretentious youknowwhat.

During Roger Goodell’s press conference on Friday, Howard Stern Show staffer Benjy Bronk crashed the party and caused a minor hiccup in what was otherwise a pretty boring and pointless ordeal.

After the disturbance, here is the tweet Don Banks put out:

Ignoring the fact that the Howard Stern show is listened to, not watched, take a minute to consider all the pretentious in that tweet.

Don Banks is “proud” that he isn’t a Howard Stern fan. What does that even mean? Were people forcing him to listen to Howard Stern against his will, but he bravely fought them off? Has he been criticized for not listening to Howard Stern? Has he been held back in any way because people found out he wasn’t a Howard Stern fan?

What it means is that Don Banks thinks he’s better than Howard Stern fans. To him, the fact that he is not a Stern fan means he is a superior human being to those of us who are.

Is Don Banks “proud” of popular TV shows that he doesn’t watch? Is he “proud” when he doesn’t read certain best-selling books? Should he be “proud” when a movie makes millions at the box office and he decides not to go see it?

I’m a Howard Stern fan. Stern entertains millions of people every day, even when he’s not live (which is much more than Don Banks can ever claim). However, I get that Stern is not for everyone. To each his or her own. I certainly don’t think I’m better than anyone else because of what I enjoy.

The fact that Don Banks does makes me proud to say that I won’t read his articles. Ever.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Ode To Puffy

When Shannon (my wife) and I started dating, one thing we enjoyed doing together was to visit PetSmart to look at the cats that were up for adoption. Early in our relationship, we were in PetSmart and an ad for a cat caught our eye. This cat was beautiful. Grey and white, very furry, big green eyes; we were smitten. I called the number listed and left a message, telling them we were interested in adopting. I never heard back, so we assumed someone had beaten us to it. A few months later, however, we saw the same ad again, so I called again, got in touch with the person, and Puffin came into our lives. 

 One of the first things we were going to do was change her name, because “Puffin” seemed silly to us. We quickly discovered that Puffin was in fact perfect for her, because she was as puffy as they come. Just a tiny ball of fur. It didn’t take us long to fall in love with her name, and even less time to fall in love with her.

Before we brought her into our home, we researched how best to acclimate a cat to a new environment. We read online that it was best to give them a small room to themselves, before giving them run of the house. We put her in a tiny office, and of course went in every five minutes to check up on her, so it made very little sense why all of a sudden we couldn’t find her. We hadn’t seen her come out, but we didn’t see her in the office, so we assumed she must have gotten out somehow. I’m pretty sure we were all set to go outside and start looking for her when on a whim we decided to pull open one of the desk drawers. Sure enough, there she was, looking up at us and meowing because we had apparently disturbed her.

That was 11 years ago, and since that time she has been a constant presence in our household. She was only eight pounds, but she was everywhere, and now that she’s gone our house is a much lonelier, quieter place. Puffin passed away on Friday due to something called FIP, which came on suddenly and took her away from us. Three weeks ago she seemed fine. Now, she’s gone and we’re having a hard time coming to grips with that fact.

Puffin loved attention, but many times she also loved getting attention on her own terms. She would come to you for pets, but then walk away and expect you to follow her to continue petting her. She always hid when people came over, but she loved being the center of attention so it was only a matter of time before she came out and planted herself in a place where we could all see her, even if she wouldn’t let anyone (but us) pet her. Eventually she became more comfortable and would let visitors pet her, but she would also walk away to make them work to pet her.

Puffin sometimes slept with us, but usually she would just appear after the alarms first started going
off. If she wasn’t in the bedroom when I got out of bed, she would inevitably appear when I went into the bathroom to get ready for work. She loved jumping into the shower after I got out (sometimes, before I got out, giving me a loud “meow” to let me know that I was taking too long to exit). During the winter she would climb under the covers and cuddle with us, and many mornings we would wake up to find her either a) sleeping on top of one of us or 2) sleeping on top of our pillow, right next to our head.

Whenever I was eating on the couch in our den, she would put her front paws on my leg and duck her head underneath my arm, and no amount of pushing her away would get her to leave. She loved to roll around on the floor (probably to get our attention) and also loved to scratch carpets and furniture (also, probably to get our attention). She was perfect in every way, and we loved her.

There are no shortage of cute stories that we can tell about Puffin (and if you’ve hung out with us, you’ve probably heard all of them, multiple times). We were definitely that annoying couple who incessantly told stories about their pets. But in our defense, our pets are like our kids. Puffin was family to us. She was our first shared responsibility as a couple, one sign among many that our relationship was forever. It’s a strange sensation to know that she’s no longer around.

I don’t feel sad for Puffin. She was very sick and miserable and I know she’s better off now. Selfishly, I feel sad for Shannon and me, who will never be able to see Puffin again. She’ll never again greet us when we wake up, or when we get home. She’ll never again smack our dog across his nose, which she did numerous times, although she never used her claws. We’ll never see her again basking in the sunlight in one of the upstairs rooms, looking serene and beautiful and cozy.

Last Friday morning she seemed very off. She was wobbling when she walked and every movement seemed to cause her pain. Before we went to work, she was in our hallway, lying on her side with her eyes wide open. Both Shan and I, separately, told her that if she had to leave then she should go. We discussed during the day what we should do, and we decided that we should see how she was doing when we got home, but we both knew that we were going to have to take her to the vet to put her to sleep. In pure Puffin fashion, she did things on her own time, and she left us before we got back home.

Time heals most all wounds, and I know eventually we’ll move on and she’ll become a pleasant memory rather than a painful wound. But right now I don’t want to move on, because moving on means she’s really gone and I don’t want to accept that fact. Puffin was only eight pounds, but she was pure presence, and without her our house seems emptier. The only consolation I can take is that she loved us, and we loved her, and because she is in our hearts, she will never truly leave.