For the second week in a row, Florida’s defense stepped up in the second half on the road in a tough environment. By no coincidence, the Gators are 2-0 in those games. The latest was a 37-20 win tonight over SEC East rival Tennessee.
Against Texas A&M in Week 2, No. 18 Florida held the Aggies to just under 50 yards of offense and no points in a come-from-behind win. Tonight against the No. 23 Vols, the Gators D allowed a mere 118 second-half yards and one touchdown — and that came on a long first drive in the third quarter. After that, Tennessee never sustained an offensive possession of more than five plays.
While defense allowed the Gators to stay in the game, and later pull away, it was Florida’s offense that was the biggest surprise of the night. Quarterback Jeff Driskel played surprisingly efficient. It helps when your team grinds out 336 yards rushing and your receivers rack up yards-after-catch, but this was without a doubt the best Driskel has played in this young season.
You could view this game as a total second-half meltdown on both sides of the ball by Tennessee and coach Derek Dooley, who we should note has yet to beat a ranked opponent as a head coach, and yes, there’s some truth to that. But give credit where it’s due: this Florida defense has played phenomenal the past two weeks when it matters most.
As for Dooley? It’s not that he can’t win the big games; it’s that he can’t win a big game at all. And, now, Florida has won eight straight over Tennessee dating back to 2005. Tennessee looks like an improved program from the past couple of years, but there is no signature win on Dooley’s resume since coming to Knoxville to verify it. That simply cannot be ignored.
Florida, on the other hand, is 2-0 in the SEC nearing a tough October stretch with games against LSU, South Carolina and Georgia. How UF fares in that span will be interesting, but this is a team that’ s been getting better each week against continuously better competition.
The question is will it continue?
Michigan State promotes Mike Tressel to DC, adds ex-Kent State HC as DBs coach
Mark Dantonio looked inside and out of his football program to fill some holes in his Michigan State staff.
Nearly two weeks ago, Harlon Barnett left as MSU’s co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach to take a job at Florida State. That left Dantonio with two openings, one of which the head coach closed Friday by promoting Mike Tressel to defensive coordinator.
Tressel and Barnett had served as co-coordinators the past three seasons; the nephew of former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel will now serve as the Spartans’ solo coordinator moving forward.
“Mike has done a tremendous job working with the defense,” said Dantonio in a statement. “He’s been deeply involved with everything with the defense since we first arrived here, and has helped coach some championship defenses that have been ranked consistently among the best in the nation, year in and year out. He did a great job as co-coordinator the past three years. He’s certainly earned this opportunity and I think he’ll do an outstanding job.”
To replace Barnett as defensive backs coach, Dantonio turned to Paul Haynes. The past five years, Haynes was the head coach at Kent State before being dismissed at the end of the 2017 regular season.
This serves as a homecoming of sorts for Haynes as well. From 2003-04, he was the defensive backs coach for the Spartans under John Smith.
The 48-year-old Haynes has also been a secondary coach at Arkansas (2012), Ohio State (2005-10), Louisville (2002) and Kent State (1999).
“We’re very, very excited about Paul,” said Dantonio. “He’s coached here before so he’s got a Spartan background. He was secondary coach and co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State, so he’s coached on the highest level with the secondary. He was a defensive coordinator at Arkansas as well. He’s been a head coach at Kent State, so I think that gives him a big picture feel. I think he’s an excellent recruiter. He’s a dynamic person as well, so we’re excited to have him on campus.”
Willie Taggart finalizes first Florida State coaching staff
Friday night, FSU confirmed that Taggart has completed his 10-man staff with the additions of five new assistants. It was reported this week that Maryland offensive coordinator Walt Bell would be taking the same job at FSU; the school confirmed as much today, with Bell also taking over as quarterbacks coach.
The other four hires consisted of Greg Frey (offensive line/running-game coordinator), David Kelly (wide receivers/recruiting coordinator), Mark Snyder (defensive ends) and Alonzo Hampton (special teams coordinator).
That fivesome joins the other five assistants previously announced:
Harlon Barnett, defensive coordinator and defensive back
Odell Haggins, associate head coach and defensive tackles
Raymond Woodie, linebackers
Telly Lockette, tight ends
Donte’ Pimpleton, running backs
Haggins is the lone holdover from Jimbo Fisher‘s last staff.
“From the beginning of this process, my goal was to bring in the best coaches for our program and I believe we have done that,” Taggart said. “This group will do a great job of recruiting, developing, coaching and mentoring our student-athletes to reach their highest potential. I’m excited for the next few weeks as we are finalizing our 2018 signing class and then working with our team as we prepare for spring practice.”
WATCH: trailer for Joe Paterno movie starring Al Pacino released
If you’re wondering what a legendary college football head coach who fell from grace looks like (very briefly) through the prism of Hollywood, you’re in luck.
It was confirmed in the summer of last year that Oscar-winning actor Al Pacino was set to star as former Penn State coach Joe Paterno in an HBO-produced film, with the movie focusing on the immediate aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child-sex scandal that erupted in November of 2011 and Paterno’s subsequent dismissal nearly two weeks later. “Paterno,” directed by Barry Levinson and also starring Emmy Award-winning actress Kathy Baker, is set to premiere at some point this spring.
Ahead of that, a trailer for the highly-anticipated flick was released Friday.
The film is expected to center on how much Paterno, the unquestioned king of Happy Valley during his half-century reign, knew about Sandusky’s crimes, when he learned about them and whether he did enough with the information he had.
“He did act upon it,” Pacino said by way of pennlive.com. “He did say he thought someone should look into this. But a guy like Paterno, he’s like an emperor, he’s like a king. He didn’t take up with it because it was out of his control, and I think this is a character who’s used to control.”
“The film lays out the elements of the story and leaves you to make your own judgment,” said Levinson. “There are times when you may feel one way, and times when you may feel a totally different way, and I think that’s what makes the piece so compelling.”
Gus Malzahn’s new contract includes over $24 million in guaranteed money, increased buyout for Auburn
Auburn head coach Gus Malzhan is a rich man. He’s set to become even richer.
It’s no secret that the Tigers’ head coach agreed to a new deal back in December that was worth a reported seven years at roughly $7 million a season. While the overall value of that would work out to around $49 million if Malzahn stays on the Plains until 2025, that’s not quite the amount that the school is committing to the coach if they decided to make a change down the road.
Speaking at a news conference for new athletic director Allen Greene on Friday, Auburn president Steven Leathtold the Montgomery Advertiserthat just over half of the money in the deal is fully guaranteed (so roughly $24.5 million) and that while there is an increased buyout on the Tigers side, it is not close to the reported $49 million mark that some thought it would be when figures were flying around at the end of 2017.
“I’m still a trust guy,” Leath told the paper. “Gus and I are functioning well together. We know the basic tenets, we’ve drawn things up and sent it to his attorney. So we’ll get that cleaned up pretty soon.”
He also confirmed the deal has not been signed by either side.
While Malzahn does seem like he’s on solid footing after guiding the team to an Iron Bowl victory, a SEC West title and a New Year’s Six bowl berth last season, he’s certainly no stranger to the hot seat given the fan base he works with and the sky-high expectations for the school. Either way, he’ll enter 2018 as one of the highest paid coaches in the country and a very rich man going forward, even if it wasn’t quite the security that some thought he was getting after a rumored flirtation with Arkansas several weeks ago.