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?
Thomas Tyner isn’t the only Power Five running back forced to step away from the sport because of injury.
Back in November of 2014, Morgan Steward sustained a hip injury during the early portion of Missouri’s summer camp. Specifically, the running back said at the time, “[m]y hip joint popped out of place, tore things around, pulled off some of the bone.”
Surgery that November sidelined him until camp the following year, but Steward managed to play the first three games of the 2015 season. Unfortunately, the back was shut down in late September for the remainder of the year; five months later, he’s being shut down permanently as Mizzou officials have confirmed that Steward will be forced to retire from the sport and end the playing portion of his football career.
A three-star member of the Tigers’ 2012 recruiting class, Steward ran for 84 yards and a touchdown as a redshirt freshman. Prior to the hip injury the following year, Steward was viewed as a back who could potentially shoulder a significant portion of the running-game load, rushing for 117 yards and three touchdowns in a scrimmage during spring practice in 2014. Post-injury, he ran for 18 yards in the three 2015 games.
The good news for Steward is that he has his degree from Mizzou in business communications.
Ole Miss had already lost one quarterback to a transfer the past couple of months. Now, the Rebels are losing another via different means but essentially for the same reason.
In an interview with Scout.com, Ryan Buchanan confirmed that not only is he leaving the Ole Miss football team, but he’s leaving the sport, period. Buchanan’s decision to step away from the game is actually the culmination of a process that began midway through a 2015 season that would see the Rebels win 10 games and a Sugar Bowl title.
“I came to the conclusion a few months ago that football would not be my future and it was time to start applying myself 100% to my future,” he said. “It’s time for me to find my passion beyond football.”
Buchanan, who said he briefly flirted with transferring to another school, informed head coach Hugh Freeze and his position coach, Dan Werner, of his decision a couple of weeks ago.
If Buchanan had decided to return to Oxford, he would’ve been no better than third on the depth chart. All-SEC quarterback Chad Kelly is firmly entrenched as the starter, while five-star 2015 signee and future at the position Shea Patterson is poised to be Kelly’s backup for a season before taking over the reins in 2017. There’s also no guarantee that the sophomore could beat out redshirt freshman Jason Pellerin for the No. 3 spot.
A four-star member of the Rebels’ 2013 recruiting class, Buchanan was rated as the No. 19 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 3 player at any position in the state of Mississippi. After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Buchanan attempted 22 passes and served as Ole Miss’ holder on kick attempts in 2014. This past season, he attempted 13 passes, two of which went for touchdowns.
In early December, DeVante Kincade, a three-star recruit in Buchanan’s class, announced his decision to transfer from the Rebels.
Whatever the reason, the big boy league of football has taken a shining to one particular position on Bret Bielema‘s Arkansas coaching staff.
On Instagram Friday night, Jemal Singleton confirmed that he will be leaving Bielema’s football program. While he didn’t specify it in his post, the running backs coach will be leaving for the same job with the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.
The 40-year-old Singleton had spent just one season coaching that same position with the Razorbacks.
This marks the second straight year that Bielema will be forced to replace a running backs coach to the NFL. Almost a year to the day, Joel Thomas left Fayetteville for the same position with the New Orleans Saints.
Thomas owed the university $50,000 as part of his buyout last year; Singleton will owe $100,000, per the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. If Singleton had waited until Feb. 16, that buyout figure would’ve been halved.
Unlike the post right before this one, there were signs of an impending on and around National Signing Day earlier this week.
He was notably absent from a signing day event at Walton Arena on Wednesday, and he did not attend another event to discuss the signing class Thursday in Little Rock, fueling speculation he was being courted by another program.
Singleton’s job with the Colts will be the Air Force graduate’s first at the NFL level.
Surprisingly, Mike Riley has a self-made hole on his Nebraska coaching staff.
In a move that wasn’t on most if any radars, Hank Hughes will not return in 2016 as NU’s defensive line coach, Riley revealed Friday. No reason was given for the the departure of the assistant.
“I want to thank Hank for his hard work and contributions to our football program over the past year,” Riley said in a statement. “We continue to build our program with the pursuit of championships always at the forefront of everything we do, and we will look for a great coach, teacher and recruiter to enhance our defense.”
Regardless of the reason or reasons — and the fact that Riley made certain to note that a replacement would be “a great coach, teacher and recruiter” points to at least a couple — it wasn’t an expected development. From the Lincoln Journal Star:
There was no sign of such a move Thursday night, with Hughes present at the Big Red Bash that celebrated the 2016 recruiting class.
Hughes had just completed his first season with the Cornhuskers. Additionally, it was his first season as an assistant on a Riley-led coaching staff.
As the Journal Star notes, Hughes was in the midst of a two-year deal that was to pay him $300,000 annually.