Most of Saturday’s game featuring Florida versus Tennessee felt like a race to the bottom.
Turnovers. Missed assignments. Busted plays. Dropped passes. This was all par for the course for these two teams on Saturday. Remember those great Florida-Tennessee games of yesteryear?
Just a distant memory at this point.
But the Gators managed to look a little less ugly and overcame a season-ending injury to starting quarterback Jeff Driskel to beat the Vols, 31-17.
The sequence that led to Driskel’s injury turned out to be the high point for Tennessee. Devaun Swafford took a first-quarter Driskel pass 62 yards to the house and Driskel left the game after clutching his ankle.
Junior Tyler Murphy, who had never thrown a pass in his college career, replaced Driskel and actually provided a spark to the moribund Gators offense. He completed eight of 14 passes for 134 yards and one touchdown and also rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. Voila, with Driskel out for the year, we have a new quarterback in Gainesville.
Meanwhile, the talented Florida defense squashed the Volunteers like a bug. As long as the Gators continue to play like this on defense, it should be in every game, although it won’t be able to count on seeing such ineptitude on the other side of the ball each week, either. Tennessee’s offense mustered just 220 yards of total offense (much of it in garbage time) and 12 first downs while turning the ball over six times. Redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman made his first start and it was a forgettable one as he completed four of 11 for five yards and two interceptions. Former starter Justin Worley relieved Peterman and was more effective, but only by comparison. He completed 10 of 23 passes for 149 yards and one touchdown with two picks.
Make no mistake: These two teams are miles away from living up to their potential. There’s really not much to excuse the Gators, given that Will Muschamp is in his third season in Gainesville. When will the Florida offense figure things out? Meanwhile Tennesse at least can point to having to adjust to a new coach in Butch Jones. As bad as the Vols looked, their program can only get better. Florida? It looks to be going sideways these days.
New Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruit has a message to his players and Tennessee fans. If you are going to enter Neyland Stadium, you better be prepared to work.
Following Tennessee’s spring game in Knoxville, Pruitt reflected on his first spring game as head coach with the media and he was not about to let anyone off the hook for a mediocre performance in the spring game. One thing you never want to hear from a head coach is that some of his players seemingly quit. That was the case for Pruitt today, without naming any specific players.
Even fans received some gripes from the new head coach.
Tennessee estimated a total of 65,098 fans came out to watch the Tennessee spring game, which is an impressive total and right around the average Tennessee typically draws for the spring game. But the crowd buzz must not have impressed Pruitt, who could be setting the tone for the fans in the fall in hopes they turn things up a bit once the games actually matter.
The same message is now being sent to the entire team. Pruitt has a high standard in mind, which is to be expected after being an assistant at Alabama. Was Pruitt truly this displeased with his team’s effort in the spring game? Or was he simply trying to play things down in order to let his players know there will be no room for poor efforts?
If Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts was looking to build a case for taking the starting job for the Crimson Tide in 2018, he may have to rely on more than his performance in the spring game. Hurts turned in a sub-par performance in Alabama’s spring game on Saturday afternoon, leaving the door wide open for some speculation about his future as Alabama’s spring comes to a close.
Hurts completed 19 of his 37 pass attempts for 195 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. He also was sacked seven times. With Tua Tagovailoa out of action due to injury, Hurts was outperformed by redshirt freshman Mac Jones, who completed 23 of 35 passes for 289 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Jones was also intercepted once and was sacked six times. Of the two quarterbacks, Jones had the more inspiring performance.
Rumors speculating Hurts may end up looking to transfer will only continue to ignore following this spring, especially with Tagovailoa going into the offseason as the new hero in town after guiding Alabama back in the national championship game. It should be worth noting, however, a transfer for Hurts is not guaranteed to happen. That won’t stop fans and media from figuring out what will be next for Hurts.
Hurts’ dad recently suggested his son would be college football’s biggest free agent on the transfer market if he ended up losing the quarterback battle in Tuscaloosa. That may be a slight exaggeration, but there is no question Hurts would have plenty of potential and skill to offer any program he would potentially move to if he decides to leave Alabama. Alabama head coach Nick Saban tried to cool the tension by suggesting there is no reason to be concerned about the whole situation.
But this is Alabama we’re talking about. The Hurts watch is now in full force in Tuscaloosa, whether Saban likes it or not.
Early in Penn State’s spring game on Saturday afternoon, the Nittany Lions sent Brooke Fisher out to the field for the chance to score a touchdown. Fisher, a young girl with down syndrome, took the handoff from quarterback Trace McSorley and ran right up the middle 22 yards for a touchdown.
We’ll excuse the fact Fisher spiked the football prior to crossing the goal line. It doesn’t matter here.
McSorley ended up playing more in the first half than many likely expected, with three series on the field. He helped open the spring game with a touchdown drive capped with a pass to Mac Hippenhammer. McSorley passed for 107 yards and rushed for 41 yards in the first half.
No word on whether or not Fisher has any eligibility.
Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa may not be playing in the spring game due to an injury, but there is still plenty of Tagovailoa news coming out of Tuscaloosa today. Taulia Tagovailoa, the younger brother of the national championship game hero, has reportedly committed to play for the Crimson Tide.
The newest commitment for Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide is a four-star dual-threat quarterback and will be a part of Alabama’s Class of 2019. Alabama won the recruiting battle against schools like Tennessee, Florida, Nebraska, and Michigan among others. According to Al.com, Lane Kiffin made a push to lure Tagovailoa to FAU as well.
Tagovailoa will go down as an in-state recruit for Alabama because the Tagovailoa moved to Alabama after Tua Tagovailoa enrolled at Alabama. If Tua wins the starting job at Alabama, then it is possible Alabama’s offense could be run by a Tagovailoa for the next six years. A dynasty within a dynasty? That’s dynasty inception, not to put too much pressure on either Tagovailoa brother.