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.
As the 2017 offseason kicks into high gear, so have the annual and ever-present off-field issues.
According to multiple media outlets, TCU running back Kyle Hicks was arrested over the weekend on a misdemeanor charge of public intoxication. The 22-year-old Hicks and two former Horned Frog football players, Bryson Henderson and George Baltimore, were charged after police responded to reports of a fight at a Whataburger near campus very early Saturday morning.
No further details of what led to the police being called have been released.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes that “[t]he TCU athletics department said in a statement Monday night that officials are aware of the incident and looking into it.”
As a junior this past season, Hicks led TCU with 1,042 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. He also led the team in receptions with 47, becoming the first Horned Frog player to lead the team in both rushing and receiving since Basil Mitchell in 1996.
Hicks is expected to again be the focal point of TCU’s offense in 2017.
Not surprisingly, P.J. Fleck will have a familiar offensive face on which to lean as his oars hit the Power Five waters for the first time.
Coming off a couple of weeks worth of reports, Minnesota officially confirmed Monday that Fleck has named Kirk Ciarrocca as his new offensive coordinator. Ciarrocca had spent the past four seasons in the same position at Western Michigan, coinciding with Fleck’s tenure at the MAC school.
The school’s release stated that Ciarrocca “was instrumental in the development of Super Bowl winning quarterback Joe Flacco during his six seasons (2002-07) at the University of Delaware,” which presumably gave him a front-row seat in the “is he or isn’t he elite” argument.
With Fleck and the Gophers, and like his boss, Ciarrocca will be embarking on his first job with a Power Five program.
After leaving a Power Five program, Frank Iheanacho has decided that a lower rung on the college football ladder is more his speed at this point in time.
Stephen F. Austin announced Monday that Iheanacho has been added to the football program’s roster and will continue his playing career with the Lumberjacks. Iheanacho had opted to transfer from Texas A&M shortly after the end of the 2016 season.
As SFA plays at the FCS level, the wide receiver will be eligible to play immediately in 2017.
“We’re excited to be able to add Frank to the Lumberjack family and get him going with our football program,” Lumberjacks head coach Clint Conque said in a statement. “Frank obviously brings some big game experience, playing in an SEC program and competing against some of the nation’s best teams. He brings height and speed and will add some key depth at the wide receiver position.”
Iheanacho was a four-star 2014 signee, rated as the No. 13 receiver in the country and the No. 13 player at any position in the state of Texas. Only four players in the Aggies’ class that year, including potential No. 1 NFL overall draft pick Myles Garrett, Speedy Noil and Kyle Allen, were rated higher than Iheanacho.
In 18 games the past two seasons, Iheanacho caught eight passes for 71 yards.
Craig Bohl has an opening on his Wyoming coaching staff, although the reason for the attrition is certainly understandable.
Monday, Indiana State officially announced that Curt Mallory has been hired as the Sycamores head football coach. As ISU plays at the FCS level, Mallory will be eligible to coach immediately in 2017.
“We want to congratulate Curt and his wife Lori as they open a new chapter in their lives and in Curt’s coaching career as he becomes the head coach at Indiana State,” said the Cowboys head coach in a statement. “Curt’s efforts in his two years at Wyoming were greatly appreciated and had a significant impact on our program as we benefitted both from his coaching and his recruiting abilities.
“Curt is a well-experienced coach, who has a great understanding of players from the Midwest. He’ll be a great fit at Indiana State, and he will make them competitive in the Missouri Valley Conference.”
Mallory, the son of former Indiana head coach Bill Mallory, spent the past two seasons as the Cowboys’ defensive pass-game coordinator and secondary coach. A former Michigan linebacker, Mallory came to Laramie after spending four seasons in Ann Arbor as the Wolverines’ secondary coach.