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.
Winning a New Year’s Six bowl and outperforming nearly every preseason expectation typically results in a nice boost to a head coach’s bank account and that is the case at Wisconsin this year.
The Badgers announced on Friday that the school’s athletic board had extended head football coach Paul Chryst another year, running through January 31, 2022. Additional contract terms such as a potential raise or incentives were not announced, meaning this was likely just tacking another year onto the former Wisconsin quarterback’s original deal in Madison.
The move isn’t new for the program, which pulled the same extension almost to the day a year ago after Chryst led the Badgers to a 10-3 year in 2015 that was capped off with a Holiday Bowl victory over USC. The coach one-upped that performance in 2016, winning the Big Ten West title and getting selected for the Cotton Bowl, which the team won over previously undefeated Western Michigan.
Chryst’s original contract he signed two years ago was for a term of five seasons through 2020. He originally made around $2.3 million a year but should be hitting the $2.5 million mark heading into 2017 with various increases incorporated.
New College Football Hall of Famer Peyton Manning is staying busy with various ventures now that he’s retired from the NFL and apparently the Vol legend doesn’t mind returning to Tennessee to add another thing to his plate.
According to a report from the Knoxville News Sentinel, Manning will be part of a search committee for the school’s chancellor as she attempts to find a new athletic director following the retirement of Dave Hart at the end of June. Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is also expected to be part of the six-person strong committee, which will assist recently hired search firm Turnkey Sports and Entertainment in finding the right candidate to lead the department.
Hart’s retirement has known for some time and the fact that Alabama surprisingly hired Greg Byrne away from Arizona without as much as a sniff from the Vols have made many in the fan base a little anxious about the state of the on-going (and lengthy) search. Manning’s former head coach Phillip Fulmer has reportedly been mentioned as a candidate for the gig but the hire of a search firm and advisory committee suggests that a hire may be a few weeks or months away.
There are few folks connected to Tennessee football more fondly remembered around Knoxville than Manning and you can’t help but wonder if Vols fans longing for some stability and a big name in the AD chair wouldn’t mind pushing the quarterback’s name for the position. If so, perhaps joining the search committee is the first step toward that path and a move that would certainly make a lot more sense than bringing somebody like Fulmer back into the fold.
All three Oregon football players hospitalized this week as the result of grueling offseason workouts have been released.
The news, first reported by The Oregonian, concludes a dramatic week for the program and their new coaching staff after revelations surfaced on Monday that the three were sent to a nearby Springfield, Oregon hospital with symptoms of rhabdomyolysis. The condition primarily affects soft tissue and is triggered by overwork and can eventually lead to damage of the kidneys.
Senior offensive linemen Doug Brenner was actually released on Tuesday per the report, but it took until Friday morning for redshirt freshmen tight end Cam McCormick and offensive lineman Sam Poutasi to be sent home from the PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center.
As a result of the workouts, Oregon suspended new strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde for one month without pay and changed the structure on the staff so that Oderinde, who came over from South Florida with Willie Taggart, no longer reports to the Ducks’ coach but the school’s director of performance and sport science.
While you never want to hear about football players going to the hospital, it’s great to hear that the three players who were injured as a result of the workouts have been cleared and sent home.
Middle Tennessee is giving former Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer a chance to get back in the game. Shafer has been hired to be the new defensive coordinator for the Blue Raiders, the school announced Friday.
“We are all very excited about Scott and his wife Missy joining the Blue Raider family,” said MTSU head coach Rick Stockstill in a released statement. “Scott brings a wealth of experience as a defensive coordinator and we can’t wait until he gets started and puts his plan in place. He will have a positive impact on the program and university as our defensive coordinator.”
Shafer was out of coaching during the 2016 season after being fired by Syracuse after the the previous season. Shafer coached Syracuse to a record of 14-23 in his three years on the job. Now, he returns to a familiar role as defensive coordinator. Shafer has held the title of defensive coordinator at Northern Illinois, Western Michigan, Stanford (under Jim Harbaugh), Michigan (under Rich Rodriguez) and Syracuse (under Doug Marrone; Shafer replaced Marrone once the coach was hired by the NFL’s Buffalo Bills).
Middle Tennessee ranked 96th in the nation in total defense in 2016, allowing 449.5 yards per game. The Blue Raiders also allowed an average of 35.8 points per game (which ranked 109th in the nation).