New Chomp For Gators?

By: Mike Anthony news services

Every college football team enters a season with a plan.

Whether the plan is to contend for a national championship or merely try to make a bowl game, every team has a list of things that need to go right in order to end the season where it expects.

And without exception, a starting quarterback in a leg cast is a huge detriment to any team’s season goals, regardless of how bold or conservative they may have been.

That’s exactly where the Florida Gators now stand. The Gators opened the year with plenty of promise as veteran quarterback Feleipe Franks seemed to have Florida moving in the right direction, but Franks suffered a bad ankle injury in the fourth quarter of the Gators’ victory over Kentucky in one of the first SEC games of the season.

It’s easy to cite the ‘Next Man Up’ philosophy following any injury for a collegiate football team, but Florida has a ton riding on what happens next with Franks out of the picture.

Thrust into the spotlight is redshirt junior Kyle Trask. And – in true Hollywood form – Trask immediately set about pulling the Gators out of the fire.

Florida trailed 24-10 when Franks went down, but Trask ignited the offense, engineering drives that racked up 19 unanswered points that allowed the Gators to escape Lexington with a victory, if not their health.

Trask was able to deal with the immediate problem of replacing Franks on the fly and mounting a comeback, but now sees Florida pondering how it can achieve its goals with Franks done for the season.

For the time being, things should be just fine. Trask proved that he’s capable of commanding the offense. The Gators’ schedule also helps out as Florida hosts Tennessee – which is off to a nightmarish start – this week before taking on Towson out of the FCS next week.

Following that, the real tests begin.

Florida will face Auburn, LSU and Georgia in a four-game stretch that will cover all of October. That would have been a tall order even with the entire depth chart intact, but now the Gators have the task of navigating that top-10 minefield with a backup quarterback.

If nothing else, Trask is at least the same imposing physical figure that Franks was. Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 235 pounds, Trask looked poised in hitting on 9-of-13 passing and bowling in for a rushing touchdown against Kentucky.

Replacing Franks’ big arm might not be possible, but there’s a chance that the injury might force the Gators into a more consistent attack, which is what their fans have been hoping for all along. The playbook will be limited in the coming weeks, but that could be a blessing in disguise.

Most agree that the Gators have top-10 talent all over the field, but that hasn’t shown on the offensive side of the ball in big games.

It may have taken a bad break – literally – but Franks’ injury could unwittingly force Florida into a new offensive direction that keeps them near the top of the rankings and allows them to remain as the only real threat to Georgia in the SEC East.

As The Jaguars Turn

By: Robert Craft news services

Just barely into a long NFL season, and the Jacksonville Jaguars look like a franchise in chaos. Injuries, poor coaching, and a star player demanding a trade hovers over DUVAL.

The Jaguars made a huge splash in the off season by signing Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles. The deal was a four-year contract worth $88 million. The deal reportedly has 50 million dollars guaranteed.

Nick Foles’ Jaguars debut did not follow script. Foles was injured in the first quarter against Kansas City, suffering a broken left clavicle (collar bone). Rookie Gardner Minshew replaced Foles after the injury.

The Jaguars’ aspirations for a revival this season relied on Foles arrival. Many fans believe the Jaguars are one capable quarterback away from being a Super Bowl contender.

Just one quarter into the season, the Jaguars already were left dealing with an injury to Foles and now they will be without him for 8 to 10 weeks.

Game two was filled with drama. First on the field, trailing 13-6 with three minutes remaining, the Jaguars took possession at their 32-yard line. Gardner Minshew lead a two minute and thirty second drive capped with a four-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver DJ Chark Jr.

Coach Doug Marrone decided to go for a two-point conversion.  Leonard Fournette was stopped inches short of the goal line and the Jaguars fell 13-12.

Doug Marrone must have thought he was a Riverboat gambler, who decided to risk the game on a controversial decision to go for two-point conversion at the end of the game.

From the decision to the actual play call, Fournette run between the tackles. The question remains why go for two?

The Jaguars defense was playing extremely well. Minshew had the hot hand, leading a 68-yard scoring drive.

Coach Marrone just outsmarted himself and his team paid the price. My opinion, the Jaguars should have taken their chances with momentum into overtime.

The headline story Jags camp was the sideline spat between All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey and head coach Doug Marrone.

On a third down play, Ramsey was covering Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.  Hopkins made a diving catch and Ramsey immediately jumps up and waves his arms to signal incomplete.

Ramsey wanted Coach Marrone to have the play reviewed. Marrone did not throw the red challenge flag. The drive continued and the Texans kicked a field goal to take the lead 3-0.

Gene Steratore, the CBS official analysis, stated the it looked pretty clear that it was not a catch. Ramsey walking off the field clearly upset and when Coach Marrone said something to him, he turned around and the two went at it.

Marrone put his hands on Ramsey, who jerked away. Moments later, he walked over to Ramsey and said something that set him off again. Ronnie Harrison had to get between Ramsey and Coach Marrone.

That’s when it ended. Not so fast.

On the following Monday, the Jaguars All-Pro cornerback demanded a trade. Ramsey must be taking a line out of Antonio Brown’s off-field play book.

Ramsey quoted “the whole city trash. Coaches trash, fans trash too. They only care about crab trays and hard drugs. I’m Out!”


Lifting Off?

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

We are only 2 weeks into the NFL season so there are still many questions that have not been answered.

The team I’m specifically referring to is the Atlanta Falcons. They lost the season opener at Minnesota. Then they rebounded and won a Sunday night game against Philadelphia.

They looked like two different teams. In the first game, the Vikings ran all over Atlanta and won 28-12. They only threw the ball 10 times, which is unheard of in 2019.

What I find troubling about this is head coach Dan Quinn. He is a former defensive coordinator from the Seattle Seahawks. He was there during their last Super Bowl run. Logically, we expected him to turn the Falcons into an elite defense and that has not happened yet.

There were several key injuries last season to players like Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allen and Deion Jones. All of those players returned to start the season and the defense gave up 111 yards and 2 touchdowns to Dalvin Cook.

Minnesota missed the playoffs last season and they are not a contender this year. A loss like that makes me scratch my head.

The next game against the Eagles is completely different. They just won the Super Bowl in 2017 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs in 2018. They are considered the best team in their division.

Atlanta won the game 24-20. They forced Carson Wentz to throw 2 interceptions. They also held Philly to only 49 yards rushing. That’s impressive but the Eagles are not a good running team so we have to take that into account.

Matt Ryan threw for 320 yards, 3 touchdowns and 3 picks. They rushed for 57 yards. Julio Jones scored 2 touchdowns and had 106 receiving yards.

He became the franchise’s career leader in receiving yards with his winning score, passing Roddy White.

“He’s had a lot of great ones, that’s for sure,” said quarterback Matt Ryan. “It’s special for him to break a record that way, in such a critical situation, in such a clutch moment. That’s pretty cool.”

Calvin Ridley had his second 100-yard receiving game of his career, hauling in 8 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown.

Falcons rookie tackle Kaleb McGary was injured in the second quarter with a left knee injury. He did return in the fourth quarter.

That’s good news because he should be able to continue playing for the rest of the season. He’s one of the two linemen drafted by Atlanta in the first round. The other, guard Chris Lindstrom broke his foot in the first game and was placed on IR.

Last season the team struggled to protect Ryan and that might be an issue this season. The team also cannot run the ball. That means Ryan will have to throw more so the chance for interceptions goes up.

Previously Atlanta has played to the level of their competition and that has not changed. The next four games are against Indianapolis, Tennessee, Houston and Arizona. They should be favored to win all of those games.

The schedule gets tougher Week 7 with home games against the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle. Week 9 is the bye week.

Drew Brees has ligament damage in his right thumb and he will undergo surgery. He could miss 6 weeks. That means the team that was the favorite in the NFC South is now just as bad as Carolina and Tampa Bay.

By default, the Falcons are the best team in the division. Let’s see if they take advantage and build a big division lead.

Pink Eyed

By: JJ Lanier news services

I have been a sports fan for the better part of thirty-five years, but over the past few years my enthusiasm has waned.

In part because of the antics that take place within schools, organizations, and players, but also because of the fans; when we get things wrong, we really get them wrong.

However, when fan interaction culminates into what took place in Athens for the Georgia/Arkansas State game, it shows that when we do get it right, we can make an impact.

Georgia’s impromptu “Pink Out” in honor of Wendy Anderson- the wife of Arkansas State’s Head Coach Blake Anderson- who passed away from breast cancer in August not only says a lot about the Georgia fan base (I’ll get to that in a second), but was also a significant gesture.

For one, this wasn’t proposed by the team being directly impacted by Anderson’s passing; it was done by the opposing school, with little to no ties to the program they were about to face. It’s one thing to participate in a cause someone else has put together, it’s something else entirely to be the place where the idea originates from.

Secondly, the fact it was done by Georgia brought an awareness to the story that frankly, Arkansas State would never be able to replicate.

Outside of the money raised from the pink t-shirts sold for the game, it’s difficult to know exactly how many donations came in solely because of the story’s exposure; I imagine it had to be a decent number though.

It’s like the difference between your local pizza place holding a fundraiser for an employee and Pizza Hut having one for that same employee. Suddenly. a story that had local roots was able to branch out nationwide.

Obviously, the Georgia fans- in particular the Bulldogs’ Battling Breast Cancer who initiated everything- deserve the credit for putting this together, something that has become somewhat of a norm in Athens.

Whether it’s the already planned “Pink Out” game scheduled for October, raising money for an assistant coach of an opposing team whose daughter was suffering from a rare genetic condition, or helping out their own former players, it seems pretty evident the UGA fan base does a good job of helping others in need.

I realize this type of assistance takes place at most programs across the country, but unfortunately most of those acts of kindness don’t get much publicity, and I thought this was more than deserving.

I also understand this type of loss is something that almost everyone has gone through at some point in their lives; many of whom don’t have the social support structure to help when it does occur.

It’s why things like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and the Pink Out are so important; not only does it help raise money, but it lets people know there are things being done on their behalf.

No one would have blinked an eye or thought any less of Georgia had they just done a moment of silence in Wendy Anderson’s honor and then moved on to the game. Instead, they decided to go above and beyond and do something about it.

As fans, we like to preach about how sports can bring communities together, but are often slow to follow through. That wasn’t the case in Athens. For once, it was nice to see fans practice what they preach.

The Second Guessing Game

By: TJ Hartnett news services

Monday morning quarterbacking is a very real epidemic in sports fandom and it’s certainly not limited to football fanatics.

That’s where the term comes from, of course, but the desire to second guess any team’s coach and manager’s every move is so alluring and satisfying that it has permeated into every sport in which decisions are made.

Baseball is, of course, included. Fans of every team revel in post-correcting their favorite(?) manager’s lineups, defensive alignments, rotation choices, and bullpen management.

Managers are mortal men, mind you, so mistakes can be (and are) made. I would never claim otherwise. For the record, I also do some managerial criticism from time to time.

Even reigning Mangers of the Year get criticized for anything and everything; one such person is Atlanta Braves’ manager Brian Snitker, who I hear get criticized constantly by friends, by family, and by sports radio hosts.

Folks in Braves Country always have one thing or another to complain about when it comes to Snit and his managerial decision-making.

I’m not here to tell you that you can never criticize Brian Snitker again. He will, someday in the future, maybe soon, make a decision you disagree with. You are allowed to share your disagreement. But today I want to celebrate him. Because I just watched him get thrown out of a game, and I’m fired up about how much I like the guy.

The game I just watched was against the Washington Nationals. You’ll know it as the horrific game in which Charlie Culberson took a fastball off his face on a bunt attempt. Insanely, it was called a strike.

Brian Snitker really didn’t like that.

MAYBE second to the Jose Urena Incident, this was far and away the most pissed off I have ever seen the usually-calm Snitker.

At the time, I was far too shaken from Culberson’s injury to really appreciate the fight Snit was putting up against a godawful call.

Looking back on it now, I see the Snit that these Braves players love to play for. He was arguing about a strike, but under the surface you just knew that Snit was channeling the fear and love that the whole clubhouse has for Charlie into that tirade.

Snitker seems like a paternal figure to this team in a way that Fredi Gonzalez never was – and before you get ahead of me, he’s not quite Bobby Cox either.

The Braves under Cox, whom I love, were always professional to a fault.

Snit’s team is allowed to be little more expressive. There’s a lot of youth and excitement on the team, but Snitker seems to encourage it. He’s also going to provide a firm hand when necessary, like pulling Acuna for lack of hustle just a few weeks ago. And yet, I feel confident that Acuna wouldn’t have an ill will for his skipper.

And at the end of the day, the thing that matters is that these Braves want to play for Snit. Guys like Freddie Freeman notably advocated for Snitker to get the full-time job after his interim stint a few years ago.

His bullpen usage will be what it is – he’ll make whatever decisions he thinks will help the team win or will help a player in one situation or another – but the guys on the field want him filling out the lineup on a daily basis. They want to win for him. And they are.


Rocky Slop

By: Kipp Branch news services

Here is a question I have pondered for two weeks now.

Will the University of Tennessee football program be the Tennessee we once knew ever again?

Jeremy Pruitt has only coached 14 games in Knoxville and you get the feeling his job is on the line.

The Volunteers are 5-9 under Pruitt, and the program seems like it can’t get out of its own way.

It is bad enough to lose at home to Georgia State a team UT was favored to beat by 26 points, but to top that off Tennessee snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory last weekend against BYU with less than 20 seconds left in the contest.

The Vols gave up a tying FG and then folded in overtime to the Cougars.

What is wrong with this program? Here are my thoughts:

Recruiting: Tennessee does not recruit on a high level like it once did.

The Volunteers don’t even get the top players in Tennessee any longer. That used to be a given.

In the 1990’s Tennessee used to be a national brand in recruiting. The Vols dipped into New Orleans and plucked Peyton Manning. They dipped into Mobile, Alabama and plucked Tee Martin. Tennessee dipped into Georgia and grabbed Jamal Lewis, and had a foothold in the Atlanta area, and would cherry pick, Florida, Texas, and California.

That brand is gone now, but it must be rebuilt. Nashville is a growing city and High School football in that city is pretty good, but Georgia, Alabama, and LSU are more likely to pull a high ranked player out of Nashville than the University of Tennessee. That is totally unacceptable.

Head Coaching: The last three hires have been a nightmare. Lane Kiffin came in and threw discipline out with the bath water. Derek Dooley was a last resort because nobody wanted the job, and Butch Jones just could not bring the consistency needed to lead a program like Tennessee. Now Jeremy Pruitt, who was hand-picked by Phillip Fulmer, seems to be struggling as well.

Phillip Fulmer: This may not be popular, but I think Tennessee needs a clean break from the old guard in Knoxville and that starts with Phillip Fulmer, who at almost 70 years old needs to enjoy his family and grandchildren.

Fulmer, learned how to coach under Johnny Majors and then turned around and helped push King Johnny out the door in 1992 so he could take over, needs to be pushed out to pasture now for a permanent retirement.

He has been a great ambassador for the University but it is time for a fresh start in Knoxville. Making Fulmer AD was a temporary solution, and a not permanent one.

Fulmer led UT to great things in the 1990’s, but 1998 was 21 years ago. A fresh approach is needed.

Tennessee’s 0-2 start is as ugly as it gets. The program hasn’t started 0-2 since 1988. The Florida, Georgia, Mississippi State, and Alabama games don’t look winnable right now.

Right now, the Vols are facing a must win scenario against Chattanooga Saturday to possibly avoid a disastrous 1-6 start.

The Flag Ship University in the State of Tennessee facing a must win against UTC is blasphemy.

Tennessee Football is currently like an abandoned factory in the Rust Belt. Once a symbol of manufacturing greatness, but now in decay. The University of Tennessee football program needs to modernize into the 21st Century.

On December 31, 2019 the worst decade in Tennessee football history will mercifully end. Will this proud program swallow its pride and make the changes needed to be relevant again?

I hope so a win in Knoxville used to mean something, but everyone seems to be winning there now.

UT was once here before and in 1977 brought in a Vol legend Johnny Majors to rebuild the brand. When will it be “Football Time in Tennessee” again?

It wasn’t a quick fix in 1977 and it won’t be now, but it can be done. The SEC misses and needs a relevant Big Orange.

Wounded Eagles

By: Mike Anthony news services

Nothing ever goes exactly as planned in football, especially on offense.

To look at a play as it’s drawn up, every run appears to have enough blockers to spring the ball carrier.

Similarly, every pass seems to have plenty of protection and the perfect combination of routes that should lead to a receiver breaking into open space for the quarterback.

Yet, a quick look at even a few plays of any game show that the efforts to move the ball more often resemble a well thought-out plan that tries to hold together as long as possible before dissolving into chaos.

To be sure, the Georgia Southern offense isn’t flailing or in disarray after two games, the current state of the unit isn’t what was hoped for back in the summer.

A lot of that can be chalked up more to who isn’t playing than negative things being done by those who are on the field.

Starting quarterback Shai Werts was knocked out in the first half of the LSU game and remains doubtful to return this week after being held out against Maine.

Slotback Wesley Kennedy III has yet to play a down as he serves out an academic suspension.

Linemen Drew Wilson and Jarod Leeds missed time in preseason camp with concussions while starting tackle Brian Miller was lost for the season with an injury suffered two weeks before kickoff.

And in one final easy-to-see blemish, the second half of Saturday’s game featured a host of wayward snaps that came after starting center Jakob Cooper left with an injury.

For the most part, the scariest injury situation seemed to work out the best for concerned Eagle fans against Maine.

Werts will be welcomed back when he is healthy, but backup quarterback Justin Tomlin looked confident and ran hard on his way to 195 yards of total offense and a touchdown.

But Tomlin also had some sore spots as he contributed to the Eagles’ seven fumbles and seemed less sure of running the option when going to his left.

Cooper appears to be on track to return to the middle of the offensive line this week at Minnesota, but Saturday raised a red flag for Georgia Southern if the need to replace him pops up again. Spring practice featured a constant cycle of potential centers, with all having their trouble with inconsistent snaps.

Aaron Dowdell was called upon against Maine. His efforts keeping Tomlin guessing, ultimately highlighted (or lowlighted?) with a high snap that sent Tomlin scrambling 15 yards backwards and stalled what could have been a game-clinching touchdown in the second half.

As for the rest of the skill position players, the health is good, but the consistency hasn’t shown up quite yet.

Matt LaRoche had a career day with 154 rushing yards and a touchdown on Saturday while Logan Wright went for 114. But J.D. King was held to 16 yards on 12 carries aside from his one rush of 25 and the game plan didn’t appear to be comfortable showcasing any slotback in the manner that would be expected if Kennedy was on the field.

The yo-yoing nature of the Eagles’ early opponents continues this week as Georgia Southern travels to Minnesota.

Another long road trip against a P5 school it is facing for the first time might make it hard to make evaluations of the offense any clearer after this weekend, but the fact remains that continued explosiveness and more overall consistency is needed for the Eagles to end up where they want to be.


The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

By: Robert Craft news services

Recapping last weekend college football action around the sunshine state, we have the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, to steal a line from the classic 1966 spaghetti western.

The Good:

UCF traveled to Boca Raton on Saturday and true freshman quarterback Dillon Gabriel led the Knights to a 48-14 victory over FAU.

UCF’s rushing attack of McCrae (93 yards), Thompson (91 yards and a touchdown), Anderson (75 yards) and Killins (37) amassed more than 300 yards rushing for the second week in a row.

Gabriel finished the night 7 of 19 passing for 245 yard and 2 touchdowns. UCF’s defense put pressure on Florida Atlantic quarterback Chris Robinson all night long. UCF tallied 5 sacks with 16 tackles for loss.

Up next for the Knights is Stanford.

Stanford quarterback K.J. Castello is expected to start after missing last week’s loss to USC due to a concussion.

UCF opens as a seven-point favorite over the Cardinals. This is a classic battle of two contrasting styles. UCF wants to play fast, whereas Stanford prefers to play in a phone booth.

UCF’s defense will be challenged against Stanford’s huge offensive line.

Game time is 3:30 at The Bounce House.  Stanford melts in the fourth quarter. My take: UCF 34 Stanford 21

Florida Gators took care of business against one of their cupcakes on Saturday by shutting out UT Martin 45-0. Feleipe Franks completed 25-27 for 270 yards, 0 interceptions and 2 touchdowns. The Gators took care of business on both sides of the ball against a less talented UT Martin.

Up next for the Gators is a trip to Lexington, Kentucky to open SEC play against the Wildcats.

Both teams are 2-0 but Kentucky is forced to play without starting quarterback Terry Wilson due to injury. Wilson torched the Gators last season as Kentucky ended a 31-game losing streak vs. Florida.

Sawyer Smith will get the nod for the Wildcats on Saturday night. Kavosiey Smoke leads the Wildcat’s rushing attack 18 carries for 170 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Florida will enter this contest with two major players out due to injury Kadarius Toney (shoulder) and C.J. Henderson (ankle).

The Gators look for revenge in the commonwealth after Kentucky broke the streak.  Gators defense too much for Smith and company. My take: Florida 31 Kentucky 16

The Bad:

The Miami Hurricanes have lost their first two games since 1978.

North Carolina Tar Heels defeated the Hurricanes 28-25. The Tar Heels were led for the second week in a row by Freshman quarterback Sam Howell. Howell’s touchdown pass to Dazz Newsome with 1:01 left in the game put the Tar Heels up 28-25.

Miami had one last chance but Bubba Baxa shanked the field goal attempt wide left to seal the North Carolina victory.

Jarren Williams 30 for 39 for 309 yards and 2 touchdowns and Deejay Dallas 14 carries for 107 yards paced the Hurricanes.

Miami will rebound this week with a blowout win against an overmatched Bethune Cookman Wildcats. My take: Miami 54 Bethune Cookman 13

The Ugly:

Florida State won the game against UL Monroe but collapsed in the 2nd half again.

Leading 24-7 at half, Florida State forgot for the second week that there are four quarters to play.

UL Monroe scored on their first four drive of the second half. UL Monroe outscored the Seminoles 31-14 in the second half, and forced overtime.

Cam Akers carried the Seminoles the entire game with 36 carries for 193 yards and 2 touchdowns while also catching 5 passes for 55 yards and a touchdown.

Akers scored on a third and goal to give the Seminoles lead 45-38.

UL Monroe QB Caleb Evans walked in moments later to bring UL Monroe an extra point from a second overtime.

The Seminoles got lucky when the extra point sailed wide right.

Florida State travels Virginia to open ACC conference play against the Cavaliers. Coach Taggart and company avoid a second straight disaster.

FSU right now is a dumpster fire and the Cavaliers take advantage of the chaos.  My take: Virginia 31 FSU 23.

Week 3 Matchups

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

The college football season is underway.

So far, the best matchup was with top-10 teams LSU and Texas. Let’s take a look at some of the best Week 3 games.

No. 9 Florida @ Kentucky: Both teams are 2-0. The Wildcats got the first win in the series last season since 1986. Star running back Benny Snell left for the NFL after his junior season. Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson will miss the remainder of the season with a torn patellar tendon in his left knee.

Feleipe Franks can keep the other team in the game with turnovers. I’m expecting him to play well and the Gators just have more talent. They should get revenge and start a new 30 plus year win streak in this series.

Stanford @ No. 17 UCF: Notre Dame transfer QB Brandon Wimbush started the season opener, a 62-0 win over Florida A&M. He did not play in the last game against FAU and true freshman Dillon Gabriel started. Coach Josh Heupel was vague, saying Wimbush was not 100% after game 1.

The Cardinal lost badly to USC last week. The Trojans star quarterback went down and true freshman Kedon Slovis came in and passed for 377 yards, 3 touchdowns with no interceptions.

The question is, can the same thing happen this week? Will a bigger Power 5 school regret coming to Orlando to play UCF? I don’t think so. Stanford is more talented and physical than the Knights. It will not matter who they have at QB.

No. 6 Ohio State @ Indiana: We all know Justin Fields transferred from UGA and was able to play immediately. He’s played well in his first two games, throwing for 458 yards, 6 TD’s with 0 picks. He’s also rushed for 103 yards and 3 TD’s. Both teams are undefeated but the Buckeyes are the clear favorite.

Fields is an early front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, which is why this game is important. OSU also has a great running back in J.K. Dobbins that will run for over one hundred yards and multiple scores.

No. 2 Alabama @ South Carolina: This is the first true road game for the Crimson Tide. Anything can happen going into hostile conditions. Bama has star QB and Heisman front-runner Tua Tagovailoa and the best receiving corps in college football.

The Game Cocks lost the season opener to North Carolina. They bounced back and beat FCS Charleston Southern. Starting quarterback Jake Bentley fractured his left foot and will undergo season-ending surgery.

Nick Saban snapped at the media Saturday after being questioned about playing New Mexico State. I expect him to be hard on the team this week and they will come out on fire against SEC competition. They should win by 30 plus.

No. 1 Clemson @ Syracuse: The Orangemen were ranked 21st nationally when Saturday started. They ended with a 63-20 loss to unranked Maryland. They have played Clemson close over the previous two seasons, including a home win in 2017.

Trevor Lawrence looked amazing in last season’s national championship game. He received a ton of hype coming into the season and he’s been disappointing thus far. He threw 2 interceptions and 1 TD in the season opener against Georgia Tech. On the season, he has 3 picks and 2 touchdowns with a quarterback rating of 77.3, putting him outside of the Top 20 nationally.

This should be a bounce back game for him and the Tigers will roll.

The Strong Silent Type

By: JJ Lanier news services

For the better part of a decade at the wide receiver position, there has been almost a direct correlation between a player’s ability to perform on the field and his antics off it. The crazier the antics the more talented the player must be, otherwise why put up with it.

That said, it’s somewhat poetic that on the same day Antonio Brown is turning in a diva performance the entire cast of “Real Housewives of New York City” would’ve been proud of, Julio Jones is signed a contract making him the highest paid wide receiver in the NFL.

I say this because when a player like Jones- someone who doesn’t throw sideline rants, blames losses on his lack of targets, or post videos on social media demeaning the organization he plays for- becomes the highest paid, it almost catches you by surprise. (During the stretch when Jones wasn’t getting many red zone targets, could you have pictured him posting a video of all his touchdown catches in Atlanta followed by the words “Remember Me???” as the video fades to black? Now how about Brown?)

I’m sure Jones is more vocal behind closed doors, but if so that at least seems to be where those conversations stay. And while some may look at him holding out as diva-like behavior I have no issue with it, especially when you consider the way it’s been handled by both Jones and the Falcons.

There are several different avenues to venture down when you discuss making a 30-year-old the highest paid wideout in the league, but the real story that will have implications across the league are the terms of the extension- $66 million over the next three years, all guaranteed.

Regardless of what side of the argument you fall on- whether contracts should be guaranteed or not- you must admit Jones’ contract could be the turning point for how those contracts are handled in the NFL.

How many times have you heard of a deal stalling out not because of the length or total money involved, but because of the guaranteed dollars?

As annoying as it is, there’s a reason “The number of years or total dollar amount doesn’t matter, it’s all about what’s guaranteed” comment is ingrained in our minds. I understand why NFL money isn’t guaranteed, but it’s a huge hurdle that sometimes can’t be overcome.

In a profession where contracts are built upon existing contracts with other players, why in the world would another player of Jones’ caliber settle for anything less than a fully guaranteed contract, or at least something close to that. If I were him, I wouldn’t.

I’m not saying this is something that will happen overnight, or take place for every player in the league, but the precedent has been set and I imagine there will be a line of football players waiting to follow in Jones’ footsteps.

Whether or not you believe Jones is worth the money at this stage of his career, or if you think he’ll have lived up to his contract five years from now may not even matter.

There’s a good chance we’ll look back at his signing as a change of the times and something that may alter the way the NFL handles contracts from here on out.

And it all happened without the use of Instagram.