Florida Gators

ACC Is Better Than SEC

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Let me start by saying I picked North Carolina to cut down the nets this past Monday night and I have the SSE article from a couple of weeks ago to prove it.

I have been mulling this article over on my mind for a few weeks now. Folks that know me know that I am a die-hard SEC supporter and I make no bones about it.

So, take notice when I type this this next sentence. The ACC is better right now than the SEC. Yes, I said it. Now that I have that out of the way here is why.

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SEC Odds

By: Drayton Hogarth

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

While spring practice is going on all over the college football world, The Golden Nugget in Las Vegas released their odds to reach the Southeastern Conference championship game.

It is really a mystery as to how they handicap a league even before an entire recruiting class, however Vegas wasn’t built on winners so it often pays to heed their prognostications.

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Gators Chomping For SEC Title

jjBy: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

For the last, oh I don’t know, however many years John Calipari has been at Kentucky, the Wildcats have been far and away the best team in the SEC.

They almost always have the most talent, and as much as Calipari annoys me with most everything he says and does when searching for a microphone to put in front of that smug face of his, he is one hell of coach.

This year however, it’s a little different. To me, the best team in the conference, and certainly the team playing the best right now, are the Florida Gators.

When Florida hired Mike White to lead their basketball after Billy Donovan bolted for the NBA’s version of Hatfields vs. McCoys in Oklahoma City, most fans probably had no idea who White was. I can’t really blame them.

To be honest, when I heard the name Mike White I actually thought of this guy (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_White_(filmmaker).

When you’ve had the type of success that Donovan had in Gainesville, hiring someone that nobody has heard of isn’t always the most popular choice.

Regardless of his anonymity, White is making Jeremy Foley look like a genius. In only his second year, the Gators are not only neck and neck with Kentucky for the SEC regular season crown, but are doing so with a bunch players nobody has really heard of.

When I watched Florida play Duke earlier this season I knew of Kasey Hill, but the remaining roster might have been made up of the Lost Boys from Neverland, for all I could tell.

While I’m disappointed there still isn’t a Rufio on the team, the only name I might remember besides Hill is KeVaughn Allen.

The lack of individual attention makes sense though when you look at their statistics. Besides Hill being in the Top 5 in assists and steals, they don’t have a single player in the Top 10 in points, rebounds, or field goal percentage. They are truly the antithesis of a team like Kentucky.

You don’t have to watch them play for very long to understand they are well coached. They play tough defense, move the ball well on offense, and most importantly, they don’t seem to beat themselves.

Besides their two point loss to Vanderbilt earlier this year, which is a bit of a head scratcher, their other losses have been to teams they weren’t favored against. And even those games could’ve gone the Gators way.

The University of Florida has always been, and will probably always continue to be, a football school. They have a rich history of Hall of Fame players and coaches who have come through their program. They reside in a state that takes great pride in being a hotbed for young football talent.

Plus, they play in a conference that directly associates your manhood with what college team you root for. (Admit it, have you ever met a Vanderbilt fan that you didn’t think you could beat the crap out of?)

What Billy Donovan was able to do there was nothing short of phenomenal. The expectations aren’t for Mike White to excel in the way Donovan did, but if I’m a Gators fan I’m excited about the bright future that lies ahead.

If this year’s team is any indication of what to expect out of Gainesville over the next few year there’s one thing I know for certain; there will be mistaking which Mike White is responsible for the Gators success.

2016 SEC Rankings


By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Now that college football season is over and we must wait another 9 months for the joy of fall to arrive back in God’s Country also known as the SEC. Here are my final 2016 SEC power rankings.

14. Missouri: The Tigers finished the season with the worst overall record in the SEC, but closed with a big win over the Arkansas Razorbacks. Mizzou will always be decent on defense, but must find a way to score points in 2017.

13. Ole Miss: Yes, the soon to be NCAA poster child for sanctions finished at 5-7 with all of that talent. The Bears/Rebels will bounce back hopefully in next 5 years after sanctions beat them to a pulp.

12. South Carolina: The Gamecocks will get better under Muschamp. The Ole Ball Coach left a mess behind for will to clean up. A loss to a directional Florida school during the bowl season lands South Carolina here.

11. Mississippi State: Tough year in Stark Vegas, but a bowl win and winning the Egg Bowl helped the Bulldogs stay out of the number 13 spot in these rankings.

10. Vanderbilt: Wins over UGA and Tennessee and a trip to Shreveport made the season one to remember in Nashville. I like Derek Mason and think he will continue to do a fine job in the Music City.

9. Arkansas: How do you blow a 24-point lead at the half in a bowl game? Well the Piggies did, and this team is hard to figure so they land here.

8. Kentucky: The season was a success for the Wildcats. The Cats made a bowl. Now just go do your job its basketball season.

7. Texas A&M: Start fast and finish slow is the Aggie blueprint. Top 5 in October and unranked in the final polls. Kevin Sumlin’s seat is red hot going into 2017.

6. Auburn: You finish the season with a loss to UGA, Alabama, and Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl a place you had no business being at. Florida should have received the Sugar Bowl bid.

5. Georgia: A nice win over TCU in the Liberty Bowl. But 8-5 with home losses to UT, Vandy, and GT just will not cut it moving forward Kirby. Help is on the way with this monster recruiting class. This is a team on the rise.

4. Tennessee: Who did less with more than the Vols in 2016? The jury is out on Butch Jones. 2017 will be a make or break year for Butch.

3. LSU: Coach O turned it around down the stretch and the Tigers looked great in their bowl game in Orlando. A team to watch in 2017. I like the Coach O hire.

2. Florida: Back to back East titles and a nice win in Tampa during Bowl season. I think the Gators drop back a little next year.

1. Alabama: The gold standard of the SEC. The Tide just keeps on winning. The title game loss to Clemson which I predicted in the preseason by the way does not tarnish a great season. Alabama is not going anywhere soon. The rest of the Sec must catch up.

The SEC was down in football in 2016. It was Alabama and the 11 Dwarfs. The rest of the SEC must pick up its game in 2017.

The ACC from top to bottom was the best football conference in America in 2016. Ouch!!!!

Gators Offense Has No Bite

kenBy: Kenneth Harrison Jr.

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Jim McElwain is in his second year as head coach of the Florida Gators. Currently he guided the team to a 5-1 record and their first place in the SEC East. Last year they finished 10-4 and 7-1 in conference play. A 10-win season is very respectable in year one.

On the surface everything seems great. I’m going to delve just a bit deeper to really get a proper perspective on his coaching performance.

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What Is UGA Playing For?

jjBy: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

If you ask me what I remember about the 1995 college basketball season two things come to mind.

The first thing was the one and only losing season the Blue Devils have endured since Kryzewski’s third year as their head coach. The other event I vividly remember that season is the half-court shot Jeff Capel hit to send their game against the #2 ranked Tarheels into double overtime.

Even though Duke lost the game 102-100 in that second overtime, the mere fact they were able to play that type of game against their rivals was enough to take one of their worst seasons in the past 30 years and almost turn it into a positive. Had they actually won the game, that year would be remembered more for their victory over Carolina than it would be for all their struggles.

I mention this only because that situation is more or less what Georgia is walking into when they play Florida on October 29th. I’m not saying the Dawgs are having exactly the same type of season as the ‘95 Duke squad that finished with a record of 13-18, but I feel pretty confident in saying a 4-3 record, following a loss to Vanderbilt at home, isn’t exactly what the fan base was expecting.

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What’s Missing In Athens

kippBy: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Headed into the bye week sitting at 4-3 on the season I have been wondering what is missing from this year’s edition of the Georgia Bulldogs.

Blown out by a three loss Ole Miss team, Can’t knock down a Hail Mary against a Tennessee team that just lost by 39 points at home to Alabama, and the mind blowing Homecoming loss to Vandy. Let’s examine what is missing in 2016.

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Best Of Georgia-Florida Rivalry

draytonBy: Drayton Hogarth

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

It is time, yet again, for the annual Georgia-Florida border war. The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party has been the location of many of the historical skirmishes in all of college football.

There is no doubt that Everbank Field, or best known as the former Gator Bowl, has been witness to some of the greatest college football players to ever grace the collegiate gridiron. Herschel Walker, Tim Tebow, David Pollack, and Steve Spurrier just to name a few in the last half decade, have seen the highest of highs or met the agony of defeat in this bitter rivalry.

There are numerous games that could be mentioned, but these are the top four games in this series.

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Florida Chomping For Dawgs

kenBy: Kenneth Harrison Jr.

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The University of Florida has been synonymous with greatness since Steve Spurrier took over as head coach in 1990. The program never won an officially recognized conference title prior to him returning to Gainesville.

They’ve won 8 conference titles since 1991 and had the best record in the SEC in 1990 but were ineligible for the league title due to NCAA probation. Their also tied with Alabama with the most SEC Championship game appearances with ten.

They haven’t won a conference championship since 2008 though. Back when Urban Meyer was the head coach and Tim Tebow was quarterback. Second year head coach Jim McElwain is working to end that drought.

So far the Gators are off to a good start, 5-1 and ranked in the top 15 in the Coaches Poll and in the AP Poll. The one loss was at Tennessee and they gave up a 21-point lead to lose 38-28.

The LSU game originally scheduled for October 8th was postponed because of the weather from Hurricane Matthew. The game was at home but now it’s been moved to Baton Rouge on November 19th.

Florida was impressive in their last game with a 40-14 blow out of Mizzou. They scored two defensive touchdowns.

“Anytime you get a defensive score or a non-offensive score, it’s a momentum shift for the whole team,” cornerback Jalen Tabor said. “I felt like I did that for my team today.”

Florida has one of the best defenses in the nation, currently ranked 3rd in total defense. They only allow 253 yards per game and 12 points per game. They have 19 sacks, which ties them for 20th nationally.

Tabor is the best player on defense, widely considered a first-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft. He returned an interception 39-yards for a touchdown. The opposite corner Quincy Wilson also took a pick to the house.

“When you’ve got two great corners like that, they’ve got to pick one side of the field,” Gators coach Jim McElwain said. “It’s like pick your poison. Where you going to go with it?”

Quarterback Luke Del Rio made his return from a sprained left knee, playing for the first time in a month. The offense looked sloppy and he didn’t play well. He threw 3 interceptions and they were flagged for 8 false starts.

“Knee felt great,” Del Rio said. “Brett Favre said it: Playing injured or hurt is not an excuse for playing poorly. The knee didn’t affect me at all. It was just bad decisions, bad throws.”

Del Rio played well before he was injured. He’s passed for 998 yards, 7 touchdowns, 5 interceptions and a 57.6%completion rate.

The Gators have some talented skill players. Running back Jordan Scarlett leads the team with 375 yards and 5 TD’s. Lamical Perine has 300 rushing yards and Mark Thompson has 262 yards. Receiver Antonio Callaway has 23 receptions, 399 yards, 2 scores and averages 17.3 yards per catch.

The Gators are far from being a prolific offense but they can become more efficient. They have bye week before the October 29th showdown with Georgia. They will get the chance to rest players and get them healthy. It will also give them more time to game plan against true freshman quarterback Jacob Eason.

Both teams should be prepared and well rested for this rivalry game. I give the advantage to UF.

The Rivalry

jjBy: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

You learn at a pretty young age one of the things that makes sports so great are all the different rivalry games that take place year in and year out.

It almost starts as this kind of rite of passage that every young sports enthusiast must take. In elementary school you start pulling for a particular team, normally based upon who your parents root for, and learn fairly quickly there are certain teams that under no known circumstance, are you ever to pull for. Surely you remember going to school in the shirt with your favorite team’s logo plastered all over it, joking around the with kids pulling for the other team.

Some rivalry games are more localized than others, while some are on a much larger, nationwide scale. The Georgia/Florida games falls somewhere in between.

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