DEL OLALEYE

The college football report: A cocktail party and trouble at Ohio State

Things are getting rocky for Urban Meyer. Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The weekly college football report:

Florida vs Georgia means something again

We’re into Week 9 of the college football season and the path to the College Football Playoff has become much clearer for some teams and has been completely shut off for others. Unless you are in the SEC, losing from here on out pretty much means you’re done. Everyone is waiting for Alabama vs. LSU next week in Death Valley but another SEC matchup this week may be just as important to the national title picture. Florida vs. Georgia is once again part of the national conversation. I didn’t remember the last time these two teams had national title hopes at the same time so I had to look it up. It was 2008, both teams were ranked inside the top 10 and Urban Meyer was leading the Gator program at the time. Florida won the 2008 game 49-10 on their way to the program’s third national title. Dan Mullen was the offensive coordinator on that Florida team, which was why he was such a natural fit when Florida started looking for a new head coach after firing Jim McElwain.

Florida fans love offense thanks to Steve Spurrier’s successful run there and Mullen is expected light up the scoreboard eventually. For now the Gators are a defense-first football team. That defense gets its biggest test of the season against a Georgia squad trying to bounce back from a blowout loss at the hands of LSU. Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm was awful against LSU which makes sense because he has not been good in true road game starts against defenses who can minimize Georgia's rushing attack. Lucky for Fromm and Georgia this game is at a neutral site. Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs bounced back from a similar defeat at Auburn last year and almost won the national title. Their road back to the title game begins in Jacksonville this Saturday against the hated Gators.

Things are less than ideal in Columbus

Urban Meyer’s run in Gainesville ended with him losing control of the program and begging out due to illness. We’re not hearing the same kind of stories about Buckeyes players that we heard about Florida players, but the talk of his current health status sounds similar. Amazing what a blowout loss on the road at Purdue will do to get pundits talking. Former Buckeyes player and current ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit says Meyer isn’t the same on the sidelines. The Buckeyes head coach is apparently dealing with headaches and the tension between him and the Buckeyes administration hasn’t exactly subsided since Meyer’s three-game suspension ended for his part in the Zach Smith scandal.

I imagine Ohio State fans aren’t thrilled about getting blown out by a middling Big Ten team for the second year in a row either. Iowa took Ohio State’s soul last year too. Winning solves all ills though. Michigan comes to Columbus to end the year; potentially a top 5 Wolverines team. If Urban Meyer beats another Michigan team that has hopes for a national title like he did in 2016 all of this will be forgotten. Ohio State could very well be 11-1 with the win and on its way to the Big Ten title game. Nothing matters more in Columbus than winning. They’ve proven that time and again.

Hate Watch Game of the Week

It is pretty simple. Gators fans have dreams of winning the SEC. I want those dreams to end. Bulldogs by ruthlessness in the Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party is the play. To be honest my hope is that the SEC cannibalizes itself and none of their teams make the College Football Playoff. This is just one step of many in a very unlikely dream of mine.  I can dream, can’t I?


 

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Davis Mills has to work to do. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

The Houston Texans took to the field for their second day of workouts on the field. Here are 11 observations from a shaky offensive day.

1. Mills had a shakier day than his first. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good. There were a lot of teachable moments for him in this practice. General manager Nick Caserio said consistency is the biggest thing for him in evaluating a player. Part of the consistency is how often do you make the same mistakes, according to Caserio. Mills has work to do before Monday’s practice.

2. Even with the shaky day, there is still excitement to Mills. Seeing how he bounces back will be big, and the challenge won't be easy as the team will have a padded practice on Monday. Traditionally, defenses are ahead of the offense early in training camp.

3. Nico Collins and Davis Mills weren’t on the same page on Saturday. The two had a few miscommunications that led to some incomplete passes. Mills also came up just a little long on a deep pass to Collins. Later the two hooked up for a nice completion as Collins beat rookie Derek Stingley Jr. but it was not the best day for the two second-year players.

4. There weren’t a lot of receivers getting open today. Brandin Cooks is about the only player who constantly gets open. It led to Davis Mills holding the ball a few times and ultimately deciding to check the ball down. The secondary had a solid day.

5. Lovie Smith said after practice they don’t scheme up a lot of short passes and this team will need to move the ball through the air. He did lament that sometimes you have to take a quick and short gain as an offense. Smith also joked when you don’t like the passing game you can give credit to the coverage.

6. Speaking of the secondary, it featured a lot of Derek Stingley Jr. on Saturday. The first passing drill with the offense against defense saw Stingley Jr. square off with Brandin Cooks. It was again a win for Cooks, but the rookie had some nice moments on the field. Chris Conley also had a nice win against Stingley Jr. in coverage. The Texans have to get their first-round pick acclimated to how they will use him. I will say though that Stingley Jr. makes things look fluid and easy as he moves about the defense.

7. Safety Terrence Brooks has put together a nice couple of days to start training camp. He has had at least one pass break-up in each of the first two days and he has a lot of energy in the secondary. Rookie Jalen Pitre dashed into the backfield sniffing out a toss play showcasing his anticipation.

8. Garret Wallow was a player showing up to camp with high expectations, and he’d earned them. The late-round pick last year had done a great job getting his body in shape, and it feels like he is all over the field. Wallow had a pass break-up Saturday and he is near the top of my list for when the pads come on Monday.

9. Speaking of players who will excite when the pads come on, Kenyon Green is near the top of my list too. The “other” first-round pick for the Texans hasn’t played as much as you would maybe like so far, but he absolutely STONED a defender on a running play. There is work to do, but Green has flashes and in pads, he should flash more.

10. Jerry Hughes is one of the oldest players on the field. You wouldn’t know it though. The veteran has a ton of energy, and he’s very vocal. He easily dismissed Laremy Tunsil for what would have been a sack. Hughes is going to be a necessary contributor to this team in 2022.

11. Jonathan Greenard, Justin Britt, and Kamu Grugier-Hill all practiced after missing time on Friday. Phillip Dorsett has yet to really get involved and Lovie Smith said Dorsett is a little dinged up. The team will practice in pads on Monday for the first time. Jalen Pitre, Kenyon Green, Garret Wallow, Christian Harris, and Roy Lopez are the players I have near the top of my list to keep an eye on as the pads come on.

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