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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Watson was missing from practice again. Photo by Zach Tarrant/HoustonTexans.com.

The Houston Texans had their second day in pads and it was a bright day for a couple of rookies.

1. Deshaun Watson was absent again from practice. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly explained the team is keeping Watson "engaged" and he has been helpful in the meeting room with the offense.

2. Watson, if Kelly is telling the truth, can absolutely help the quarterbacks with his knowledge. The offense shouldn't be that different, and Watson doesn't have anything against the quarterbacks specifically. It is strange to think Deshaun Watson would be helping the quarterbacks while actively wanting to be playing elsewhere, but Kelly has no reason to lie about Watson's level of engagement.

3. It was Roy Lopez day on Wednesday. The rookie defensive lineman had a sack and is quite the load to handle upfront. Lopez will have to build on these days to earn time on a busy defensive line but if he repeats this day, people will have to beat him out.

4. Rookie wide receiver Nico Collins finds himself open quite a bit. Collins isn't afraid of traffic, though there aren't any real big hits in training camp. Collins' athleticism is very clear and as he grows more, he should earn more opportunities.

5. Brandin Cooks threw his hands up and let out an exasperated sound as Tyrod Taylor found Collins wide open in the middle of the field. Cooks was even more wide open in the end zone, and Taylor didn't see him.

6. Tyrod Taylor's legs will be a weapon in this offense. Taylor doesn't take off in a lot of the drills, but his mobility is apparent. Taylor did run into a sack by defensive lineman Derek Rivers.

7. Veteran wide receiver Chris Conley is extremely athletic and speedy. Conley can get vertical on all the defensive backs. In a pass-catching drill Conley wowed. The drill consisted of a coach wearing a pad and attacking the wideouts on a jump ball. Conley skied, ripped the ball out of the air, and withstood the attack from the coach easily coming down on both feet. Conley would make the team if the season started tomorrow.

8. Tight end Pharaoh Brown had a great catch beating Justin Reid for a touchdown on a pass from Tyrod Taylor. Reid was very upset he lost the rep. Brown was solid last year and he remains one of the better tight ends on the team.

9. Linebacker Neville Hewitt has had some flashes in camp. Hewitt had over 100 tackles for the Jets last year to go along with 12 tackles for a loss over the past two seasons. Hewitt had a hurry on Tuesday and a pass breakup on Wednesday. Hewitt is certainly in consideration for a spot in the revamped linebacker room.

10. Defensive linemen Charles Omenihu and Jonathan Greenard each had sacks in a team period. Omenihu's rep was a forced fumble and Greenard darted through the middle of the line for his successful rep.

11. Tytus Howard had a hold your breath moment when he slowly got off the ground and gingerly walked off the field. Howard had to walk it off, but returned to practice with no issue. He has played a multitude of positions in training camp.

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