Ole Miss Head Coaching Hunt

The Ole Miss Rebels finished their season 4-8 after a loss to in-state rival Mississippi State on Thanksgiving. On Sunday, news broke that head coach Matt Luke was fired after spending three seasons with the Rebels achieving a 15-21 overall record.

Luke’s Tenure at Ole Miss

Luke, former assistant coach at Ole Miss, was named interim head coach back in 2017 after Hugh Freeze’s firing. The Rebels went 6-6 in his interim year and decided to retain Luke. In his time at Mississippi, the team never finished better than sixth in the SEC West and did not have any bowl game appearances. According to Ole Miss athletic director, Keith Carter, it was time for a program change.

With Luke’s firing, there are now three head coaching vacancies in the SEC. Both Arkansas and Missouri are also searching for a new head football coach. Ole Miss is moving fast; the search is underway in Oxford.

“We want energy, passion and a track record for success,” said Carter.

Potential Candidates

Some possible candidates to replace Luke are:

  • Mike Norvell– Norvell has led a winning program at Memphis for the past four years. Currently, Memphis is 11-1, and the team is preparing to face Cincinnati in the AAC title game on Saturday. With a win, the Memphis Tigers would be AAC champions for the fourth consecutive year and would likely make it into a New Year’s Six bowl game. Because of Norvell’s offensive background and proximity to Ole Miss, it would not be surprising if Mississippi goes after him. It is only a matter of time before Norvell makes the jump to a Power 5 school.
  • Lane Kiffin– Kiffin, FAU head coach, has experience in the SEC and on championship staffs. In his three seasons at FAU, Kiffin has led the program to two Conference USA East Division titles.
  • Billy Napier– Head coach of the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Billy Napier has guided the team to a 10-2 season and a berth in the Sun Belt Conference championship game. Napier has a strong offensive background having served as an assistant on Alabama, Clemson and Arizona State’s staffs.
  • Mike Leach– Leach, Washington State head coach, has gone 55-46 in eight seasons with the program. Prior to Washington State, Leach was the Texas Tech head coach for 10 seasons. He led the Red Raiders to winning records in all 10 seasons. Reports say that Arkansas has already met with Leach to discuss their vacancy.

 

Story can also be found via ESPN Gainesville at wruf.com. 

Bye Week Check-In with Coach Mullen

Bye Week Check-In with Coach Mullen

The Florida football team entered their bye week coming off a win against the Missouri Tigers. They’ll face in-state rival Florida State for their final game of the regular season next Saturday, Nov. 30.

Facing an Interim Head Coach

Florida State fired Willie Taggart, former head football coach, on Sunday, Nov. 3. This was following a 27-10 loss to Miami the previous day. Defensive line coach Odell Haggins took over as interim head coach. This is not Haggins’ first time serving as interim head coach for the Seminoles. He took over coaching duties after Jimbo Fisher left for Texas A&M.

Since Haggins became interim head coach, the Seminoles are 2-0 with wins against Boston College and Alabama State. Like the Gators, FSU has a bye before their matchup.

According to Florida head coach Dan Mullen, facing an interim head coach can come with some challenges. Coaching power allows for some personality to be thrown in the game.

Florida vs. Florida State kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. next Saturday in the Swamp.

Nick Sproles

Yesterday news broke that Florida third-string, walk-on quarterback Nick Sproles has entered the NCAA transfer portal.

Mullen confirmed this yesterday in his midweek teleconference. Sproles comes with high praise from the Florida program and will likely get some interest from smaller schools.

Sproles will remain with the Florida football program for the rest of the season and will graduate in the spring.

“He’s why they put the transfer portal in. He really would like the opportunity to go play next season, said Mullen.”

Players Leaving Early for the NFL

Mullen addressed the topic of players forgoing their senior seasons and leaving for the NFL. The bye week has given Florida’s coaching staff some time to sit down and talk with players about their futures.

About eight Gators are thinking about leaving early for the NFL and two to three could be serious about it, according to Mullen.

Story can also be found via ESPN Gainesville at wruf.com. 

Some of the Best in the Business

A couple weeks back I chatted with some of the greatest reporters in the world of sports broadcasting!

– Huge shoutout to these rockstars for their time and advice –

Lee Corso
2012 – made mock sports reporting videos and sent to ESPN, Lee Corso called me, the last time College Gameday was @UF 2019 – chasing my dreams @UF, College Gameday back @UF — I finally met the man who made me believe that my dream is completely achievable.–

 

Maria Taylor
College Gameday Host Maria Taylor
Sara Walsh
Fox Sports Reporter Sara Walsh
Tom Rinaldi
ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi

Star Cornerback Traded to the Rams

NFL teams have until Oct. 29 to complete trade deals. Yesterday, the Los Angeles Rams concluded three. One of which was for star cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

The Jacksonville Jaguars traded Ramsey in exchange for first-round picks in 2020 and 2021, along with a fourth-round pick in 2021.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, “everybody wins” with this trade.

Jaguars

Jacksonville owner Shad Kahn did not want to lose Ramsey, but the Tennessee native repeatedly made it clear he did not want to be a part of the Jaguars’ organization. The former Florida State cornerback had previously requested a trade deal.

Now that Ramsey is headed West, the Jaguars can focus on their future. Despite dropping their last two games against the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, the Jaguars have shown they can compete. Both of those losses were by just a touchdown.

Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew has also proven he has potential. With this deal and the draft picks that the Jaguars now have, it is likely they will be able to build a foundation for success.

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Rams

Los Angeles rebuilt their cornerback depth chart all on Tuesday. Along with the Ramsey trade, Aqib Talib was put on injury reserve and former All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters was traded to the Baltimore Ravens.

Ramsey Career Stats

  • 218 tackles
  • two forced fumbles
  • ten interceptions
  • 46 pass deflections
  • a touchdown

There is no doubt that the Rams just added a great amount of talent to their roster.

Ramsey will enter the final year of his rookie contract next season. That means he will be seeking a much larger paycheck in the near future. According to Spotrac, Ramsey’s market value is $16.8 million annually.

If a contract of that value goes through, then Ramsey would become the NFL’s highest-paid cornerback. That would be a lot of money for Los Angeles to fork over. Recently, they made huge deals with quarterback Jared Goff, defensive tackle Aaron Donald and running back Todd Gurley.

 

Story can also be found at wruf.com for ESPN Gainesville.

LSU’s Explosive Offense Gets Bye Week

The LSU Tigers are currently undefeated and sitting at No. 4 in the AP Poll. They are coming off an explosive offensive performance against Vanderbilt and are now enjoying a bye week.

Joe Burrow and the Offense

The Tigers beat the Commodores 66-38 this past weekend. All eyes were on senior quarterback Joe Burrow. He threw for 398 yards and six touchdowns. Burrow is now tied with Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama’s quarterback, for second-most touchdown passes this season. In 2018, LSU threw 17 touchdowns total. It is safe to say they have stepped up their passing game. The Tigers are known for their elite defensive play, but not this year. Currently, LSU is the nation’s highest-scoring team. They have scored a total of 231 points in four games.
Burrow has caught the attention of many. He was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week for the third time this season following Saturday’s win.

LSU’s top scoring receiver went down Saturday against Vanderbilt. Sophomore wide receiver Terrace Marshall suffered a broken right foot. He is expected to be out for up to a month after undergoing surgery Sunday morning. Marshall currently has six touchdown receptions this season and is tied for second most at the FBS level.

On Deck for the Tigers

LSU’s next game is against the Utah State Aggies (2-1). According to head coach Ed Orgeron, the Tigers aren’t overlooking the Aggies or junior quarterback Jordan Love. Despite Utah State’s week one loss to Wake Forest, Love threw for over 400 yards in the game. He’s a proven quarterback.
Utah State and LSU will meet on Oct. 5 at 12 p.m. on the SEC Network. After that, they’ll face the No. 9 Gators, travel to Starkville to take on Mississippi State and then will host the No. 7 Auburn Tigers in week nine.

 

Story can also be found at wruf.com for ESPN Gainesville. 

 

Gator Defensive Backs Making It Work

Gator Defensive Backs Making It Work

The Florida Gator defense is young, but they are not afraid of a challenge. Defensive Coordinator Todd Grantham’s unit has proven they can make it work.

Missing Key Players

In Florida’s first home game of the season against Tennessee Martin they lost arguably their best defender, C.J. Henderson. He suffered an ankle sprain. Henderson started in all 13 games of the 2018 season and is regarded as one of the top cornerbacks in the country. He did not play against Kentucky last week and is questionable for the Gators upcoming matchup against Tennessee. Junior Donovan Stiner will miss the first half against Tennessee because of a targeting penalty in the Kentucky game last weekend.

Stepping Up

The Florida Gator defense, particularly the defensive backs, have shown they are capable of stepping up. Against the Wildcats this past weekend they accounted for three interceptions and recovered one fumble. Brad Stewart Jr. recovered the first fumble for the Gators just three minutes into the game. The Gators defense builds off of each other. Defensive back Shawn Davis, along with his teammates, loved seeing Stewart make a play. It fueled them in a sense.

In the third quarter Davis intercepted Kentucky QB Sawyer Smith’s pass for a 72 yard return all the way to the Kentucky 21 yard line. When asked about that specific drive Davis said he just knew it was coming to him.

That wasn’t the end of Davis’ performance Saturday. He intercepted Smith’s pass with six minutes left in the game as well.

Florida also has been using a method of rotating its safeties throughout the game. According to Davis, this is because the team is “comfortable and confident” with all their guys playing.

“Coach Mullen puts players in the best position to make plays,” said defensive back Trey Dean.

The Gator defense is confident with their unit moving forward. Florida will take on Tennessee this Saturday at noon on ESPN.

 

Story can also be fond via wruf.com for ESPN Gainesville.

Gators Look to Improve as SEC Play Begins

Gators Look to Improve as SEC Play Begins

Dan Mullen and the Florida Gator Football team begin SEC play this weekend with a trip to Lexington, Kentucky. Last year the Wildcats broke their 31-game losing streak to Florida in a 27-16 upset. The Gators aren’t dwelling on the past. With wins against Miami and UT Martin the Gators are hoping to keep the winning momentum going. Mullen emphasized the importance of focusing on the little things as his team enters SEC play.

Feleipe Franks

Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks is coming off a nearly perfect performance and a 45-0 win. Franks 25 of 27 passes for 270 yards and two touchdowns. Franks does not have the best of history against the Wildcats. Last year he threw an interception, lost a fumble and completed only 17 of 38 passes. In 2017, Franks got pulled from the game and backup Luke Del Rio led the Gators to a comeback win. Franks will be going up against a tough front seven this Saturday.

Kentucky’s defense has not changed much since beating the Gators in Gainesville last year, according to Gators offensive line coach John Hevesy. The Kentucky defense’s biggest loss was first round draft pick Josh Allen.

Overall, Florida quarterback coach Brian Johnson says, “The Gators need to put themselves into a position to play to the best of their abilities.”

Young Offensive Line

Florida’s offensive line is young and hasn’t experienced a truly hostile environment yet this season. The Miami game in Orlando was about 50 50 with fans from both sides. This Saturday will be Florida’s first time in an electric atmosphere with nearly everyone rooting against them at Kroger Field. Offensive line coach Hevesy described the importance of cranking the noise level up at practice as they prepare for Kentucky.

Florida is set to face Kentucky at 7 p.m. this Saturday on ESPN.
For the Gators Saturday’s matchup marks the first of a 9-game stretch with eight SEC opponents. They will have one bye week prior to Georgia.

 

Story can also be found at wruf.com for ESPN Gainesville.