In his first two seasons as Florida’s head coach, Jim McElwain won 19 games and took the Gators to the SEC Championship game twice. The only coach who has won more games than McElwain in his first two seasons at Florida was some guy named Urban.
But on Saturday, when Florida hosts Tennessee (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS), there are those who strongly believe that if the Gators (0-1) lose to the Vols, McElwain is in deep, deep trouble.
The Gator Nation, which got spoiled in 12 seasons under Steve Spurrier (1990-2001) and his Fun ‘N Gun offense, is not satisfied just to win these days. The Gators must score a lot of points in doing it. [membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
And it certainly doesn’t help Coach Mac that his offense was simply overwhelmed by Michigan in the opener on Sept. 2, being held to only 192 total yards. It was painful to watch.
Now there are local columnists, such as my friend Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, who are suggesting that McElwain walk down one flight of stairs at the Florida athletics complex and ask Spurrier, who serves as the athletic department’s ambassador, to help fix this mess.
So keep your eye on this one. Florida hasn’t been 0-2 since 1971. And if Tennessee comes into The Swamp and wins for the first time since 2003, it is going to start getting ugly.
And everything that is written above means nothing when compared to the devastation that Hurricane Irma has had on the state of Florida. The mood is somber.
On Tuesday, after debating several options, the decision was made to play the game as scheduled.
“It’s time to pick up and get back going and that is what we’re going to do,” said McElwain.
JACKSON VS. THE CLEMSON DEFENSE: WHO WINS?
There were rumblings in the preseason that Clemson—not Alabama and not Ohio State—might have the best defensive front seven in all of college football.
Well, the Tigers certainly made their case last Saturday night in Death Valley when they held Auburn to 117 total yards, the lowest offensive production since Gus Malzahn became head coach in 2013. Clemson had 11 sacks against Auburn.
Now the Clemson defense takes on a completely different challenge as the Tigers, winners of 10 straight road games, go to Louisville to face Lamar Jackson, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.
A year ago at Clemson, Jackson put up 457 total yards (295 passing, 162 rushing) and drove the Cardinals into position to win the game late only to come up a yard short on fourth down. Clemson won 42-36.
In case you’re wondering, this is the fourth time since 2004 that the Heisman Trophy winner has taken on the defending national champions. Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M lost to Alabama in 2013, Florida’s Tim Tebow beat LSU in 2008, and Oklahoma’s Jason White lost to USC (AP champs) in 2004.
In two games this season Jackson has posted 1,010 total yards.
PATTERSON, BROWN, WORTH WATCHING OUT WEST
This has been a very strange week for Ole Miss (2-0). The Rebels practiced on Tuesday without head coach Matt Luke and several assistants who were in Covington, Ky., appearing before the NCAA infractions committee.
Then on Friday the team flew West in order to play California (2-0) with a 10:30 ET tip time. The good news for Ole Miss is that they have next week off to recover before starting a string of nine straight games to finish the season.
Here’s why this game should rate some attention as you’re flipping around the dial Saturday night. Quarterback Shea Patterson of Ole Miss has thrown for 918 yards in his first two games. He has a chance to become the first quarterback in SEC history to throw for over 400 yards in three consecutive games. He threw for a school-record 489 yards last week against UT-Martin and had 429 in the season-opener with Alabama.
But here is the stat that blows my mind: Every quarterback has his favorite receiver but Patterson’s connection with A.J. Brown is on another planet. In two games Patterson has completed 94 percent of his passes thrown to Brown.
**--If Duke (2-0), which beat Northwestern 41-17 last week, can beat Baylor (0-2) in Durham, the Blue Devils will be 3-0 for the second time under coach David Cutcliffe. The last Duke coach go 3-0 before Cutcliffe was some guy named Spurrier, who won an ACC championship there in 1989.
**--Interesting game of the week: Kansas State (2-0) at Vanderbilt (2-0). Kansas State and their Hall of Fame coach, Bill Snyder, close out their non-conference schedule with a trip to Nashville. Kansas State is a resourceful team. They have forced 31 turnovers in their last 15 games and turned those into 108 points. Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur has thrown seven touchdowns with no interceptions in his first two games
**--Why do teams like Colorado State (2-1) travel to No. 1 Alabama (2-0)?
For the money, of course. The Rams, coached by former Georgia quarterback/offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, will get a cool $1.5 million to make the trip to Tuscaloosa.
But the school will also get a boatload of exposure playing No. 1 Alabama on ESPN2. Alabama draws a national audience of millions for its TV games. That exposure, according to an article in the The Coloradoan newspaper, is worth over $2 million to the university.
**--Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey is going from the field to the press box for Saturday’s game with Mercer. Auburn gained only 117 yards of total offense last week against Clemson. Auburn opens SEC play with Missouri next week.