Florida Gators: Could 8 Years of Mediocre QB Play End in 2018?

The 2010 Allstate Sugar Bowl. The last game of Tim Tebow’s legendary college career at Florida and the beginning of the programs 8 year-long quarterback drought. This would also be the last time Florida would ever truly be an elite team. After Tebow graduated, a year later Urban Meyer stepped down and UF found themselves in an all out rebuild. The one aspect the Gators have managed to maintain over the past 8 years, is their top-tier defense. The defense alone is the reason UF hasn’t completely fallen off the face of the college football world. As for their offense, it’s an entire different story and it all goes back to the inability of finding and developing quarterbacks. As a Florida fan, it pains me to say that the Gators haven’t had a quality QB since Tim Tebow. With that said, I have a lot of confidence that the 8 year drought can and will come to an end this upcoming season. Before I get into why, let’s take a look at all of Florida’s QB’s since 2010. WARNING: It’s a longer list than it should be.

2010 – 2011: John Brantley – Never heard of him? There’s a reason why.

2011 – 2012: Jacoby Brissett – Another below average QB at Florida before transferring to NC State and actually having a solid career with the Wolfpack. Currently with the Indianapolis Colts.

2012 – 2014: Jeff Driskel – After a decent freshman year, Driskel underperformed and was eventually benched. He then transferred to Louisiana Tech and just like Brissett, he went on to have much more success.

2013: Tyler Murphy – After leading Florida to a comeback win over Tennessee, he was thought to be the hero QB the Gators have been looking for. Unfortunately he also quickly fizzled out and then transferred to Boston College.

2013: Skyler Mornhinweg – After benching the two QB’s ahead of him, the Gators named the 3rd stringer the starter. It didn’t go well.

2014 – 2015: Treon Harris – Had a lot of hype coming out of high school but, never lived up to it in his time with the Gators. Transferred to Tennessee State.

2015: Will Grier – Finally. Florida found their QB. Leading UF to a 6-0 start and looking like an elite player, Grier and the Gators looked unstoppable. Unfortunately, it was too good to be true. Grier was suspended for PED’s and then transferred to West Virginia.

2016: Austin Appleby – Transfer from Purdue. Played like a transfer from Purdue. Sorry Purdue.

2016 – 2017: Luke Del Rio – After showing sparks of potential, Del Rio lacked consistency and was incredibly injury prone.

2017: Malik Zaire – After looking promising at Notre Dame,  Zaire had a lot of Florida fans excited when he announced he was transferring to UF. That would be the only time Florida fans would be excited about Zaire.

2017: Feleipe Franks – Currently the starter, Franks has shown potential and still has a shot to return as the starter next year.

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Here we are today. As the Gators prepare to have their biggest QB battle in years between Feleipe Franks and Emory Jones, fans have high hopes for the upcoming season. After hiring Dan Mullen a.k.a “The QB Whisperer”, Florida may finally have the coach they needed all of these years to properly develop a quarterback. Mullen has proven he can turn a program around after making a lowly Mississippi State team a consistent Top 25 team. He also turned Dak Prescott and Nick Fitzpatrick into high quality QB’s. Something that was unheard of at MSU. Oh yeah, he was also the offensive guru at Florida during the Tebow era, winning two national titles with the Gators.

As one can see, it’s understandable for us Florida fans to be beyond excited for the 2018 season. Whether it’s Feleipe Franks or the 5 star recruit Emory Jones, I’m looking forward to seeing Mullen and his staff revive these quarterback’s and the entire offense as a whole. This could be UF’s return to the spotlight or at least the beginning of it.

– Collin Borron (Founder & Owner of The Gridiron Express)

Kansas City Royals: The End of an Era

Being a Royals fan, I’ve had some pretty good experiences watching baseball the past couple seasons. The Royals brought up highly touted prospects up from the minors and they developed pretty nicely. I was able to watch those players grow and improve and build a winning culture in Kansas City. I experienced the heartbreaking loss in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series when the Royals were “this” close to winning. That gut wrenching loss was made up for the very next year when Kansas City defeated the Mets in five games. And now I get to watch all my favorite players from those teams move on from the Royals.

The Royals weren’t always as competitive as they’ve been for the past couple years. In fact, they were awful. Luckily I was too young to realize just how awful they were. But during that stretch of mediocre baseball, there was a GM with a process even before Sam Hinkie came along for the 76ers. That man is Dayton Moore. When he first became the GM for the Royals, he promised the people of Kansas City a World Championship. That seemed pretty unrealistic for where the team was at, at the time. But he built the team through the draft and developed a team that fits Kauffman Stadium.

Looking back at the World Series teams for the Royals, they were loaded with talent. You had your defensive wizards Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Salvador Perez, your speedsters Jarrod Dyson, Terrance Gore and Paulo Orlando, your big sluggers Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Kendrys Morales, and the focal point of the team, the lockdown relievers Wade Davis, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera. Those teams were really special.

The two playoff runs the Royals had in 2014 and 2015 were magical. There were countless moments of clutch hitting and pitching, comeback after comeback. In 2014 there is the infamous Wild Card game, the exciting sweeps of the Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore Orioles. And if it weren’t for possibly the best World Series pitcher ever, the Royals would have won the World Series. My heart was broken when Alex Gordon was stranded on third as the tying run.

The next year, the Royals showed that the previous year was no fluke, they came out swinging any way they possibly could. Kansas City was in first place for most of the year and they got the 1 seed in the AL. There they ran into the young Astros, who gave them a really good fight but the Royals managed to squeak by even though it seemed as if the season was over in the 8th inning of Game 4. The Royals were down by 5 runs and everyone in the lineup contributed to the effort of forcing a Game 5, that they would then win. After that the Royals were matched up against the Toronto Blue Jays, an offensive juggernaut that they were able to keep quiet for most of the six game series.

WTOP

Two World Series in a row, there was no way that this team was going to lose both. The Royals handled business against the Mets the same way they had during all the other series, timely hitting, spectacular defense and an unhittable bullpen. The moment strike three was called in the 12th inning of Game 5 my arms went straight up, much like what Wade Davis did after he threw the last pitch. It was the first championship that I had experienced as a hardcore fan of any team.

Those days are long gone now. So many key pieces of those teams are gone. James Shields and Billy Butler left for Free Agency after the 2014 Series. Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto did what they were supposed to do as rentals and left after the 2015 season. Kendrys Morales and Edinson Volquez hit free agency after the 2016 season and Wade Davis and Jarrod Dyson were traded in the offseason after the 2016 season. The hardest moment was the news of Yordano Ventura’s passing, he was a beloved figure in Kansas City with still so much potential that wasn’t able to be fulfilled. This past offseason has seen Eric Hosmer go to the Padres, Lorenzo Cain go to the Brewers and Mike Moustakas remains unsigned while I’m typing this and it is very unlikely he returns to KC.

There are still some members of the championship team left as the Royals look to rebuild for a few years. Salvador Perez is still behind the plate and won’t be going anywhere for a while, if ever. Alex Gordon and his Gold Gloves are still roaming the outfield at Kauffman Stadium, Danny Duffy, a reliever for the championship team, is now the teams Ace, Alcides Escobar was brought back on a one year deal to stay at shortstop for the time being and Kelvin Herrera is still throwing heat out of the bullpen for Kansas City.

It’s going to suck having to experience all the losing after so much success. But I will have good memories to look back on and no matter what the record, nothing can beat watching the Kansas City Royals.

 
– Brett Grashorn (Guest Writer)

The Unsurprising Downfall of Oklahoma

All season long, ESPN has seemingly gone head over heels for the break out star Trae Young and Oklahoma. The Sooners started out red-hot and Trae Young was putting up NBA Superstar numbers. After beating 5th ranked Kansas 85-80, Trae Young reached his peak performance level, OU sat at a 15-4 record and had the media and fans alike drooling over this team. Then disaster struck. Only winning 2 games since the win against KU, the Sooners have lost 8 of their last 11 games, and have plummeted in the latest Bracketology. Almost everyone is surprised at how bad they’ve crashed and burned to their current 17-12 record. Not me.

Although the Sooners have beaten a handful of quality teams and Trae Young has had plenty of unreal performances, their downfall has been anything but surprising. Let’s be honest, Oklahoma’s roster without Trae Young isn’t the best. It’s been very clear they’ve been reliant on Young’s success for the success of the entire team. If he has a great night, then that usually means a Oklahoma win. If he struggles and doesn’t put up incredible numbers, the Sooner’s don’t have the player(s) that can step up and save them from a loss. Let alone in one of the toughest conferences in college basketball. Other than Trae Young, Oklahoma has a major lack of talent and depth.

The best teams in college basketball are the ones that have the most team chemistry and roster depth. Obviously. Look at the previous National Champions over the past couple years. They’ve had incredible TEAMS, not just ONE PLAYER. Unity is a must to succeed in college basketball and with Oklahoma, it just seems like Trae Young desperately trying to make plays or occasionally putting up ridiculous shots. Their entire team revolves around him. When is the last time a team had long-term success relying on one player for an entire season? Unlike the NBA, star talent isn’t required to compete for National Championships. In fact, a team can have no NBA talent, still be the No.1 overall seed and reach the Final Four. *cough* 2013-14 Florida Gators *cough*. None of that “Superstar” nonsense matters in college. Sure it’s fun to watch and I’m certainly all for having star talent, but I’m just saying it’s not a requirement for a championship.

As we break into the magical month of March and prepare ourselves for one of the best sports spectacles of the year in March Madness, keep an eye on Oklahoma. I’m curious to see if they will get their problems figured out in time for the tournament. Is it too late or did they do enough early in the season to get a spot in the tournament? There are endless questions with this Sooner squad and even if they do make it into the Big Dance, I don’t see them making it past the 2nd Round.

– Collin Borron (Founder & Owner of The Gridiron Express)