Gang, the mailbag is on the horizon, and we know you have questions. Fire.
SEC starting five
The SEC starts practice in full this weekend. Giddy-up.
Here are five story lines we have our eyes on as camp starts around the league.
1) Hi, are you wanting to try-out for quarterback? Half the league has QB questions, and that's not counting teams such as Georgia and South Carolina that believe they have answers with guys who have limited experience and are replacing record-setting starters. Good times. Of course the shakedowns in Knoxville (with the duo our Downtown Patrick Brown called Joshtin Dobbsley), Tuscaloosa and Lexington may be of the most interest locally.
2) Is LSU underrated? Maybe. There are a ton of five-star skilled players arriving to Baton Rouge this year. Guys like Malachi Dupree and Leonard Forunette and Trey Quinn, players everyone in the country wanted and guys who likely in two-and-a-half years will continue the LSU underclassmen migration to the NFL. LSU has lost 17 underclassmen to the draft the last two years, and how they fill the gaps will determine if this a championship run or a rebuilding one. (Oh yeah, they have QB questions, too.)
3) How good could Auburn's offense be? It has the chance be special considering the following: a) this is the first time coach Gus Malzahn has ever had a retiring starting quarterback in his college career; b) the offensive line has more than 120 starts between them; c) with Sammie Coates back and junior college transfer Duke Williams and a healthy Jaylon Denson, this is the best collection of AU receivers in at least a decade and on the short list of best in school history. Here's saying Auburn ranks in the top-five in scoring nationally.
4) How hot will Will Muschamp's seat get come early October? Looking at the Gators' schedule, Florida likely will beat Idaho, Eastern Michigan and Kentucky to start the season before falling in a trip to Alabama. Then comes an off week before an early-October trip to Knoxville for a game that shapes up to be a swing game for each program's hopes this fall. FYI — after a wretched 2013 that included a loss to Georgia Southern, Muschamp and Co. have five of the top-15 teams in the country on their schedule with trips to Alabama and FSU, visits from South Carolina and LSU and Georgia in Jacksonville. (Oh yeah, they have QB questions too.)
5) Who's the favorite? It's Alabama, despite their quarterback issues. Layers of talent across the defensive front seven and at the skilled positions on offense make this team look the part. The Tide does not have QB questions per se — we can all agree Jacob Coker will be the starter, right? — but they need the FSU transfer to be the answer for sure. Here's saying he will be.
The Atlanta Braves have dropped the first two games at L.A., and tonight they draw Clayton Kershaw. Ouch-standing.
Atlanta lost 3-2 in 10 innings last night/this morning.
The good: Alex Wood looks like what we expected Mike Minor to be. Wood did not get a decision, but his seven strong innings were impressive. Also of note here is that the Dodgers have won five straight and with a monster payroll have a snazzy top half of their order: Dee Gordon, Yaisel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Rameriz and Matt Kemp, who is scorching right now. The Dodgers' lineup is so good, Andre Either is a bench guy.
The bad: Hey, it was a relatively well-played, one-run loss to arguably the best team in the National League. So it goes.
The Uggla: Now that Danny Struggla has been jettisoned, the other contract albatross around the franchise's neck belongs to Stinky Upton, who is hitting .215 on the year and is scheduled to make $15 million per year through 2017. Ouch-flipping-standing. Side note: Stinky Upton went to the plate five times last night and put as many balls in play as you did. Four Ks and a walk in five trips. It was a late game, so if someone made it all the way through, did Stinky even bother to take a bat to the dish on the last few trips?
Ready for some football
Is anyone more ready for the season to start than Florida State fans?
Yes, the Seminoles are talented and return the Heisman trophy winner in Jameis Winston, but the offseason news off the field has seldom been good.
The latest was a report that Winston and a teammate were held at gunpoint a couple of years ago by Tallahassee police because they were squirrel hunting with a pellet gun. Here's the recap.
And yes, the sooner they can get back into the headlines for football matters will be a welcomed relief for Johnny Seminoles Fans everywhere.
This and that
— As some who likes to make the occasional wager or play the occasional hand of cards (for entertainment purposes only of course) we were mesmerized by this awful beat in Texas Hold 'em. In short, two dudes in a $1 million buy-in with only 15 players left each get pocket aces. One guy catches four hearts and busts the other. Ouch-standing.
— Pat Riley says the Heat are OK despite losing the best player on the planet in free agency. You're right Riles, Miami will be OK. Not overly good, not overly bad, but OK. Ask the Hawks how much fun being OK is.
— Happy trails to Bubba Simmons, the McCallie AD, who is headed to be the principal at Gordon Lee. Bubba was always aces in our dealings and was quite helpful in getting this year's inaugural Madaris Best of Preps Kickoff Classic between the Blue Tornado and Cleveland off the ground.
Happy birthday to JK Rowling, who gave Harry Potter fans seven years of thrills at Hogswarts, and to AJ Green, who gave Georgia fans three years of thrills at Sanford.
So obviously we're asking for a Rushmore of most famous/talented folks who went by double initials? (And after asking for a ruling, Magnum P.I. does not count.)
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...