Florida defensive back Jalen “Teez” Tabor went through his own media day last month in New York, when “Tabor Takes NYC” became one of the most heavily anticipated blitzes of the offseason.
Now, he’s taking a seat on the bench.
Florida announced that Tabor and tight end C’yontai Lewis have been removed from team activities and suspended for the season opener versus UMass.
Head coach Jim McElwain said the following:
Both C’yontai and Jalen will not be involved with the team or practice due to behavior that is not acceptable. By no means are these bad guys and yet consequences have been handed down. We will not look the other way when it comes to breaking of team policies. I want to echo what I said earlier, these are both fine young men who will learn and be stronger from their actions. They will also be suspended for the first game. There are life lessons in everything we do. We will be better because of it and no one person is bigger than the Florida Gators.
According to Graham Hall of the Gainesville Sun, the two got into a fight at practice that didn’t end between the white lines:
What’s ominous about McElwain‘s statement is that he doesn’t specifically state that the one-game suspension is the extent of their punishment, and surely being removed from team activities for a couple of weeks leading up to the season could require more than a week of work to get back into game shape.
Is this concerning for Florida? Of course.
Tabor is a potential All-American corner for the Gators, and his mere presence in the defensive backfield dictates the way opposing offensive coordinators attack the Gator defense. What’s even more concerning is the possibility of having a divide in the locker room.
Yes, fights happen on practice fields all the time. Rarely do they carry over beyond that, and rarely do they result in suspensions.
Whatever happened, it was more than just emotions getting the better of two competitors.
With that said, though, Tabor’s short-term absence doesn’t have to be season-defining for the Gators.
Fellow starter Quincy Wilson is a star in his own right, Duke Dawson can play nickel, corner or safety, and McArthur Burnett and Chris Williamson are talented youngsters who can hold their own. UMass isn’t exactly a juggernaut to start the season, and with Kentucky and North Texas to follow, there’s plenty of time for Tabor (and Lewis) to get ready for the Week 4 showdown with Tennessee.
And you can bet your bottom, top and middle dollars that they’ll both be back at full speed by that point.
All Signs Point Toward Chubb in the Georgia Dome
For the last couple of weeks, it was becoming clear that Georgia running back Nick Chubb was getting closer to the point that he’d be ready for the Bulldogs’ season opener versus North Carolina in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
Now, you can probably write it in ink.
Speaking to The Front Row on WCNN 680 The Fan in Atlanta, head coach Kirby Smart all but confirmed that his star junior, who was tackled to the ground in practice over the weekend, will be part of the game plan against the Tar Heels.
“I hope so,” Smart said at the 8:55 mark regarding Chubb playing a role. “It’s pointing in that direction.”
Smart even joked about being disappointed that Chubb didn’t take enough contact during Saturday’s scrimmage:
They blew the whistle a little quick a couple of times. I didn’t know why. I guess they’re big fans or something. Maybe they have been reading the internet. Maybe they thought we were still “thudding” him. He got mad because they blew the whistle quick a couple of times and he felt like could break some tackles.
Yeah, Chubb‘s playing.
If he has progressed from the gruesome knee injury he suffered last October to the point that he’s seeking out contact and his coach is confident in his health, then he’s going to play a big role in the offense.
That’s huge because Chubb‘s ability to control the clock and tempo is actually Georgia’s best defense. The last thing Smart needs considering Georgia’s quarterback issues is North Carolina using tempo to turn the game into a shootout. If Chubb can grind it out and limit the possessions for Tar Heels coach Larry Fedora’s offense, it will take a ton of pressure off the eventual winner of the quarterback battle among Greyson Lambert, Brice Ramsey and Jacob Eason.
Alabama has lost defensive backs Maurice Smith and Shawn Burgess-Becker to transfers this offseason. Fellow defensive back Tony Brown is facing an early-season suspension from last year’s College Football Playoff. And now the Crimson Tide are apparently losing another one.
Kendall Sheffield hasn’t been seen at practice over the last week, and head coach Nick Saban is unsure about whether Sheffield—a redshirt freshman and former 5-star prospect from Missouri City, Texas, intends to stay with the Crimson Tide.
According to Gerry Hamilton of ESPN.com, Sheffield has received his release from Saban with the stipulation that he can’t transfer to another SEC program.
Suddenly, a position of depth in Tuscaloosa isn’t that deep.
Smith’s departure changed the role of rising sophomore cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick to that of a situational nickel. But the uncertainty of Brown’s status early in the season and Sheffield’s sudden departure could force Saban and defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt to reassess roles in the secondary now that cornerback depth is a problem.
The solution could depend on the progress of true freshman Shyheim Carter. The Kentwood, Louisiana, native has impressed some of the older members of the secondary early in his Crimson Tide career.
“A lot of the young guys have caught my eye, especially Shyheim Carter,” said senior safety Eddie Jackson at SEC media days. “We have him at ‘star’ and also at corner. That’s one guy who came in with the right mindset, ready to learn, and he takes coaching very well.”
Whatever happens, though, the Tide secondary is a bit in flux and has one of the best wide receivers in the country to deal with in Game 1, when USC’s Juju Smith-Schuster lines up on the other side of the line of scrimmage.
Big Loss For Mizzou
Missouri’s offense is in desperate need of a spark after finishing last in the conference in total offense (280.9 YPG), yards per play (4.38) and passing plays of 10 or more yards (74) according to CFBStats.com.
It won’t have one of its most reliable targets for the foreseeable future.
According to Blake Toppmeyer of the Columbia Daily Tribune, junior Nate Brown will miss significant time early in the season:
Brown finished last season with 27 catches for 326 yards and a team-high four touchdown receptions and was being counted on by quarterback Drew Lock to be one of the go-to receivers this year along with fellow junior J’Mon Moore.
Brown’s absence leaves a void in the receiving corps that first-year head coach Barry Odom and offensive coordinator Josh Heupel will have to fill with an unproven player.
Sophomores Keyon Dilosa and DeSean Blair are both over 6’2″ and could step in for the 6’3″ Brown for the time being. But they don’t have Brown’s experience and will have to grow up in a hurry. Brown’s absence will also put more responsibility on Alabama graduate transfer Chris Black, who enrolled at Missouri this offseason after an injury-riddled Alabama career.
- The devastating floods in Louisiana have impacted several members of the LSU football program, including receiver Russell Gage, linebacker Devin Voorhies, tight end Caleb Roddy, fullback Bry’kiethon Mouton, quarterback Brandon Harris and running back Derrius Guice, as Ross Dellenger of the Advocate notes. Hopefully those impacted by the awful storms will get back on their feet soon and get the help they need.
- South Carolina lost star linebacker Skai Moore over the summer to back surgery, and now another starter is missing time in fall camp. Senior defensive back Rico McWilliams has missed the last few practices because of a personal matter, according to Josh Kendall of the State. McWilliams had 32 tackles and broke up two passes last year as a starter in the secondary and is being counted on to provide veteran leadership under first-year head coach Will Muschamp.
- USC’s bookstore is selling some specially designed shirts for the season opener versus Alabama (via Joey Kaufman of the Orange County Register). That won’t go over well in T-Town.
Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.
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Source: Bleacher Report -SEC Football