Hot Reads: Going deeper than your favorite receiver - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Hot Reads: Going deeper than your favorite receiver

Coach Will Muschamp and the Gators enter the 2012 season with an interesting conundrum - who is QB1?  (Source: University of Florida) Coach Will Muschamp and the Gators enter the 2012 season with an interesting conundrum - who is QB1? (Source: University of Florida)
Kiehl Frazier doesn't have a starting center or much respect from the rest of the league, but that doesn't actually mean he is at a disadvantage. (Source: Todd van Emst/Auburn University) Kiehl Frazier doesn't have a starting center or much respect from the rest of the league, but that doesn't actually mean he is at a disadvantage. (Source: Todd van Emst/Auburn University)

(RNN) – The problem with most football fans is they only follow the game as far as what they can see. Watch the ball, see the touchdown, yell at the TV during a turnover and then make small talk with your buddies until the cycle begins again.

What they don't realize is the small details right before and right after the snap will pretty much tell you the outcome of the play before it ends.

The problem with many sportswriters is they do the same thing. Report the score, report the stats and then hype some quarterback as the next Heisman favorite.

What they don't realize is that by the time that quarterback figures out how to read a blind-side blitz, other teams will have adjusted, and their hero will barely look like a walk-on for the last four games of the season. Bye bye, Heisman.

Every week, Hot Reads will take you a little deeper than what you see on your high-def TV, and we'll have fun doing it.

With that said, let's get down to business, shall we?

Eeeny, meeny, miney … throw

While the rest of the SEC is playing football to start the season, the Florida Gators have chosen an alternative way to entertain their fans.

Coach Will Muschamp, still undecided on whether to start Jacoby Brissett or Jeff Driskel at quarterback, announced the audition between the sophomores will continue for the first two quarters of the opener against Bowling Green.

One will play the first quarter; the other will play the second quarter. The winner gets to lead the preseason No. 23-ranked team to an expected win in the second half, and the loser gets lovely consolation prizes – a clipboard and mop-up duty in any future blowouts.

But hold on, let's back the cupcake wagon up for a minute. A closer look at Bowling Green shows this might not be the best game to attempt this experiment.

Coach Dave Clawson has redshirted everything but the ball boys the past two years, and Bowling Green will put 20 returning starters on the field. Yes, you read that right – 20. The amount of individual production that is coming back is staggering, even if those numbers came during a five-win 2011 season against soft competition.

Experience and confidence in any opponent are lethal, especially in the first game of the season for a rebuilding Florida team that has not been elite since Tim Tebow's departure three years ago.

To be fair, the Gators' defense is so strong they could probably beat the Falcons without a quarterback on the field, and Bowling Green hasn't defeated a Top 25 opponent since 2008.

But Muschamp's unique coaching decision certainly put more buzz in the upset watch meter.

Frazier's baptism by fire – not as hot as you think

Welcome to the big leagues, Kiehl Frazier. If you can keep the car between the lines, driving as a starting quarterback for Auburn won't be an overly difficult task.

Why, do you ask? Well, let's take a look-see.

First, there's Clemson. This is a perfect example of why there should be a constitutional amendment banning preseason rankings. The Tigers from South Carolina will enter the season as the No. 14 team in both the AP Poll and USA Today Coaches' Poll.

Umm, I'm sorry, but no. Clemson lost three defensive line starters from a 2011 defense that was far from dominant, even before West Virginia won the Orange Bowl track meet.

The offense is great. It would be better if All-American sophomore Sammy Watkins weren't sitting out the first two games for drug-related offenses.

So, Kiehl, my man, listen up and listen good. Don't get too fancy, and pray Tajh Boyd doesn't go all Cam Newton against your perennially underachieving defense. Yes, I know your starting center got drunk, got arrested and got suspended. But this is character-building time. Man up, son!

Get past Clemson and very winnable games against Mississippi State and Louisiana-Monroe, take your whipping against LSU, then you might beat Arkansas and cruise until you meet Georgia and Alabama.

What do you mean, "What about Georgia and Alabama?" Stop asking all these questions and listen. This is no time to lose focus. The fate of the world rests on your shoulders!

Whoops, wrong speech. Moving on…


South Carolina travels to Vanderbilt on Thursday night in the only all-league matchup in the opening week of play, and you can smell the anxiety halfway across the country.

Show of hands, who really thinks Vandy can win this game? David Price, you are not allowed to vote, so please put your hand down. You either, Jay Cutler. Not even your ego – uhhh, I mean arm – could help this team this year.

So what could help the Commodores? History.

While the Commodores will almost certainly finish somewhere in the .500 range – likely below that – they seem to be on this weird cycle of seasons when they perform well in the first handful of games before falling off the table.

After going to a bowl last year, this is probably the last good season in the cycle until, say, about 2019.

Vanderbilt has made it very clear that at this point South Carolina is the most important game of the season. After that, Vanderbilt has Northwestern and St. Paul's School for Unruly Girls.

Well, actually, it's Presbyterian, but really, what's the difference? The point is, flying the "Victory Flag" after the first three games this season is not out of the question.

A starting quarterback who is the brother of a Super Bowl MVP, All-SEC running back Zac Stacy and eight starters returning for a defense that ranked No. 18 in the nation last season all bode well for Vandy.

While the Gamecocks have a wonderful combination of talent, coaching and popularity, they have not totally convinced people they can handle the pressure of high expectations – maybe not even themselves.

Cheerleader suicides

On a far more serious note, Hot Reads has been on suicide watch since a federal court ruled in early August that cheerleading does not qualify as an intercollegiate athletic competition.

This groundbreaking news casts doubt on both the motivation and sanity of cheerleaders all over the SEC. Especially the guys, who are probably thinking, "I gave up weightlifting for this?"

Of course, everyone has their own opinions, especially the mothers of cheerleaders. I would know because I've written enough columns on the subject and have probably heard from every cheer mom in the eastern half of the United States.

The opinion of Hot Reads is simply this: Anything that attracts dirty old men is never a good thing.

Aside from that, cheer, don't cheer, cut the cheerleading programs completely, or do whatever else you want. It really doesn't matter one way or the other.

Just keep in mind that probably nowhere else in the country do cheerleaders consider themselves integral parts of the athletic program more than SEC Country. So when you hear about protests outside athletic facilities and illegally obtained mood-altering drugs passing around entire squads, remember you heard it here first.

This Week's Unique Stat

4-0: Kentucky has played its last four season openers on the road and won all of them. Two of those wins were against Louisville, the Wildcats' opponent Sunday. In the long run this projects to be a much better season for Louisville, but the odds favor UK for at least the next four days.

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