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Monday Musings: Vaya con Dios, Jermaine and AQM; Kaepernick isn’t worth your time; You can miss your sister’s wedding for this weekend’s slate of games

A few game week thoughts and random sports-related inanity.

1) AQM and Jermaine Grace fail to remember the not-so-distant past

I had my fingers crossed. No one’s gonna do anything stupid. We’re not going to read about a player getting caught with an unlicensed firearm or getting popped for drugs, assault, or driving through someone’s living room Billy Joel-style.

Then, Al-Quadin Muhammad and Jermaine Grace reminded us why we haven’t been able to have nice things for the past decade-plus. No pics on boats near Star Island this time. Just a couple of knuckleheads who reportedly got caught up with South Beach Exotic Rentals, in which UM has been probing an alleged arrangement for rentals in exchange for some future stake in their careers, according to the Miami Herald.

This an issue that actually came to light months ago, but had been under wraps for much of the summer. Given that Miami is scheduled to come off probation from the Nevin Shapiro mess this October, UM’s strong and swift action can’t be considered overly surprising. Any further dirty laundry while still on probation would potentially have been a risk, so Miami made the choice it felt it had to make.

And for a defense looking to make a complete overhaul from the disastrous D’Onofrio era, the loss of two starters – the team’s best linebacker and most explosive pass rusher – can’t just be shaken off. Yeah, yeah, next man up and all of that. I know that’s the mentality, and that’s what will have to happen. Maybe there will be a kind of Frank-Gore-goes-down-Willis-McGahee-breaks-records kind of change, for those drinking the koolaid.

But it’s hard for me to see this as anything less than devastating. Grace is just an all-around solid, instinctive player who could have been the leader of the defense. AQM, as controversial and enigmatic as he’s been, is the kind of player who could have been a terror this season. I was really looking forward to seeing what Manny Diaz and Coach Kool could’ve gotten out of him.

But, we’ll always have that sack of Jeff Driskel to effectively ice the 2013 UF-Miami game. Thanks for the memory, AQM Tyriq McCord. Thanks.......for having a name easy to reduce to initials, Al-Quadin Muhammad.

2) UM needs to fine tune some areas against FAMU

UM should win this matchup comfortably, so there’s not much use (and you probably don’t care all that much anyways) discussing how Florida A&M matches up with our guys. However, it will be interesting to see how certain positional groups and players fare on Saturday.

Where’s the pass rush going to come from? With Muhammad gone, the battle for his spot will pit former 5-star recruit Chad Thomas against Demetrius Jackson. In two seasons, Thomas has tallied a whopping one sack while starting 8 of 13 games last year. Surely, if anyone can turn around the raw talent in a player like Thomas, it’s Manny Diaz and Craig Kuligowski. It’d be nice to see Thomas be able to abuse an inferior offensive line like FAMU and show early that he can start taking that next step this year that he’s failed to take in his first two years. I’d also like for Jackson get significant reps and see what he can do. His upside is incredible, but his time on the field has been limited, with him redshirting in 2014 and only playing in 7 games last year, starting none.

And speaking of raw talent, Trent Harris, who saw time at linebacker last season and is currently listed as a starter opposite Thomas, has the edge rushing potential to fill the role, at least on third downs. He tallied 3.5 sacks last year, so if Coach Kool can work on his technique and transition him over, he could be a surprise player this year…and one that the coaching staff could maybe look to move around the line to take advantage of his burst.

Who will emerge as the lead horse in the backfield? With Mark Walton’s legal troubles behind him, he will join Gus Edwards and Joe Yearby in what should be one of the most earnest battles as the season goes on. In the school’s first depth chart, Walton is listed as the starter, with Yearby and Edwards as the co-backups. With this game hopefully getting out of hand early, Yearby and Edwards should get plenty of time to make an early case to be the one worthy of more carries.

Also, can this team finally play more disciplined beginning week 1? PLEASE??? Will we see sloppiness from the start? Holding penalties as a new offensive line tries to gel? Needless blocks in the back to nullify a long return? Blown coverages leading to chunk plays? Miami has this week, and then a tilt with FAU before hitting the road to Boone for what could be a very tough matchup with Appalachian State. Miami can’t have the officials keep playing imaginary cornhole with penalty flags and expect to avoid an upset. App State is well coached and consistently successful for a reason. Perhaps the anti-Golden. But as for Saturday, I’ll go with UM 47, FAMU 10.

3) Colin Kaepernick isn’t worth your time

Yeah, it’s everywhere. There’s almost nowhere you can flip the channel this week where a group of talking heads isn’t talking about the merits of failing to stand for the national anthem.

Personally, I think it’s Kaepernick’s prerogative to sit or stand. I don’t really care. I also think it’s his prerogative to subject himself to the irony of sitting for not just the coin toss, but also the remainder of the game behind a quarterback in Blaine Gabbert who’s been hailed as one of the bigger QB busts in recent years.

It’s his prerogative to continue to draw an eight-figure annual paycheck that results from a capitalistic society that was born from the blood shed by American soldiers in support of that flag over centuries.

It’s his prerogative to lose respect from colleagues, fans, and American citizens, and get the hell booed out of him wherever he goes.

If he wants to suffer from these aforementioned stigmas and damage his own reputation, that’s up to him. He’s a backup quarterback just preparing to do what he’ll probably do all season: sit. Point made. Nothing to see here, let’s move on.

4) College Football opening weekend is miss-your-sister’s-wedding kind of good

I had toyed with the idea of going to Green Bay and watching LSU take on Wisconsin. My cousins are big-time LSU backers, and a trip to see two of the sexier names in college football get together in a rematch from last year at historic Lambeau Field was almost too much to pass up.

Then I remember I have two small children, and Notre Dame plays at Texas. And Clemson goes to Auburn. Ole Miss takes on already-crowned 2016 national champion Florida State (or so I’ve been told). Oklahoma at Houston. LSU – Wisconsin. Georgia – UNC. Alabama – USC. An imprint of my butt cheeks on the recliner is a certainty.

And speaking of certainties, Alabama is currently giving 10.5 to USC in a game that is being played in Dallas. USC fans made shirts that say “ROLL TEARS ROLL”. Alabama fans responded with “Our O.J. Only Killed Clemson”. What’s that old phrase... that an elephant never forgets? Bama won’t on Saturday. Alabama (-10.5) 34, USC 14.

Remember to tip your servers and drink responsibly. Until next week….