The Back Nine comes at you after a weekend in the Bluegrass and the realization that it’s going to be more than a month before the Gators play another true road game. Sweet.
10. Now that the nine Florida players have had sworn complaints filed against them and we live in a “Fire Everybody” world there is going to be an assumption and possibly a demand that these players be cut loose from the program, especially those who have been in trouble before. I’m looking at you Antonio Callaway. Certainly, when you have nine players facing felony charges it’s not a good look for anyone, but we still live in a country where you are presumed innocent. These guys are not practicing with the team (the first seven suspended weren’t even in the team picture) and aren’t going to play … probably at all this season. As Jim McElwain said Monday, Florida’s football team has pretty much moved on from these suspensions and while he isn’t going to just throw them away, he may not have a choice moving forward. But that time is not today or tomorrow.
11. That noise you hear today is Kentucky fans still complaining about the late holding call that probably cost the Wildcats a chance to win the game Saturday night (among other things). It was definitely holding, but the Big Blue Nation is pointing out several other plays where Florida was not called for holding. Here’s the thing — there was a lot of holding not called in that game. We don’t always understand what is a hold and what is not, but we know it when we think we see it. In the end, however, you have to live with missed calls, bad calls, questionable calls and even correct calls that are missed. We didn’t feel like we got a correct explanation of Vosean Joseph’s double-personal fouls on one play, but after watching the replay, you can see both of them were pretty easy calls (he drilled a Kentucky player coming out to block him before the targeting call). I’m still not a big fan of targeting calls when a player slides at the last second, but it is what it is. I’m also not a big fan of taunting and while this may seem like a pull-up-your-pants and get-off-my-lawn moment, it would be nice to see players not feel like they have to constantly be shushing opposing fans (or spitting on logos or yelling obscenities at fans) and it would be nice if fans would not throw things at players. But I guess I’m living in a dream world.
12. This is a statistic that the anti-McElwain Gator fans (and you know who you are) are going to consider blasphemy, but McElwain has the same regular-season start in SEC regular-season games as Steve Spurrier at 15-3. I know that the league is different now and Spurrier’s teams were more fun to watch and way more dominant, but 15-3 is still pretty impressive. It must be noted, however, that Spurrier also won 37 of his next 39 SEC regular-season games. If McElwain can duplicate that, well, it’s a whole different story. Of course, as good a play-caller as Spurrier was I can’t remember him designing two plays in one game where a receiver was uncovered. The Back Nine asked Brandon Powell about the last touchdown and he said he was on the bench getting treatment for an elbow to the rib and heard people on the Gator sideline yelling, “Freddie’s wide open! Nobody’s covering him! I don’t know how you do that.” Nobody does. Especially the female UK cheerleader in that end zone who can be seen on TV scolding the Wildcat defense after the play.
13. The good news for Florida punter Johnny Townsend is that he leads the nation in punting with a 50.8 average per boot. The bad news is that Florida ranks third from the bottom in the country in punting yards allowed. That’s because the Gator punt coverage has been just shy of abysmal. It’s almost gotten to the point where Townsend should kick everything out of bounds. McElwain said Monday that Townsend could do better with his hang time, but promised that the competition for playing time on the punt coverage team is going to be pretty heated this week. “I didn’t think we covered with the speed of the Florida Gators,” McElwain said. This is an area that has been affected by missing players, but for a team with such a small margin for error it must improve.
14. There are only eight winless teams in FCS college football and one of them is Florida State. Of course, Hurricane Irma has something to do with that in terms of games played, but I was surprised at how poorly FSU’s defense played in the loss to North Carolina State. I mean, this is a defense that held Alabama to 13 first downs and 269 yards and gave up 21 first downs (one that was a killer late) and 365 yards to the Wolfpack. (By the way, the only other Power Five team without a win is Baylor). The Seminoles’ next three games are against teams that are currently unbeaten (Wake Forest, Miami and Duke), although FSU should be able to get the first win over a Wake team that needed a blocked field goal to subdue Appalachian State. You can’t help but wonder where Jimbo Fisher’s team is mentally with all it has been through already in a two-game start.
15. Things got a little emotional in the SEC for losing coaches on Saturday. Bret Bielema broke down for a few seconds talking about his team’s tough loss to Texas A&M in overtime. Bielema is an emotional guy and there is heat on him because of his team’s inability to finish games the last two seasons. But I can’t see Arkansas ponying up $15 million for a buyout no matter how this season goes. Then there was Barry Odom, the Missouri coach who went into a 3½-minute diatribe about the state of the program after the Tigers were embarrassed by Auburn. “I’m going to win here,” he said. Raise your hand if you are not so sure.
16. Man, the NFL went all college football on us in the early games Sunday. There were some wild finishes, none crazier than Atlanta-Detroit. Talk about snatching a victory from the jaws of defeat. It’s another example of the NFL rules being applied correctly, but everyone questioning whether the rule is a good one on running off the time on the clock in a situation like that. I’m guessing Dan Quinn isn’t complaining. And can someone explain the Jacksonville Jaguars to me? Or why Jameis Winston is still making bad decisions?
17. The Tweet of the Week comes from George Schroeder, the excellent college football writer for USA Today — “Alabama has now won 18 consecutive against SEC opponents by an average of 23.1 points.” That just shows you the mountain that every team in this league is trying to climb and just how dominant Nick Saban is right now. By the way, the Tide is favored by 24 against Ole Miss this week.
18. I really enjoy the trip every other year to Lexington because it is such a beautiful area of the country. It’s definitely in my top three SEC cities. And I had a great playlist to listen to while I walked the Griffin Gate Marriott golf course:
• “Tyson vs. Douglas” by The Killers.
• “Why Didn’t You Say That?” by The Lemon Twigs.
• A new version of “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by The Head and the Heart.
• “Everything Now” by Arcade Fire.
• And for an oldie but a goody, “The Streak” by Ray Stevens. Sorry, it was too easy.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.