It’s Florida fans’ turn to vent

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Florida fans look on in defeat Saturday after LSU beat the Gators during the Homecoming game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

The Back Nine comes at you after a rough week. Let’s try to have a better one this week.

10. A week ago at this time, we were talking about how loud it was in Knoxville and Baton Rouge. Today, there is no place louder than Gainesville. Gator fans are angry and for good reason. They are sick and tired of the product on the field and any defense of the coaching staff might as well be relayed with a dog whistle. This is the dark side of college football, especially in the SEC. I like to say that nobody suffers winning like Gator fans, but when it comes to losing they are pretty much like everyone else — angry, frustrated and condemning. And you feel like nobody is answering your questions. Certainly, everyone has a right to vent and be heard. And you also have the right to expect the best from your team even though there will only be one champion at the end of the season. I suggest you start paying attention to volleyball.

11. On to Eddy Pinero’s missed extra point. Many of you chastised me for blaming Pineiro and not Johnny Townsend on the hold. Townsend did let the ball go a little early and it tilted slightly forward. I missed that for a number of reasons, including operator error. “It wasn’t the perfect snap, the perfect hold,” Jim McElwain said. “Sometimes it happens. Rick Barry missed a free throw once.” The bottom line is that missed kick isn’t why Florida lost the game. The Gators had multiple opportunities and could generate nothing on offense after two touchdown drives. We can point to the Knucklehead Nine as a big part of the reason or the injuries to Tyrie Cleveland and Luke Del Rio and a million other things. Those are just excuses.

12. And while there may be reasons, there are no excuses for Florida’s offensive rankings right now through five games. The Gators are 103rd in offense, which is actually an improvement from 116 last year and 112 the year before. Florida is also 112th in long plays from scrimmage and 123rd in first downs and the latter is part of the problem because the Gator offense isn’t getting many plays because of its inability to stay on the field with conversions. The pace is slow and, as a result, Florida is 121st in the nation in the number of plays run this season. I know, you don’t need all of these ugly statistics to know what offensive futility looks like. You have eyes.

13. And then you look at the rest of the schedule and see a lot of difficult games and wonder if this isn’t a season to drag out the old motto that haunted UF fans for so many years before Steve Spurrier — Wait ’Til Next Year. That’s a depressing thought. Still, if Florida can find a way to win this week (Florida is, for some reason, a 5 1/2-point favorite) and make the Georgia game relevant, well, at least there would be that. We know this much — McElwain’s teams always play hard and for that he does deserve credit. I’m just not sure there is an answer offensively and the defense simply isn’t good enough to carry this team this season. It plays well at times, just not all the time. Are we really living in a world where Florida and FSU might not make bowl games? Quick, someone check the APR scores to see if 5-6 might be enough.

14. So we are “rat poison”, huh? That’s what Nick Saban called the media last week. He can’t understand why his players aren’t listening to him and instead listen to all of the great things being said about his team. Did we make Alabama a 26-point favorite at Texas A&M (lock bet of the year was the Aggies covering that spread)? Believe me, none of us takes it personally because this is just another Saban ploy to get his players’ attention. Almost everything he says in news conferences is for the players to hear. Maybe Saban should ban his players from watching ESPN. Most of his latest rant seemed to be directed at the four-letter network. Speaking of the Worldwide Leader, it was incredibly bush league to overreact to Chris Petersen’s comments about late games by showing three cupcakes (to signify Washington’s out-of-conference opponents), for Kirk Herbstreit to say Washington is lucky ESPN carries its games and to flash the ratings for night games up on the screen during Washington’s game. ESPN is beyond arrogant.

15. Ever since the Braves decided not to be competitive, I have divorced baseball. I bet I didn’t watch six innings during the regular season. The games are too slow and tedious. But when the playoffs start, I’m a baseball fan again and it has been tremendous. The crowds have reminded me of college football crowds and the players show the kind of enthusiasm you won’t see in Game 143.

16. Seriously, can’t we have Dallas and Green Bay play the 4:15 p.m. NFL game like five times a year. It’s always high drama and so much fun to watch. I think I’m a closet Green Bay fan because I like Aaron Rodgers so much. The guy is amazing. I’m a college football guy, but the NFL has been really entertaining this season so far and Jacksonville fans must be appreciating having a defense that could carry them into the playoffs.

17. The Tweet of the Week comes from Michigan radio dude Mike Sullivan — “Through 31 games at Michigan: Harbaugh: 24-7 record, 1-1 bowl record, 1-4 vs rivals. Hoke: 24-7 record, 1-1 bowl record, 2-2 vs rivals.” That’s a sobering stat, especially for all of the websites who put out their coaches rankings this summer and had Harbaugh in the top five, some as high as three. Meanwhile, in 32 games at UF, McElwain is 22-10, 1-1 in bowls and 5-3 vs. rivals. To compare, Will Muschamp was 22-10, 1-1 in bowls and 4-4 against rivals, Urban Meyer was 26-6, 2-0 and 7-0 and Ron Zook 20-12, 0-2 and 3-4.

18. This was a really difficult week, more difficult than I ever thought it could be. Even “The Simpsons” had a tribute to Tom Petty on Sunday night. It’s great to know how many people really cared about our boy. I miss him so much. Here are five of my favorite covers of Petty songs and then, as he sang, it’s “Time to Move On.”

“It’s Good to Be King” by Emily Greene.

That time we got free tickets to see Matchbox 20 and they played “American Girl.”

“I Won’t Back Down” by Pearl Jam although you guys signing Saturday is a close second.

“Free Fallin’ By John Mayer.

And, sure, “Time To Move On” by Hi Ho Silver On and Leslie Stevens.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at pat.dooley@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

29 COMMENTS

  1. Because the Gators lost, they have received all of the criticism from the press and media. In addition some have high expectations for LSU in their upcoming games. I witnessed how poorly the Gators performed during the games and I left the game so frustrated. However, being the die hard Gator I am, I think those praising LSU should use caution. While the Gators couldn’t add any points to the scoreboard after the failed extra point attempt, neither could LSU!!

    • No, you’re absolutely correct Carolyn. LSU has a full host of issues this year as well and their coach, also a good man like Mac, is feeling the heat too. We should have won that game, any way you slice it. But here’s the thing: I’ll bet you a dime to a dollar that LSU recruiting this next off season doesn’t slip one bit. On the other hand, unless we really get our act together right quick, and some passion and urgency going, I’m having to hold my breath on that issue and hope for the best. How did we get here?

  2. With the Knucklehead Nine and all the injuries, it is not the losing. It is that with the demeanor of the team and coaching staff and the play calling, fans never feel real hope.

  3. Who cares about all that stupid tempo stuff? The real question: how is Mac’s BBQ sauce selling? That’s what keeps real Gators locked in.

    • McElwain still has the secret sauce to win division championships. On the hand, FSU won’t be awarding themselves state championships this year like high schools. They’ll be giving themselves participation trophies like kiddie leagues.

      • FSU will still beat us their D is better and faster and their Freshman QB will get better because Jimbo as much as I dislike him will coach his QB up. Our Aw shucks coaching style is getting old. A comment the other day was I wish just one time a coach would get peeved or mad or just lose it at least us fans would actually think at least they care. This team is really just going thru through motions except the D and at times they seem clueless. Its time to wake up and smell the Coffee we are in rebuilding mode and who wants to lose to Alabama again by 30-40 plus ? I would seriously consider playing Freshman J. Allen.

  4. USC and Penn State were both hit with crippling sanctions within the past 7 years. Both are back on top and in the national conversation in a relatively short period of time.

    Florida has had one minor whiff of NCAA trouble (Joker Phillips) yet we’ve been an offensive disaster since Meyer’s last season. All this despite the fact Florida produces the most highly regarded high school talent of any state in the country.

    Just let that sink in for a bit. Coaching matters and our coaching isn’t getting it done.

      • Pretty depressing to see Grier throwing for 300+ yards and 3 TDs every week knowing Mac didn’t make much of an effort to keep him here. He had his QB of the future and ran him off.
        ” I’m just not sure there is an answer offensively”. Really? How about trying a new OC?

  5. This stat showed up on several college games over the weekend. It listed the top 5 schools in the country’s number of NFL draft picks since 2000. UF was number 5 on the list, trailing only FSU, Alabama, Ohio State and I think USC (Sou Cal, not S. Carolina). Pretty heady company. Even last year’s team, which while flawed, had 8 defensive players drafted. The talent has been there. The results the last seven years not so much. The resources are there, and UF is in the middle of the one of the richest areas for HS football talent (FL/GA). I trust the new AD recognizes this and will have a standard with this in mind. In my view, we don’t need to be Alabama in football every year, but we should be competitive at the very least. In the meantime, UF continues to win the SEC All Sports trophy so regularly that they should retire it in Gainesville and start some other type of award. Let’s be appreciative of this my fellow Gator fans, as 13 other SEC schools would welcome that honor. Life is short; enjoy the ride. Go Gators!

  6. We could be much better if a new OC with a spread pedigree is hired and the keys turned over to him from day one. Bear Bryant changed, Saban changed, Muschamp changed, so Mac has to understand that with all the talent in HS football in FL, that the total spread or at least a majority of spread is ideal. Mac’s pride won’t like it, but his future pay check could be determined by it. The outdated pro style O without a talented QB who can read defenses and see open receivers is doomed. Franks should be much improved by now but can’t seem to get it.
    Frank Frangie, the Jags play by play announcer and long time Gator in JAX, nailed our plight unless the O changes completely. Mac designed his O but Nuss is neanderthal in running it and seemingly can’t see what any fan can see. It stinks and will cost us any chance of being in Atlanta in the foreseeable future!

    • I just stated in my comment that Tebow became a great QB because the offensive scheme was built around him. Every QB after him was being put into a scheme that did not fit his style of play. Thus Florida struggle at QB. Wrap the offense around Franks style of play and watch a star be born if not we’re going to continue to struggle at QB.

  7. What’s up with Pat Doodey crapping all over the coaches this year? Stop blaming Mac for the last 7 years. In his two years, Mac has taken UF to Atlanta both times. Absolutely crazy to think about cutting him loose in his 3rd year. I realize that Doodey is trying to drum up readership by pandering to the gidiots, but it seems to be a bit more than that, as if there is a bit of a personal grudge? WTF?

    • We’re in a fact free world at the moment. Coach Mac has only 9 of 23 guys on the 3 deep depth chart from his first recruiting class. Fans can blame him for injuries and suspensions and recruiting the wrong guys but class # 2 was 14th and class # 3 was 9th and these guys are playing and getting experience. Next years class can be a top 5 class if the fans can stop complaining and reporters that cover the Gators stop calling facts excuses. We’re not FSU, Ohio St, Clemson or Alabama at the moment. Give the coaches some credit for holding things together while doing the right thing by suspending starters. And give them some time to fill out an 85 man roster of Coach Mac recruited and developed players. Educated fan support is part of the mix Gator fans. Go Gators!

  8. I am a life-long Gator Fan and always will be – I support them no matter what …. But, it is finally time for me and many others to admit that this is not a very good football team. The on field product is boring at best and downright crappy at worst. I have not felt like this about a Gator team since Doug Dickey’s days as coach – the 0-10-1 team of Charley Pell in 1979 did not win a game but they tried and got better as the season went on. Some of these guys are trying, others are not… so when are the knucklehead nine going to be dismissed from the team so we can at least use their Scholarships to improve?

  9. What there is no excuse for is that the Gators offense hasn’t cracked the top 100 since Nuss hit town but Stricklin gives him a raise and contract extension last off season.

    • FSU is worst than UF statistically on offense. Dumbo got a contract extension with a pay raise in December. He gets paid $1.5M more than McElwain. They should fire all the coaches and AD at FSU because they are so stupid. Of course, I’m being sarcastic.

  10. Other teams easily cover our receivers, so why not try some creative crossing patterns…disguises (close to but not quite screens)anything to spring them… We want to see Nussmeier tweeking the offense to make it less predictable and easy to defend. And we fans want our qb to learn to look off his 1st receiver when covered. The Dawgs freshman qb already is way ahead of Franks….so coach Franks up or next guy up. This is the SEC where qbs are expected to do sophisticated things to move the offense…common place. Even at Vandy.

    • Rod, you are so right. The keyword you mentioned is creative! Time and time again we Gator fans watch the other team comlletely catch our team off guard with a surprising creative play that completely catches our team (and coaches) off guard. Nine times out of ten what is our response? The old run up the middle!). Now I have to admit I hate to hear our Gators boo unless it is the opposing team they are booing, but I understand it was out of frustration. So, this is just my opinion, but when it comes to improving the Gators, I think it starts with the coaches! As Spurrier used to say, they need to “coach ‘um up” (and also I might add, put in some creative plays!)

  11. Saban’s attitude toward the press (I know they aren’t rocket scientist) is dumb! His serious all the time attitude has made him a very rich man, but who “likes him”? I would never allow my son to even visit someone with an over the top temper like him. It should be OK to enjoy winning, not get mad at reporters for asking about their obvious dominance. He was the little man in the room when he got mad at the reporter asking a good question about the winning margins.

  12. here’s the deal: In 1984 we became relevant. CP, GH, GD (interim). Not sure when the current authors commenced reporting on the prodigal son SOS, the Zooker (gosh bless him, love his fire), the Urban Legend, the mudchamp (kudos to mudcan, he can coach up some D, no doubt, and make a lot of $ per victory), and the current regime, but I remember well beyond that time. Somehow we are no longer relevant. If the program were a biz it would have bankrupted long ago! The amount of $ on coaches, buyouts, etc. Do yourself a favor – spare yourself of a cost per win/ratio. Especially against top 15 teams! Again, we are no longer relevant. Currently, we rank fifth in the great state of FLA according to current ranking and past perennial rivalry history. UM is up, FSU has whipped us habitually, USF and UCF are currently undefeated and ranked. Guess who isn’t AND faces an uphill battle?

    A&M, UGA, and FSU are the toughest teams on the schedule AND yo, don’t forget battles on the road with Mudchump’s formidable D and Mizzou.

    This is flat, swamp like territory. We have arguably the best athletes, well above average weather, a ginormous alumni – fan support network, a strong Gator nation! we love the gator players and fellow gator nation. we bleed strong! we invest in our gators!

    As such, this isn’t the recipe for championships. The current owner is a highlander. This is flat land. It’s not “pretty cool, huh?” right now! And yes, we have our doubts! We were once bailed by SOS, help us flatlanders, SS!

    Time to put up or fly back to the high country! This ain’t Rocky Mountain High!

  13. Here’s a solution to the gators offense, hire a proven Head coach..Not one that was hired by our previous AD.
    Let’s hope our new AD will address this issue for next year. This university deserves better than ranked in 100’s
    In total offense during the last 3 years..

  14. Don’t fit the QB into the offensive scheme but fit offensive scheme around the QB style of play. When Tebow was QB he had an offense built around him. He wasn’t thrown into a offensive scheme that didn’t fit his style of play. If so he would of struggled like every QB after him. If Florida builds it’s offensive play calling around the QB like it did with Tebow we will have a great football team every year. Get Franks from up under the center and put him in the spread and let him play his style of football. Why is this so hard to see?

  15. Spurrier must sit in his office and cringe when he sees what’s happened to his Gators. He should be out there coaching the offense and running some ball plays.

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