What we think now about college football season

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We all know it’s coming, but a college football season is like a runaway subway train with the conductor locked in the bathroom. It flies by like a cheetah chasing a speedy meal.

The treadmill doesn’t take any time to slow down for you to step off and catch you breath. It’s always on 11.

That’s how we find ourselves here, halfway through a season that feels like it just started for most teams or about a third of the way to the end of the season if you are Alabama.

Back before this season started, we had a bunch of ideas and opinions and we spouted them off even though we knew a lot of them would be wrong.

For example:

What we thought then: Florida is going to be a slow rebuilding process so be patient Gator fans.

What we think now: Patience, Shmatience. The Gators are ranked 14th in the country, won back-to-back road games and just beat the No. 5 team. That said, it still might be a good time to pump the brakes a little.

What we thought then: Georgia will take a step back this year.

What we think now: Here’s the funny thing — in 2016, Georgia lost five games. Two years later, fans are fretting over an unbeaten and unchallenged team. The offense hasn’t been as good as some people expected and the Bulldogs have at times looked bored. The second half of the season will be what decides how far this team will go.

What we thought then: It will be fascinating to see how Scott Frost does at Nebraska and Chip Kelly at UCLA.

What we think now: It will be fascinating to see which one wins a game first.

What we thought then: The Pac-12 may get shut out of the playoff again this year.

What we think now: The good news is Washington is within striking distance. The bad news is every Auburn loss makes Washington’s resume look shakier.

What we thought then: Speaking of Auburn, with QB Jarrett Stidham in his second year playing for Gus Malzahn, the Tigers are going to have an explosive offense to go with that nasty defense.

What we think now: Not so fast my friends. Auburn is lacking on the offensive line and at the skill positions. The Tigers rank 13th in the conference in total offense. How’s that Malzahn contract extension looking?

What we thought then: Urban Meyer’s scandalized summer is going to cripple Ohio State.

What we think now: It’s like it never happened. Ohio State may be the only team that can take down Alabama.

What we thought then: An improved Brandon Wimbush is going to make Notre Dame a national title contender.

What we think now: The Irish have a shot at the playoff, but it’s because they made the switch at quarterback to Ian Book.

What we thought then: If Nick Saban goes with Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback, Alabama is going to be dangerous.

What we think now: You are correct sir. The Tide are averaging 56 points a game and Tagovailoa is on track to win the Heisman Trophy.

What we thought then: Arkansas is going to struggle with a new style of coaching, but Chad Morris knows offense.

What we think now: The Razorbacks — despite a 31-point outburst against Alabama last week — are last in the SEC in scoring and total offense.

What we thought then: FSU has to be better than the team that had to reschedule a game to be bowl eligible because Willie Taggart will bring new excitement to the program

What we think now: We even had FSU ranked 19th in the preseason poll. The Seminoles are 1-3 in the league they used to own and have three games on the horizon against teams that are currently unbeaten. Yikes.

What we thought then: Texas is still a year away.

What we think now: The Longhorns are ranked ninth in the country.

What we thought then: Michigan State will bounce back. Mark Dantonio is too good a coach.

What we think now: Never mind.

What we thought then: Boise State will be the team that knocks UCF out of a New Year’s Six bowl game.

What we think now: Never mind.

What we thought then: Ole Miss might be sneaky good.

What we think now: Yeah, when they are playing nobodies. In two SEC games, the Rebs have been outscored 107-23.

What we thought then: Being dead wrong is one of the many things that makes college football the best sport in the world.

What we think now: That’s one we got right.

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

41 COMMENTS

  1. Come on, do you really think the Tide are better this year than in the past?? Just imagine if Florida or anyone else played the teams they have played this year so far.. Are any of them even ranked right now? It’s pretty much the equivalent of FL playing Colorado st every week. Arkansas put up 31 on the tide and only 27 on Colorado st, and you’re telling me they are good?? Once they play an actual “team” this year, then maybe I’ll believe it.. Florida would give the tide offense all they could stand and more.. Remember when the gators defense held Oklahomas all time record breaking offense to 14 points?

    • It is indeed time for some fans to pump the brakes. The Gators are looking good, but they clearly still have some weak spots. Alabama’s biggest tests are ahead, but there’s no denying that their offense is much more potent than we have seen in the past under Saban. And their defense is still very good, loaded with NFL talent. I’m not saying that the Gators would have no chance against them, but the stars would need to be aligned just right.

      • Truly gator67, I love the passion of Gator Mike, but Florida has to THUMP U.G.A., like the Dawgs thumped Florida last year before I’m talking trash towards ‘Bama. It will come though. Just like ‘Bama dethroned the Champs, Florida in ’09, AFTER O.C. MULLEN LEFT… hmmm! Go Gators!

      • Actually Gator67 Bama’s defense is probably the worst it’s been in years. They’re the 7th best defense in the SEC as far as total defense, and for Bama standards that’s pretty bad. UGA, MSU, UK, UF, AU, and A&M are all higher ranked than them. However, their offense is the most potent it’s been in years and teams are going to need to outscore them to win, and I just don’t see any offense’s out their that are more potent. OSU might be, but they don’t really play anyone either so we really don’t know how good they actually are. Tua beat an amazing UGA defense last season, so we know he has the ability to not get rattled and beat a great defense. It’s definitely going to be interesting to see what happens when they face one, which won’t be for a few weeks.

        • Putting that in context though, Alabama has had so many big leads early, they are pulling starters before half time. Their starting 22 for 4 quarters would have a different statistical look.

          • That’s the thing, Bama is not as deep as they used to be where the second and third stringers dominate. It’s a fact and you can read it in the article below where it talks about them being a few injuries away from being in trouble. They may be playing weak teams and benching starters early, but no matter how you look at it, they’re not the same dominating defense they’ve been over the last 9 years. The other issue they’re having is the offense is scoring so quickly, it’s not giving the defense much time to rest.

            https://bamahammer.com/2018/10/10/alabama-football-tide-couple-injuries-away-major-defensive-problems/

          • Another factor is that high scoring teams often score quickly, giving their opponents more possessions and more opportunities to score themselves. Scoring quickly also puts the defense back on the field quickly, which can tire the defense the same as if the offense was struggling to sustain drives.

        • As the other replies suggest, these statistics may well be misleading. They may not be as good as prior years on defense, but I doubt that we know this to be true yet. No one has come close to challenging them to this point of the season, and they have been able to coast through large stretches of games.

  2. Dooley…this is a gem of an article, ’bout time with some of the eggs you’ve been laying lately. I knew you had it inya!

  3. The SEC is Alabama and Georgia, then all the rest. What I thought about Florida before the season was that there was talent upon talent in the program, but no leadership, coaching, or organization. Halfway through the season, it’s easy to see that there is talent on the defensive side of the ball and on the special teams with regards to the kicking game. The offensive side of the ball is lacking in talent and ability. Interestingly enough, the Gators have gotten through 6 games on the premise of play great defense, win the kicking game, and don’t turn the ball over. We’ll see how that formula works the rest of the season. Eventually, though, you have to be able to come out and physically dominate the everyday competition so you can compete with the elite competition. Maybe it’s time not to get conservative after a turnover, but try to be more aggressive and get right back out there and score more points! Maybe just get aggressive on offense in the first place!

    • Grump…..I’m just gonna say this before you get hammered by others. Are you kidding me? The Gators need to physically dominate someone? Did you watch the last three games? It may not have been domination but the Gators surely were physical. No talent and ability on offense? You need to have a cup of coffee and wake up and watch the team we’ve all been watching this year. Yes our QB play needs continued improvement and yes the OL is a work in progress. But lots of talent at skill positions. And finally, be more aggressive on offense????? Coach Mullen has crafted pretty masterful gameplans to play to our offense’s strengths and take advantage of the opponent’s defenses. This isn’t the most explosive offense in the history of explosive offenses, but it is getting the job done with the hand Coach was dealt. It takes years to recruit high level depth and years for strength and conditioning to make the consistent impact we’d all like to see. But in year one, I’d say we’ve already gotten more than we bargained for.

      • Rog I saw what you saw. The only thing Grump said that was correct is what Mullen said in the interview. He got too conservative after the interception. Risk/Reward decisions. Overall we are a team that has turned around but is still finding its identity and still learning how to do things. This weekend will be another test of what we are. One thing we are now is physical. Now they have to use that at the right times to get the push and blocks etc.

        • Talking about offensive talent, or lack thereof, our wide receivers are making catches that would have been incompletions in years past. Swain, Hammond, Jefferson, Toney, Grimes (just rewatched that third quarter vs. Miss. State when Grimes had that beautiful catch that was negated by a penalty). And they block too.

    • I’ll only say one thing…Gators rushed for 215 yards and while many of Perrine’s yard were from the wide pitch, a bunch of Scarlet’s yards were from inside running. That last Gator drive from our own 3 yard line resulting in two first downs may not have been domination, but it was tough and hard-nosed and was instrumental in winning that game.

      • That drive was one of my favorite Gator moments of the past 4-5 years. They got tough when they needed to get tough and they ran the ball up the gut for first downs and clock eating….I agree that this was instrumental in winning the game.

  4. Why hindsight is the best vision a sports writer or sports fan can have in life. Hindsight is so insightful and 20/20. But like some passes and some attempted pass blocks, simply way too late.

      • And figuratively speaking, all I know is that the loyal sons and daughters of Gator Nation will mostly fall through a trapdoor of gothic depression if Vandy evaporates its elevating hopes of heaven-like glory with an unrelenting and shocking bombardment of their nested plans; but no reptilic name will be so glorious if the orange and blue shines though and sinks a darkening Vandy ship with an immediate and ongoing combination of vicious chomps of steel and might, which will bring forth mighty roars of “all hail, Florida, hail” as those sons and daughters then begin to plan their travels to the city by the river that journeys a never-ending northern flow, and where a hearty and snarly animal unknowingly awaits its swamp-like demise. Go Gators.

  5. What we thought then.
    Pat Dooley can pick up game winners once in a while.
    What we know know he can not pick Florida football game winner even if his life depend on it.
    Every week he picks against Florida. Florida win again.

  6. Kim, subway trains do have bathrooms. They are reserved for conductors, staff and individuals with special needs. I thought it was a very clever opening line. Gators got that wama jama…

  7. This is no time for any foot on the brakes. UF needs to obliterate Vandy, then rest and prepare for UGA. Then they only need to beat UGA, there will likely be no “domination”, then the SEC world will realize this is a different Georgia team than they thought, and more importantly this is a different UF team than they thought. The key difference for the Gators has been the high quality of the coaching at all levels. UAA should sue McElwain for fraud. Pat I would suggest you mail the BBQ sauce up to Ann Arbor.
    GO GATORS!

  8. “Ohio State may be the only team that can take down Alabama.”

    I got a buck that says, “NFW!” Coach Esophageal Spasms (CES) left UF to get away from Saban and now Saban is an annual CFP roadblock.

    I believe that is what’s known as “poetic justice.” And as much as I despise Lil Nicky, I despise CES far more and will always pull for Bama to annihilate T-osu.

  9. I did not think the gators would show toughness like they have, and thats a big part of the progress. i did think franks would be tough, but i didnt see it coming at linebacker and defensive line, although i did like the new defensive line coach. i never thought mullen would be as toughness oriented.
    the biggest thing that the gators being successful is we dont have to hear about how wonderful the TV teams in the southeast conference are, i am glad not to have to listen to that anymore.

    • That’s an interesting perspective mveal. I don’t think I ever thought of Dan Mullen as being focused on being “tough” either…..just a great play caller. The more I see and hear of Coach Mullen, the more I like!!! I think history will record that Coach Dan Mullen will be one of the SEC coaching greats.

  10. It’s easy to say that Bama doesn’t play a tough schedule. After all, unlike other SEC schools, they don’t have to play Bama. It doesn’t make them any less of a favorite to win another natty.

    • Who on here is any good this year? Louisville,Arkansas state, Ms., La lafayette, TAMU, Ark.. The best on that list is Tamu and they are only average. TAMU scored 23 and held bama to 45, Ark scored 31 on them. Mo is about as good as TAMU so I expect a similar result Sat.. The 2nd half of their schedule is a little more interesting but only because of LSU.
      Hey, UF has a soft schedule with the exception of LSU and Ga. Thats just the way the ball bounces sometime, but UF has already proved them selves against LSU. Bama has to wait a few more weeks.

  11. Hard to enjoy the season now…up here in the Panhandle we’re in shock: Panama City and Beach are gutted (literally every building is damaged or destroyed in Bay County) and Mexico Beach and Port St Joe, Gulf County are gone! I was untouched living just 20 miles NW of Panama City, amazing! This is way worst than Pensacola 2004 Ivan.

    As far as the season goes, minus surprises, which will happen, its simple: Bama vs UGA/UF winner. No other team in the country can compete with Saban…period…OSU will be shutdown by the Bama Defense. ND and the other media darlings haven’t faced a real SEC super Defense like Saban’s with every position three deep.

    • DeWayne – I certainly feel for everyone affected. Like most on this forum, I’ve directly lived through a hurricane (or two) during my life and it never gets easier in dealing with them. Football can be a great diversion but for the folks in the path of Matthew, life is a bigger concern right now as the rebuilding will take years. Hang in there folks, our prayers are with you.

    • Glad you are OK and spared, but at the same time it must be hard to see friends and neighbors suffer so much. Know that we are praying for them and you too for whatever you can do in their recovery.

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