Gators must feed three-headed QB monster carefully


Published: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 10:02 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 10:02 p.m.

The cliche says baseball is a marathon not a sprint, and if that is the case what does that make the college football season?

Baseball is 162 games, most of which start before you finish the box score from the one before. Some of them actually matter. It is a long season that can't be won in May and can certainly be lost in September.

College football is different in that it is the shortest of the major sports in terms of games played. No sport gives you fewer home games, fewer chances to really enjoy the whole atmosphere. Maybe that's why we love it so much.

So what is college football like?

A honeymoon.

It's wonderful and seems to go by at breakneck speed. It has so many high spots and memories that will last forever.

And yet, with a football season flying by us all and the end coming sooner than seems possible, it does require some patience.

For example, I take you back to the beginning of last month.

Remember when Alabama was a lock for the national title after hammering Florida and the Gators began their spiral into the abyss of mediocrity?

Even after the Tide lost a game, Nick Saban's team was being penciled into the national title game. Florida was being lumped in with the also-rans just hoping to get bowl-eligible.

And now we have this week — it's championship week in Gainesville and overcast in Tuscaloosa whether there are clouds in the sky or not.

A little more than a month ago, the distance between Alabama and Florida could only be measured with an odometer.

Today, the only thing that separates Alabama and Florida is that one team has a real good shot at playing for the SEC Championship. And it's not the Tide.

The game breeds impatience, especially in this day and age of instant news and immediate gratification. And no fan base has had their patience tested more than Florida's this season.

Mainly because of one position.

It was obvious early this season that Florida was trying to drive a Lexus using engine parts from a riding lawnmower. It just didn't match up, and the results were a lot more obvious to the fans than to the coaches.

So, you wonder why it took so long to go to the offense that has produced the last two weeks. For one, the coaches did not know what they had in Trey Burton, that he could make people miss the way he has. And they weren't sure how much Jordan Reed could handle.

Reed may have a body like Tim Tebow, but he has a personality like Chris Leak. Very quiet and soft-spoken, there is only so much they felt comfortable giving him as the man commanding the football team. So they used him at tight end early in the season.

But with the injuries that happened at tailback, Meyer's hand was forced. He had no choice at 4-3 to try something else. The result was this hurry-up offense with the Triangle of Terror, the three quarterbacks who each have a skill set different from the other two.

Now comes the tricky part — balance. It's a delicate situation when you have three quarterbacks playing significant snaps. These coaches, believe me, are aware of this and are keeping an eye on it.

Anyone who thinks John Brantley is thrilled this season turned out like this is crazy. This was supposed to be his year, the season he had waited for. Instead, he doesn't even know who will be the quarterback two plays from now.

Brantley is saying all the right things, and certainly if Florida can win Saturday, he'll be celebrating as loudly as anyone. He showed the ultimate patience in waiting for his turn, but you wonder when — or if — that will run out.

For now, Florida comes into a game that looked like a lost cause three weeks ago as the favorite. There's that patience thing again. Remember the storyline before Florida vs. Georgia when everyone was talking about how amazing it was that a Georgia team that lost to Colorado and Mississippi State was favored over a Florida team that started 4-0?

Same deal. Never look too far ahead, never too far back.

The honeymoon can change so drastically in one day.

And it's almost over for another year.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com. You can listen to The Pat Dooley Show weekdays from 4-6 p.m. on 104.9 FM. And follow at http://Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

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