Back Nine: Rainey, Demps go out winners

Florida's Chris Rainey runs upfield against Ohio State during the first half of the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville on Monday, Jan. 2, 2012.

Doug Finger/Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 at 8:08 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 at 8:08 p.m.

The Back Nine comes at you later than usual because of the Gator Bowl game being played on Monday. Bowl season is almost over, which is sad, but in a place like Gainesville we just move right into the next season. It's why I love where I live.

10. This is nothing against the Gator Bowl or Jacksonville, but last week never really seemed like a bowl week. A lot of it has to do with the familiarity with Jacksonville and the fact that we were there not too long ago for Florida-Georgia. A lot of it is that we get spoiled (as do Gator fans) when you have a run like the Gators had from 2006-09 with three BCS bowls in four years. Trust me, BCS games are different for everybody, but especially the media. Certainly, it ended up being a fruitful week for the mighty Gators, who are now 20-19 in bowl games. To me, the best thing was to see Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps go out as winners. The two diminutive running backs have been asked to do so much at Florida and have almost been joined at the hip during their careers at UF. How many coaches or players have been asked, “How do you deal with the speed of Demps and Rainey?” They played key parts in Florida's 2008 national championship and finished their careers with a combined 7,333 total yards and 46 touchdowns. Pretty good for a couple of guys who were supposed to be too small for big-boy football.

11. Soon we will find out who the new offensive coordinator will be at Florida, and whoever it is I have a little unsolicited advice for him based on my vast knowledge of the game — get Andre Debose some more touches. I'm thinking the occasional jet sweep or bubble screen for starters. Debose was billed as the next Percy Harvin when he came to UF, which is unfair for two reasons: 1. There is only one Percy Harvin; 2. He looks nothing like the muscular Harvin. But he can run and it would seem that putting the ball in his hands in space might be a good idea. Debose had 36 touches this year and scored five touchdowns. Only one Gator had more touchdowns — Demps with seven. I know there is always more to it than the obvious, but I would get him the ball next year. The other high priority for the offensive coordinator has to be finding a way to reduce turnovers. Florida finished the year with 26 — two per game. That's two too many.

12. I didn't even get to finish the question. Maybe he had been waiting for the call as soon as the words left his lips. “I know what you want to ask,” said Steve Spurrier. My ears perked up on Jan. 2 when Spurrier finished off one of his best coaching jobs with a win over Nebraska and South Carolina's first 11-win season and then said, “This win is about as big as it gets for me.” Spurrier won a lot of championships at Florida, including the national title in 1996. Certainly, a Capital One Bowl win could not rank with beating FSU to win the national championship. “One of the best,” he said. “You win it all, that's got to be at the top. The three really important bowl games for us were the two for the national championship and this one. That's what I was trying to say. It's right up there with some of the conference championships. At South Carolina, winning 11 games may be bigger than Florida or Alabama winning an SEC title. It's up there with the best.” What Spurrier has done in Columbia is hardly surprising, but after his first four years a lot of us wondered if it was going to happen. He is another example of why it's more than players that make the SEC America's best conference.

13. And if you think the league is insufferable as it heads toward its sixth straight national title, know that SEC officials are rooting hard for an Arkansas win in the Cotton Bowl because of what it would mean. If the Razorbacks roll Kansas State, you could certainly make the argument that three of the top five teams in college football this season were from the SEC West. The ‘Backs lost only to LSU and Alabama this year and could certainly be in any discussion with Oklahoma State or Oregon.

14. I'm going to say this and please don't take it the wrong way. Once the season is over, Denver needs to get rid of Tim Tebow. If the Broncos don't believe he can throw the ball, then he should not be their quarterback. Watching that game plan against Kansas City was worse than sitting through a marathon of “The Ropers.” Look, I'm not saying Tebow is a polished quarterback with a great delivery. But give him a chance instead of running up the middle until it's third-and-9 and then running a quarterback draw. There is no doubt that defenses have caught up with the offense Tebow has been running as we all knew they would. That's when offenses have to be creative. I'm not seeing it. I know Tebow appeared timid in the game after his four-turnover performance the week before, but if you throw a wrinkle into the game-plan, maybe it gets him going.

15. Which is one reason I'm picking Pittsburgh, despite all of its injuries, to win this weekend in the wild-card game. My preseason Super Bowl picks of New England and Atlanta are still alive, which is the first time in three years that has happened. So I've got that going for me. I've got to stick with the Falcons in their game this week against the Giants. I'll take the Saints at home against the Lions and the Bengals in Houston. Of course, I'm not sure I'd listen to a guy who needs to sweep his last three bowl picks to finish over .500.

16. While Tennessee has struggled in Cuonzo Martin's first year, Saturday's game is huge for the Gators. They need to get off to a good start in the league, they need to show they can win a true road game and they need to get to bed early the night before. The 11 a.m. start is a trap that we've seen football and basketball teams fall into before. I like this Gator basketball team a lot, and it has the potential to do some special things. But the Gators have to figure out a way to win games in the other guy's building. True, they've only had three chances and all three games were close, but it's time to get it done on Saturday. As usual, Florida's SEC schedule is back-loaded so it's especially crucial to get off to a good start in these first five games.

17. The Tweet of the Week comes from Denver Post writer Troy Renck — “Broncos' offense equivalent of bunting for eight innings and hoping cleanup hitter hits walkoff in ninth with one swing. Bad odds.” Terrible odds. Tebow defied them during that nice eight-game run, but the Broncos need to, oh, what's the use?

18. The weather turned and so my sinuses attacked leaving my voice rough and scratchy. As a result, a themed iPod download trio for you this week — “Everybody Talks” by Neon Trees, “Little Talks” by Of Monsters and Men and for the old school in you “Talking In Your Sleep” by The Romantics.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow at

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