Back Nine: Musings on Meyer, Masters and Muschamp
Defense looking for playmakers in absence of Powell
Published: Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 6:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, April 9, 2012 at 9:58 p.m.
The Back Nine comes at you after a glorious weekend that included football, baseball and plenty of golf. I think I have broken in the new outdoor recliner that my wife gave me.
10. Matt Hayes of The Sporting News had an interesting piece online Monday about how Florida got to where it was last season, basically saying Urban Meyer coddled his most talented players. “Over the last two years he was there,” one former player told The Sporting News, “the players had taken complete control of the team.” We saw signs of this and have heard stories, but Hayes was able to get them confirmed through sources. (The story about Percy Harvin attacking receivers coach Billy Gonzales and not being punished is deplorable. From everything I've been told, Harvin was the most coddled athlete in the history of Florida football). Hayes' story paints a picture of a program that is “broken” and we all know that's what Meyer told Will Muschamp when Muschamp took the job. I know Muschamp felt he inherited a mess when he took over and it has taken him a year to get it headed back in the right direction. All you need to know about players' sense of entitlement was the meeting between Muschamp and Janoris Jenkins after multiple arrests and failed drug tests by the cornerback. When Muschamp told Jenkins he would have to be suspended, Jenkins replied, “Do you know who you're talking to?” And that was the end of his career at UF.
11. The Ronald Powell injury certainly is a blow for Florida because the light was finally turned on for the talented player. It also means incoming recruit Dante Fowler better have his chin strap buckled when he shows up on campus. I wouldn't be surprised to see Fowler starting a few games into this season. Florida is going to play Dominique Easley at the other end with Sharrif Floyd moving to tackle. And when you add Damien Jacobs to the rotation at tackle, I really thought the defensive line would be one of the strengths of the team. We'll see if that holds up. By the way, in several conversations I had with Muschamp before Saturday's game, he was raving about Antonio Morrison, the freshman linebacker. Then I got to see him play and I came away with the same feeling. He's going to be the next great linebacker at Florida.
12. Count me among the plethora of people rooting for Bubba Watson on Sunday. I've been a Watson fan for a long time and you're welcome to jump on the bandwagon. It was a terrific Sunday on the back porch of the Dooley Dome because The Masters always delivers. On one day we saw two of the greatest shots in the history of golf, we saw a shank, we saw a playoff, we saw Matt Kuchar come out of nowhere to take the lead, we saw Phil Mickelson make his second triple bogey of the tournament. It was great theatre. But I don't agree Mickelson lost the tournament with the six on the fourth. He had plenty of time to get back into it, but he had four or five putts slide past the cup, missing by less than an inch. Two of those drop and he's in a playoff.
13. The only things missing, of course, were Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. McIlroy's collapse was stunning, but it just goes to show you how tough it is to play a fickle game on a major championship course. Tiger, on the other hand, showed us two things — 1. He's not all the way back; 2. His behavior on the course is still boorish. Kicking his club, cussing up a storm. Tiger needs to relax, have fun and stop overthinking everything. Just play golf the way you used to play golf. And quit being such a bad sport on the course. This is golf, not hockey.
14. The most stunning thing to come out of this year's Masters wasn't Watson's pink driver or Louis Oosthuizen's double eagle or Tiger's inability to make birdies on par fives. It was Sergio Garcia basically saying he is giving up. "I'm not good enough, and today I know it," he said Saturday. "I've been trying for 13 years, and I don't feel capable of winning. I don't know what happened to me. Maybe it's something psychological. ... I'm not good enough for the majors." I was blown away when I saw that frank admission. Just blown away. That he would say that says a lot about why he hasn't won a major.
15. I keep getting the question about what is wrong with the baseball team and I always have the same answer — it's baseball. The balls hit a foot to the left are now a foot to the right and finding holes. It's a daily game (especially the way the season is crammed together) and you have to show up every day. Let us not forget that this team has been hampered by injuries to Tyler Thompson, Josh Tobias and Karsten Whitson and played the LSU series without Hudson Randall. The Back Nine thinks it will get turned around, but this four-game road trip to FSU and Tennessee is not going to be easy.
16. I don't know if he's the next Bubba Watson, but I know there are a lot of people out there with a lot of nice things to say about Christian Blanchet, the former Buchholz golfer who is trying to make it as a pro golfer. “He seems to be doing a lot of the right things,” said Bob Gates, who has worked with Blanchet off and on and is the father of PGA Tour golfer Bobby Gates. Blanchet will play in a Nationwide Tour qualifier in two weeks and has his own tournament scheduled for Meadowbrook to raise funds that will help him pursue his dream. The “Quest for the Card” tournament will be May 5 at Meadowbrook if you are interested.
17. Tweet of the Week comes from a guy who likes to Tweet a lot and I'm sure picked up a few followers this week, Mr. Bubba Watson on Monday — “Up early can't sleep, don't want to miss any part of being a dad & going to get a new cell phone number! It's crazy how people get ur number.” It will be interesting to see if he shows up at Tim Tebow's tournament on Saturday. Things change when you win The Masters, but Watson and Tebow are good friends.
18. Because of a knee injury suffered on Thursday (don't ask), the iPod got the weekend off, but thanks to some readers I have some download suggestions. Try “Hold On” by Alabama Shakes, “Mountain Sound” by Of Monsters and Men and for the old school in you “I Second That Emotion” by The Miracles.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at email@example.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.