Back Nine: UF's spring scrimmage proves change is needed


Florida coach Will Muschamp watches a play during last Saturday's Orange and Blue Debut at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Doug Finger/Staff Photographer
Published: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 7:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 12:19 a.m.
The Back Nine comes at you after a weekend of catching up, watching an alleged spring game and plenty of grilling on the back porch. The Dooley Dome is back in full force. 10. It wasn't just that Florida was forced to turn the annual spring football game into a glorified practice because of a lack of linemen that made it odd. It was the presentation of the event that was strange. I tweeted at one point that one drill seemed to be designed to see whether or not Florida could drive the length of the field with Florence and The Machine blaring over the loudspeakers. From what I understand, it was even worse on TV with interviews taking the place of live action. I'm not sure what the answer is to spring games, which are getting to be less and less entertaining because coaches — understandably so — worry about injuries.


Perhaps the NCAA should allow an extra practice as long as that practice involved no pads and was used as a skills challenge of some kind. My friend Marty Cohen of GatorBait suggested they turn it into a carnival celebrating Gator football. That's not bad. Of course, in the end we all have to realize that spring practice isn't for the media or the fans, it's for the coaches. 11. One thing we did see in the spring scrimmage was that Dante Fowler Jr. may be ready to have a big season as a pass rusher. There's no telling how many sacks he would have had if not for the quarterbacks being off limits in their red jerseys. “It kind of sucks,” he said. “But that's our quarterback and we have to protect him.” There are obvious concerns heading into this season. I wrote about the wide receivers on Sunday, how they have to step up. Tight end is an unknown right now. The safeties are going to have to improve a lot. But this is going to be a good team in the fall. Again, it comes down to a handful of plays in a handful of games and when you have to go to Miami, LSU and South Carolina and have Georgia in Jacksonville it all comes down to making a few more plays than the other team. I know that Will Muschamp likes this team and believes it will be a better downfield passing team than it was a year ago because this is the second year under Brent Pease. We didn't see it Saturday, but that's not when you have to see it. 12. Today is kind of a depressing day because college basketball season is over. It's weird because college football season comes at you so fast and seems to fly by. I think that's because it's really confined to a little more than three months of intensity and then the mostly superfluous bowl games. College basketball is so much different, especially in a football town. There is not that nail-biting anticipation of the start of the season. Teams have played a dozen games before we start to pay attention. And then the conference play keeps you interested, but the real anticipation begins to build as Selection Sunday nears. Then, it just gets crazy for three weeks. And then it's over. The biggest difference between the ends of the seasons for the two sports is that there are a lot of happy fans at the end of football season and only one group at the end of basketball season. It's like when Florida lost last Sunday and everyone was down. I told someone, “There are going to be two teams who feel just like this on Saturday and one more on Monday.” At any rate, it was a fun season and I'm going to miss the seniors who were always good with the media and went 105-40 with two SEC titles and three Elite Eights over four seasons. Not bad. 13. Of course, I'll get through this week because of The Masters. I'm not sure which I like more — watching the back nine on Sunday or the first day when everybody in the field still has a chance. The Masters in HD is absolutely gorgeous. You can almost taste the pimento cheese sandwiches and smell the azaleas. Everyone expects Tiger Woods to win this year and everyone else expects Rory McIlroy. There would be nothing better than to have those two going head-to-head down around Amen Corner, but someone else will be in the mix. I have a feeling it might be Ian Poulter. There are two former Florida golfers in the field — current Gator T.J. Vogel and Brian Gay. 14. It looked like another former UF golfer Billy Horschel would make the field when he had the lead early in the final round of the Texas Open. But Martin Laird's 63 was difficult to overcome and Horschel finished third. After finishing second and third the last two weeks, Horschel is now 14th on the money list with $1.24 million this season. The PGA Tour could use a guy with his emotions and personality being successful. It was also good to see Chris DiMarco back out there, making a cut and more than $50,000. DiMarco is playing on sponsor's exemptions this year and will probably play in 10 or so tournaments. 15. I'm sure you've seen the video of the 7-year-old at the Nebraska spring game taking a handoff and running 69 yards for a touchdown. Jack Hoffman has brain cancer and for one day he was the happiest kid in the world. Maybe that's what spring games should be about, making dreams come true. I can think of worse ideas. 16. I have a major case of NFL Draft-fatigue and it's still more than two weeks away. Maybe the answer is to stay away from TV and my laptop until it's over. The draft itself bores me, but that's only because they take something that should last a couple of hours and stretch it over three days. I know, the NFL is The King because it finds a way to stay relevant year round, but The Back Nine doesn't care who is moving up and down Mel Kiper's big board, especially because it will be wrong when they start drafting. But that's just me. 17. The Tweet of the Week comes from by friend Tony Barnhart of CBS Sports — “Louisville is first school to win a BCS game (Sugar over Florida) AND put its men's and women's team in their respective Final Fours.” Thanks for reminding us of that Sugar Bowl game, buddy. 18. The hotel we stayed at in Dallas had a great workout room with free ear buds so there was no excuse not to listen to some good tunes. Try these downloads — “October” by The Helio Sequence, “Move Like You Want” by Ben Howard and for a classic cut “Presence of The Lord” by Blind Faith. Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

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