Back Nine: UF had good UM plan
Published: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 9, 2013 at 11:51 p.m.
The Back Nine comes at you after a long weekend in north Miami where this Florida season took a wrong turn. The good news was that I found a place in Miami Lakes with unbelievable chicken wings.
10. Look, I get why Gator fans are so upset right now. It's never fun to lose and especially to a rival, especially when the opportunity for revenge is not in the foreseeable future. After enjoying Urban Meyer's stellar record in rivalry games (17-2), Florida fans are not enjoying Will Muschamp's record against rivals (3-4). I feel your pain, but there are a couple of points I think need to be made after reading all of your emails and tweets. First, while Jeff Driskel had a bad game and has committed 10 turnovers in Florida's three losses with him as the starting quarterback, quit calling for him to be benched. He's all Florida has. You had better hope that he's your quarterback all season. You'd better hope that the slight knee injury he suffered against Miami comes around. It's up to the coaches to work with him to get better. I know that the most popular player on any team is the backup quarterback, but you can't call for him to be playing when you don't know his name. Driskel is Florida's best chance to win and there is nobody in second place. And Tim Tebow isn't walking through that door. I know, Florida shouldn't be in a situation where it only has one quarterback, but you have to remember Muschamp inherited a bad situation at that position. He had one quarterback, who was a senior, and a bunch of hybrid players. And quit lamenting the loss of Jacoby Brissett. Did you see him against Louisiana and Jacksonville State last year? He left voluntarily. Nobody made him leave. I would think the Gator Nation would rally around their quarterback rather than try to get him to transfer, but I've been around too long. I saw it with so many quarterbacks from David Bowden to Chris Leak. It comes with the position.
11. Secondly, and this one is really going to tick off a lot of people, Florida had a winning game plan heading into the game. Did they have a game plan to blow Miami out and send their fans home early? No. That's not the Muschamp style. But they did have a plan to wear down the Hurricane defense and win the game in the fourth quarter. And it was working. Miami's defenders were tired by halftime. But nobody can game plan around five turnovers. Certainly there were some calls I didn't like, especially the fourth-and-1 quarterback sneak. But in the end, mistakes derailed the plan to win. Miami fans have been criticizing me for not giving the Hurricanes credit for creating those turnovers. They deserve credit for the fumbles, but not the interceptions. They were horrible decisions.
12. In the end, your offense is only as good as the points it scores. As Steve Spurrier used to say, “Statistics are for losers and assistant coaches.” So it doesn't matter how many yards Florida had in the game. All that matters right now is that the Gators are last in the SEC in scoring and last in touchdowns. There are four teams, at least, who are better than Miami on UF's schedule. This could be a tough year for Gator fans. I still like the talent on this roster, but it's not a good sign when Vernon Hargreaves III stepped out of bounds on his interception return and we all said in the press box that was their best chance to score. I know there are a lot of people who are ready to divorce this team and it doesn't help that FSU looks like it might run the table and Ohio State might go unbeaten and Miami thinks it is back and Georgia recovered to beat South Carolina. Maybe the tide began to turn late Saturday night when Lane Kiffin lost.
13. Wow, we're only two weeks into the season and already two of the best-known coaches in college football are in trouble. Kiffin's home loss to Washington State has his seat set to uncomfortable. The Trojan quarterbacks threw for 54 yards in a 10-7 loss. Outside the Coliseum, someone added “Kiffin” to a “Fire Lane” stencil near a sidewalk. Meanwhile, Mack Brown appears headed out the door unless there is a dramatic turnaround in Texas. His defense gave up 550 rushing yards to Brigham Young, so he fired his defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. And he's had to explain why he didn't offer quarterbacks Andrew Luck, Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffin III and Jameis Winston. It would be a fascinating postseason if two of the biggest jobs in the game come open at the same time and it looks very probable right now.
14. Georgia's offense is really good and we all knew that going into the season. And even though I picked the 'Dogs to beat South Carolina, I was stunned at how easily they carved up the Gamecocks defense. Maybe it has something to do with a dysfunctional defensive coaching staff after we saw assistants Deke Adams and Kirk Botkin get after each other on the sideline. (Google it if you haven't seen the exchange). The loss was devastating to Spurrier and he's questioning his defensive coaches. It definitely knocked the swagger off a team that was very confident after beating North Carolina. “Hopefully, we're just sort of back down to Earth,” Spurrier said. “We're not a very good team right now. We don't have to worry about any kind of divisions, SEC championships. We're worried about going to a bowl game right now, that's what we need to worry about, winning seven games, eight games, if we can.”
15. Some of my friends (and relatives) who are Gator fans were so discouraged after Saturday's game that they were joking that they might want to switch teams. I suggested North Dakota State, which has won two straight national titles in the FCS and is ranked No. 1 after wins over Kansas State and Ferris State. Hey, you just don't walk into the Fargodome and win.
16. Or maybe you just watch the NFL. The Back Nine thoroughly enjoyed the games that I was able to watch Sunday, especially the Green Bay-San Francisco game. You have to be careful not to read too much into opening games, but Jacksonville's 28-2 loss (the first time in NFL history that has been a final) should give Jags fans (I assume there still are some) a little bit of hope … to get the first pick in the draft next year. There will be a lot of good quarterbacks out there.
17. Tweet of the Week comes from USA Today college football writer Dan Wolken — “If (Nick) Saban wins another title, I suggest something more challenging. Like maybe getting Alabama's seemingly endless highway projects finished.” Couldn't have said it any better myself. Every drive to Hoover for SEC Media Days is an adventure.
18. The drive to and from Miami was pretty smooth thanks to Sirius and some great music. Try these downloads — “Elephant” by Jason Isbell, “Head On” by Man Man, and for a deep and ancient album cut “Out The Blue” by John Lennon.