Back Nine: Daunting stretch of physical games awaiting Murphy
Published: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 23, 2013 at 8:48 p.m.
The Back Nine comes at you after what can only be described as an odd weekend. It was also a lousy one for college football. When the most interesting game of the day is interesting because it's offering fodder for ESPN's “Not Top 10” plays that says something about the day. Better days ahead.
10. The Back Nine has been reminded several times electronically that during the many speeches I made this summer, I said Florida was in trouble if Jeff Driskel suffered an injury because there was nobody behind him. I don't think any of us knew how much Tyler Murphy had improved. Still, Florida is in trouble. The Gators have a grind of games coming up that include physical defenses and Murphy has to stay healthy. Murphy took advantage of the luxury of eight practices in the preseason with Driskel on the mend and he has been around here for four years. So, maybe we shouldn't be surprised that he was able to succeed, especially at home. But there is nobody like that behind him. One good thing with Murphy is that the guy knows how and when to slide. Unfortunately, that doesn't help when you get tackled from behind as Driskel did against Tennessee.
11. I am still amazed at the number of people who were critical of Driskel after a game in which he was lost for the season. Memo to Gator fans — he's not making mistakes on purpose. Instead, he was out there on a sore left knee trying to beat Tennessee and caught a bad break. The really fascinating thing will be next year when Florida will have Driskel, Murphy, Max Staver, Skyler Mornhinweg, Chris Wilkes and Will Grier at quarterback. Of course, I'd be stunned if all six remained at UF. For those of you wondering, Driskel does meet the medical hardship requirement because he played in less than 30 percent of his games, the injury happened in the first half of the season and he's out for the year. So Driskel has two seasons of eligibility remaining after this year.
12. Instant replay is there to get things right, right? Except it doesn't always happen. Part of the problem with instant replay is that some plays cannot be reviewed. That's why the 83-yard run by N.C. State's Bryan Underwood last Thursday night only counted as a 36-yard run because an official thought he saw him step out of bounds. Some post-whistle plays can be reviewed, but not that one, even if the player was 20 yards clear of the defense (although there was one case where a replay official used common sense and allowed a touchdown for that very reason). Instant replay could not be used on the muffed punt that Florida's Darrin Kitchens batted out of bounds Saturday in the third quarter. The officials said he batted it forward, but it's not even close when you watch it. While it cannot be reviewed, it is permissible for the replay official to call the alternate official on the field via walkie-talkie and let him know that there was no foul. From what I'm told, that should have been done and the replay official just missed it.
13. I'm still not sure what to think about Alabama and LSU, but we'll get some more clues this weekend. Alabama reminds me a little bit of Florida's 2009 team. The expectations weighed so heavily on that team that it didn't seem to enjoy the process even though they went 12-0 before losing to Alabama. And it certainly weighed on their head coach. Alabama is winning every game, but coming away with a lot of questions after each one. At the same time, its 3-0 record is the best in the nation because of who it has beaten. LSU looks like a national contender, but how will its young defense stack up against Georgia's powerful offense? The Dogs had to be looking ahead against North Texas. At least their special teams players were. At any rate, a week of really mediocre games is over and now it gets real.
14. This is really the best time of the year. The college games get more meaningful and there are few money games. The NFL trends are starting to be established and the games are taken more seriously. And we have the Major League Baseball playoffs in another week. How good is it going to be for me this year? My Braves won the NL East despite an incredible rash of injuries and won't have to play in the stupid, moronic, asinine one-game wild-card playoff game. And the same goes for the Red Sox, my favorite American League team. I know there are a lot of you out there who believe you can only have one team. I disagree. And if it's the Braves and Sawx in the Series I will root like a madman for Atlanta. But I like having a team in the AL and I've been rooting for the Sawx since the Impossible Dream year in 1967. Hey, I can remember where I was the night I heard about Tony Conigliaro getting beaned. Don't tell me I'm not a Red Sox fan.
15. It would be perfect if there was some meaningful golf on over the next few weeks and I guess the Presidents Cup next week kind of qualifies even if it doesn't float your boat. But for the most part, golf ended Sunday and the debate is raging over who should be the player of the year. It seems to be between Tiger Woods (five wins, stunk in majors) and Phil Mickelson (two wins, won a major and was incredibly entertaining). I wonder if the fact Woods had three brushes with rules violations will be part of anyone's thinking? The Back Nine wants to be sure to salute Florida alum Billy Horschel, who finished tied for seventh in the Tour Championship and won $3.5 million this year.
16. Isn't college football supposed to be the sport that's unpredictable? How many of you figured the 49ers would forget to play defense, the Redskins, Giants, Bucs and Steelers would all be 0-3 and the Dolphins and Chiefs would be 3-0 at this point of the season? It's early, but it promises to be an interesting NFL season. Players are coming out of nowhere to be stars and a lot of old reliables are just looking old.
17. It has become a tradition on Sunday morning to get a Diet Coke, unwrap the paper and then pick up my phone and start blocking people on Twitter. I don't mind if you don't agree with me and it's not like I have never cursed in my life. But when you get nasty and personal, just know that the next tweet you send me I will never see. I've got more blocks than Ralph Sampson. Anyway, the Tweet of the Week comes from Associated Press college football writer Ralph D. Russo — “Yankees lost on Mariano (Rivera) day. How very Mets of them.” Made me laugh.
18. When I was doing a book signing Saturday at the UF Bookstore I met so many lovely people with so many nice things to say. It was heartwarming to hear how many people are big fans of the Back Nine and especially the music suggestions. So we'll keep them coming. Try these — “Let Your Love Hold Fast” by Fort Atlantic, “Remember” by Saves the Day (in honor of Tyler Murphy) and for a deep old album cut “Latitude 88 North” by Electric Light Orchestra.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.