Back Nine: UF runs different gauntlet now with lack of D in SEC


South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7) informed his coaches prior to the Gamecock's matchup against Kentucky on Saturday that he was not healthy enough to play. Clowney last played in USC's 28-25 road win over Central Florida on Sept. 28. (AP Photo)

Published: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 7, 2013 at 9:04 p.m.

The Back Nine comes at you after a great weekend of football, golf and baseball. Not that I participated in any of these sports. But it was great watching.

10. A colleague of mine walked up to me after the Florida-Arkansas game and said what a lot of us have been thinking. “I don't know anything about football. Because if you would have told me Florida would be better with Tyler Murphy than Jeff Driskel I would have told you that you were crazy.” Ditto. When I was speaking to Gator Clubs around the state in August, my standard joke was that I might me the next in line to play quarterback if Driskel went down because there was nobody behind him. What we didn't know was how much Murphy had improved behind closed doors. I think there's also this — he's a gamer. Look, there was a reason he was fourth-string behind two true freshman in 2011. And third-string behind two sophomores last year. But Murphy has shown that hard work and film study can pay off. That said, we'll never know what Driskel might have done in these last three games had he not suffered the season-ending injury. Murphy's biggest games are still to come, but it's not like he'll be going against the 1985 Bears defense. His next four games are against teams that rank seventh, eighth, 10th and 11th in the SEC in total defense.

11. At the same time, the Gators still have to face five teams who would be ranked in the top 20 of the BCS if it were released today (according to Jerry Palm of CBS Sports). It's a brutal gauntlet even if it's different than what we were expecting because of this sudden lack of defense in the SEC. It certainly makes for some entertaining viewing. Georgia's games this season would make a wonderful mini-series. While the Bulldogs caught a break when Pig Howard dropped the ball just before the goal line, you have to think Aaron Murray is right in the middle of the Heisman Trophy race now. He's had enough Heisman moments to last two seasons.

12. Meanwhile, up in Columbia, Jadeveon Clowney continues to be the story even when he's not playing. Clowney told Steve Spurrier just before the game he wasn't up to it. The Head Ball Coach's response was classic. "If he wants to play, we will welcome him to come play for the team if he wants," he said. I've known Spurrier for a long time and it was pretty clear to me after watching his interviews on the subject that he knows he's got a diva and is going to have to deal with it until this season is over and Clowney leaves for the NFL. The perception is that Clowney has already checked out mentally. He's made excuses for his performances after almost every game. Bone spurs, stomach ailments, poor coaching. Nobody is saying any player should go out there and play injured, especially if he's got millions waiting for him. But on the same day, South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw, who wasn't supposed to play, led the Gamecocks to a win over Kentucky despite a shoulder injury. It seems pretty obvious Clowney is getting advice from someone outside the program.

13. Most of the names of the people on the upcoming college football playoff selection committee have been leaked to the media. I still don't get why they are excluding the media, but because I won't be asked I was especially happy to see Archie Manning on the list. He's such a genuinely good person and I have no doubts he'll be fair. Ty Willingham is kind of an odd choice, but I have a feeling there aren't a lot of people lining up for the job. Imagine if they were doing it this year and the season just ended. And they picked Alabama, Clemson, Stanford and Oregon, who are the top four according to the BCS. Imagine the outcry from fans of Ohio State, Florida State and Oklahoma, not to mention unbeaten Miami and Louisville. Exactly. That's why I thought sports columnists would be perfect for the job. We watch more college football than anyone and are used to being called bad names on a daily basis.

14. Apparently, the lack of defense in the SEC has spread to the NFL. That was an amazing game between Denver and Dallas unless you were a defensive coordinator. I don't have an NFL team that I root for, but I'm becoming a Broncos fan just because they are so much fun to watch. I would love to know how many of the audibles Peyton Manning calls are decoys.

15. I managed to watch some of The Presidents Cup, but it was difficult with all of the football going on. I have a theory why we dominate the Presidents Cup and struggle in the Ryder Cup. I think the Europeans have a special bond that you don't see with the Internationals. And I think that Euro-bond intimidates the Americans a little. It's just a theory, but I'm sticking with it. And it was very cool of Webb Simpson to concede Louis Oosthuizen's 15-footer on the last hole so they could tie after Tiger Woods had already clinched it for the Americans.

16. The Back Nine visited with some real great Gators at Gator Golf Day Friday and it was especially exciting to hear the latest from Dudley Hart. The 45-year-old Hart, who has won more than $12 million on the PGA Tour, has been sidelined with back issues. He tried to play at Pebble Beach early last year, but the back flared up again. But recently, Hart went to a doctor who discovered the source of his pain was that a previous surgery left more problems than solutions. Hart had another surgery and is raring to go. He will play in some South American events later this year and will have 14 Tour events next year under his major medical hardship. We're all rooting for Duds, who is one of the best guys I know. In fact, the highlight of my weekend was a 30-minute conversation with Hart, Chris DiMarco and Billy Horschel in the UF Golf Course clubhouse. All of them are special guys.

17. The Tweet of the Week comes from Zac Jackson of FoxSportsOhio — “(Terrelle) Pryor probably did that a lot at 2:19 a.m. (on the NCAA video game he wasn't getting paid for while he was getting paid to play college FB).” Pryor made a nifty play at that point in the game. I heard he did anyway because I was closer to waking up than going to sleep. But I appreciate the NFL for having a game that didn't end until 2:39 Monday morning just in case I was up. I'm a big believer that there should be live football on television at all times. But that's just me.

18. The music for the Back Nine seems to be gaining momentum with a lot of suggestions from readers and compliments on the choices. I know these songs aren't for everyone, but try these downloads — “Riptide” by Vance Joy, “Wraith” by Peace and for an oldie but goodie “I'd Wait A Million Years” by The Grass Roots.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

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