Back Nine: No guarantees for Gators going forward
Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 14, 2013 at 9:20 p.m.
The Back Nine comes at you while wondering if we'll ever leave Baton Rouge. American Airlines flight couldn't get the door closed Sunday so we were stuck here another night and I'm writing from a breakfast place in the airport. Yes, traveling is wonderful.
10. For the last few weeks, I've been trying to talk Gator fans off the ledge. After Saturday, I realize that I have to grab you by the back of the shirt. The loss to LSU wasn't a bad loss, but the way it went down was certainly frustrating to anybody who is a member of the Gator Nation. And it's not like the schedule is going to soften up. The second half of the season will be a real indicator of this team's fortitude. Look, Florida has had an amazing amount of injuries to key players, including the latest loss of Matt Jones. I get that. I said before the season that this was going to be a tough year because of the schedule. I get that, too. But the red zone ineptitude in the Gators' two losses is alarming. As we sit here today, I can't guarantee Florida will be bowl eligible. At the same time, it's conceivable the Gators could win the SEC East. But Florida absolutely must beat Missouri, which lost its starting quarterback to injury Saturday. The Tigers are going to come after Tyler Murphy and they're going to be conservative on offense, because of the inexperience at quarterback and Florida's inability to score points. The stats are insignificant in this game. Only the final score matters. And Florida has to be on the right side of that score.
11. If you thought the SEC hate was bad before, brace yourself for this week now that the conference has a record eight teams in The Associated Press Top 25. With all due respect, I don't see how anybody can put Florida in their top 25, but the Gators are 22nd in AP and the coaches' polls and 21st in the goofy Harris Poll. Florida's three SEC wins have come against teams that are 0-8 in league play. The four teams they have beaten are a combined 10-15. I'm a big admirer of Florida's defense, but I think it's lazy voting to rank Florida right now (just as it's lazy voting to have Louisville No. 6 in the coaches' poll). Not that I would expect anything else.
12. OK, so I need to write something positive about the Gators. How about this? All of Florida's points in Baton Rouge were scored by a player a lot of you have never heard of before. Frankie Velez from Ocala Trinity Catholic nailed both of his field goals and may be the kicker of the future. Funny thing, he wasn't even listed on the Florida roster that we were given in the press box. I talked to him after the game and he was still in a little bit of disbelief. Seems like a great kid. He walked on at UF in 2010 after making 24-of-26 field goals at Trinity.
13. Was it obvious to everyone else that Lane Kiffin was auditioning for a job at ESPN and that's why he gave the four-letter network his first interview after he was fired? It's hard enough to watch all of the college football shows (I force myself) without Lanie's presence. It always cracks me up when a coach is critical of the media and then becomes a part of it. Then again, I'm easily amused.
14. As a Heisman Trophy voter, I'm not permitted to tell you who I will vote for this year. But as much as I don't want to vote for Johnny Manziel, he's making it difficult. Fortunately, there are plenty of other candidates including, Marcus Mariota of Oregon. Aaron Murray was near the top of my list, but I'm afraid the loss and the turnovers Saturday pretty much eliminated him. It was a wild Saturday for college football and it was about time.
15. It was classic Steve Spurrier after his team hammered Arkansas last Saturday. “I feel badly for Arkansas,” he said. “It's no fun getting your butt beat like this at home, at homecoming and all that.” The swagger that seemed to be missing for the Head Ball Coach while dealing with the Jadeveon Clowney mess seems to be back after Georgia lost, Florida lost and Missouri lost its quarterback. The Gamecocks don't control their own destiny, but I like their chances of getting to Atlanta.
16. The biggest stunner of the weekend had to be Jacksonville covering the spread against Denver. Just kidding, but it does say something about your team when you lose by 16 and the other team is saying things like Wes Welker did. “There was a lot of bad football out there," he said. He was talking about the Broncos, not the Jags. It's always bad football when Jacksonville is playing.
17. The Tweet of the Week comes from ESPN's Colin Cowherd, who I rarely pay attention to when he's talking college football because he knows very little about it — “Muschamp now 1-4 in last 5 against top competition dating back to 2012 Georgia game. Surprised he didn't get another job offer in last hour.” As I pointed out in The Sunday Blog, the Gators are averaging 13.5 points in those four losses.
18. You sit in an airport for as long as I did and you're going to explore every bit of entertainment. Unfortunately, that included “The Hangover III” on the ride out to Red Stick. Don't bother. The only funny scene is after the credits. But if you're looking for some good music, try these downloads — “Shake” by The Head and The Heart, “Another Is Waiting” by The Avett Brothers (new album out soon and I can't wait) and for a deep old album cut “Barefoot In Baltimore” by The Strawberry Alarm Clock.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.