Back Nine: Florida may have been due for a season like this


Florida running back Kelvin Taylor (21) is pushed out of bounds at the 1-yard-line against Vanderbilt during the Gators' 34-17 loss Saturday at home.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Tuesday, November 12, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 11, 2013 at 8:41 p.m.

Back Nine comes at you after a weird homecoming weekend during which I saw no Growl, no parade and no Florida victory. What's this world coming to?

10. The most classic email I received over the weekend was from someone who said he is not going to write me anymore because it doesn't do any good. It's almost as if people believe I control Will Muschamp's fate. I could stand up in the middle of Main Street and say he should be fired right now and never let into the city of Gainesville again. He'd still be the coach. But I guess some of you would feel better. I've detailed in this space and on my podcast the reasons why Muschamp will be the coach next year. Here's another — when Urban Meyer was considering taking the Florida job back in 2004, one of the real sticking points was that Meyer wanted an explanation of why Ron Zook was fired after 2 seasons. Coaches don't like to take jobs where you can get fired a year after winning 11 games. Nobody in the Gator Nation is enjoying this and the hits just keep coming with the news that Antonio Morrison is out for the season. Anybody out there with any eligibility remaining? It has been a bad season. Florida was due.

It'll be over soon and next year's team should be loaded even if it is going to have to play another brutal schedule. My best advice to Gator fans would be to put your knives back in the drawers and be patient. I know there are some of you out there who feel entitled to great football. Should Florida finish with a losing season, it will be the first one since SEC expansion in 1992. And that will make Florida the last SEC team to have a losing season since then. Every other team has been through it.

11. While everyone around here is griping about the Florida coach, there are fan bases out there who are really enjoying theirs. Duke won its fifth straight game and actually has a shot at playing in the ACC title game. I actually watched the last 10 minutes of the Blue Devils' win over North Carolina State and saw Duke fans chanting, “We want Florida State.” No you don't. Didn't the Oregon T-shirts teach anybody anything? The only way the Ducks are going to see Bama is in the NIT. And Gus Malzahn has turned Auburn into an offensive juggernaut while eschewing the passing game. It's funny because Stanford just beat Oregon with the same basic run-first philosophy that Florida uses. But you have to execute, you have to be physical and you have to have a quarterback. And what about the crazy man at USC? Who would have thought GameDay would be at Southern Cal this season after Lanie Kiffin was fired?

12. It's getting down to that time of the year where we have to take our Heisman Trophy ballots seriously. And right now, I'm leaning toward Johnny Manziel. While his interceptions are up (11 vs. nine last year), he's having a better season in every other passing category. The reason I favor him right now is because he can't lose his serve very often. Texas A&M's defense is awful and has given up 31 or more points six times this season. Manziel knows he has to put up big points to win games. (In the Aggies' two losses, they scored 94 points). I'm not a big fan of Johnny Sharpie the person and I'm not sure he should be eligible, but within the parameters of the voting he's the leader in the clubhouse. And you know that every bowl game is chomping at the bit for a chance to match him up in what is likely his last college game … with anybody. Heck, Florida's offense might look good against the Aggies. Well, maybe.

13. I'm always amazed at the paranoia coaches have concerning injuries and keeping them secret. On Saturday, Vandy dressed injured quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels knowing he would not play, but hoping to make Florida think he would. “That's a Jedi mind trick,” James Franklin said. “We just dress him up and put him out there so people start saying, 'Look at that guy over there. I wonder if he's going to play today.' I know when I can read and know who's playing and not playing from another team, it gives us an advantage.” Blows my mind. I just don't believe a game has ever been won or lost based on an injury report.

14. Hey, Kelvin Taylor. I know you're a freshman and a great kid and a legacy and everything. But lower your shoulder and get into the end zone. OK?

15. Sundays are always fairly relaxing around the Dooley Dome if I'm not traveling. I watch a lot of NFL games, but mainly because of my fantasy teams. I know a little about the King, but I really don't start paying attention to the standings until around this time of the year. So pardon my ignorance, but I was a little surprised to see that 1. Philadelphia is in first place in the NFC East and hasn't won a home game; 2. Carolina is 6-3 and not because of Cam Newton, because the Panthers have scored fewer points than 16 NFL teams; 3. Cincinnati has lost back-to-back OT games and still leads the AFC North by 1.5 games; 4. Atlanta is 2-7. All right, I'm all caught up. You may proceed with the rest of the season.

16. It was a stunner Monday that the Atlanta Braves are going to move to Cobb County because it came out of nowhere. As someone who had his car broken into at a Braves game, moving from the city to the suburbs doesn't bother me at all, but it just seems like it will be a traffic mess out there. It's difficult to believe the stadium I sat in for the 1996 Olympics is now obsolete.

17. The Tweet of the Week goes to Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel — “Gators fans booing now. Forget the Koran, Gainesville's radical Pastor Terry Jones now wants to burn UF playbook.” Well, the pastor is not Gainesville's anymore, but it was still funny.

18. I have to get a playlist ready for the long drive to Columbia, S.C. And a birthday CD for my daughter in Los Angeles. Boy, this is going to be a busy week. Try these downloads — “Another Story” by The Head and The Heart, “Beg Steal Or Borrow” by Ray LaMontagne and for a deep cut and because we're going to South Carolina “I Will Wait” by Hootie and The Blowfish.

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

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