Endless summer has turned into endless bummer


Preseason prognosticators predicted that if starting quarterback Jeff Driskel was injured, this season would be a disaster ... and they were right.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, November 15, 2013 at 5:54 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 15, 2013 at 5:54 p.m.

The summer is such a wonderful time in college football. Everybody is undefeated and optimistic. The fans of powerful teams are nervous and the lesser teams are wondering if they can chase down lightning and capture it for four months.

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Preseason prognosticators predicted that if starting quarterback Jeff Driskel was injured, this season would be a disaster ... and they were right.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer

Facts

Saturday's game
Who:
Florida (4-5) at South Carolina (7-2)
When: 7 p.m. on Saturday
TV: ESPN2
Radio: WRUF

We look at teams and matchups and games and overspeculate and underevaluate, pick top 25s that we know won't last and start to proclaim Heisman Trophy darkhorses that will be eliminated by October.

We are all so naive in the summer.

Now, as we prepare for Florida's 10th game of the season and the 12th week of college football, so much more is in focus. If we only knew then what we do now.

But we did know some things.

Remember back in August when it was the opinion of just about every Florida fan and media member that if Jeff Driskel went down, the Gator season would be a disaster? Driskel went down, the season is a disaster and now everyone wants to fire the coach.

Remember back in the summer when I wrote a column about the third-year jinx, how it seemed to affect every Florida coach over the last 50 years? No coach has been hit as hard as Will Muschamp by the third-year jinx. It's a miracle no Florida players have been hit by a car on Gale Lemerand Drive on the way to practice.

Remember back when it was so sticky you seriously thought about moving away from Gainesville and I wrote about snowballs to help you cool down? I talked about how an early-season win or loss could have an incredible influence on a team.

It happened last year at Texas A&M. Florida pulled that game out in the second half and it changed the entire season. It also happened this year at Miami. Florida didn't pull that game out because of mistakes and it changed the whole season.

The confidence that was gathered in College Station was sweat out in Miami.

Remember back in the summer when we all felt Florida's defense would fall off because so many players left early for the NFL? Remember three games into the season when we wondered if this defense might be better than last year's? Remember one reason for that belief was that Dominique Easley had dominated the game earning the nickname “Dominique the Dominator?”

And then he was done.

Remember when you were in the pool and someone asked you what you thought would be a good record for Florida and you said 10-2? Remember the last thing you thought would happen this year was that Jeremy Foley would feel the need to offer public support for his head coach?

Remember going to practice and thinking that you couldn't wait to see what Demarcus Robinson and Ahmad Fulwood would do this season as freshmen?

Remember sipping on a mint iced tea on your back porch and thinking that Florida's strength this season would be its offensive line?

Summer is different. It's a time for idle thoughts and daydreams of confetti. Reality is a lot tougher to deal with for college football fans.

The reality for this football team in Columbia on Saturday is that it is about to have a season of historic proportions whether we're talking about missing a bowl game or setting a record for most injuries in a season.

It's not what anybody was expecting, but how many fan bases are getting what they expected? Only a few will get what they wanted back when you could still play golf until 8:30 p.m.

Florida fans aren't happy and they shouldn't be. They should be disappointed in their coaches, their players, their luck and even their athletic director for scheduling Miami and giving Muschamp only six home games.

But unless a miracle happens on Saturday and the few remaining players are able to spring an upset on Steve Spurrier's South Carolina team, this season is going to be a pile of wet garbage.

So it's time to move on. You know how the athletic director feels about his coach. You know he is going to be your coach next year. A lot of ankles have been turned jumping off the Florida bandwagon. They make it harder to jump back on.

Nobody saw this coming in the summer. And even though you think you know, nobody knows what's going to happen in the future.

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

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