Back Nine: Gators’ season shows how quickly things can change

Florida kicker Austin Hardin (16) watches his missed field goal during the second quarter at South Carolina on Saturday.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 18, 2013 at 9:23 p.m.

The Back Nine comes at you after the final road game of the season for the Florida Gators. It seems like only yesterday we were in Hoover, Ala., listening to the SEC coaches. That’s what happens in football season. It flies by leaving your emotions in its wake.

10. Because we are not invited to watch practice at the University of Florida, we have to trust what the coaches are seeing. So I am assuming Skyler Mornhinweg can’t throw the ball down the field. I also have to assume Frankie Velez must miss everything in practice and Austin Hardin must be splitting the uprights from 60 yards on a regular basis. Velez has missed one kick in a game. Hardin has missed seven. It makes no sense. And while I got it at the time when Kyle Christy was benched, it’s not like Johnny Townsend has been that much better. He is averaging two yards more a kick but Christy had twice as many fair catches and one fewer touchback. Maybe I’m nitpicking when this football team is a giant open sore and I understand why coaches put so much value on practices. Some guys shine when the lights are brightest and some guys wilt. That’s all I’m saying. Kelvin Taylor is clearly one of those guys who likes the big stage. But when the other team knows you are going to run, you’re not going anywhere. Taylor had eight carries for 10 yards in the second half while Mack Brown had seven carries for seven yards. I live by one mantra and it especially applied Saturday night — BOOTLEG ALWAYS WORKS.

11. There are binders filled with old newspapers by my desk at The Gainesville Sun and the other day one was opened to a story from last year the Monday after the Florida-FSU game. And the headline read, “Muschamp: It’s a great time to be a Gator.” It’s just an example of how things can change so quickly. Since that newspaper was published, Florida is 4-7 and 1-6 away from Gainesville. This is nothing new in college football. Northwestern was feeling it just a few weeks ago when they were 4-0, ranked 17th and GameDay was in town. Then, it lost six straight. Georgia was a preseason top-five team and now appears headed to the Music City Bowl. Remember when Michigan was a sexy team in September, but now appears headed to a bowl like the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Florida, of course, is headed to its first bowl-less offseason since 1990 unless it can beat Georgia Southern and FSU’s bus gets hijacked. There is an NCAA rule that bowls can take 5-7 teams if there are not enough 6-6 teams. But there are already 59 bowl-eligible teams for 70 spots so I wouldn’t hold my breath.

12. The Birmingham News had a poll Sunday where it asked readers to come up with a nickname for the unbelievable Hail Mary play that gave Auburn the win and knocked the Bulldogs out of the SEC East race. My suggestion would be to call it simply, “Karma.” It took 33 years, but Georgia fans can now understand how Florida fans felt when Lindsay Scott happened. And every time Georgia plays Auburn for the rest of time, they’ll show that play and twist the dagger. Although I don’t think the radio call of “Louis is going to score!” ranks up there with “Run, Lindsay!”

13. There is always controversy over officials whether it be the NFL or college or high school and we saw it again this weekend (especially in the Saints-49ers game). As a long-time college football fan, I have to say this — I think the officiating is the worst it has ever been. If I had a dollar for every time a five-yard penalty has been marked off for six yards or a team lost a yard on an incomplete pass I could probably retire. Judgment calls are what they are. But the lack of attention to detail is unbelievable. OK, that’s my vent for the day.

14. I know the Florida coaching staff and Matt Patchan didn’t see eye-to-eye on some things, but the former Gator tackle is playing well at Boston College and was named ACC lineman of the week after Andre Williams ran for 339 yards, an ACC record. I’ve talked to Phil Trautwein, the former UF tackle who is a grad assistant at BC, and he said Patchan has been a real leader up there and is playing well. Considering Florida is down to its fourth and fifth tackles, Patchan certainly could have been used here.

15. I was one of those young men who grew up with a phrase that I’m sure is lost on Generation LOL. But when you were watching SEC basketball in the 1970s and ’80s, you had to be able to do an impression of analyst Joe Dean. “STRING MUSIC IN GAINESVILLE F-L-A.” Dean was SEC basketball for so long before becoming the athletic director at LSU (where he hired Nick Saban). He was Dick Vitale before there was a TV Dick Vitale. He was also a classic gentleman. He passed away Sunday at 83. He will be missed terribly by those who were close to him and by people like me who would see him at an athletic event and mumble, “String music,” under our breath.

16. The SEC is out to be taken seriously in college basketball this season. Not so fast, sneaker breath. So far, the league is 1-6 against BCS competition with the one win coming by Alabama over Texas Tech. I’ve watched a lot of the game and I think the league is a little better, but not a lot better. Florida is the real mystery team, because we’re all wondering what the Gators will look like in February and March. You know, when people start paying attention.

17. The Tweet of the Week comes from Cam Inman, who covers San Francisco for the San Jose Mercury News — “49ers Aldon Smith played 44 of 69 snaps (64%). Pressured QB once, no sacks. Vomited by bench (cited a cold). Shuttling in/out looked tiring.” Now that’s what I call a detailed report.

18. I had to be a little lazy on this last road trip because we mostly listened to Howard Stern, Raw Dog and football in the car I didn’t get a lot of music. I’ll make up for it this week. Try these downloads — “One Red Thread” by Blind Pilot, “California” by Rogue Wave and for a old-school cut “Me And My Arrow” by Harry Nilsson.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow at

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