Back Nine: UF spring game shows offense's potential

Quarterback Jeff Driskel throws a pass during the first half of the Orange and Blue Debut at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday. The game ended in a 23-23 tie.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 7:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, April 14, 2014 at 9:10 p.m.

The Back Nine comes at you after getting taxes, landscaping, wash and all the things done that were put off for a magical month.

10. Like a lot of people, I was curious what kind of crowd would show up for the Orange and Blue game Saturday. I figured the new offense would bring out some people, but the bitter taste of 4-8 would push others away. It was a nice crowd, bigger than I expected. I wonder if it would have been any bigger if UF had been able to follow through with plans to honor the basketball team during the game (unfortunately, too many of them were out of town) and had been able to announce it ahead of time. What amazes me is all of the Jeff Driskel hate that came my way in the aftermath. I just want to remind people that he has had 15 practices in this offense so he’s a long way from a finished product. Oh, and he’s still recovering from a broken leg that caused him to miss most of last season and a winter of throwing. Did he not see Adam Lane running wide open down the middle of the field? Yes. He was hardly perfect. But Driskel is going to thrive in this system. It’s just a matter of getting the timing down. He’s your quarterback, Gator Nation. I think he’s going to have a great season. And more than anything, I think Will Muschamp knows that the SEC has changed and the Gators are going to have to score points to win games. I think Kurt Roper is going to give the receivers a chance to be great. It’s up to them to seize those chances. Climb the air to make a catch. Make someone miss. Hang on to a deep throw. Those are the things that have been missing the last few years.

11. That’s not a knock on the defense, which did not look overwhelming Saturday. Florida definitely has some spots where they are thin, especially at defensive tackle, but I think you’ll see a good defense in the fall. It will help that the defenders don’t feel like they have to hold teams to 10 points to have a chance to win games. The defense probably won’t be at the level it was two years ago, but it will be solid with a chance to be excellent if certain players make big steps between now and the SEC schedule. So I guess my bottom line is that Florida is going to have a chance to be a really good team next year but you know how I feel — that every season comes down to a handful of plays in a handful of games. With Florida’s schedule, it may be more than a handful.

12. This is the time when Phil Trautwein should feel like everything is about to take off. He has a two-year-old son and is in his second year as a graduate assistant at Boston College as he begins his career journey. But for the last three weeks, the former Gator offensive tackle has been reliving a nightmare and fighting for justice. Trautwein’s sister, Sarah, was killed five years ago when her 2005 Chevy Cobalt hit a tree in Colleton City, S.C. It wasn’t until three weeks ago that the family heard about the General Motors recall of the car because of a faulty ignition switch. Upon further investigation, the Trautweins found out Sarah’s air bags never deployed because the ignition switch had turned the car off. Since then, Trautwein and his mother, Renee, have been on every network telling the story of a bright 19-year-old girl who was a freshman at South Carolina. “We want people to know the story,” Trautwein told The Back Nine. “We want people to be held accountable. My mom wants criminal charges.” Sarah was a big Gator fan who attended “four or five games” a season when Trautwein was a starter on two national championship teams. She picked blue as the color for the Cobalt, which she nicknamed Betty, because it matched the Gators’ jersey color. “It’s just tragic,” Trautwein said. “It was a 57-cent part that needed to be replaced. And there are still people out there driving them.” Trautwein and his mother went to the Senate hearings and met with GM CEO Mary Barra. “Coach (Steve) Addazio let me off two spring practices,” he said. “He didn’t have to do that.” Trautwein asks that people visit to sign a petition.

13. I don’t think it was only the absence of Tiger Woods that made the Masters less than scintillating, especially Sunday. The Back Nine was bored during the Back Nine. A lot of it had to do with the setup. They made the course so tough (and the weather helped) that birdies were tough to come by and nobody made a charge. Where was that birdie-eagle-birdie run that changes the tournament? Going into the last nine holes, I thought it was still wide open. But it turned out it wasn’t. I’m a big Bubba Watson fan, but I almost found myself rooting for him to rinse one just to make things interesting. Instead, he hit that ridiculous second shot at 15 and the tournament was basically over.

14. So we left town a month ago for the wonderful basketball ride and the Gator baseball team was scuffling. And now they’re ranked No. 1 in the country in RPI? What happened? “When you play a tough schedule, you’re not going to have the sexiest record in the world,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan told The Back Nine on Monday. “I’ve been telling people that all year. You’re going to have bumps and bruises. But I like playing a tough schedule.” Florida is 23-13, but has five wins over the teams ranked second (South Carolina) and fourth (FSU) in RPI. Of Florida’s 36 games so far, the Gators have played half of them against teams ranked in the top 22 in RPI. “It’s a young team and we didn’t have things put together earlier,” O’Sullivan said. “Heck, we start the season and the first pitch we see is 94 (mph against Maryland). But playing that schedule is going to help a team get better.” No team in the country has more one-run wins or extra-inning wins, which says a lot about this team. So does rallying twice against a South Carolina team that hardly ever loses at home and hardly ever blows late leads. The Gators have Florida Gulf Coast on the road tonight before playing host to Georgia this weekend, the first of two straight SEC home series.

15. We’re inside a month until the NFL draft, which means there will only be about 6,735 more stories about Jadeveon Clowney and his work ethic. The amazing thing to me about the draft is that the people making the decisions have so much information, so many workouts, so much game video, so many sitdowns and still blow it so often. Wake me when it’s over.

16. There are a lot of great golf tournaments and a lot of great causes, but one of my favorites in both categories is coming up April 25 at the University of Florida course. The 15th Mary Wise Scramble will be played then and promises to be another great event to help PACE, which provides girls and young women an opportunity for a better future. You can sign up at The goal is to raise money for better facilities for PACE.

17. The Tweet of the Week comes from the excellent college basketball writer Gary Parrish of — “In a related note, I ‘tweaked’ my son’s shower routine this morning. Showed him film of people using soap. Total game-changer.” This was after Kentucky coach John Calipari revealed that the famous tweak for his Wildcats was to ask his point guard to pass more. I could have told him that long before the postseason.

18. Being home means listening to different music because Kelsey gives me some leeway, but eventually the channel is changed. We did find one we both like. Try “Take Me To Church” by Hozier. Also “Wonderful Unknown” by Ingrid Michaelson and for a deep, old album cut “John Barleycorn” by Traffic.

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

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