Back Nine: Open practices provided insight on a good team
Published: Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, August 18, 2014 at 10:22 p.m.
The Back Nine comes at you after a weekend that included some pickin' and grinnin' but no grillin' because I ran out of gas. It may be time to go back to charcoal.
10. The best thing that has come out of Florida's football camp this summer — very little news. There have been bumps and bruises (and the loss of freshman defensive tackle Thomas Holley for the season), but after the disaster of unlucky 2013, the fact there have been no major injuries to anyone on the two-deep depth chart, no issues with players, nobody flunking out — at least as far as we know — has been good news. Yeah, I know I just jinxed the Gators. But I went out to a few practices last week and I can tell you it's a good-looking team. Will Muschamp keeps talking about how the roster is better offensively and he's not kidding. Part of it is that Florida finally hit on a pair of wide receiver recruits in Ahmad Fulwood and Demarcus Robinson. Part of it is the Gators have three quarterbacks they can win games with. Part of it is they are loaded at tailback. Part of it is they have Tyler Moore at guard instead of tackle. We all know this is going to be an interesting year. It might actually be a fun one.
11. The SEC Network is what I thought it was after watching it the first few days. I love that it is showing old games. That's really all I want — games. Old games, new games. The other stuff (especially the launch) feels too much like an infomercial. But I'm sure it's the same way with the other conference networks. I've said this before, I'm going to be way more interested in the SEC Network in week six than week one. Right now, we're getting the same stuff that has been regurgitated for the last month.
12. And it certainly made for a nice alternative to the NFL exhibition games. I realize the officials are trying to make a point, but every game I watched turned into a penalty-fest. It's going to be an interesting year for me and the NFL. I decided not to play fantasy football this year because it felt like I was watching for the wrong reasons. Now, my mind will be uncluttered on Sundays. Well, as uncluttered as it can be.
13. College Football News annually takes The Associated Press final poll and awards points to determine the best college program since the AP poll started coming out in 1936. Oklahoma is the leader, which isn't surprising. But what I found interesting is just how dominant the SEC has been … not just recently, but forever. There are nine current SEC teams in the top 23 all-time. OK, I'm taking Texas A&M (No. 20) and Arkansas (18), but I won't take former SEC member Georgia Tech. Alabama at No. 4 is the top SEC team while Florida comes in at 16th despite picking up no points last year. To show you how times can change, the website points out that Notre Dame was No. 1 in 2000 and is now down to fifth.
14. While we are counting down the days until the start of the season, fans of the Cincinnati Bearcats are counting down the weeks. Tommy Tuberville's team has two bye weeks to start the season and doesn't open until Sept. 12 against Toledo. And the Bearcats still have a bye week during the season because they play on Dec. 6. Kansas is the only Power Five team that doesn't open on the first weekend of the season. Which is probably just as well. Two games under the radar that you probably won't watch but the Back Nine finds mildly interesting — Dan McCarney and Charlie Strong, who worked on the same defensive staff at UF in 2008 and '09, face off when North Texas takes on Texas and Appalachian State returns to the scene of the 2007 crime when it travels to Michigan.
15. We are always screaming for more access and open practices but sometimes I wonder why coaches allow scrimmages to be open to the public. What's to stop a manager from an opposing team from taping or even scouting the team on its schedule if it's open to anyone? At Arkansas, you apparently have to do it at your own risk. Before a weekend scrimmage, Arkansas coach Bret Bielema announced to the crowd, “If you see someone videotaping, tell them that ain't right. Especially if they're wearing an Auburn shirt, knock the (bleep) out of them.” Well, I didn't think anyone would be dumb enough to wear an Auburn shirt to an Arkansas scrimmage when the teams open the season against each other. The word out of that scrimmage, by the way, was that the Arkansas offense lit it up. But the big concern in Fayetteville is still a defense that finished 12th in the league in interceptions and fumble recoveries. And facing Auburn is not a good way to get your confidence jacked up.
16. I wasn't planning on watching a lot of golf until Camilo Villegas went nuts Sunday. The strangest part of his win was that the announcers were clueless that he had won. When Freddie Jacobson was lining up his 10-foot par putt, I said to the TV, “If he misses, Camilo wins.” He missed but none of the announcers realized what it meant for a good 30 seconds. The only golfer who could have caught Villegas was Nick Watney, who had hit it out of bounds on 18. Uh, fellas, this tournament is over. Anyway, it's great to see Villegas, who struggled with the fame when he was such a sensation several years ago and lost his Tour card. We've seen glimpses of his game returning but nothing sustained until this week. Let's see how it goes from here.
17. The Tweet of the Week comes from my good friend Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel during the launch of the SEC Network — “Now #SECNetwork bragging about #SEC stadium expansions at a time when attendance is dwindling throughout college football. #WasteOfMoney.” I was thinking the same thing. Why does everyone in this conference feel obligated to add seats it can't fill. The expansion at Texas A&M is mind-blowing.
18. I survived my one song with The Dixie Desperados on Saturday night at the High Dive. Didn't whiff a single chord although I did lose the grip on my pick for a split second. Flop sweat. The boys were tight in their two sets and it was an honor to play with a legendary Gainesville band. I have sung with Sister Hazel and played with the Dixie Desperados so Tom Petty, you're on the clock if I'm going to complete the triple. Like that could ever happen. Anyway, it was a wonderful night. Try these downloads — “The First Day of Spring” by Noah and the Whale, “Hello My Old Heat” by The Oh Hello's and for an oldie just because the Desperados killed it Saturday night “Gimme Three Steps” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at email@example.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.
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