Back Nine: Why were band, cheerleaders still on field in storm?


Published: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 1, 2014 at 11:36 p.m.

The Back Nine comes at you after an incredible opening week of college football, except, of course, here where we have apparently done something to Mother Nature.

10. That's three straight UF events for me — the softball super regional, baseball regional and now football opener — with lightning delays. What did I do? You shouldn't hear us in the media complain because we were in the press box watching all of the other games while so many of you were getting wet and risking your lives. One question we asked ourselves — if the SEC won't allow the players on the field for 20 minutes after the last lightning strike, why do they allow the cheerleaders and the band. If I'm holding a tuba, I'm a little hesitant to be heading out to sit in a metal bleacher. At any rate, the players and coaches were grateful and excited that so many fans stayed through the delays and were so loud. It really was an electric atmosphere. Unfortunately, it was too electric.

11. As it was the last time a game was postponed at Florida, Eastern Michigan awaits. In 2004 when Hurricane Frances forced the postponement of the first game, Florida handled Eastern Michigan 49-10 as Chris Leak threw for 244 yards and three touchdowns. So much has changed since then, but one thing has not — Eastern Michigan is still looking for its first bowl game since 1987. One advantage for the Eagles — they were able to play a game, winning 31-28 over Morgan State. One disadvantage — they have one play on film of Florida's 2014 football team. “It's a little unique,” Eastern Michigan coach Chris Creighton told The Back Nine. “It's the second game in a row for us not knowing what another team is going to do. It's a little unnerving to be sure.”

12. You never want to overreact to the first game of the season, but sometimes it's difficult not to. For example, it would appear South Carolina is in trouble. Before the season, we had the Gamecocks pegged to win the SEC East. But there is a real possibility they could start the season 0-3. East Carolina is a pretty good team and won its opener 52-7, albeit over N.C. Central. And running back Mike Davis may be out with bruised ribs. After that, it's Georgia. “We are going to try to be a little more competitive in practice and see if we can get our guys playing at a faster pace offensively and defensively, and special teams,” coach Steve Spurrier said. “We realize that if we are going to win a bunch of games we better play the game the way it is supposed to be played. We can't just show up and hope it happens a lot like it did last year. We won some games last year where I almost believe the other team actually outplayed us, but the ball would bounce our way.” You wonder why there wasn't more competitive practices before the season. Maybe Jadeveon Clowney was that good because nobody went for 680 yards when he played. And then there is Vandy, the only SEC team to lose to a non-conference opponent on opening week. It's going to be a long season if Derek Mason keeps shuffling quarterbacks like he did against Temple.

13. This is how things can change — On Thursday night, it looked like Florida's schedule had been softened because SC and Vanderbilt looked so bad. But after watching games Saturday and Sunday, it toughened back up. Not only did Georgia look strong (Clemson had 15 yards in the second half), LSU looked typical, Kentucky looked better and Tennessee was surprisingly salty defensively. I'm still not sold on the Vols' young offensive line and there was a lot of emotion in that building. After Arkansas State this week, Tennessee has Oklahoma in Norman, a bye and Georgia in Athens. Get back to me then.

14. I know radio announcers need to fill time and talking heads on TV need topics and bloggers need content, but I'm just not going to get into the Heisman Trophy race or the top four teams for the College Football Playoff until at least October. It's just not relevant. That said, how good was Georgia running back Todd Gurley on Saturday and why did he only carry the ball four times in the first half? We talked about Clemson being under the radar in the preseason and maybe now we know why. Could have been worse. Could have been stuck in the elevator at halftime like Arkansas coaches were at Auburn. That's the thing. For every plus on a football weekend, there's a minus. This week's minuses — 1. Vandy's cupboard, which apparently was left empty; 2. Chuckie Keeton's longshot Heisman chances; 3. Will Muschamp's luck; 4. Boise State's new era; 5. North Carolina's improved defense (Liberty had 346 yards and 29 points.)

15. I would be remiss if I didn't give you my picks for the NFL this season now that The King is upon us. If nothing else, take these picks and bet the opposite as a friend of mine did in Vegas over the weekend. (Of course, he cashed in). Division winners — NFC: Philadelphia, Green Bay, Seattle, Atlanta with New Orleans and Detroit the wild card teams; AFC: New England, Baltimore, Denver, Indianapolis with Jacksonville and Cincinnati the wild card teams. The Super Bowl will be Green Bay vs. Baltimore. Or not.

16. It doesn't mean we're a great golf community now, but at least it feels whole again. The University of Florida Golf Course re-opened Friday so we're back to normal. I got a sneak preview Wednesday playing nine holes with new men's coach J.C. Deacon and women's coach Emily Glaser and I have to say I was the third best player in the group. Deacon can really smack it and Glaser is really good, especially with her short game. The course was spectacular, the best I've seen it. They had to redo the greens and they are perfect. Except that I three-putted the first two holes. But the most interesting thing about it is they let the rough grow a little bit and it is now punitive. And if you saw the putting green before it closed and see it now you won't believe it's the same place.

17. The Tweet of the Week comes from my friend Brady Ackerman, star of stage screen and radio — “For those asking, IMO If Florida needs the Idaho game to be bowl eligible then it's time to turn the page to next year.” Exactly. Florida needed that game just to play a game and hit someone else. It's not about bowl eligibility.

18. I put together an awesome playlist for our annual Friday night shrimp boil, but I'm not sure it was appreciated. Gotta keep trying. Try these downloads — “Wrapped in Piano Strings” by Radical Face, “Rock & Roll Records” from Eric Clapton's tribute album to JJ Cale featuring Tom Petty and for an old school song “You Got What It Takes” by the Dave Clark Five.

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

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