The rumor is that Tim Tebow will talk to the Florida Gator football team Saturday before the game.
Me, I’d have Billy Donovan.
And I’d ask for a specific speech, one even better than Tebow’s pledge.
You remember it or have seen it on YouTube. The one before the 2006 national title game.
“Tonight is not about the past and it’s not about the future. It’s about right now and you guys have gotta want to have this night last forever.”
Because that’s what this game is about, playing in the moment. There has been a lot of noise about Miami leading the series, about how little they have played each other, about 150 years of college football’s celebration which pushed this game to this day.
None of that matters.
It’s not about the past.
What matters for Florida is that the Gators need to show that a program in its second year is way better than one just getting started.
Because that’s really what this game is all about. These are two programs pining to be great again, Miami’s memories a little more distant than Florida’s. Dan Mullen has a leg up, the only ranked team in this once-dominant state.
Manny Diaz is trying to install his culture at Miami. It’s a lot harder than installing an offense.
So that’s where Florida has an advantage as if we haven’t broken down this game for three months already. You know what’s what. You want to know who’s who.
Who’s going to be the alpha dog?
Who’s going to be the big-play receiver?
Who’s going to be the first offensive lineman beaten on a blitz?
Who is suspended?
Well, that’s a whole different story. Less important than who speaks to the team in the locker room is who is in uniform in the locker room. The rumors of suspensions seem real because Mullen already talked about them coming.
Certainly, that will be another negative in a summer that has been a bit of a downer. But in the end, no matter the hype or hoopla, no matter where the game is played, it’s just a football game.
And a reveal.
We’re going to find out a lot of things about this team, but not even close to everything.
We’re going to find out how Marco Wilson’s knee holds up and whether he is a problem for Miami redshirt freshman quarterback Jarren Williams.
“It’s tough preparing for a guy you’ve never seen play,” Wilson said.
Yes, and that’s another part of the reveal.
There’s also this — is Feleipe Franks as good as his coach has been bragging on him? Whether he’s trying to instill confidence in him or just loves the way he has progressed, Mullen has been borderline giddy in his comments about Franks.
Act 1, Scene 1, Season 3. Tonight.
In the end, football is a simple sport with complex language. But there are these simple ways for UF to go out and win this important game. (Maybe I should speak to the team.)
1. Be disciplined. It’s going to get heated. Stay in your lanes on special teams. Don’t jump out of gaps. Follow your fundamentals. Don’t take a swing at anybody no matter what he says about your sister. Did I leave anything out?
2. Stay out of third-and-long. Miami’s defense thrived on it last year, which is why the ’Canes turned the opponents over 26 times and led the nation in pass defense.
3. Choose blitzes wisely. Florida probably can rattle Williams, but Miami has speed to burn on the outside and if the blitz doesn’t get there, watch out.
4. Recapture the magic. It’s difficult to be playing in Week 1 as well as you are in Week 10 or 12. But we saw a very efficient team late in the last season.
We also saw a team that found a way to win some close games.
More than anything, we saw Mullen and Todd Grantham at their best. Go back and watch the second half of the FSU and Michigan games. You’ll want that play-calling injected into your veins.
5. Minimize bad things. They will happen. Limit their damage. Tell adversity to back off.
Anyway, I think I speak for all of America when I say there is nothing much left to say. Let’s have the reveal.
Let’s see what we’ve been talking about until our jaws hurt.
Let’s have some football.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.