The Back Nine comes at you after another wild and crazy Florida football win. It seems like there has been a lot of them lately.
10. When Kyle Trask takes the field as the Florida starting quarterback, he will be the first to do so wearing No. 11 since Steve Spurrier. “It’s going to be neat watching Kyle pitching it around out there,” Spurrier said. Florida retired No. 11 shortly after he went to the NFL and Spurrier unretired it when he returned as the Florida coach in 1990. He gave it to Ben Hanks, a defensive player, because “he’d come from a difficult background,” Spurrier said. Since then, a lot of players have worn the number, but no quarterbacks before Trask. “I don’t think we ever signed a quarterback who wore that number in high school,” Spurrier said. “I remember being at practice one day and there was a defensive player wearing 11 and I told him I liked the number he was wearing. He looked at me like he didn’t know who the heck I was.” I’m going to assume that was Vosean Joseph. Trask said he understands the significance of that number. “I wore No. 18 in high school,” he said. “When I got here they kind of just gave you a number. They gave me 11 and I thought that was pretty cool.”
11. Of course, there was something special about the fact that Florida won that game last week with a No. 11 playing quarterback not too long after another defensive guy who wore the number — Neiron Ball — passed away tragically. Maybe they won for him, maybe they won for their fallen leader Feleipe Franks, maybe they won for revenge on last year, but whatever the reason, it was a win Florida absolutely had to have to set up the rest of the season. While the Gators celebrated, it almost felt like the Kentucky fans were numb to another deflating loss. That’s 32 of 33 if you’re counting at home and some of the Florida wins have been almost surreal.
12. Dan Mullen again said Monday that both Trask and Emory Jones will play in the game (and maybe have them both on the field at the same time) and it makes a lot of sense. Perhaps he can rekindle the magic of the 2006 championship season when Florida had both Chris Leak and Tim Tebow taking snaps. “Could be,” Mullen said. “We’ll see. Emory is much further along than Tim would have been in 2006. Both guys bring something different to the table. It will be kind of fun putting the game plan together. Maybe fun isn’t the best word. It will be a unique challenge.”
13. I know it’s early, but it feels like the Power Five conferences are all more top heavy than they have been in years. Seriously, could Clemson’s back-ups win the Coastal Division of the ACC? The SEC has three and maybe four potential playoff teams and then a lot of average and below average. There are teams under the radar that may surprise somebody, but it feels like there are about six teams that have a chance to make the four-team playoff. I’ll take Clemson, Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Ohio State and Oklahoma and give you the field. I think a lot of this has to do with the rich getting richer (another cliche, dang it) because the better a program has it going the more five stars want to go there. Those six teams already have 20 five-stars for the next recruiting class.
14. The theme of the week seemed to be blown calls and blown decisions. As we all know, officials make mistakes and so do clock operators. And so do coaches calling plays. Dan Mullen’s decision to go for two down 21-16 may have made mathematical sense (you get it and you pull within a field goal) but with almost a full fourth quarter still to play it’s not the decision I would have made and almost came back to bite the Gators when Kentucky had a field goal that might have won it. But the decision of the week came from West Virginia’s Neal Brown. Up 17 on N.C. State, he decided to have his team take a knee on a two-point conversion with 1:44 to play. The only way that becomes a two-possession game is if you get a kick blocked or a fumble or interception returned for two points. That’s using math to your benefit and the kind of outside the box thinking we don’t see enough with college coaches.
15. For it being such a bad weekend of games, it didn’t turn out to be such a bad weekend of games. The sad thing is that sometimes I forget my own Rules of College Football and one of Dools’ Rules is No. 5 — Every game is its own game. That’s why Maryland can look so great one week and not the next and North Carolina can beat two solid Power Five teams and turn around and lose a game to Wake Forest. By the way, rule No. 6 is that you have to let a season play out and this one is shaping up to be a humdinger (note to self: don’t use terms millennials have never heard before).
16. Really, Miami Dolphins? If you are not going to try, give your fans back their season ticket money. Two games, combined score 102-10. If I’m Tua Tagovailoa or any other highly-regarded quarterback, I’m already studying the ways guys like John Elway and Eli Manning avoided playing for the teams who wanted them with the first pick of the draft. Have some pride, guys.
17. The Tweet of the Week comes from Brian Griese, who had Gator fans in an uproar after Franks was injured and Griese mentioned the “off the field issues” for the Gator quarterback — “Feel terrible for Feleipe Franks. After the injury, was documenting his journey & the hurdles he’s had to overcome, one of which is dealing with “off the field” noise from doubters. This is what I was referencing. Definitely could have articulated that better.” He could have and I think that Gator Nation can relax now. Including two people I am related to that I know very well.
18. This was the kind of trip that makes you start checking with your broker for an acceptable retirement age. Nothing against Kentucky because that’s a great press box, but flight delays and gridlock on the way to the park and night games and, well, you don’t need to or want to hear anymore about my problems. We made it home and now it’s three straight home games and this playlist:
• “Salt and The Sea” by The Lumineers.
• “Girl All The Bad Guys Want” by Bowling for Soup.
• “Keeping Time” by Angie McMahon.
• It’s another sad day and there seems to be a lot of them lately. The great Ric Ocasek is gone at the age of 75. So we’ll go with my favorite Cars song “You Might Think.”
• And for another old one (I’m in an old mood today), this song really helped me get through two hours on the Gainesville Airport tarmac in part because the acoustic guitar is so awesome on it — “Skating Away (On The Thin Ice of a New Day)” by Jethro Tull.
— Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at email@example.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.