Thinking ahead to what is possible for Florida football team

12
927
Some members of the Florida football team celebrate the win over Auburn at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday, October 5, 2019. [Matt Pendleton/Correspondent]

There are two extremes of people or, rather, two extremes of football fans.

There are those who are part-realists and part-pessimists, who are always ready to pump the brakes while all around them fans are seeing faux confetti.

And there are the ones who wake up with deeply-creviced smiles every morning after a huge win by the home team and start asking where the College Football Playoffs are this year even though it’s only halfway through a long season.

Of course, most Florida fans right now are positioned somewhere in the middle with a schooner of giddy chased by a shot of sensibility.

I believe it was the great Oscar Wilde (or was it Oscar Madison?) who once wrote, “Yes, I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight.”

In the moonlight of Saturday night (it will be a full moon, I checked), Florida’s football team will enter a vicious environment (there is a difference between loud and angry) with its dreams still intact.

Isn’t that about all you can ask for? To be in this situation, unbeaten and still in the hunt?

The question is — what are you hunting and how deep into the woods are you willing to go?

This season began with high expectations, but they were tempered by the shaky offseason and the knowledge that just surviving this conference would be hard enough.

That win over Auburn, built on sweat, noise and discipline, might have changed some expectations.

Or just made them seem more possible.

Florida is ranked seventh in the country and is one of those teams nobody nationally seems to want to fall in love with, but is starting to look a little better as we get closer to last call, also known as Championship Saturday.

Perchance to dream, right? Oh wait, that was Shakespeare talking about death. Let’s stay away from that analogy. How about something from John Lennon instead?

“Dream, dream away

Magic in the air

Was magic in the air?”

Why not dream of magic? You’ve seen it before. I mean, when was the first time you thought the 2006 Florida team had a chance to win a national title (for me, it was halftime of the Ohio State game)?

I’m not saying you should be getting ahead of yourselves Gator fans. The road ahead looks like something out of the movie “Mad Max.”

And in a way, these Gators are playing with house money. The consensus was that Florida had to split the Auburn and LSU games to keep its dreams alive.

But you know how it is. You get that first game of a two-game series and you want more. That’s part of being a fan, feeling your expectations change as every result rolls in.

I’m not saying Florida is going to roll into Baton Rouge and roll out with another win over a CFP contender. But if the Gators do exactly that — and there is a possible path to get there — all of a sudden your expectations get bumped up a notch.

What were they before the season?

What are they now?

What will they be if UF beats the No. 5 team on the road?

While this may seem like an exercise of contradiction considering I picked Florida to lose last week and will find it difficult to pick against a two-touchdown favorite this week, I know there are dreamers out there.

I CAN look ahead, while everyone is still looking back at a memorable Saturday in The Swamp.

Florida can win Saturday night. LSU is doing amazing things on offense, but the Tigers have not played a defense with a pulse. The average total defense ranking of the four FBS teams LSU has played is a smooth 96th in the country.

And then I dreamed on, into the future, as H.I. McDunnough said in “Raising Arizona.”

What isn’t possible? Alabama suddenly isn’t elite on defense. Clemson suddenly is pedestrian on offense.

Whoa, there, cowboy, let’s rein in that silly talk for a minute. Aren’t you supposed to be the leathery, old ink-stained wretch who was born with a restrictor plate in his head?

Yeah, but even I like to dream sometimes. It beats nightmares.

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

12 COMMENTS

  1. This LSU game shapes up as an interesting match-up for the Gators. There’s no question the Tigers have a big home field advantage and the hot, experienced QB this Saturday replacing the ineffective, true freshman QB Auburn brought to the Swamp last Saturday. For those two reasons, LSU should be favored… BUT by 14 points? Really???

    What does Vegas know about these two teams that we don’t know? On the basis of stats, the Gator D is vastly superior to LSU’s D. The two running games are surprisingly comparable. The special teams are also comparable. All of which means that Vegas believes Joe Burrow and his receivers are so vastly superior to Kyle Trask and his receivers that they warrant an 11 point neutral field line advantage. Personally, I like Trask and his receivers vs. LSU’s D much more than Burrow and his receivers vs. the Gator D.

    I don’t buy the talking heads’ analysis behind that crazy Vegas line. I believe there was just A LOT of “smart” money bet on LSU before the line was published on Sunday. In big games, good defense almost always beats good offense.

    So, I’ll take the Gators and the points on this one. They might not win this game outright, but I don’t see them losing by 14 or more.

    GO GATORS!!!

  2. If our D stays within their assignments and plays the near flawless game they played against Auburn, and Kyle and the O do not turn the ball over even once, we will win by 10. Their donkey of a QB will pick us to pieces if we cannot contain him and keep him from planting for each throw.

  3. Agree StL and Hogtown; boy howdy do I ever — you both nailed it. And, remember the “fluke” National Championship the Gators came by in 2006? Nobody really gave us a shot and we didn’t score a bunch of points except for when we did, and that was against considerably weaker teams. So what? We were supposed to get creamed and revealed every other week, but except for one loss it didn’t happen. Maybe it was our version of losing the popular vote but winning the electoral college by a large margin — guess we should have been impeached, but damned if we didn’t win another NC two years later.

    I’m not going to predict a score for this game since I flat don’t know which way it will actually go, so I guess Lord Dooley would call me a “half realist”. Better than a “hater” or “internet troll” I suppose, but I do know one damn thing for sure: Don’t ever rule out a Dan Mullen team with this much talent, especially one with Todd Grantham as DC. GO GATORS!!

    • 6, Auburn has a MUCH better D than LSU does and the Gator O still managed to score 24 on them. I’m looking for at least 31 from the Gator O on Saturday night vs. LSU.

      So, if Trask doesn’t turn the ball over (big if) and the Gator D plays as well as it did vs. Auburn, with Burrows not missing the opportunities Nix did, I expect the final score to be around 31-28 Gators, but don’t quote me.

    • “…we didn’t score a bunch of points except for when we did, and that was against considerably weaker teams.”

      Yeah, weaker teams like THE ohio state university. I remember ESPN d-bag Bob Ryan claiming UF had no business in the natty against Tosu and the stadium should be surrounded by the National Guard to keep the Gators out. And the there was his fellow ESPNer, loudmouthed j-o Steven A. Smith with his, “Quite frankly the Gators have no business being in the game,” bull cookies.

      They both got long and profane emails from me demanding televised apologies. I got neither a reply nor an apology from either one, but man did it feel good to tell them to go perform physical feats on themselves that are anatomically impossible for 99.44% of people.

      I hate, hate, HATE both of them to this day.

  4. ”What is possible for Florida football?” -Pat Dooley.

    Well these Gators are facing the No. 2 total offense in the nation, averaging 571 yards a game.
    LSU’s QB, Burrow, is No. 2 in the nation in passing yards a game with 373 yds.
    And LSU is #1 in scoring offense.

    So it doesn’t get any tougher than this in the SEC (Death Valley at night). Maybe Tuscaloosa, AL. is tougher, but we’ll see ‘Bama in ”THE ATL” (that is if Florida Football can keep ”pulling rabbits out of their Orange & Blue hat”). Lastly, this Gator ‘D’ can prove they’re ”truly elite” this weekend by shutting down this high powered Tiger ‘O’.

    My quote of the week: ”Last year, we did not block their pass rush very well.” -LSU Coach ‘O’.

    There it is, Gators! Chomp-chomp! Go Gators! Just win baby!

  5. I tend to be the realist camp, while not being negative like some people. I have to admit, I thought we would lose against Auburn because I saw our weakness (O-line) going up against their strength (D-line). But we beat them pretty soundly. We moved the ball on them, and of course our defense was amazing. Now looking at this game- our offense is now going up against a weaker defense. Meanwhile their offense may be great, but now they are going against a great defense. If our D simply holds them to one less touchdown their lowest scoring game so far, and if our O simply scores one more touchdown than they did against a better Auburn defense, then that puts both teams in the low 30s, making it a close game. So it seems to me we have a good chance here. Instead of our weakness playing into their strength like last week, this time our weakness is playing against their weakness. Our strength against their strength.

  6. This year is a PERFECT example why you DONT schedule superior teams to start a season. Our 1st few games werent very good, but this is a great team now. It always takes a few games for the coaches to get all the wrinkles out. Play another big time team too early and youre fighting an uphill battle the rest of the season from a loss! Our team now can hang with any other team in the nation. You couldnt say that during the 1st 3 games, at least, NOT until Trask began! Even the defense wasnt playing up to snuff until Trask came in, then they really took a step forward. Just like Tebow did for the team, Trask’s ability was a great motivator to play harder, to go to that 2nd gear, that extra effort that elite defenses play at. When a team has a real hope and belief that they can win it causes that extra effort. By UK they were playing good but once Trask gave them the hope they changed gears and were great and have been ever since.