The Back Nine comes at you feeling a little different than I have felt in a long time because ’dem Auburn boys and ’dem GameDay boys are coming to town. We missed you both.
10. I had to ask Dan Mullen on Monday about the 2007 game against Auburn, the last time the War Eagles/Tigers came to The Swamp because it was still one of the strangest games I’ve seen here. Mullen had an emergency appendectomy at 11 the night before the game, slipping in a back door at Shands. Mullen called Urban Meyer and told him he might not make the game. “The next morning, I get up. Before you can get signed out, you’ve got to, like, pee so many times, right?” Mullen said. “Walk around. I was given this big jug, and I’m, like, pounding water, and I’m, like, doing laps. The lady’s like, ‘What are you doing?’ I’m walking around trying to drink so I can pee so you guys can get me out of here and I can go coach a football game. They’re like, will you just go relax? They had me go relax.” Mullen showed up for the final walk-through at the team hotel Saturday morning and then was involved in a fender-bender as he rode in a police car. (It gets worse). “I sleep for about two hours,” Mullen said. “I’m trying to get off the pain medication so I’m a little bit more clear in my head.” Florida had a dynamic offense including a guy named Tim Tebow who won the Heisman Trophy that year. But the Gators were shut out in the first half, finished with only 312 yards of offense and lost on a field goal at the end of the game. Mullen said he didn’t think the situation affected his playcalling. I beg to differ. Anyway. “My wife’s like, ‘You’re completely out of your mind to be doing this,” Mullen said. “Honestly probably now, I’ve got kids and all that stuff. It’s just a football game. I would sit on the hospital bed and watch the game from the hospital today.”
11. One reason Florida’s Q-rating (is that still a thing?) isn’t all that high is because Florida hasn’t looked consistent on offense. And a big reason it hasn’t looked consistent on offense is because of the lack of plays. And some of it is on the defense as good as it has been. (Florida only had three possessions that mattered in the first half Saturday). A year ago, Florida averaged 68.5 plays a season and a lot of it is reflected on the back end. This year, Florida is only running 63.4 plays a game. That’s even fewer than the awful 2017 team (“awful” may seem harsh, but you are what your record is). Fewer possessions mean fewer chances to score and fewer opportunities to try out different things in a game. It seems like a lot of people want to dismiss Florida as the “worst of the unbeatens” which, of course, is better than “best of the two-loss teams.”
12. Obviously, winning isn’t enough when it comes to The Associated Press football poll. Florida has dropped a spot twice after winning football games, including this week. And Clemson and Alabama switched places even though both are undefeated. It seems like not too long ago we were all tired of the Alabama-Clemson monopoly in the polls, but this week a lot of people finally quit thinking like robots. I confess, I was late to the party, as well, to rank teams based on what they have done this year instead of reputation, brand and expectations. (Heck, we might as well slide Yale and Sewanee into the Top 25.). This week there were five different teams that received No. 1 votes, which shows that not everybody is a Stepford voter. Three of us had Auburn No. 1 (one was a writer from New Jersey, another from Oklahoma). It’s great that we are heading to October with a lot of possibilities. It gave everybody something to talk about, mainly how far do your drop Clemson?
13. The paranoia of college football coaches is amazing. I think if you ranked jobs based on paranoia, college football coaches would rank just above international spies. I bring this up because Tennessee announced it won’t name a starting quarterback this week against Georgia. “We’re not going to give Georgia a scouting report of what we’re going to do this week,” said Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt. Ooooh, that’s going to have the Bulldogs shaking in their boots. It’s like the coaches who list Player A OR Player B on their depth charts. It’s all so silly.
14. We are five games into this season so it seems like a perfect time to ask the question on everyone’s mind — Didn’t You Used To Be?
… Preseason No. 12 ranked Texas A&M? Somehow the Aggies are still ranked, hanging onto a tie for 25th despite its best win being over dreadful Arkansas by four.
… Red-hot Justin Fuente? Virginia Tech is 3-7 in its last 10 games and was just humiliated by Duke. DUKE!
… Charlie Strong on a roll? USF started last season 7-0. The Bulls have won once since then, over an FCS team.
… Nebraska’s return to glory? GameDay made an appearance but it didn’t go well for the Huskers, 48-7 losers. Scott Frost is now 7-10 at NU.
… Georgia Tech? In its last two games, Geoff Collins has lost to The Citadel and scored two points against Temple. We knew it would be a rough transition, but, sheesh.
…. Unbeaten Kentucky with a 21-10 lead on Florida at home? Since that point, the Wildcats have been outscored 71-20 and quickly moved to 2-3. What happened?
… The Pac-12’s playoff aspirations? They were slim to start the season, but already the league has zero teams with zero losses.
… An employed Chris Ash? And so the carousel lights are turned on.
15. I am not happy. The Braves finished the regular season by losing five of six, including one in 11 innings Sunday to the Mets. And now it’s the Cardinals. The Braves haven’t won a series from the Cardinals since Danny Wuerffel’s Heisman season. Atlanta has lost two key reserves and its biggest stars are on the mend. Doesn’t look good. Oh, who am I kidding? I have playoff baseball to go along with my football fever so I couldn’t be happier. OK, so Dallas Keuchel is starting the opener Thursday. That’s why I have a remote.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars fans must be freaking out. They have had to deal with the Jalen Ramsey thing and along comes this guy with the cheesy mustache to save the day. Gardner Minshew is making the kind of plays that make you shake your head and in a good way. Jacksonville shouldn’t trade Ramsey. The Jags should just drive him down to Miami and drop him at the Dolphins’ front door. Who needs draft picks? Just get rid of the distraction.
17. The Tweet of the Week comes from Matt Zenitz of al.com — “Three FBS quarterbacks threw for 400 yards yesterday. All three were part of the Alabama QB room last year. — Layne Hatcher: 440 yards and four TDs in his first start for Arkansas State — Tua Tagovailoa: 418 yards and six passing TDs — Jalen Hurts: 415 yards, three passing TDs.” Now that’s a quarterback room.
18. It was a great weekend that included nine holes of golf and my first birdie since I started this latest post-surgery comeback (I’ve missed a lot of putts). I also tooled around in a golf cart at Ironwood listening to this playlist:
• “Don’t Ever Leave Me” by the Cocktail Slippers.
• Sometimes you hear a song deep in an album and think it should be a huge hit but it isn’t because the A&R man says he doesn’t hear a single. I hadn’t heard this very cool song in a bit — “You and I Will Meet Again” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
• “Hey, I’m Just Like You” by Tegan and Sara.
• “Pressure’s Off” by Kelsey Kopecky.
• And for an old one that takes me back to a time when I was a student and Florida played Auburn every year, “Blue Sky” by The Allman Brothers Band.
— Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.