The Back Nine: Playing with lead a good thing

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[Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

The Back Nine comes at you after a strange weekend in which Florida’s football team outscored its basketball team.

  1. The game Saturday was interesting only in the fact that even in a mistake-filled first half, you never felt like Florida could lose the game. The Gators went back to being a defense that flirts with elite (now ninth in the nation in scoring defense), but came up woefully short in Florida’s two losses. Against a team that obviously had quarterback issues, the Gators were able take Ke’Shawn Vaughn out of the game and not sacrifice against the pass. It also helped to play with a lead, which, of course, was the game plan the week before. Meanwhile, this week’s opponent was getting shut out by a defense that is truly elite in Georgia. Missouri has played three straight road games and scored 21 points in those games. This game, as we know, is in Columbia, Mo. And it snowed Monday.
  2. I was thinking about my All-SEC ballot, which I will be receiving soon, and trying to decide which Gators would make it. I’m leaning toward Jon Greenard for one and am open to suggestions. Florida spreads the ball around so much that nobody stands out statistically, except Kyle Trask, but we know who the first two quarterbacks will be. The guy who impressed me the most in that epic LSU-Alabama game wasn’t Joe Burrow (it’s becoming old hat for him). It was Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The running back was a beast and even though he is only sixth in the conference in rushing, when you combine that with his pass catching ability, he looks like an All-SEC running back.
  3. I watched that game in three different places on four different TVs. But enough about me. It was great to see a game live up to the hype. That win was so huge for LSU for so many different reasons. Forget about the implications in the West and the College Football Playoff and the Heisman Trophy (a done deal, by the way), LSU had to beat Alabama for the future. You can’t keep having your season ruined by the same team over and over and like what you see in the mirror. One might say it will one day go down as the biggest win in LSU history. And I know they own some national championships. I said, “might.”
  4. It’s easy to say that a school should give a football coach more time than less than two seasons, but with the early signing day and the lack of patience with fan bases these days, it’s not surprising Chad Morris became the second Power 5 coach to get canned in the last eight days. Arkansas is a difficult job, maybe the next-to-toughest other than Vanderbilt. And when you inherit a team that was recruited for a polar opposite style of play, that makes it even harder. But things were going historically bad. The Razorbacks have two wins and the last time an Arkansas team finished the season with two wins was in 1952. It will be interesting to see the twirling carousel of coaches because there are certainly more that will open up.
  5. One thing for sure, we have no idea which teams will end up in the CFP. We think we know, but strange things keep happening and will continue to happen. It’s difficult to imagine LSU and Clemson not being there, but the other two are going to require a mad scramble. There has been so much chaos already that Florida dropped a spot in the AP poll after a 56-0 win. So here’s my prediction for the top six tonight when it is announced: 1. LSU; 2. Ohio State; 3. Clemson; 4. Georgia; 5. Alabama; 6. Oregon. The question is whether you consider Georgia’s bad loss (and it gets worse every week) a wash with its wins over Notre Dame and Florida. And I expect Florida to drop out of the top 10. Go figure.
  6. Remember after Florida lost to Georgia and some disgruntled fans were wondering when basketball season is. It was only the second game of the season, but already there are a lot of Gator fans disgruntled for a different reason. It was a bad day for the Gators against FSU and it’s clear they are going to have to find ways to get their guards going. Noah Locke and Andrew Nembhard combined to go 3-for-18 in the loss Sunday. But everybody needs to get off the ledge. Nobody likes to lose to FSU six straight times in anything. But it’s a long season. Relax. And maybe it’s a good thing they dropped down to 15th in the AP rankings. Brakes have been pumped.
  7. Being an NFL fan can’t be easy. There are 15 teams that have at least five losses. Meanwhile, college fans freak out over one loss. The best thing about a Sunday watching football was a snow game in Green Bay. I don’t know what it is, but snow games are the best. Unless you are in the stands. One more thing on the NFL — I don’t understand how Lamar Jackson can have a perfect passer rating when he threw two incompletions. 
  8. The Tweet of the Week goes to Ryan McGee of ESPN — “Pilot for our flight from CLT to #LSUvsBAMA just announced weather conditions, we’ll push off in ten minutes & then added “Go Tigers!” When the crimson-wearing passengers started chanting “Lock him up!” he replied “If you don’t like it, the door is still open.” #It just means more.
  9. It was a busy weekend with football and basketball and I’m just talking about the fans. So I made them this playlist:

* “Fool’s Gold” by Lucy Dacus.

* “Favorite Place” by Humbear.

* “Here, Right Now” by Joshua Radin.

* “Cappucino City” by Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever and thanks for the suggestion from a reader.

* And for a really old one, “Everything That Touches You” by The Association.

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

8 COMMENTS

  1. Neither UF or Bama could stop LSU. But LSU really couldn’t stop either UF or Bama (they had self destruction plays). I expect LSU vs UGA to be the same. Both LSU and UGA could be beat up by their last SEC games, which could change everything. Its not over yet. Burrow twist an ankle, then how good is LSU? Hummmm? Big 10 has several CFP knock out games left, with OSU as only CFP contender. Bama WILL be in the CFP, pending solid victory over Auburn. Clemson will easily make it with their cup cake schedule and defending champion status.

  2. Since Mike White is currently being ”owned by FSU” it makes me wonder ”how?”
    Even Coach Zook’s unranked Gators beat an 8th ranked FSU on the night the ‘Noles were dedicating their field/stadium to Bobby Bowden. And while U.F. Coach Mike White is doing a good job with U.F. Men’s Basketball, the ‘Noles are presently his ”Kryptonite.” Go Gators!

  3. #15. It is really not the loss that is so irksome. It is the manner of the loss. There is no basketball “team”. Just five guys that get on the court together and play. I have to wonder what Coach White used the month of October for if not to build a team. Defensively, they more resemble a team (though the team needs to work on switching to cover the three) but offensively there is no team.

  4. Re: the next Arkansas coach, the best candidate may be the one with the worst baggage and the longest black cloud following him; but the ideal coach to bring that program back sooner rather than later. And that would be Petrino without “the bike” and “the secretary”. He has the “it” factor that can restore that program to a winning level faster than many other candidates that will be mentioned as the “next young coach”. It’s a controversial choice that probably won’t be considered.

  5. The obvious issue with the BB team playing FSU is individual effort vs team effort. At this point in the young schedule, we are not playing as a team. We obviously have playmakers but we don’t seem to be playing as one. That will happen as the season progresses and they understand the system CW wants them to play. But it’s frustrating to witness the lack of set plays to get them in the best position to score? This team without question is one of the most talented groups of players we’ve had in years, particularly with the bigs at center. We actually have several that can actually score from under the basket but don’t have the system in place to get the flow of the game that produces perimeter shots that free up the post plays. When the opposition converges on the post, we have to make the shots fall from the perimeter. Chalk this up to a bad shooting night and a young team not playing within the system.