The Back Nine comes at you after a weekend where I watched so much sports I think my rear end may need shock treatment.
10. You are going to see these numbers this week so I might as well brace you. Will Grier has become a fringe Heisman Trophy contender (he has no shot as long as certain players remain healthy) and I have received more than one call from scribes looking for more detail on his departure. The numbers? Grier has thrown 26 touchdown passes for West Virginia. Florida quarterbacks have thrown five. One of those five was a last-play bomb. Two of them (against Kentucky) were to uncovered receivers. Another was a quick shovel-type pass in the backfield. The last time Florida finished a season with single-figure touchdown passes was when the Gators threw three. It was ugly. Don’t Google the highlights. Two things about Grier — 1. You could see the potential when he was at Florida and West Virginia is taking advantage of a fourth-year junior who has matured as an athlete and a father; 2. Hindsight is easy, but I wonder how many of the last five coaches would have helped Grier out the door at Florida rather than keep him around in what was admittedly a bit of a toxic situation. I don’t know what it was like in the locker room then, but I know what it is like on the field when Florida has the ball right now.
11. Just think how big this Florida-Georgia game would have been if the Gators had managed to pull off the last two wins. If Florida came into this game at 5-1 and 5-0 in the SEC, would the Gators really be two-touchdown underdogs? Two field goals. That’s all it would have taken and GameDay might have been here. Naw, Penn State-Ohio State is still bigger, but you never know. Speaking of which. Is GameDay ever going to be in Gainesville again? Is Florida ever going to be deserving again? It has been five years since the show’s last visit to The Swamp. You know, back when Chris Fowler was the host.
12. It almost seems too easy to pick on Butch Jones these days. My friend John Adams of the Knoxville paper wrote that the coach needs to go now before he wins enough of the back-end games on the schedule to curry favor. The Vols haven’t scored an offensive touchdown in 14 quarters with their revamped offensive staff and the one touchdown they did score (on defense) was punctuated by a double-bird flip to the crowd by a guy who didn’t even score it. And early in the game against Alabama, Tennessee ran a flea-flicker except the receivers didn’t get the call and were blocking instead of going out for a pass. Jones is 2-8 in his last 10 SEC games. But there is this — he has the same record in his last 11 games as Jim Harbaugh. So he has that going for him.
13. On the other hand, I give you Ed Orgeron. LSU was in the toilet after the loss to Troy, but responded to win three emotional games against Florida, Auburn and Ole Miss. And now there is a feeling the Tigers might challenge Alabama in two weeks. Those big-salaried assistants are starting to finally pay off. Meanwhile in State College, they were chanting “We Want Bama” after Penn State’s big win. When will they learn? And what’s a voter to do with South Florida? Charlie Strong’s team is 7-0, but the six FBS teams the Bulls have defeated are a combined 13-33. So where would you rank them? Discuss.
14. It Just Means More (and as Jim McElwain recently discovered it sometimes means too much) except when we’re talking about offense in the SEC East. Here are the national rankings for five of those teams:
• 103 — Florida.
• 111 — South Carolina.
• 113 — Kentucky.
• 125 — Vanderbilt.
• 126 — Tennessee.
So Florida has the third best offense in the East. That’s one way to look at it. There are four 0-4 teams in the conference right now and three are in the East. That’s not a good look. And as bad as the division is, Jones is about to go oh-fer in his Tennessee career.
15. Out of curiosity, I looked it up and Florida has a better APR score than FSU. So if there aren’t enough bowl teams with .500 records, Florida would get to go to a bowl game before the Seminoles. Excited yet? FSU now has to win four of its last five games to become bowl eligible after the loss to Louisville and one of them is at Clemson. Could Florida-FSU be for bowl eligibility? We could call it “The Bowl Bowl.” You can lay all the blame for FSU’s 2-4 record on the loss of its starting quarterback or the hurricane, but 2-4 is 2-4 and it seems that the team to its southeast has lost a lot more personnel and its coach has yet to threaten to tangle with a fan.
16. Thank you, Astros. As a longtime Yankee-hater (I’ll never get over Jim Leyritz) I was rooting hard for Houston to win Game 7. More than that, it was great for a city that went through so much to get a World Series. Two National League teams in the Series is pretty cool, too. I still have to be reminded that the Astros switched leagues.
17. Twitter can be evil, but it can also make me laugh, which is why I spend so much time on it. That and the fact that everybody tries to break stories there so it’s a great news source as long as you don’t take it too seriously. Anyway, these two Tweets of the Week made me laugh out loud. From someone named Adam Goodell, who says he is not related to the NFL commish — “The mayor from Jaws is still the mayor in Jaws 2. It is so important to vote in your local elections.” And from MikeWhiteHive — “Florida/FSU will be on 8:30 AM on Yahoo.” The two teams are a combined 5-7. Who saw that coming?
18. The Back Nine felt it was appropriate to lay some Jacksonville on you this week. That said, this column doesn’t necessarily endorse all of the music that appears below. Just saying.
• “Jacksonville” by Surfjan Stevens.
• “St. Johns River” by Reina Collins.
• “Swamp Music” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
• “Second Chance” by Shinedown.
• And for an oldie, because when I think of Jacksonville I think of going to a concert in Jacksonville in the pouring rain by the river and dancing with a girl who only had one leg and it was a really good day and this was the headliner so “Save Your Heart For Me” by Gary Lewis and the Playboys.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.