The Back Nine: UF’s Run of Ineptitude is over

Florida coach Dan Mullen talks into his headset during the Orange and Blue Game on Saturday. [Lauren Bacho/Gainesville Sun]

The Back Nine comes at you after a busy weekend for fans, UF administrators, people working concessions, the police and everybody who had anything to do with one crazy Saturday on campus.

10. So my colleague Robbie Andreu and I were chatting after we were done working on Saturday afternoon’s scrimmage/Orange and Blue Game and I said this, “The touchdown passes to the former Gator players during the spring game didn’t get big cheers because Gator fans want to see THIS team catch touchdown passes.” That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it. I got a kick out of Lawrence Wright’s diving catch and Travis McGriff throwing the ball in the stands as he did after a TD in his last home game. And they are beloved Gators and that was neat. But Florida fans came to The Swamp to have some hope for the future offensively. They are tired of being ranked in the 100s in offense and knowing that their best chance to score a touchdown the last few years has been to run back an interception. They left the game without a lot of conviction that it truly is going to be better and still no idea who the starting quarterback will be. But we are still a long way from the first game and don’t forget that this head coach and this staff haven’t really had that much time with these players. Also, Florida is going to have a really good defense. If Florida can be OK (like top 50?) on offense and elite on defense, it will have a shot at a good year. But this is a coach who is building a program and it’s only going to get better. I truly believe the Run of Ineptitude is over. Florida finished 104th or worse in total offense six of the last seven years. The other time it finished 96th. That’s done. Kaput. Finished. I think.

11. We often take for granted how well the University Athletic Association runs things even though we only hear from people who didn’t like where they had to park or how hot it was. But to pull off what the UAA did Saturday was the mark of a stellar organization, something they have done before. You had women’s tennis playing for the SEC title and that place was packed (I went for a bit), you had doubleheaders caused by Sunday’s weather in both baseball and softball, you had lacrosse playing at home at the same time as softball ACROSS THE STREET and you had more than 50,000 people at the spring game. So if you didn’t have anything to do Saturday, why are you reading a column about sports? Everything I saw went off without a major problem and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that North Lawn experience grow (with the beer garden included) next season and continue to expand until it pretty much becomes a version of the Grove in Oxford. Just don’t tell Scott Stricklin I made that comparison. He still has some Mississippi State blood in him. Stricklin was all over the place Saturday and the fans seemed to appreciate his presence.

12. So does the scene on Saturday translate into wins in the fall for the Gators? Probably not, but it might help with some recruits down the line. Anyway, let’s play the over/under game for the SEC this year now that BetDSI Sportsbook has come out with its betting lines of demarcation for the regular season.

Alabama 10.5: Over. Alabama will lose once, but no more than that.

Georgia 10.5: Under. But just barely.

Auburn 9: Over. I can’t see the Tigers losing three games.

Miss. State 8: Stay away from it. The soft non-conference schedule is a trap.

LSU 7.5: Over: Yikes, when was the last time this number was so low? And ESPN’s FPI has the Tigers at 6-6. No way.

Texas A&M 7: Run away. There’s no telling what Jimbo will do this year.

South Carolina 7: Over. But with trepidation.

Florida 7: Over. I’ve said this feels like an 8-win team.

Missouri 6.5: Under. 6-6.

Ole Miss 6: Under. NCAA’s still pushing.

Kentucky 6: Over. More baby steps for the Wildcats.

Arkansas 5.5: Under. Not seeing a bowl game.

Tennessee 5.5: This is what Butch Jones has done to this program.

Vanderbilt 5. Who knows?

13. There was this segment on the new “Rally Cap” show on the SEC Network about the two Floridas — the SEC leading baseball and softball teams — and which was more dominant and I wanted to say, “Who cares? We’re just going to enjoy them both.” Instead of saying that to my TV, I put my UF degree to work and did some math. If you combined the two teams, here’s what you’d get:

• A 69-13 record, 24-6 in SEC play.

• A .983 fielding percentage (yes, I learned how to figure it).

• A .297 batting average with 91 home runs.

• A 2.32 ERA.

OK, it rained all day Sunday and I needed a mini-project.

14. Interesting story by about something a lot of us suspected happened and that was SEC commissioner Greg Sankey refusing to give the conference’s blessing to Alabama hiring Hugh Freeze as an assistant coach. See, Nick Saban doesn’t get everything he wants. The league office has made it pretty clear that any coaches involved with NCAA infractions have to go sit in the corner for a while. Florida, for example, could have hired Chip Kelly and Auburn did hire Bruce Pearl because they had spent time out of the college game and their show-cause penalties had expired. Can you imagine how different this spring would have been with Kelly at UF? I shudder. Dan Mullen has made it fun again, but he’s smart enough to know that there is nothing as much fun as winning.

15. While the weekend went great for the Gators as an athletic program with a successful spring game and sweeps in softball and baseball, over on the tennis courts it was the highest of dramas and did not end well. It came down to the last match of the SEC regular season and the last set. Unfortunately, UF’s Peggy Porter could not close out her match and the Gators finished second in the conference. Give Vandy credit for digging out of several holes and winning on UF’s senior day. Still, there is a lot of tennis to be played with SECs coming up and NCAAs and all. And, yes, I did watch the end of it on my laptop. And a lot of the baseball and softball. What did we do before technology, like, wait for the score the next day?

16. Some of us couldn’t care less about the NBA during the season, but we get into it during the playoffs (because of Al Horford, I’m actually rooting for the Celtics). They hook you into believing any of the 16 teams could make a run. And maybe this year it is possible. I just know that I watched more NBA over the weekend — including Billy Donovan’s Game 1 win — than I had watched all year. And really, doesn’t baseball and hockey and the NBA have the truest champions in that one bad game doesn’t kill you? Not that I want March Madness to change.

17. The Tweet of the Week goes to Eric Adelson of Yahoo Sports — “Secretariat is one of my favorite sports legends of all time, and I’m not much of a fan of the sport. Without Bill Nack, the horse would have been more or less trivial to me and my imagination. That’s the best praise and thanks I can offer.” Perfectly put, Eric. The passing of Bill Nack, who wrote about everything but especially horse racing for Sports Illustrated, was a blow to anybody who loves great writing.

18. Nothing like a lazy, rainy April Sunday to make you appreciate those Sundays with UF baseball and softball to watch. But I did get caught up on some Bob Dooley Invitational work and pick out this playlist:

• “Sky Full of Song” by Florence + the Machine.

• “Psycho Star” by King Tuff.

• “Sober Up” by AJR.

• “Run Away From It All” by Blackberry Smoke.

• And for an old one in honor of their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, “You And Me” by The Moody Blues from the soundtrack of my junior college years “Seventh Sojourn.”

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow at


    • I agree 100%

      The NBA is NOT a sport. It is entertainment. It has more similarity to professional wrestling than a professional sport.
      The league abandoned many of the rules of the game 30 years ago and have since rendered it nearly unwatchable to anyone that truly loves basketball.
      Given that I haven’t paid much attention in a while, can someone tell me how many steps they allow now before a travel is called? Is it four or five?

      • I also agree. If you want to watch an NBA game just tune in for the last five minutes and save yourself a lot of time. I haven’t been able to enjoy the NBA since the days of Russell and Chamberlain.

        • Oh, to answer your question, I think most of them pick up their dribble about half court. I can count 4 steps and a hop on most of them. I also can’t tell the difference between a charge and a blocking foul. I’m pretty sure it depends on who’s doing what to whom.

      • It’s the only sport where announcers (Hubie Brown) literally will say “a rookie’s just not going to get that call in this league”. Throw in the Tim Donaghy scandal and the Kings vs Lakers series in 2002, and you aren’t far away from Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan.

        • David Stern transformed the game to what you see today by emphasizing the importance of star players versus great rivalries and quality play.
          The good news is that everyone involved (players, owners, coaches, TV networks) got rich.
          The bad news is that they changed/ignored many rules that stifled scoring in favor of creating a fan pleasing exhibition of athletic ability.
          Today’s players are some of the very best athletes in the world but the game they play is not basketball.

        • I clearly stated in my comments that I don’t watch it anymore and then proceeded to explain why. If you think that it is better than ever then I am happy for you.
          Unfortunately for me, I remember when offenses were sophisticated and every possession was precious as was every role player on the roster since each played a critical role.
          I love the athleticism of the league as well as the uptempo style but I struggle with fake defense, inconsistent officiating, and watching star players shoot 40+ times a game while 8 of the 10 players on the court stand and watch.
          The league is more popular than ever so you are certainly in the majority it is just not for me.
          I “plainly know” exactly what I am talking about, I merely disagree with your perception which I believe is still allowed in this country but I could be wrong about that too.

  1. Not a lot of smooth execution on offense during the O/B game. But it was only a spring game. The offensive players certainly need to go to work on their own between now and the beginning of fall practices, working hard on their skill development and execution. When the Florida offense goes out there, game one, and executes precisely with consistency, then we can say the offensive ineptitude is finally over. And not before. But I certainly have more hope and faith for that happening now under Mullen than I ever had for it ever happening under the two previous head coaches, and especially during the period of stubborn incompetence exhibited by McElwain as HC and Nussmeier’s as OC.

  2. There was NOTHING seen in the Sring game that looks ANY different from the past EIGHT years. I say eight because, unlike what Dooley wants you to know, UF’s offense has SUCKED for eight, not seven years straight. UF finished 83rd in total offense in 2010. Believe it or not, That SUCKS.
    UF is still a dumpser fire at QB. The offensive line still sucks. The tight ends still sucks. The RBs are as average as the day is long. The WRs, despite the hype over two transfers who may not even be eligible, are mediocre. By the way, did anyone see ANYTHING that says Grimes and Jefferson are great receivers from the slop seen in the Spring game? It’s, surprise, surprise, just more evidence that you can’t belive a SINGLE word that Dooley, Alboverdi, Redman, Ackerman,or any of the other sychophants tell us every year. It’s amazing how dumb they must think fans are when they trot out nonsense like how “talented” felipe Franks is…or any of the other nonsense they spew out.
    Perhaps I’m wrong. If so, someone please tell me what looked different from thew past Spring games since Tebow left. Please be specific. Otherwise, you’re just regurgitating propaganda like Dooley.
    The fact is, and this is the easiest way tyo know that UF’s offense still sucks, that an awful player like Felipe Franks is STILL the odds on choice to be UF’s leader on offense.

    • It’s just another fluff article Boyfriend. All college town newspapers are full of them throughout the offseason. Just a continuous batch of light appetizers until dinner is served in September. These articles are generally more hopeful than critical. These articles aren’t designed to be factual and tend to aggravate the trolls. That’s why none of us read other team’s newspapers. Same hopeful fluff. Not really sure why you are here. BTW, nobody thinks the Gators are ready to win the SEC this year. We just hope our favorite team does better.

    • Even you ”screen name” is inept, ”TheTebowcurse.” Tim Tebow represented NOT a curse, but a blessing.
      One that has you so hate-filled & jealous, that you’re ‘”” stalker. Tim Tebow helped win U.F. 2 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS, 1 Heisman, and is a prominent analyst on our beloved “‘SEC NATION.”
      You may say the R.B.’s are average. But Perine, Davis, and the redeeming Scarlett, and the sensational Soph.’s, and incoming Freshmen, and even all the T.E.’s will soon make your remarks look so ignorant (this Fall), you won’t even have the courage to come here and type your ‘Nole manure. And B.T.W., F.S.U. still sux!

      • I guess my monicker is too far above your head to understand. So. like speaking to a first grader, I’ll explain it to you. The FACT, look up the word in case you don’t know what that means, is that UF has been AWFUL at QB ever since the departure of Tebow. Hence, the term is appropiate. I am the originator of the term, and it’s been copied by some because it’s so obvious that UF’s QBs have SUCKED since Tebow left. It doesn’t disparage Tebow in any way, and only a simpleton would come to that conclusion. But, then again, no one has ever praised the majority of Gator fans for their intelligence.
        I just see no reason to think the “Curse” will be broken this year with the motley crew of QBs seen in the Spring game.

  3. Love the comments on the NBA I haven’t watched the NBA in years. No defense just alot so scoring to make fans happy. All professional sports have changed, people want to see Home runs, Touchdowns, and please don’t hit the QB to hard or to high, they might as well put flags on the QB’s. The good ole days with Rodger Staubach and Fran Tarkenton are over and hardly any players play for the love of the game anymore.

    • You should, you know, maybe watch the NBA before offering your take on a sport that you admittedly haven’t watched “in years.” Lots of defense, lots of emphasis on pick and rolls and ball screens in order to find the open man and take more threes. A lot more like the college game.

  4. I believe MLB is still real, but haven’t watched WWNBA in +30 years. A few years ago I went to a Hawks game with my daughter when she lived in Atlanta. It really appeared to me these super big guys just kind of played around for 3 quarters, then played most of the 4th for real. Its not real like college. Why do people pay super big money to watch???

  5. Sometimes in recent years the game plan was about having the defense be the difference. So a big score wasn’t the coaches goal.. particularly champ. That strategy backfired at times like Georgia southern. Coach Mullen will ignore the past and be able to win games with offense soon. But not 2018 IMO at least not with the passing game. That’s not what the fans want but give the guy time.

  6. Fun game designed to make the fans glad they came out to sit in the hot sun on Saturday. Everybody wanted a new start to forget about the incompetence that has been Gator offense for a decade, and Mullen delivered that. The O-line is still the biggest disappointment and the reason this team will not excel this year, but we should win 7-8 games. We have a real coaching staff now. This team will no longer be run by abject stupidity of McElwain and Nuss. Dan and his staff are a serious breath of fresh air – we will be fine going forward.

  7. tunaboat. Havesty is not Summers or Davis when it comes to coaching the OL. Between Havesty’s coaching them up this coming summer and fall and Savage working their butts off from now until summer/fall practice beings, I expect the OL will be much stronger, quicker, and better this year. But Heggie has to come back strong and he has to move to center, replacing McCoy.

  8. And Ivey needs to play like a 5-star for the first time now in his senior year. The O&B game didn’t show huge improvement on the O-line, especially the Blue line in front of Trask. Improvement can be expected but turning a sow’s ear into a silk purse in a few months is a lot to ask of Hevesy. Our QBs will need to be mobile when the pocket breaks down. I think we’re OK blocking the run game. Hoping for the best group that Hevesy can put together.