The Back Nine comes at you after the first weekend that required a second layer. I think that was our winter. Spring will start tomorrow.
10. Dan Mullen wouldn’t say who will start at quarterback Saturday, but here’s what I heard him saying Monday — Feleipe Franks will start because he is the most ready, but Franks will have the shortest leash since Mullen named him starter for the opener. The bottom line is still the bottom line it was back in the spring — I’m not sure Florida has a big-time quarterback on the roster. Emory Jones might be, but he’s not right now. Of course, the fans know more than the coaches because of all that video they’ve watched and practices they’ve been to, right? Look, I was right there with you in that game Saturday that it was pretty clear early in the third quarter that Franks needed to sit down and give someone else a try because it couldn’t get any worse. Kyle Trask did fine, but Florida also converted two fourth-down plays it would not have gone for if the game was on the line and the Tigers played a pretty soft defense at times. Either you trust your coach or you don’t. And if you don’t after nine games, you probably never will.
11. I beat up the defense pretty good in my column after the game and here’s why — offense is 75 percent execution and defense is 75 percent effort. And missed tackles are a lack of effort. Maybe that’s just my opinion, but I’m sticking to it. Today I am going to blister the offense for that showing Saturday because of the first five drives of the game. We talked all week about how important it was to get on top of Missouri and get the crowd into it. Here are the first five Florida drives of the game:
• Seven plays, two first downs (one by penalty), punt.
• Four plays, one first down, field goal.
• Three plays, 8 yards, punt.
• Three plays, no yards, punt.
• Four plays, one first down, punt.
By then, Missouri was up 21-3. There wasn’t a soul on this team who was blameless for the disinterested performance, but that adds up to 21 plays in five possessions and 37 yards gained. One thing that I believe is lacking on this offense is speed. Those old Mullen offenses at Florida had little scatbacks who could break explosive plays. Florida ranks 111th in the country in offensive plays of over 20 yards.
12. Most people think these Gators were way ahead of schedule and got distracted by the attention and ran off the rails. People who keep emailing me about how talented this team is must be watching something else. There are some talented players, but this constant changing of coaches has made it difficult to build depth and put 22 quality players on the field at a time. And especially on the offensive line. “We’ve got a long way to go with development,” Mullen said. As we said a long time ago, the current Florida football program is a dish that cannot be microwaved. It needs time on the smoker. I told a lot of people that the best part of 6-1 was that the floor was 7-5. Two losses later and the floor is rushing up to meet this team. I also believe that during the course of a season with a first-year coach, there comes a point where the same message goes in one ear and out the other. The head coach admitted Monday that he could use some true leaders, that he sees potential leaders who have struggled to emerge with what is still a new staff.
13. The Alabama beatdown of LSU reminded me of one of my mantras — home-field advantage is only as good as your players. And Alabama has better players than anyone. Everyone who was at that game said they had never seen a more lit crowd than the one in Baton Rouge. That’s great. And the Tigers still haven’t scored. It was almost as if Alabama said, “Hey, you know what we haven’t done all year? Just embarrass a team with our defense.” So they did. LSU ran the same old stuff and fell flat on its face. The most amazing thing to me is the way Nick Saban’s teams are so consistent not only within a season, but year to year. Different coaches, different players, same dude at the controls of the Death Star.
14. So ESPN issued an apology after political pundit James Carville’s rambling conspiracy theory comments and T-shirt that said “Greg Sankey (hearts) Alabama” because of the targeting foul that kept linebacker Devin White out of the first half of the game. I know there is a financial reason for not ticking off the conference’s commissioner and certainly respect for the man. But nobody who is anything but a maniacal LSU fan took Carville seriously. LSU fans, and Carville is an over-the-top one, are as passionate as any fan base in America and sometimes the lunatic fringe is the most vocal. But last time I checked, Devin White didn’t play offense.
15. I kinda felt bad for Kentucky with all the hype surrounding its game and then Georgia just did what Georgia does. The Bulldogs are doing pretty well in their rebuilding season with a young team, wouldn’t you say? It’s rough for the rest of this conference to know that two of the three or four best football programs in the country are in this league and aren’t going away. It certainly makes the climb to the top of the mountain more difficult.
16. So Kansas, which is still suffering from the colossal mistake of hiring Charlie Weis in 2012, fired David Beaty and his 6-39 record and there is a lot of talk of hiring Les Miles. That would make a splash, but if you think it’s going to take Mullen a long time to build the Florida program, Kansas is light years away. I have an idea. Nick Saban to Kansas. We all know he is the best coach in college football and maybe the best of all time. You want to really do something? Go turn around that program. I dare you. No? Urban Meyer? Dabo Swinney? It was worth a try.
17. The Tweet of the Week comes from Tim Bourret, a former SID at Clemson and author — “If Clemson beats Boston College next Saturday, Dabo Swinney will have a higher winning percentage as Clemson football coach than Coach K has as Duke basketball coach.” That’s crazy. In a way, Dabo reminds me of Phil Mickelson to the Tiger Woods that is Nick Saban. If Saban doesn’t come along, who knows how many titles Swinney would have won?
18. Ok, so I found my thingy for my headphones and I’m back in business. No excuses now. I’ve received a lot of feedback to my playlists lately and I know there are a lot of people who have never heard of some of the groups. So I went mainstream for this one:
• “Green River” by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
• “She’s A Rainbow” by the Rolling Stones.
• “Tell Me Why” by the Beatles.
• “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight” by R.E.M.
• “Inside Out” by the Traveling Wilburys.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.