Dooley: Sizable headache awaits Saturday’s loser

Jim McElwain

There are different types of hangovers and you may have suffered through one even if you have never done a keg stand or experienced Larry Miller’s Five Levels of Drinking (Google it; it’s one of the funniest bits ever).

Even teetotalers may have had a morning headache because of too many hours on your feet at work or the constant pounding of the PA system in your ears while you sat through an age-group volleyball tournament or because you spent a whole day at the beach trying to see if your skin could really turn into leather.

Or maybe your head just hurts from paying money to see “The Hangover Part III.” I know mine did.

Hangovers come in all shapes and sizes and they are experienced every season by football teams.

Sometimes they come from too many pats on the back. You get your belly rubbed for a week and the hangover results in a lack of focus. Just ask Mississippi State.

The two teams who play Saturday at high noon in The Swamp are both trying to clear their heads. Uncle Billy’s surefire cure (two eggs, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar and Sriracha) won’t help. Neither will a greasy cheeseburger (my favorite) or Hair of the dog.

Florida and Vanderbilt come into this game with hangovers for different reasons.

The Commodores woke up Sunday morning feeling like they got hit by an elephant whose name was Alabama. The Commodores had three first downs against the Tide and that was the good news. They lost 59-0 and didn’t want to look in the mirror when it was over.

“You can’t just take a shower and wash the stench off you,” Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason said. “You need a game to get it off you.”

His solution was to go to full pads Monday and get back to work. He hopes that a good week of practice will have his team as fresh as a daisy when it wakes up early Saturday morning instead of having cottonmouth.

“You have to address it,” Mason said. “You have veterans who have played and they understand. They know this is the first time they have faced diversity this season and I’m talking about serious adversity.

“The young guys don’t know. You have to really spell it out. You can’t assume your team knows.”

A hot, humid day (is there any other kind on a September afternoon in Gainesville?) may help sweat it out of both teams.

Florida’s hangover is different. The Gators are coming off two amazing wins and have a little swagger that comes with knowing that if the game goes to the fourth quarter and they have a chance, they really have a chance.

They are still feeling a little buzz from the “Heave to Cleve” and the “Kroger Comeback”.

But Jim McElwain would like to see his team come out with clear heads and laser focus from the start instead of waiting until things get interesting.

“I think probably more so for us is our ability to say, ‘Does it really have to come down to that? Does it have to be right there at the end or can we take care of some of that business up front?’

“To me, not waiting, but actually there’s some good things to be able to say about playing this way the first and second quarter. How about not kind of just sparring but let’s come out of the gate firing?”

Perhaps a new starting quarterback will make a difference. Possibly, the Gator offense has an identity now and shows it right from the opening possession. Maybe, just maybe, the Gators cover the first Johnny Townsend punt like their hair is on fire.

We’ll see. Recent history tells us that Florida-Vanderbilt can be down to the wire.

“Well, time will tell and every team is different,” McElwain said. “We’re expecting that we are going to be in that same position, and yet at the same time, let’s build on what we’ve done at the end and let’s get better at the start.”

It’s a novel idea.

The only thing we know for certain is that one of the two teams is going to have a heck of a headache when this one is over.

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


  1. Vandy is on a par with those other victories, to get one here we need much better offensive and special teams play, along with better defense that should result from better offense. Nothing else will suffice. And we are not Bama!!!

  2. All I can say is, if we even struggle to beat Vandy, we probably arent going to win more than 2, possibly 3 more games this season.

    Bama or not, Vandy got blown out 59-0 on their home field last weekend and Bama took a knee on the Vandy 1 to end the game.

    Florida showed some serious improvement on OL and in the run game last week, so o expect a rare comfortable win this weekend.

    UF wins 35-7.