The closer we get, the heavier it feels. It is both as imaginary as Harvey the Rabbit and as real as a tax audit. It is thick in August and if you think it has become a part of your life, imagine being a paranoid football coach.
In other words, a coach.
It is angst.
You might know it as concern. Or worry.
Anxiety. Uneasiness. Apprehension.
In this world of closed practices and coachspeak, the uncertainty about what will happen as a season approaches can be suffocating.
That’s why Dr. Football is making his first appearance of the season to alleviate some of your fears. Well, some of them. There are things you should be worried about, things that should keep you awake staring at the wall and wondering how long that chip has been in the paint.
And there are others you may be freaking out about that you should let go.
So here we go:
You should worry about Martez Ivey’s knee and other assorted injuries.
Ivey will play against Michigan, but won’t play every snap because of swelling on his knee. His top backup was supposed to be Kadeem Telfort, who is suspended for the game.
Florida still has a ways to go to get to the game and needs Kylan Johnson to get back from a hamstring issue. As I have said before, this is a fragile defense and can’t afford too many injuries, even if they are minor, for a game like this.
And let me be clear, this may not be a conference game next Saturday, but it is a big game for a lot of reasons, including recruiting and keeping Florida’s brand relevant.
You shouldn’t worry about what happened in the Citrus Bowl two years ago.
There are only two players who started in that game for Michigan who are expected to start this time. Florida has seven players who started in that game.
That was a different time and those were different teams. The 41-7 loss where the only UF score came from a wide receiver on an under-handed pass? Irrelevant.
You should worry about Rashan Gary.
The former No. 1 recruit in the nation was an effective backup last year. He’s starting this year and has already been named to the second team of the AP preseason All-America team. He is a beast. He will be a handful.
You shouldn’t worry about Michigan’s missing roster.
Unless you are in charge of printing the program, is it really a big deal that Jim Harbaugh won’t release it despite several news organizations filing Freedom of Information Act grievances? Not really.
You should worry about both running games.
Michigan has a bevy of talented backs and is going to try to pound the ball. And Florida’s lack of depth at linebacker makes this a bigger concern. Florida has excellent backs as well, but the Gators were last in the SEC in yards, yards per carry and rushing touchdowns a year ago. That must improve.
You shouldn’t worry about who UF starts at quarterback.
First of all, Florida hasn’t had a quarterback go the distance since Tim Tebow. The fact that Jim McElwain has three options might be a good thing given the injury (and suspension) history. But the bottom line is that the staff is going to select the guy they think gives them the best chance to win THIS game. I know it’s difficult to trust an offense that has been floundering for two seasons, but you might want to trust the coach who is going for his third straight division title.
You should worry about tickets.
Oh, they are available. Just go on StubHub and you can sit within shouting distance of the UF bench for a mere $464.99. Seriously, why not just make it $465? You can get seats for under $100, but you’ll need binoculars just to see the fans who are complaining that they need binoculars to see.
You shouldn’t worry about the uniforms Florida will wear.
The Gators are the home team for this game which means they could go all orange or orange tops and blue pants or blue tops and white pants or tie-dye tops and capri pants. Whatever. I’m done caring.
You should worry about the return game.
With Antonio Callaway out, the punt return game probably won’t be as dynamic and Florida has a recent history of not being explosive on kickoff returns. Here’s an idea — block somebody.
You shouldn’t worry about the kickers.
I’ll take Eddy Pineiro and Johnny Townsend. You take whomever you want. And that includes a lot of NFL teams, especially Tampa Bay.
You should worry about your young secondary.
Michigan has a track record under Harbaugh of hitting defenses over the top with play-action passes. Florida is going to throw a lot of guys out on the field who have never played in a college football game. Not all islands are beautiful.
You shouldn’t worry about who anybody picks.
Ever. And that includes who Dr. Football picks. We’re all just guessing. And none of us are betting anything. You also shouldn’t worry about being underdogs or where both teams are in the polls or any preseason watch lists.
You should worry about the really important things.
Satellite dish. Electric bill. Cable hookup. Tailgate menu if you will be there. Or even if you will not.
Mostly, try not to worry at all about anything … until it’s the fourth quarter.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.