The Back Nine comes at you after a quick weekend in Texas that was uneventful off the field unless making your 6:15 a.m. flight home can be considered a major event.
10. So, how did you feel about Florida’s opening game, peeps? I know I have to prod the Gator Nation because you guys don’t like to vent or anything. I’m kidding, of course, because it may take me the rest of the week to delete all of the texts, emails and comments after the Annihilation in Arlington. On Monday at his usual news conference, one thing that Jim McElwain refused to do was throw offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier under the bus. I asked him about something many of you have asked me about — will Mac take over the play-calling duties? He will not. The head coach kind of McElwained around the answer but he made it clear that any criticisms should be sent his way when it comes to the offense. “Put the ire towards me,” he said. “I’m the one responsible for it and I’ll get it fixed.” That remains to be seen because for three years Gator fans have been waiting for some offense and instead have the 122nd ranked offense in the country one game into this season. And it’s not like that is an aberration.
11. Oh, and I know I didn’t respond to all of your texts and emails, but if I did I would be doing nothing but that until Thanksgiving. How many times can I reply, “I get it?” Maybe I should do a mass email. Of course, it didn’t make things any better when Will Grier went out and had the night he had against Virginia Tech. Here’s a stat for you — since Grier was busted here for a positive PED test, Florida is 13-9. I’ve said all along that his time here was a bit romanticized but he never lost and he just got it when it came to playing quarterback. He had an upside you could see that West Virginia is now experiencing. Again, he made the mistake and it’s easy to say that Florida shouldn’t have encouraged him to leave, but there’s nothing that can be done about any of that now and he’s not coming back (sorry, Kelsey). Let us not forget that what we saw out of UF on Saturday was one game and we may come to find out that Michigan is one of the nation’s best defenses again this year. I know this much — Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown is a sharp cookie. On Florida’s first series of the game, he threw five different looks at a quarterback playing in his first college game.
12. The point of the Grier stat is that he was playing behind a terrible offensive line and still managed to make enough things happen to win games. A lot of you are wondering how we could have been so wrong about THIS offensive line. Hey, all we were doing was repeating what the coaches were saying. Maybe if we were allowed to watch practices we could have told you something more realistic rather than being force-fed sugarless Kool-Aid. Maybe not. The bottom line is Florida only ran 53 plays in the game and 15 of those were in the final 5:26 of the game. That means in the first 54:34 of the game the Gators ran only 38 plays. On those 38 plays, 26 went for 2 yards or less and 11 went for negative yards. There’s a part of me that wonders if Luke Del Rio isn’t the answer but if the offensive line play doesn’t improve drastically it’s not going to matter who is back there.
13. Here’s one thing I learned Saturday and it is that I have no idea what targeting is. I thought both Devin Bush of Michigan and Florida’s Nick Washington were gone for helmet-to-helmet hits. “Different leagues, different things,” McElwain said. That was a Big 12 crew and I guess they have different replay dudes than what I am used to in the SEC. On an unrelated note, let this column substitute for the public letter I was going to write to Jerry Jones telling him that the experience at his stadium was the best ever. This is something that SEC schools could take a lesson from — there was always someone there to tell you where you should go. What a concept.
14. If you are a college football fan and you didn’t have a two-TV system going wherever you were, I feel for you. That was a glorious night for college football and goes back to what I wrote last year that college football should have games every Sunday. I know that TV dictates when games are played but it seems as if college football doesn’t even try sometimes because of the NFL shadow. Take a peek at the Thursday games this year and you’ll see what I mean. Anyway, I knew that there would be a lot of overreaction after the first weekend, but I’m not sure that putting Josh Rosen at the top of the Heisman Trophy race or Kevin Sumlin at the top of the hot seat race are overreactions. A member of the Texas A&M Board of Regents has already called for Sumlin’s departure. This will not be a popular opinion among some of my colleagues, but I have always felt that John Chavis, the Aggie defensive coordinator, is one of the most overrated coaches in the country. He has been handed elite athletes to work with for more than two decades and engineered some amazing defensive collapses.
15. Let’s see, do I need to take anyone else down? Let’s be positive in this segment. We could talk about a team that scored touchdowns on its first four possessions of the first quarter in its opening game and had a true freshman kick a 56-yard field goal. That would be your Northern Colorado Bears, who come to The Swamp on Saturday. The Bears handed College of Idaho (bonus points if you know that the College of Idaho’s nickname is the Coyotes) a 41-14 defeat to open the season. It will be interesting to see what kind of crowd shows up in Gainesville. It’s a 7:30 game, which most fans prefer, and it is the home opener, after all. There are also three or four amazing games on at the same time. And this is not a happy fan base. We’ll see.
16. I know it’s the first big weekend of the season, but we can’t just talk college football, can we? Well, yes, we can. I will submit my second Associated Press ballot today and I gave it a lot of thought before bouncing the Gators out of my rankings. I just think there are 25 teams that deserve to be in there right now. My top five — 1. Alabama (up from No. 4); 2. Ohio State; 3. Oklahoma State; 4. Penn State; 5. Auburn, I dropped South Florida four spots to No. 21 and FSU six spots to No. 9. The games this week will create some real chaos.
17. The Tweet of the Week goes to a Gator fan named Patrick Simpson, who is a personal trainer in Nashville and sent this gem out — “What if I told you a laptop and a drug test could change a school’s fortune forever. ESPN 30 for 30 presents: Transferred.” So imagine a world where neither Cam Newton nor Grier got in trouble at Florida. And then go have a drink because you’ll need it. That said, I think Newton left as much because Tim Tebow announced he would return for his senior season as much as anything. Why do Florida’s transfer quarterbacks go on to become stars elsewhere and Alabama’s can’t even win starting jobs at the schools they go to? Asking for a friend.
18. One great thing about flying United Airlines is they are over the top in friendliness after what happened a while back (Google it if you don’t remember) and there is also this United app that allows you to watch movies and TV shows on your phone while being in a flying seat (Louis C.K. joke there). Couldn’t get through the Ghostbusters remake. What in the world were they trying to do with the brilliant Kate McKinnon? Ruin her career? So I watched a few episodes of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” instead. It seemed appropriate considering what Gator fans had just been through in Texas. But I did make this playlist:
• “Over Everything” by Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile.
• “Part of Me” by Good Old War.
• “Leaving” by Wildling.
• “California” by Rogue Wave.
• And for an old one, well, we lost another great musician over the weekend when Steely Dan’s Walter Becker left us. It’s strange that there seems to be two kinds of people in the world — those who think Steely Dan was one of the better groups we’ve seen and those who thought the band was terrible. I’m one of the former and my favorite might be “My Old School.” Enjoy.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.