The Back Nine comes at you with a stunner of a stat to lead it off. You know which team is 127th in total offense? Not Florida (No. 122, woo-hoo), Florida State. Of course, the Semis have only played one game. Against Alabama. Maybe it’s not such a great stat.
10. Once the euphoria of the magical moment in The Swamp began to die down and the serious complaining started to build back up Sunday, there was one thing that I think we all have to realize. All of the stumping in the summer about what a good team this should be is out the window. Those suspensions took a big slice out of this team and the truth is that Florida feels more like a team that is rebuilding rather than a team set to contend for the Top 10. Jim McElwain’s 2017 class is showing that it was as good as the rankings and the 2016 class just produced one of the greatest plays in Gator history. Florida may have some big things down the road. Look, I don’t think anybody has any aspirations any longer for this being an SEC champion or in a major bowl. The two-game sample size is enough for us to get that the Gators have a quarterback who has played a total of 84 plays in his college life with the bullets flying and that his best weapons are all underclassmen. The secondary eats off the kids meal menu. This isn’t the team McElwain was selling at SEC Media Days and it’s not the team anyone thought it would be on the morning of July 19 right before Marcell Harris blew out his Achilles and all the bad stuff started happening. But you can see how this team might get better as the season progresses and that the future is promising. Try to enjoy the growing process. If you can.
11. Well, because that was a fairly positive spin, I guess I had better go negative so people don’t think I’m going soft on the coaches, who still received a bad Rotten Tomatoes review after the game. Seriously, 80 percent of the responses to me on social media in the 24 hours after the game were negative. Anyway, I have looked at the last few seconds of the game several times and here are the mistakes that were made (not including Tennessee letting Tyrie Cleveland get behind the defense after a timeout). Feleipe Franks scrambled near a first down at the 34-plus yard line. There were 36 seconds to go. McElwain mistakenly thought there would be a measurement or that the clock would stop on a first down. Seconds ticked off as he waited for one. But the ball was clearly marked by the linesman short of the 35. The trouble was that the official who actually placed the ball down marked it a foot past the 35. First down or at least a reason to stop the clock to check. Then, the ball was moved back, but it was still on the 35 which would be a first down. When Florida finally snapped the ball, 22 seconds had passed since the end of the play and Florida still had two timeouts. “That was on me, obviously,” McElwain said. So there were a lot of mistakes made there by the officials and certainly by the head coach. It all worked out in the end.
12. I used to have a friend who would say this when we were on the golf course — no complaining about pars. Even a three-putt par was acceptable or a missed kick-in birdie try. Par is what you are shooting for, right? Another friend (yes, I have more than one friend) used the same analogy Monday when I mentioned the wrath of the fans. “Never cuss a par,” he texted. Florida won the football game Saturday. Florida gave all of its fans a moment that they will treasure for a lifetime. I see the flaws and the problems and I know this team isn’t going to make you forget the Tim Tebow years or the Steve Spurrier years. But can’t you just enjoy the moment? Even for 24 hours? No? Ok.
13. As you all are probably aware, Florida has five interceptions this season and three returned for touchdowns. But because the Gators also have lost five fumbles (plus an interception), the Gators are minus-1 in turnover margin after two games and that puts them 88th in the country. The fumbles are a real concern right now. “It’s an every-day drill,” McElwain said. “My hat’s off to the guy (Tennessee’s Justin Martin who caused Malik Davis’ goal-line fumble). We’ve shown it to our team as an example of what hustle is. You continue to work on it. They have to understand that the play is never over.”
14. In the Jerry World press box — and it feels like a month ago — the internal public address announcer kept referring to Florida’s placekicker as Eddy Pin-yay-do. We kept asking who the heck that was. And when we were watching the CBS replay and Brad Nessler referred to Pineiro the same way, my daughter looked incredulously at the TV and said, “Eddy Who?” I figured something was up. So The Back Nine went investigating and, sure enough, Pineiro came to the Florida sports information staff in the spring to correct them on the proper pronunciation of his name in Spanish. So get it straight, media boys. And no more Panera Bread puns.
15. Florida’s next opponent, Kentucky, handled South Carolina on Saturday night and the Wildcats said they were especially fired up because the Gamecock captains refused to shake hands before the game. “I’ve never seen that,” said Kentucky coach Mark Stoops, “They were ready to go at it. We were ready, too.” Except the first play was a 68-yard touchdown pass. Will Muschamp apologized for the snub on Monday. He also lost Deebo Samuel, his best player, for the season. It will be interesting to see where that season goes after such a great start. Here’s one thing that all SEC schools should avoid — blackouts. Between Georgia and South Carolina, they almost always end poorly.
16. Of course, here in the SEC where hot seats are not sold separately. They are part of the standard equipment. Whistle, short sleeve windbreaker, a couple of free cars, nameplate, hot seat. Butch Jones finds himself squarely on one after that debacle of a finish. Gator fans should hope he finishes just strong enough not to win the East, but stay in the job. Meanwhile, one has to think the Barry Odom Experience is winding down at Missouri. I’m just not sure how good that job is. And back at Jerry’s World, Texas A&M and Arkansas play Saturday in what feels like a loser-leaves-town game. Hey, it just means more … buyouts. We already knew we wouldn’t be seeing the same cast of characters in Hoover, Ala., next July because Hugh Freeze won’t be there (unless he’s shopping at the Galleria). But we could possibly see a huge overhaul. And there are going to be some athletic directors with itchy trigger fingers if Chip Kelly indicates he wants back in. Stay tuned.
17. The Tweet of the Week comes from Danny Wuerffel. You may have heard of him — “Thank the Lord for @18franks. Cause if it were me in there, I couldn’t have thrown it that far :)” I don’t know about that. I’ve seen those commercials.
18. OK, so I tried to pick a playlist that the Gator Nation (the ones who weren’t complaining Sunday) would appreciate. It’s not so much about the music as it is the song titles:
• “Cleveland” by Jewel.
• “Happy Ever After” by the Foo Fighters.
• “Franks” by Infected Mushroom.
• “Happy Alone” by Earlimart.
• And for an old one, “Happy Together” by The Turtles.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.