The Back Nine comes at you like all Americans with a heavy heart after the shootings in Las Vegas. This is a scary world. Please be safe.
10. I saw a headline over the weekend on ESPN’s website that referred to a “wild” Saturday in college football. Bro, get over yourself. They are all wild. That’s why we count the hours until the first noon kickoff. And it has been a particularly crazy September. Take the Florida Gators and how they have scored touchdowns this year. Please.
• The biggest touchdown on the season scored when Florida was trying to get enough yardage for a field goal.
• The Gators scored three TDs on pick-sixes, but have not gained a turnover in their last two games.
• Florida twice scored when receivers were uncovered in the same game.
• The clinching touchdown Saturday made the coach angry that the player scored it.
Whatever happened to the normal touchdown drive? Anyway, you are probably thrilled to know that the mighty Gators are no longer in triple-digits in total offense. Who has custody of the, “We’re No. 98 sign?” (BTW, Florida State is 119th).
11. One thing that did not happen in September was that Florida recovered a fumble. As hard as that may be to conceive, the Gators are one of only five teams in the nation without a fumble recovery. “That’s some good info,” said Florida coach Jim McElwain. It’ll fluff up your turnover margin and UF currently sits at minus-2. The biggest reason? UF has only forced one fumble and that came last week against Vanderbilt. “The ball sat there forever,” said McElwain. “I just know we aren’t getting the ball back.” Some of it is bad luck because you’d think a couple of opponents would cough a ball up now and then, but the lack of hard-hitting players in the secondary certainly is a contributor. Florida has long been known for guys in the secondary who will knock your socks off, but DB-Youth continues to struggle with the tackling part of the game. And the Gators have gone two straight games without an interception.
12. The two biggest debates from the Saturday games do not have a correct answer — Should Malik Davis have fallen to the ground instead of scoring late against Vanderbilt and who is the best team in college football? I dealt with the former in my Sunday Blog (I think he should have scored) but the latter will be a bigger deal than you think if Clemson and Alabama continue to kick rears and take names and make it as the 1 and 2 teams in the College Football Playoff. The semifinals are at the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl this year and it’s a big deal for both teams to be No. 1 and get to pick the Sugar for their fan bases and a bit of home field advantage. Especially if the No. 2 team has to play a Pac-12 team in the Rose Bowl. It was a big advantage for Oregon three years ago when it drew FSU in the Rose Bowl. We have a long way to go but I’m sure Tide fans are already booking rooms in New Orleans.
13. Here’s a category you don’t want to be leading the SEC in — total tackles. That would be your Tennessee Volunteers with 407. The only way you lead the league in tackles is if you can’t get off the field. Remember when it was such a big deal that the Vols lured defensive coordinator Bob Shoop away from Penn State? In 13 games against Power 5 teams, Shoop’s defenses are allowing 34.7 points and 493.1 yards per game, I wonder how Butch Jones is going to blame the media for that. The good news is that Tennessee has a bye week. Then the Vols face South Carolina and Alabama. And Tyrie Cleveland is still behind the defense. He might even be able to get there with the walking boot he’s wearing.
14. The Back Nine can’t help but wonder what the lineup is going to look like when the coaches get together for the annual clambake at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala., next July. I’m guessing Ole Miss will have a new, permanent coach (brilliant on my part), but it appears that Kevin Sumlin has wriggled his way off the hot seat (although 8-5 is still out there). Same with Gus Malzahn. LSU isn’t going to fire Ed Orgeron no matter how bad it gets because he has a $12 million buyout and LSU is still paying $9 million to Les Miles. Butch Jones and Barry Odom seem like the best candidates for pink slips, but there’s a lot of football to be played (or not played when you look at their two defenses). One of the more interesting situations is at Mississippi State where Dan Mullen was the hottest coach in the country and then lost two road games by a combined 80-13. Stay tuned.
15. It was another sweep for the No. 1 team in the nation, as Florida’s volleyball team remained the only unbeaten team in the land. These ladies are good and have Texas A&M at home on Wednesday. And, as Danny Wuerffel tweeted, it’s always good to beat Georgia and soccer did that on Sunday evening 3-0. The two sports tend to get dwarfed when it comes to publicity because of football season, but Mary Wise and Becky Burleigh just keep on keeping on.
16. Here’s another thing that bothers me (file it under small irritants that should not get under my skin) — when NFL announcers talk about a bunch of upsets in the NFL. Sure, they may be slight upsets in terms of the point spreads but every team has the same number of professional football players doing their jobs (unless you’re a fan of Cleveland). They are all playing for their future paychecks and we are only a fourth of the way through the season. Still, the Rams beating Dallas and Carolina topping the Patriots were surprising results. Just not upsets.
17. The Tweet of the Week comes from my friend Scott Rabalais from the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate when the word came out that SEC Nation is heading to Gainesville — “Bet Tiger fans can’t wait to hear what hugs and kisses (Paul) Finebaum has for their team. Nothing worse than they’re saying, tho.” Such is life in the Tiger Nation right now.
18. Just Thursday night my wife and I were listening to the Tom Petty channel on Sirius and she said, “I know you love the Beatles, but there has never been a rock ‘n’ roll performer with better lyrics than Tom Petty.” And I thought about it and she’s right. Through the tears, I give you my five favorite TP lyrics:
• “Well, she was an American Girl/raised on promises.”
• “What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing/but under my feet, baby, grass is growing”
• “I got my own way of prayin’, but everyone’s begun/with a Southern accent/where I come from.”
• “Well, yeah, I used to chase a lot of women around/all it ever got me was down.”
• “Goin’ down to Lillian’s music store/To buy a black diamond string/Gonna wind it up on my guitar/Gonna make that silver sing/Like it was Dreamville”
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at email@example.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.