The Back Nine comes at you after a rough week. Let’s try to have a better one this week.
10. A week ago at this time, we were talking about how loud it was in Knoxville and Baton Rouge. Today, there is no place louder than Gainesville. Gator fans are angry and for good reason. They are sick and tired of the product on the field and any defense of the coaching staff might as well be relayed with a dog whistle. This is the dark side of college football, especially in the SEC. I like to say that nobody suffers winning like Gator fans, but when it comes to losing they are pretty much like everyone else — angry, frustrated and condemning. And you feel like nobody is answering your questions. Certainly, everyone has a right to vent and be heard. And you also have the right to expect the best from your team even though there will only be one champion at the end of the season. I suggest you start paying attention to volleyball.
11. On to Eddy Pinero’s missed extra point. Many of you chastised me for blaming Pineiro and not Johnny Townsend on the hold. Townsend did let the ball go a little early and it tilted slightly forward. I missed that for a number of reasons, including operator error. “It wasn’t the perfect snap, the perfect hold,” Jim McElwain said. “Sometimes it happens. Rick Barry missed a free throw once.” The bottom line is that missed kick isn’t why Florida lost the game. The Gators had multiple opportunities and could generate nothing on offense after two touchdown drives. We can point to the Knucklehead Nine as a big part of the reason or the injuries to Tyrie Cleveland and Luke Del Rio and a million other things. Those are just excuses.
12. And while there may be reasons, there are no excuses for Florida’s offensive rankings right now through five games. The Gators are 103rd in offense, which is actually an improvement from 116 last year and 112 the year before. Florida is also 112th in long plays from scrimmage and 123rd in first downs and the latter is part of the problem because the Gator offense isn’t getting many plays because of its inability to stay on the field with conversions. The pace is slow and, as a result, Florida is 121st in the nation in the number of plays run this season. I know, you don’t need all of these ugly statistics to know what offensive futility looks like. You have eyes.
13. And then you look at the rest of the schedule and see a lot of difficult games and wonder if this isn’t a season to drag out the old motto that haunted UF fans for so many years before Steve Spurrier — Wait ’Til Next Year. That’s a depressing thought. Still, if Florida can find a way to win this week (Florida is, for some reason, a 5 1/2-point favorite) and make the Georgia game relevant, well, at least there would be that. We know this much — McElwain’s teams always play hard and for that he does deserve credit. I’m just not sure there is an answer offensively and the defense simply isn’t good enough to carry this team this season. It plays well at times, just not all the time. Are we really living in a world where Florida and FSU might not make bowl games? Quick, someone check the APR scores to see if 5-6 might be enough.
14. So we are “rat poison”, huh? That’s what Nick Saban called the media last week. He can’t understand why his players aren’t listening to him and instead listen to all of the great things being said about his team. Did we make Alabama a 26-point favorite at Texas A&M (lock bet of the year was the Aggies covering that spread)? Believe me, none of us takes it personally because this is just another Saban ploy to get his players’ attention. Almost everything he says in news conferences is for the players to hear. Maybe Saban should ban his players from watching ESPN. Most of his latest rant seemed to be directed at the four-letter network. Speaking of the Worldwide Leader, it was incredibly bush league to overreact to Chris Petersen’s comments about late games by showing three cupcakes (to signify Washington’s out-of-conference opponents), for Kirk Herbstreit to say Washington is lucky ESPN carries its games and to flash the ratings for night games up on the screen during Washington’s game. ESPN is beyond arrogant.
15. Ever since the Braves decided not to be competitive, I have divorced baseball. I bet I didn’t watch six innings during the regular season. The games are too slow and tedious. But when the playoffs start, I’m a baseball fan again and it has been tremendous. The crowds have reminded me of college football crowds and the players show the kind of enthusiasm you won’t see in Game 143.
16. Seriously, can’t we have Dallas and Green Bay play the 4:15 p.m. NFL game like five times a year. It’s always high drama and so much fun to watch. I think I’m a closet Green Bay fan because I like Aaron Rodgers so much. The guy is amazing. I’m a college football guy, but the NFL has been really entertaining this season so far and Jacksonville fans must be appreciating having a defense that could carry them into the playoffs.
17. The Tweet of the Week comes from Michigan radio dude Mike Sullivan — “Through 31 games at Michigan: Harbaugh: 24-7 record, 1-1 bowl record, 1-4 vs rivals. Hoke: 24-7 record, 1-1 bowl record, 2-2 vs rivals.” That’s a sobering stat, especially for all of the websites who put out their coaches rankings this summer and had Harbaugh in the top five, some as high as three. Meanwhile, in 32 games at UF, McElwain is 22-10, 1-1 in bowls and 5-3 vs. rivals. To compare, Will Muschamp was 22-10, 1-1 in bowls and 4-4 against rivals, Urban Meyer was 26-6, 2-0 and 7-0 and Ron Zook 20-12, 0-2 and 3-4.
18. This was a really difficult week, more difficult than I ever thought it could be. Even “The Simpsons” had a tribute to Tom Petty on Sunday night. It’s great to know how many people really cared about our boy. I miss him so much. Here are five of my favorite covers of Petty songs and then, as he sang, it’s “Time to Move On.”
• “It’s Good to Be King” by Emily Greene.
• That time we got free tickets to see Matchbox 20 and they played “American Girl.”
• “I Won’t Back Down” by Pearl Jam although you guys signing Saturday is a close second.
• “Free Fallin’ By John Mayer.
• And, sure, “Time To Move On” by Hi Ho Silver On and Leslie Stevens.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.