The Back Nine comes at you after a wonderful weekend of football, family and hurricane watching. And some great barbecue.
10. We knew there would be a lot of overreaction after the first weekend, but what we didn’t know was that the SEC-haters out there (and you know who you are) would be so giddy with a chance to bash the league. The league changed its slogan this weekend to … The SEC — It Just Means Mortified. There were some embarrassing losses to be sure, but the early take shouldn’t be that the league is down. It should be that the league is top heavy. SEC fans like to use the top-to-bottom argument when extolling the virtues of the league, but the middle and bottom lost to Wyoming and Georgia State. Not to mention South Carolina losing to a guy coming out of retirement and Arkansas barely beating Portland State and Kentucky and Miss. State struggling with what should have been easy wins. There was a great picture I saw on Twitter of Auburn’s game-winner against Oregon and in the background is SEC commish Greg Sankey leaping in the air with his arms raised. He needed that one.
11. If we’re overreacting, get your hot seats right here. Will Muchamp found a way to lose just like he did all the time at Florida. Charlie Strong revamped his offense with Kerwin Bell and scored zero points in South Florida’s opener. Matt Luke brought in Rich Rodriguez to add some zing to the offense and the Rebs scored 10 points and couldn’t sniff 200 yards. And one has to think the Jackson State mascot who was penalized for celebrating a touchdown with the team will get a pink slip today. And because we are overreacting (which was predictable), should we go ahead and give the Heisman Trophy to Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts or wait until the end of the season? Maybe we should give it to Sooners coach Lincoln Riley.
12. So who feels worse today — FSU fans or Tennessee fans? FSU at least lost to a team that you thought had a chance to beat them. With a freshman quarterback. In Tallahassee. In a game FSU led by 18. There was a lot of premature Tweeting going Saturday when FSU was way up in the first half and offensive coordinator Kendal Briles looked like he knew what he was doing. The next thing we knew, Boise State fans were doing the Gator Chomp and celebrating in their lovely orange and blueness. The stat of the game was this — Boise State had 28 plays of 10 yards or more (so did Oklahoma, but I digress). FSU’s defense looked terrible against freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier (I may have to get one of those Hank for Heisman T-shirts), but the offense didn’t help in the second half with all of those three-and-outs (and 68 yards on 29 plays). My friend Frank Frangie Tweeted this out Sunday — “Never been a fire the coach guy. Willie Taggart seems like a good dude. But the reality: His 5 wins (vs. 8 losses) – Samford, N. Illinois, Louisville, Boston College, Wake. BC & L’ville made huge coaching blunders when they had game won. Tough to ignore.” Oh, believe me, nobody in the Seminole Nation is ignoring it.
13. Let’s turn to the Vols, who slipped to three games under .500 over the last decade. That’s a lot of moonshine. Steve Spurrier, who hired Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott at South Carolina, called the winning coach on Sunday. “I told him that reminded me of the game in 1982 when I was an assistant at Duke and we went to Knoxville and upset them,” Spurrier said. Most alarming had to be that Elliott watched video of the Vols from last year and realized his offensive line could push Tennessee around. Georgia State has been around 10 years. And knew it could handle Tennessee. Let that sink in. “It may be one of the glaring flaws to some degree for Tennessee,” Elliott said. “I thought we could push them a little bit with our offensive line.” I would be remiss not to include a piece of a column by Joe Rexrode of The Athletic here to describe the Vols’ performance. “(Jeremy) Pruitt and the Vols turned in a performance so putrid … it’s going to take a few paragraphs yet to digest that sardine-and-asparagus sandwich and burp something back up.”
14. OK, this column really feels negative, but it was that kind of weekend. I could write about the Year of the Freshmen Quarterback, but I’m saving that for the week Auburn and Bo Nix come to Gainesville. I could write about the transfer portal quarterbacks having success or that only one member of the top 25 lost and that was to another ranked team. But that’s boring. I had this thought watching Georgia -Vandy on Saturday. If I’m Derek Mason, I’m sending out feelers to find a new job, even a defensive coordinator job. Because if I have to stand on that field in Nashville and see another 80-20 crowd for the visiting team, well, I might lose my mind. Mason is a solid coach, but when you never get to play home games, it’s tough to win big games.
15. Our AP polls are due Tuesday morning, but I will tell you that I did switch Alabama to second based on the loss of linebacker Dylan Moses. I made several other adjustments, but kept Florida at 11th. Moved Wisconsin up a little and Boise State up a little. Here’s one final note college football’s first weekend — did anyone notice Trevor Lawrence had worse stats than Feleipe Franks in their first games of 2019? Asking for a friend.
My top 11:
8. Ohio State.
10. Penn State.
16. One thing I am not good at — projecting college players into the NFL. I thought Emmitt Smith would struggle at the next level and Danny Wuerffel would be a star. I certainly didn’t think Jachai Polite and Teez Tabor would both be cut over the weekend and neither one claimed off waivers (Polite signed with Seattle’s practice squad). Polite’s problems started when he showed up for the NFL Combine out of shape and he seemed to carry a bad attitude right into Jets camp. It sounds like a guy not getting good advice. Tabor is a classic example of a player who could rely on film study and instincts to be a tremendous college player. But in the NFL, being a slow cornerback without much of a vertical leap will catch up with you.
17. The Tweet of the Week goes to Darius Rucker, the great singer and South Carolina fan — “Well, football season is over!!” It might be. South Carolina has a brutal schedule and the opener was one of the games the Gamecocks were supposed to win. And Will Muschamp said this was his most talented team.
18. Driving to and from St. Augustine this weekend to see my dad and watch some football, I didn’t want to hear any more talk about what might happen in Saturday’s games so I worked on this playlist:
* “Wild Roses” by Of Monsters and Men.
* “Dancing With Your Ghost” by Sasha Sloan.
* “The Story” by Brandi Carlile.
* “Used To Be Lonely” by Whitney.
* And because I went heavily in female singers in this rotation, we’ll macho it up with for today’s oldie “I’m Eighteen” by Alice Cooper. Wait a minute.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at email@example.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.