The Back Nine: SEC's return was worth wait

Pat Dooley
Gator Sports

The Back Nine comes at you after the first SEC weekend and the way I look at it, we still have an optional dessert coming later when the other leagues start playing. But Saturday was the happiest I have been this year.

10. In all seriousness, I was like a kid on Christmas morning. I woke up every two hours. OK, I'm also so old that there are other issues we won't get into, but I would look at the clock and count the hours until SEC football was going to start. When I finally got up, there was this jolly old fellow talking to me, but it turned out the TV had been left on ESPN and it was Lee Corso. Eventually, it began and the SEC games certainly lived up to what we all hoped they would. There were commentators talking about the long wait for SEC football, but in all honesty it was only a few weeks. The mental stress came from not knowing for months whether the games would be played. Now, we just hope that Week Two will go on as scheduled.

11. It was a crazy Saturday in America's conference with records being set all over the place in the air. Dan Mullen said he thinks defenses will catch up with offenses and that it was more about missed spring football and the extended camps with little hitting. I'm not sure they feel the same way at Texas A&M, but that's for next week. Think about this — everyone is in agreement that Joe Burrow's season was a once in a lifetime performance. He threw 60 touchdown passes. Kyle Trask threw six on Saturday. Six times 10 games is 60 and that's without the postseason. It's simple math, but I agree with Mullen that defenses will settle down. For example, Trask said Monday that as the game went along against an Ole Miss defensive staff that was all new and the Gators were having success, "We knew we had watched the right film."

12. I jumped on Will Muschamp's conference call Sunday night with a couple of questions about Kyle Pitts. He paid him a really nice compliment when he said this — "When you are making a defensive call, you see the formation and you like the call and then you don't like the call against No. 84." Muschamp compared Pitts to Jordan Reed, who was a star on the Florida teams that Muschamp coached. "They're similar because they are both guys who can stretch the field," Muschamp said. "You have to account for where they are all the time. Pitts is as good a tight end as there is in the country."

13. Every time you think you've seen it all, you see something you have never seen before. It happened twice Saturday when there were two 7-5 halftime scores in the SEC. But that wasn't the strangest play. It came when Texas A&M punt returner Ainias Smith fielded a punt — a punt! — three yards deep in his own zone and tried to run it out. A&M was called for a blindside blocking penalty in the end zone and the result was a safety. I know I still haven't seen it all, but that's one off the bucket list.

14. It's great that we have the Big Three back in the state of Florida like we used to in the 1990s. You know, Florida, Miami and UCF. Sheesh, Florida State, thanks for showing up. Not. It just goes to show how one bad coaching hire can take several years to rectify (Florida fans can relate). The good news for the Semis is that everybody is eligible for a bowl game this season. The bad news is that it won't help FSU make one. Miami is another story and could actually be a threat to Clemson. It's still difficult to say, because that game Saturday night felt like a little more of where FSU is than where Miami is.

15. I would like to think the Braves can win it all despite the incredible lack of pitching depth. I'll settle for one series. And I'm serious about changing my dog's name to Freddie. Nobody has come close to my love for Greg Maddux (he was a great dog, too), but Freddie Freeman is getting close. 

16. Lakers vs. Heat, huh? We'll just drop that into the blender that is already full when it comes to watching sports on TV. Remember when we were just crushing ice in that sports blender and adding kale because we were so desperate for anything? Now it's coming at us so fast and furious, we need a minimum of two TVs in the sports room. Not that I don't have complaints. Fox went away from an OT Texas-Texas Tech game to show baseball (even my daughter called in a tizzy; I was so proud). And we missed three plays of the Florida game because the refs failed to notice the guy in the red hat on the field. That's why he wears a red hat! To make sure you see him. Of course, we are used to what happened Sunday with the NFL breaking from an overtime game to a game they were pumping up and then not showing that and showing another game instead. So we got to see Jeff Driskel. I'm not saying that made it OK.

17. The Tweet of the Week comes from none other than a guy who knows something about putting up numbers, Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes — "Wait wait dude has 600 passing yards?!?!?" By the time I turned the sound up on the game, he was over 500. It kept getting better. 

18. The best part of this weekend? Take your pick. Nine holes Friday morning, 18 on Sunday or grilling wings and sausages Saturday after all the work was done? There was so much going on this weekend, it was a bit of a struggle to bring you a playlist. I did my best:

• "Stella Brown" by Jelani Aryeh.

• "Gimme Sympathy" by Metric.

• "The Way I Feel" by Keane.

• "Threw It All Away" by The Jacks.

• And a special dedication for the oldie this week, to a young woman who can't get her significant other to appreciate the great work of a band we all loved a long time ago. For Samantha in Gainesville, Fla., a short distance dedication of "Workin' For A Livin' '" by Huey Lewis and the News.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow at