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The Back Nine: Gators have to create their own juice this week

Pat Dooley
Gator Sports
Vanderbilt students watch the first half of the game between Vanderbilt and South Carolina on Oct. 10 in Nashville, Tenn.

The Back Nine comes at you after a weekend I will never forget, because it may never happen again. I mean, I hope I have another birthday, but we're never going to see the Masters, college football and the NFL the same weekend again. Right? 

10. As different as this season has been, Saturday's game will be even more different for Florida. Obviously, the Gators have played their first six games in front of limited crowds, but those crowds have made some noise. Vanderbilt is going to be a different animal, because the school has been more restrictive than the rest of the SEC. Only a limited number of students were allowed to attend the first three home games and no other fans. Vandy is allowing grad students to attend this game, because the undergrads are heading home for break and will allow not only the families of players to attend (quarterback Ken Seal's family watched his debut from a window at the Marriott across the street), but also will distribute 500 tickets to Florida. So look for a crowd of fewer than 1,000 people in Nashville. "It's something we have already talked about and addressed," UF coach Dan Mullen said. "Early morning kick and very limited crowd, but it's kinda been a different year that way. It's 2020."

11. Until Saturday night, I would have told you that Kyle Trask was a longshot to win the Heisman Trophy. But his six-touchdown performance not only got a lot of people to pay attention, the other top contenders were all sitting at home watching. Alabama's Mac Jones couldn't play, neither could Ohio State's Justin Fields and Clemson's Trevor Lawrence hasn't played for three weeks. Absence does not make the heart grow fonder when it comes to the stiff-armed award. As a result, Trask is now the favorite to win the Heisman, according to BetOnline and people in my house. Of course, all of those quarterbacks should be back in action this week and that will matter. Look, COVID-19 is affecting a lot of things and that includes the Heisman, which will be given virtually this season. We have a long way to go ... or do we? All I know is that Trask is putting up sick numbers playing an All-SEC schedule and the fact that he is in the argument just adds to the script I am working on (Martin Scorsese is my first choice to direct).

12. Speaking of the offensive numbers Florida is putting up, I did an item in the Sunday Blog comparing Florida's current offense with the best of Steve Spurrier. After it had already been published at Gatorsports.com, my wife made a good point about those old Gator teams getting some cupcake games to inflate their stats. I could have argued that SW Louisiana played better defense than this current Ole Miss team, but instead I crunched more numbers. Turns out that in 1996, Florida averaged about the same points against SEC teams as in non-conference games. So the 46.8 PPG that team scored in conference games is still ahead of the 45.8 this team is averaging.

13. Mick Hubert received a surprised visitor to the radio booth Saturday night when Spurrier showed up to congratulate the iconic announcer on his 400th game behind the mike for a Gator football game. "Do you know your record?" Spurrier asked. Mick did. "295-104 and one," he said. "Oh yeah. And one," Spurrier said. It's the most painful "and one" ever, that tie with FSU in 1994 that is referred to as the "Choke at Doak". If you don't know what happened, get someone else to explain it to you. I'd rather not. But the point is that it's pretty amazing for Hubert to have an outside shot at 300 wins as a UF football announcer this season. All he needs is for Florida to win out and then either win the SEC title game or a bowl game.

 14. The news that Will Muschamp was let go by South Carolina was inevitable and still sad. This season was going south and you get to the point where the money people are not going to continue to pony up unless a change is made. And you can berate officials over bad calls (with the temper of a 2-year old who can't get away from daddy's grip to explore a restaurant) when you are winning. But not when you're losing and giving up so many yards per game you rank 103rd in total defense. Anyone who knows Muschamp knows he is as good a guy as you could ever want to know. And he is rich with $21 million in buyouts from Florida and South Carolina. But I always feel bad for a coach when he is let go because it is so public and hard on the family. The question now is whether or not South Carolina sells its soul and goes after Hugh Freeze. I'm still not sold that South Carolina is a good job (although Spurrier made it one for a few years) because it's a strange environment of high expectations with low self esteem. 

15. I know Saturday wasn't the greatest college football Saturday, because of all of the postponements and cancellations and the fact that there were no major upsets. But I will remind you that we have a college football season and that it has been as glorious as we could possible hope for given all the restrictions. Be grateful for what we have, not for what we miss. Of course, as I am writing this, Ole Miss-Texas A&M has been postponed.

16. The Back Nine never gets predictions correct when it comes to majors unless I took zero risk during the amazing run of Tiger Woods (whose 10 yesterday on the 12th was entertaining for all of us who love to see the best players do worse than we do). But I nailed it with Dustin Johnson and while I know it was not exactly going out on a limb, I'm taking full credit for a big W. And then to watch him break down during his interview made me like him even more. People who don't get golf don't understand how important it is to get that first green jacket. I'm not saying you are wrong, I'm just saying that in the golf world, it's the best trophy you can possible receive.

17. The Tweet of the Week — and there were really good ones with the Masters and football both going on — goes to Jason Starrett of The Athletic — "Michigan’s 49-11 loss to Wisconsin on Saturday…

Worst scoring margin under Harbaugh (lost by 38)

Worst yardage margin under Harbaugh (outgained by 249)

Worst first down differential under Harbaugh (allowed 16 more first downs)" 

I just thought it was important to rub it in.

18. Thanks for all of the birthday wishes and I am grateful to have made it to this advanced age even if it is with two fake knees, a fake hip and other issues. My ears still work so I was able to get this playlist ready for you:

• "Wake Me Up" by Henrik Appel.

• A version of "Hey Ya", one of my favorite songs, sung by Obadiah Parker.

• "Heaven" by The Walkmen.

• "Amongst The Waves" by Pearl Jam ((I've been in a Pearl Jam mood lately and I think it is because of Howard Stern's interview with Eddie Vedder recently).

• I know it's not really an oldie, but it was released 25 years ago and kind of got me started down a different music path so "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" by The Smashing Pumpkins.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at pat.dooley@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.