Pat Dooley’s Back Nine January 11

The Back Nine comes at you after a weekend that was a little too sloth-like with all of the games that were on. On the other hand, it was fun, especially watching a game on Nickelodeon.

10. With all the NFL that was on, I was still able to spend some time thinking about next year for Florida football and, yes, sometimes I should be asking my wife if there is anything I can do instead of hovering over the computer. Anyway, that’s another story. What I was doing was trying to figure out the over/under for the mighty Gators next season and you kind of have to do it assuming all games will be played before any are cancelled. Hopefully, we are at a point by the fall where games are not cancelled for anything but hurricanes. Florida has three sure things in Florida Atlantic, South Florida and Samford. At least the first two games have storylines. And one would think FSU is a long way from being back and the game is still supposed to be played in Gainesville. So there are four. Vanderbilt is five and Tennessee at home is six. Now it gets tricky. Florida’s plays three SEC games at home this year and the other is Alabama. Georgia, to be honest, might be better than it was in 2020. The four Florida road games in the SEC are at Kentucky, at LSU, at Missouri and at South Carolina. As a result, I would put the over/under at eight unless there is some transfer portal magic (Arik Gilbert?)

11. And an 8-4 season would feel a lot different than last year’s 8-4 season. The 2020 season swayed like the fans at the end of the third quarter (when the stands were full). The highs were way up there (beating Georgia, having an unstoppable offense again) and the lows were way down there (the Cotton Bowl disaster, the thrown shoe, not being able to stop anyone). But maybe I should just pump the brakes until I see exactly what Florida does have when it takes the field in September. It just feels like an important offseason for Dan Mullen.

12. And I can’t help but wonder of Marco Wilson’s thrown shoe contributed to the firings of UF’s two defensive back coaches. I’ve seen coaches fired before for less. Of course, it could be because this was the most disorganized secondary I’ve ever seen and it gave up more touchdown passes than we all thought was humanly possible.

13. I’d move on to basketball, but that would be no fun. You know, it’s going to be hard to criticize anything that happens this year because of what these players have been through, but we can still state the obvious after two losses by a combined 33 points.

* Florida has no go-to guy when it really needs a basket.
* The point guard play has not been good. Just a lot of dribbling and turnovers. Florida’s assist-to-turnover ratio is 244th in the country. That’s not going to cut it.
* Rebounding was supposed to be a strength, but Florida is 182nd in rebounds per game.
Obviously, not having Keyontae Johnson and the aftereffects of dealing with what happened to him have created kind of a lost season for this team. I get the sense that even the Mike White loyalists are getting upset. But remember, it’s a long season.

14. Florida, for example, still has six games against teams ranked in the top 26 in the NET rankings. Like I said, it’s a long season. Just to show you the volatility of the NET, which the committee uses to fill the field for the MCAA Tournament (assuming we have one this year), the Gators went from 22nd to 55th with those two losses.

15. I know, I know, the football finish coupled with the basketball start has you pining for baseball and softball. But do not forget that Gator fans have the No. 1 ranked gymnastics team that started its season with its highest score ever for an opener. If you can get into the O-Dome and watch Trinity Thomas, it’s something you will not forget.

16. I took a break from the NFL games on Sunday night because my wife and I wanted to catch up on “Ted Lasso” (highly recommended) and by the time I went into my office to watch Pittsburgh and Cleveland it was 28-0. What happened? The visitors went 4-2 in the wild card games and my friend Chris Harry pointed out to me via Twitter (does anyone talk on the phone anymore?) that in 2016 all four wild-card road teams won. Still, the games were all interesting and with the start of the PGA Tour (Billy Horschel tied for 24th, Brian Gay for 29th just to keep you updated on Gator golfers) and some college hoops, it was a pretty entertaining weekend.

17. The Tweet of the Week came from Iowa State football coach Matt Campbell, whose name came up for several coaching jobs in both the NFL and college this offseason – “So grateful for the commitment of so many to continue to want to build our program together. Our foundation has been built on Loyalty and Faithfulness and it will continue to be our guiding light. Humbled and Grateful to continue to lead to be different.” So that either sounds like the Cyclones have a guy who will be around for a long time or a guy whose Tweet will come back to haunt him when he takes another job. Either way, I thought it was impressive.

18. The Florida Four spent too much time researching this, but I was curious about where some players from this team finished up on the all-time mark (since we have had enough talking about how historically bad the defense was). So here are four interesting stats:

* You might have thought that Kyle Trask threw more than any UF quarterback this season, but not so fast my friend. OK, he did play in only 12 game (and ingloriously was benched for much of the last one) but Trask finished third all-time for the most passes thrown in a season at 437. Rex Grossman is still the leader during his one year with Ron Zook (2002) and Shane Mathews second (1992).
* Evan McPherson came into the season as the all-time leader in field goal percentage at UF. But four misses in his last five games dropped him to fourth place finish at .850 percent. Eddy Piniero remains the all-time leader.
* Kyle Pitts has a phenomenal year but missed three games with injuries and it might have kept him from getting to the 2,000-yard club as a receiver. Florida hasn’t had one since 2007 when Andre Caldwell finished his career. Pitts finished at 1,565 and pretty much did it in two years. Seven of the top 10 were Steve Spurrier receivers, but No. 1 is Carlos Alvarez.
* This stat has nothing to do with the 2020 team but might have something to do with the 2021 team. Tim Tebow has four of the five best seasons for rushing yards by a quarterback. Terry LeCount has the other. I don’t think any UF quarterback will catch his 910 yards in 2009, but it will be interesting to see where Emory Jones is at the end of the day.

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