Pat Dooley’s Front Nine: February 19

The Front Nine comes at you hoping you have fastened your seat belts because the ride is about to get really interesting around here.

1. You know what really just sunk in the other day (and I’m sorry if I am the last person to realize this)? Florida is doing what FSU used to do with the quarterback situation. Back when, the Semis were at their peak in the 1990s, they had quarterbacks who waited their turns. So often, the starter would have three years of tutelage before he got his chance and it worked beautifully. Of course, this was before the magical transfer portal. But hearing what Emory Jones had to say about waiting to get his time and how difficult it was and making sure he is prepared was heartwarming. Here’s a four-star who has thrown 92 passes in three seasons not jumping into the transfer portal. Kyle Trask set an example for these guys and let’s hope it’s an example that is followed often.

2. Of course, that is unless someone wants to transfer here. Florida has loaded up with transfers and hopefully they have the same success that their predecessors have had under Dan Mullen. I will tell you that I went through the roster and I know it doesn’t compare to Alabama’s but I like it a lot. Now, the key is to have a good spring after no spring last year and then a great off-season. Look, since Mullen is clearly giving Todd Grantham a pass for last year’s historically bad defense, maybe we should, too. Offenses went wild in 2020 but teams will be able to work on tackling and coverage during this spring and be less restricted in the weight rooms. One thing to remember, however, is we are still in this pandemic and at any point, you could lose your linebacker room, for example, for a week of practice. Coaches will have to be creative.

3. We all know how important this spring is for Mullen because he is breaking in a new quarterback and the offense is going to look different. He won’t have a spring game, but I think with the networks being set up the way they are in the Power Five, you can come up with a way to have content that shows off the team and gets the fan bases around the country fired up. “We don’t need no stinking spring games. “They may be going the way of the dinosaurs anyway.

4. With basketball’s loss to Arkansas on Tuesday, the Gators are now 30th in the NET Rankings and face a three-game stretch starting Saturday (at 3:30) against teams that really can’t help your ranking but can really hurt. And they are not bad teams, certainly losable games
Georgia – No. 89.
Auburn – No. 66.
Kentucky – No. 77.
This has been such a strange year for this basketball team. You have to admire the effort if not the shot selection.

5. Of course, the really big sporting events this weekend are at the new baseball field where Florida opens up against Miami at 3 p.m. today. Florida has a lineup without holes and a staff with no weaknesses. But its baseball where anything can happen. And you could bounce over, weather permitting, to softball’s home opener against Georgia Southern. Although tickets for those two spring sports are going to be difficult to get because of reduced capacity. It’s going to be that way for awhile but hopefully by the time we get into the meat of the seasons and more people are vaccinated, the capacities will increase.

6. Like I have been saying, this time of the year is the craziest we’ve ever had around here. In addition to football and basketball and baseball and softball, here’s the rest of your weekend. And remember, I said in addition to:
* Women’s basketball faces Missouri Sunday.
* Women’s golf hosts the Lady Gator Invitational starting Sunday.
* The No. 1 gymnastics team hosts its Link to Pink against Kentucky tonight at 6:45.
* Lacrosse is playing No. 1 North Carolina at noon today which could be right now as you’re reading this.
* Soccer faces College of Charleston Saturday.
* The SEC diving championships are on right now and will morph into the swimming championships Tuesday.
* Men’s tennis hosts Alabama today and Auburn Sunday while the women’s team goes on the road to face the same two teams.
Whew. Lot of logistics to deal with there.

7. With so much going on, I didn’t forget my sister’s birthday on Monday and will try not to forget by brother’s this Monday. Too much going on. I thought semi-retirement was supposed to be easy.

8. It’s Trivia Time and this one should be easy – With Florida facing Alabama this season in football (who knows? Maybe twice), the Gators have won 14 games against Alabama. How many times has UF beaten the pachyderms in consecutive seasons?

9. I promised I wouldn’t become an old man who sits around and watches old black-and-white movies, but I found myself watching one and spotted a young Clark Gable. But I won’t be recommending it because it wasn’t very good. Instead, I won’t go back that far, just a little less than two decades and recommend this one — ”Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” starring Jim Carrey. But this ain’t “Ace Ventura.” The trivia answer may have fooled you, but it happened twice, in 1990 and ’91 and again in 1993 and ’94 in the SEC title game.

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