The Back Nine comes at you after one of those weekends in Gainesville that we haven’t seen in a while. Just know more are coming our way.
- Full confession, I tried to stay out of the crazy on Saturday. I’ve seen it enough on campuses all over the country and I know how special it can be in Gainesville, but I went soft for this game and watched from home like an old man who needed a blanket when the fourth quarter started. I say this, because it’s difficult for me to judge what the atmosphere was like, but when you hear both coaches, players from both teams and the announcers talking about how it was one of the loudest games ever, I’ll take your work for it. And then my contingent made it home two hours later with sore throats and great moods. That’s what I have been feeling since the Gators fell short and there is a part of me that is surprised. This is Florida. There are no moral victories, no “well at least we came close” feelings at UF. Maybe I am just a child of the Spurrier Era when they beat Alabama all the time instead of losing eight times in a row. It just seems like everybody took this loss better than the Gator Nation better than usual.
- And I do understand that, especially when it looked early like Florida might get run out of its own building. Alabama is what Alabama is and when you get those feelings of “this might be happening” it is different. I think a lot of Gator fans went to the game thinking they might see that difference between their team’s personnel and the best team in the country. Instead, they had to feel like there wasn’t that much and that doesn’t even include UF’s best offensive weapon being sidelined. OK, so I’m saying all this before we start a week of radio shows. It may be noisier than I’ve heard out there.
- I saw several people make this point on Twitter this weekend and it is pretty amazing that Dan Mullen can have a team one year that breaks all sorts of passing yards and the next year have a team that is leading the nation in rushing. And that’s without your most dangerous runner for an entire game. Florida now ranks third in yards per carry. You could see several times in the game on short yardage plays that Mullen trusted his line more than his quarterback, which was kind of the reverse from last season. That says a lot about Mullen’s ability to adapt to the talent around you.
- And that is one reason that Florida fans are allowed to feel something good from Saturday. This is a line of scrimmage league and Florida held Alabama under 100 rushing yards while running for 245 yards. That is winning the line of scrimmage. There was also this – to me there were two major X-factors in the game. One was Will Anderson, the Alabama linebacker, and the other was Anthony Richardson. Anderson was able to play after suffering a knee injury and was all over the field. Richardson’s hamstring was healthy enough to do a flip before the game but not healthy enough to play. Hey, it’s the coach’s decision and I know how tricky they can be. Especially when you aggravate one and are gone for four weeks.
- You have to move on if you are Florida and Tennessee will be the ultimate trap game. Mullen talked about margin for error in the game, but there is none left in the season. Still, everything is out there to play for. The Vols will come in as a dangerous team because they can score and Florida may be 20.5-point favorites, but the Gators have to refocus and hopefully the fans can do that, too. You’re not going to get to the decibels this week, but it should still be plenty loud.
- My players of the week this week after being arguably right on Emory Jones last week will be Dameon Pierce on offense and Brenton Cox on defense. Pierce is running like a man possessed and Cox is showing signs of a guy who can become a dominant force on the line.
- Last week was another average week on The Picks and you can’t make any money breaking even. Another 3-3 against the spread to put me at 13-10-1 for the year. Don’t even talk about my Lock of the Week on the Podcast. I’ve missed three in a row. Need to have a good week:
* Florida is laying a lot of points to the Vols and I always worry about hangovers, so I am going to take the 20.5 points and Tacky Top to cover. Don’t hate me.
* LSU is giving 3.5 at Miss. State and this is a difficult one because Mike Leach’s team has been all over the place. We remember last year’s game, which let us know that the 2020 season was going to be a strange one. I think the Tigers cover.
* Kentucky is a 6-point favorite at South Carolina and there was one thing I noticed Saturday night. Gamecock coach Shane Beamer has all of the mannerisms of Ron Zook. Watch for a bit and you’ll think the same thing. Anyway, Kentucky covers easily.
* Texas A&M is a 6-point favorite over Arkansas in Jerry World and I don’t think anyone is looking at the Aggies as a playoff team right now. Things can change. Love the way Arkansas plays hard. Taking A&M, reluctantly.
* Louisville is a 1-point favorite to extend FSU’s misery. I think the Semis get their first win.
* Notre Dame is a 3-point favorite over Wisconsin and I have watched both of these teams play and am not too enamored with either of them. Wiscy and the three.
- We are through three weeks of the season and already 18 ranked teams have lost games. Now, some of that was preset because we had ranked on ranked, but there is this strong feeling that the College Football Playoff could actually be teams we’re not used to seeing. After a quarter of the season, my potential field has expanded instead of constricting. There are a lot of reasons why but the transfer portal keeps teams from being forced to rebuild slowly. Just a thought.
- Gator fans were pretty worn out Saturday night after giving every vocal chord to the effort, but I am here to take you to a level of relaxation that will allow you to regroup for the next game. Teams don’t quit needing you because the competition drops a notch. So, try this playlist:
* ”Autumn” by Wylder.
* ”Ripple” by Children of Indigo.
* And finally, “Ventura Highway” by America. Now you should be totally relaxed and recharged for another wild Saturday night at the Swamp.