The Back Nine comes at you after a crazy weekend in college football and a couch potato’s dream on Sunday.
10 First of all, I don’t want to hear it. I’m getting way too much of the sentiment that Florida made the Tennessee game closer than most fans thought it would be and – as a result – they can live with it. Sounds a little like the Alabama talk last year. Florida lost and I was among those who believed they were going to get killed. But I also kept saying that, hey, it’s college football. Unscripted, much like Florida’s defense. Billy Napier made it clear that there are no moral victories at UF and he is dead right. And while he has little to do with the problems of the past, the numbers are what the numbers are and Florida – the mighty Gators – are 2-10 in the last 12 SEC games. I never thought I would see that happen in my lifetime and it’s not a pleasant feeling.
11. I certainly did not think that Tennessee would put up 576 yards against a defense with Ventrell Miller playing his butt off. That was the eighth-most yards that Florida has given up in a game in the history of the school (a lot of these players were around for the record 684 against Ole Miss in 2020). I wrote about why I believe the defense is so bad for my Sunday Hash on GatorsWire, but I can give you a condensed version here – they recruited and developed poorly under the previous staff. The bottom line is that only one team in the long history of Florida football has given up more than 400 yards a game in a season and that was in the COVID year. This team is giving up 424.1 per game so far this season. Florida is 106th in the country in total defense. No matter the depth issues, that is unacceptable and it’s time to put some of those underachieving veterans on the bench.
12. At least we can stop the dissection of Anthony Richardson for a week. You want to know a big reason why he played so well? Check out his footwork in the pocket. It was a drastic improvement over the previous two weeks.
13. I totally understand why Billy Napier went for two points after the TD that made it 38-27. Florida was being aggressive at every turn because Napier knew his defense could not stop Hendon Hooker and the Tennessee offense. The Gators wanted to try everything to win the game in regulation and not take it to overtime. But I will go to my grave believing in math and believing that was a mistake. I know that Napier believes in analytics, but then why would you insist on returning kickoffs? You are averaging 16.3 yards a kickoff return with four penalties on 12 returns. Don’t the analytics say to take a knee? If you know you can’t stop the Vols, why call a timeout with 1:28 to play in the first half?
14. At the same time, this guy is going to get it turned around. I fully believe that. If you don’t, you are entitled to your opinion. But one reason Florida is in this mess is because of the constant changing of coaches that has put UF on a weird roller-coaster.
15. It could be worse. You could have lost to the other Tennessee (Middle) in front of a crowd of family and friends. Or you could have lost like Missouri did on a missed chip shot field goal and then a fumble into the end zone in OT. Or like Arkansas did on a field goal that hit the top of the upright, which I have never seen before. To be honest, it was a glorious day for college football even if the results were not what I wanted to see.
16. Before I get to predictions for this week, a shout out to the President’s Cup team for winning in Charlotte. If you love golf like I do, that was riveting stiff. If you don’t, it was still better than watching New Orleans vs. Carolina, which was the only game televised in the 1 p.m. slot. Yuk.
17. Another OK week on The Picks where Dr. Football went 3-2 to go to 12-8 for the season. October is going to be very interesting. There are no odds on the Florida game this week, but we have five that are ranked team vs. ranked team:
* Wake Forest is getting three at FSU, which is ranked for the first time in four years. This is where FSU’s schedule gets a little tougher (although you certainly have to give the Semis credit for going 4-0 even with a soft September). I’ll take FSU and give the field goal.
* Kentucky is getting 4.5 at Ole Miss, which is one of four teams that are 4-0 and flying under the radar because of who they have played (the others — and this is just my opinion — are Washington, Minnesota, and Syracuse, although all four are now ranked). I’ll take the Cats and the points.
* Alabama opened as a 14.5-point favorite on the road at Arkansas. It already went up to 16. Arky has to be in the jar after the way they lost that game to Texas A&M, but 16 is too many. I’ll take the PIGS (which was the hat John Daly wore to the game).
* N.C. State is getting eight points at Clemson. I like the Pack, but I think Clemson wins the game and sets up that huge one two weeks later against FSU.
* Oklahoma State is getting 2.5-points at Baylor, and this is the one I have no idea about. So, I’ll just take the home team and give the points.
18. I really like the movie that Ben Stiller directed and starred in that old people like me use as a cliché. It’s called The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (from a James Thurber story) in 2013 and one of the big reasons I love it is because of one of the best soundtracks ever. So, for today’s playlist, three songs from that movie:
* “Lake Michigan” by Rogue Wave, a really underrated band.
* ”Far Away” by Junip.
* ”Wake Up” by Arcade Fire. I used this as my ringtone for several years. It went off during the SEC Tournament press conference of Frank Martin one year in Atlanta. He liked the song.