The Back Nine comes at you after a wonderful weekend that included Bat Fest, nine holes with my daughter and some grilling. Oh, and a little football as well.
10. I keep hearing people talk about how Billy Napier should just start playing all of the younger players because what is happening now on defense is painful to watch. That’s easy to say when the wins and losses don’t go on your permanent record. I have never met a coach who doesn’t try to win every game he is coaching in the present. You put the players on the field that you believe give you the best chance to win the game that is being played that day. That’s just the way it works. You don’t get paid $7 million a year to try to win eventually.
11. That said, I am reminded of the time I asked my late father why we weren’t going to see the 1969 opener against Houston. “Florida has two chances – nil and none,” he said. Of course, Florida won that game easily, but it did make me think about it when someone asked me about Florida’s chances against Georgia in The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Georgia is ranked second nationally in total offense and fourth in total defense. The Bulldogs are 22-point favorites and ranked No. 1 in the nation. Here is a stat that will make you shudder – Georgia converts 52.4 percent of its third-down tries. Florida allows 52.6 percent of third downs to be converted. Georgia is ninth in the country. Florida is next to last (Yay! Colorado dropped to last after Saturday’s game). You may want to avert your eyes on this one.
12. But I will be interested to see if anything has changed defensively. I mean, you can’t keep doing the same things over and over again – like playing 12 yards off the ball on third-and-8 – and be statistically one of the worst defenses in the country and keep doing the same things. Unfortunately, Florida is going up against a smart quarterback with plenty of big-game experience and has a tight end room that is the best in the country. It does not bode well.
13. But, hey, it’s why we play the games. Maybe Anthony Richardson is the opposite of what he was against these guys last year. Maybe Florida brings the wheel route back since Georgia could not cover it two years ago. Maybe Florida does to Georgia what Georgia used to always do to Florida pre-Spurrier. Maybe Georgia’s bus breaks down on the way to the game. We have seen a wild and wacky football season so far and maybe this is another crazy chapter. Hey, at least I am trying here.
14. It was certainly crazy on Saturday with Texas A&M dropping to 3-4, LSU like the offense it showed against Florida was not a fluke (I was wrong about that) and Miami losing again. Brian Kelly seems to have it going in Baton Rouge, but rushing the field? After beating Ole Miss? Man, I thought those fans were better than that. Well, actually, I didn’t. Greg Sankey and the SEC fined LSU $250,000 for a third offense, but he and the league presidents need to put some teeth into the punishment to make it stop. I would recommend the loss of a home game the following season.
15. Under the radar story you probably weren’t paying attention to, but Charlotte fired Will Healy after he lost for the 12th time in his last 14 games. The athletic director up there is our old friend Mike Hill, the former associate AD at Florida, and it will be interesting to see who he hires.
16. Congratulations to the Astros and the Phillies, who will play a month from now in the World Series. Well, not a month, but it seems like a long time to wait (Friday) after a game every day for our viewing pleasure. The NL East has a chance to have three of the last four World Champions and it would be three different teams. It is the SEC of MLB.
17. It is difficult to explain how Dr. Football could be comfortably over .500 on The Picks going into Saturday and under .500 when the dust had cleared. But when you go 0-5, that’s what happens. It’s 19-20 for the season and going to H-E-double-hockey-sticks in a handbasket. We need a big weekend:
* Florida is getting 22 points against Georgia and we knew it would be a big spread but not this big. The reasons are pretty obvious. Georgia is really good. Florida is not. But 22 points? Seems like a lot, but these guys in Vegas have cable. They’ve seen Florida’s defense this season. I’ll take Georgia.
* Arkansas is giving four at Auburn and it seems that Sam Pittman is the right guy to put Bryan Harsin out of his misery. He’ll do it gently, holding his head while he lowers him to the ground, the way NFL refs expect you to sack Tom Brady. Hoggies and give the points.
* Ohio State is a 15-point favorite at Penn State and this looks to me as another example of how this is a one-game season for the Buckeyes. Too much offense is a good reason to take OSU and give the points.
* Tennessee is back at home and if it feels as if they’ve been at home for every big game, that’s pretty accurate. They have a schedule not unlike Florida’s with only one home game the rest of the season after this one. Take the Vols and give the points.
* Ole Miss is kicking its wounds, but Texas A&M is beyond the wound-licking stage after another loss. The Rebels are giving three despite a brutal second half last week. I think A&M bounces back.
18. I’m not a big fan of Halloween, but I like all of these songs that you can apply for the next playlist:
* “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon.
* ”Psycho Killer” by Talking Heads.
* ”Zombie” by The Cranberries.