Pat Dooley’s Back Nine (Oct. 9)

The Back Nine comes at you after waking up to the first hint of fall. Our three-day winter could be right around the corner.

 10. The team Florida beat in The Swamp on Saturday was not good. It was not even as good as the team that beat Florida in Nashville last year. And it is doubtful this Vanderbilt team will make it to bowl eligibility. But that’s not what Saturday was about. It was about giving the fans a night to feel a little better and talk some of them off the ledge for another week. This Florida team is still a work in progress and by progress I mean that we may not be pleased with what is coming up, especially with only two of the last six games being played in The Swamp.

11. I know everyone wants Florida to be back and to get there faster than the hare rather than taking the tortoise’s pace. Billy Napier’s plan could use some Red Bull, but maybe that’s what went wrong with the last three coaches. They tried to build so fast they forgot to lay the foundation. All three had success, winning three East titles and Will Muschamp nearly playing for a national title. But the house of cards eventually tumbles to the ground. Slow and steady doesn’t always win the race, but it can.

12. Still, it was nice to see the other team make the special teams mistakes, drop a touchdown pass, be unable to run the ball and get stopped on three fourth downs. Vandy made the same mistakes Florida does on the road. That’s what happens to thin teams (and we saw how thin Florida can be with so many players out). We are halfway through the season and still not sure what the Florida identity is. But we also know the first half of the schedule was important, but the second half is how this team will be remembered.

13. It has not gone well for McNeese and Charlotte since we saw them last. Their combined 1-10 record means the Gators played six teams with a combined record of 16-18 in the first half of the season. It certainly changes in the second half, as Florida will face a half-dozen teams with a combined record of 24-10 and that includes Arkansas’ 2-4. The bottom line is for this team to go bowling they need to beat the Razorbacks at home and steal one on the road and, to be honest, South Carolina is the best chance for that to happen. On the other hand, there is the taste we can’t shake because we have seen this team on the road.

14. Has the AP poll been released for college basketball yet? Oh, that’s the college football poll? Kentucky, Kansas, UCLA, Duke, North Carolina and Louisville would make one heck of a great pre-conference tournament. But for the first time, they are all ranked in the same AP poll in football. And deservedly so.

15. I make a lot of predictions. Maybe too many because I picked a different winner here in the Back Nine in the LSU game (disconcerting signal penalties sold separately) than I did on my podcast. And then I won one pick and lost the other in the ultimate “bad beats” scenario when LSU scored on the last play of the game. Anyway. Dr. Football went 3-2 on The Picks and is 18-12-1 for the year. If you pick enough different winners, you eventually wind up with one:

  • Florida is getting two points at South Carolina and I won’t pick Florida away from The Swamp until the Gators prove to me they have changed. I’ll take the Gamies.
  • Oregon is getting three points in the big game at Washington as the world re-discovers Michael Penix Jr. Huskies minus the points.
  • Miami is getting 3.5 at North Carolina and a lot will depend on whether that Miami team has recovered from the most amazing gift the Hurricanes gave Georgia Tech. The only negative was I had turned the channel. Miami and the points.
  • Missouri is getting 2.5 at Kentucky with both teams coming off tough losses. Take the home team and give the points.
  • USC is getting 2.5 in its annual game against Notre Dame. I don’t think the Irish have enough offense, so take the Trojans.

16. I always flinch when someone says that a poor performance is “not indicative of who we are as a team.” No, but it’s part of who you are as a team when you get manhandled like Dallas did. In other words, you don’t want to hit that rusty 1-iron, but it’s always in the bag and can come out when you least expect it. Naw, that analogy doesn’t work. San Francisco owns Dallas. There.

17. It was kind of a weird weekend for the volleyball team getting swept by Auburn on Friday night at home and then sweeping Alabama on Sunday. It’s a struggle right now for Florida to play with consistency without its best player, but the Gators are still battling.

18. This was a quiet weekend for me because my wife is out of town, and I miss her. So, I put together this playlist together:

  • “Cool About It” by boygenius.

  • “The Big Country” by Talking Heads.

  • And for an old one, “Green River” by Creedence.

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