Monday, November 16, 2009

I can't tell you why

Not to go all Chris Berman on you, but Florida's win over South Carolina had lyrics from an Eagles tune rolling around in my head Saturday. "We make it harder than it has to be, and I can't tell you why..." Such is life for this year's version of Gator football. Three missed field goals, two bombs that Riley Cooper gets his hands on but doesn't catch, running Tebow into the pile on 4th and 2 when everyone knows it's coming even though your stuff on the outside is working... and still they keep winning. A few other thoughts from Saturday's game:

1. If I had suggested here that David Nelson was emerging as a relevant figure in UF's offense around the same time last year, most people would have dismissed it as silliness. He went on to catch TDs in the SEC and national title games. With that in mind, keep an eye on Omarius Hines. Two catches for 20 yards may not seem like much, but the last two weeks he has been seeing the field earlier in the game. The idea Hines has just one fewer reception than Deonte Thompson is ridiculous, but is also completely true. UF has to find more weapons, and Hines might be one place they look.

2. Xavier Nixon is going to be a very good left tackle for Florida, and the coaching staff didn't start him for the first time in their last road game by accident. They needed to see if he could handle that kind of situation before getting to the Georgia Dome. Nixon did fine, and I suspect he'll be the guy at that spot the rest of the way.

3. Charlie Strong's a terrific defensive coordinator, but I have no idea why Florida went so blitz crazy in the first half. If there's ever been a time UF should have anticipated being able to use its front four to generate pressure, going against the Gamecock offensive line should have been it. By blitzing and making it obvious they were doing so, they played into Spurrier's hands. He loves it when people blitz him, and Garcia's mobile enough to make plays against it. It was a puzzling decision by a staff that normally makes good ones.

As for the rest of college football, this continues to be the least inspired season I can remember. Every week I hope we have some good games on the schedule, and each week it turns out we don't. The only game with two ranked teams this week is #25 Cal at #17 Stanford. That would be the same Stanford that destroyed USC, scoring 55 points that included a 2 point conversion try up 48-21 just to rub it in. As wild as that was, there just haven't been enough of those kind of moments this year. That leads to time spent talking about other stuff like three Tennessee players being arrested on armed robbery charges. By the way, have you heard about the name of the Twitter account for accused Vol Mike Edwards? How's RealGeniusMike sound? Sometimes the jokes write themselves.

Florida basketball got started with one of their typical cruise control games, beating Stetson soundly. I'm looking forward to seeing how things come together for them next week after two more tune up games. I'm not too crazy about the traditional U2 opening being cast aside for individual music choices, although not having been there yesterday I'll have to hear more about how this worked out. "Where the Streets Have No Name" has been a staple of the Gator hoops experience for years now, and if it was good enough for the back to back NCAA Champs to use it would seem to be adequate for back to back NIT teams as well.

The Jaguars won yesterday because when the game was on the line, they made a smart choice. Maurice Jones-Drew kneeled down at the Jets one rather than score a touchdown that would have given the ball back to New York. It's a brilliant decision, one other teams would be wise to consider. For example, had Tampa Bay not scored a touchdown on first and goal late in their game with the Dolphins but instead waited until third down, they probably win. Control of the football is everything - some teams don't value the ball enough. On the other hand, Bill Belichick turned into Marty Mornhinweg because he didn't want to give up the ball to the Colts late in a game and lost.

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