Yes, I am alive. And yes, my love of the Florida Gators hasn’t died. It has just been dormant on this one particular display vehicle. While active on other mediums, The Bull Gator site has been left out in the cold. My name is Joel and I haven’t posted anything on this site in 63 days.
In that time, the Gators have marched (if that’s one way of putting it) to a 4-1 start behind an elite defense, an impressive after-thought turned hero of a quarterback and a schedule that’s about to take a turn into the realm of increased difficulty. I’d like to say I’m pleased with the season so far, and I am, but I’m also cautious and worried about what’s right around the corner. The defense gives me hope, while the offense has my wondering if it can keep up with the scoring prowess of some of the teams on the horizon.
As the Gators continue the 2013 season, I’d like to say my contributions to the blog part of The Bull Gator network will increase, but I honestly can’t promise that. Oddly enough, my first season as a football season ticket holder coincides with the lowest post output since this site’s inception. But the love is there and is never-ending. To use a phrase that honestly makes me laugh just a little every time I hear it, I bleed orange and blue.
For now, I’m back if for one post in the middle of a season with plenty to look forward to. Enjoy the thoughts of someone that has been observing from the sidelines (or, more accurately, from 21 rows up).
Speaking of hope and looking forward, I ever so briefly looked forward to what No. 6 would bring to the Gators this season. His contributions were limited and are now over as it stands for 2013, but that quickly brings me to another No. 6 and a player that is fast becoming one of the nation’s best.
The first that I’m referring to is of course quarterback Jeff Driskel. Mere plays before Driskel went down for the season, I had the pleasure of listening to a Florida fan eloquently tell me why he didn’t believe No. 6 was the answer at quarterback. However, it wasn’t eloquent and it wasn’t just to me. This individual—a passionate fan to say the least—was in his 50s and telling our entire section just how bad Driskel was. He yelled and screamed until he was red-faced and his wife was tugging on his arm telling him to calm down. He was visibly pleased when Driskel went down and more so when he headed to the tunnel. It was yet another appearance by the type of fan I’ll never understand.
College sports are different than professional sports. We could debate pay-for-play and just how different or similar they really are for days if not weeks, months or years, but I’m focusing on one aspect. That aspect is the stage of life at which the players are. They may legally be adults, but they are still kids. If you choose to yell at them and tell them, and I quote, how much they “suck,” (I supposed that should actually be “SUCK” to attempt to convey the volume at which it was yelled) that’s your right, but it’s akin to telling a recruit you hope he fails miserably at life when he commits to your team’s rival.
Let’s be clear, I too have been frustrated with Driskel’s play at times, just as I was with the quarterback that came before him—John Brantley. But a line needs to be drawn somewhere and that line is being in your 50s and yelling at a college kid and continuing to do so as he leaves the field injured. It’s, well, pathetic. Let’s just move on, shall we?
The other No. 6 is Dante Fowler, Jr. According to the expert statisticians that keep the numbers, Fowler is tied for third on the team in solo tackles, is fifth in total tackles, first in tackles for loss and sacks, and third in quarterback hurries. His play has also seemed to spark that of Ronald Powell who is second in sacks and first in quarterback hurries. The two have made their mistakes, but that’s okay because overall they are a big part of what has become a great defense. Seeing the two together on the field is scary at times, in a good way. Fowler has been a spark and I know I’m not the only fan that is excited to witness his rise. He, among others, is one I single out every time I watch. I want more of Fowler and he seems to be delivering.
While Fowler’s play could have been predicted, Tyler Murphy’s was not. We expected little from Murphy; maybe some mop-up duty, but nothing beyond that. Instead, we got another spark, this time on the offensive side of the ball and this time sneaking in to Cinderella territory.
If he had enough attempts to qualify, Murphy’s completion percentage of 72.2% would be seventh in the nation, ahead of Teddy Bridgewater, A.J. McCarron and Johnny Manziel. His 9.82 yards per attempts would be good for 12th. His rating of 181.5 would be seventh, just edging out Aaron Murray and Marcus Mariota. Murphy isn’t doing a good job of filling in for the injured Driskel; he’s doing a phenomenal job. In fact, he may not be filling in at all; he may be staking his claim to remain the starter in 2014.
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves though, let’s remember there is a lot of season left and what remains starts on Saturday with LSU and a trip to Baton Rouge. If we wanted to see how Murphy would respond to a true test, we’re about to get our somewhat sadistic wish.
On one hand, the Tigers have given up an average of 30.3 points in their three SEC games. On the other, they have scored 45. Murphy will be going up against a team he will be able to generate points against, but one that he may also have to keep up with. Florida claims the best defense LSU has faced this season, but the Tigers possess the best offense the Gators have had to stop. Something has to give and Murphy is the one leading the side that needs to generate more points than however many it is that LSU ends up with.
It’s not all on Murphy, but he does have a large and important part in the outcome of this one. We can count many things on the plus side of the coin including Murphy’s confidence on the field, the calmness with which he plays, his elusiveness and what he’s done so far. But there’s also the other side, which is that this is LSU and the next level of challenge. We should all be excited to see how Murphy handles it. I know I am.
On to the LSU game we go, with a love for the Gators, Fowler, Jr., Murphy and a roster that continues to surprise us in both good ways and bad. This is the best time of the year, when the schedule is at its peak and the games mean a little more. SEC wins hold an increased importance and losses are devastating. I don’t have to tell that to the players or coaches and I certainly don’t have to remind any of you. It’s just win time and, oh yeah, Go Gators!