Florida Gators Vs. Jacksonville State Gamecocks; 10th Win Is On The Horizon

There are milestones each team sets for the season. Steve Spurrier made sure the Florida Gators’ goal was to get to Atlanta and the SEC Championship Game. That was goal number one. Following that came the goal of playing for a National Championship. Spurrier’s Gators teams made good on that first goal numerous times, so did Urban Meyer’s squads. In year two, Will Muschamp’s Gators won’t make it to Atlanta, but at 9-1 (7-1 SEC) this season has been a step in the right direction and Florida now sits one victory away from another goal.

Jacoby Brissett - Florida Gators

I don’t run the Florida Gators’ football program (I think I’ve mentioned that before), but I have a goal of my own. It’s not a lone goal independent of the other two because it lends to their accomplishment. That goal is to get to 10 wins. A conveniently neat number, 10 wins makes a season stand out. It gives you a measure of success. If you can win 10 out of 12, 13 or 14 games, you’re doing something right. If you can get to those 10 without the help of a conference championship or a bowl game, even better. At 9-1, the Gators have a chance to reach that milestone in only game number 11.

That wasn’t expected at the beginning of the season. 10 wins was a possibility, but not necessarily by game 11. Many–myself included–thought a 9-3 regular season was in the cards with a chance of one win worse at 8-4. 10 wins could have come, but the Gators would have needed the added advantage of a second-tier bowl against a middle-of-the-road Big Ten opponent. Then the season began to unfold and that goal came to light quicker than we could have imagined. The Gators were 7-0 before we knew it and were in the SEC Championship Game hunt right up until last week. At 9-1, this team has had a phenomenal season, even if at times you really had to wonder how that record could possibly be what it was.

On Saturday, the Gators face their first non-FBS opponent of the season–the Jacksonville State Gamecocks. Florida has already accomplished a lot this season in terms of their record, and looks to accomplish more on Saturday. The Gators have a chance to go 7-0 at home for only the third time in school history. They are only the 14th Florida squad to go 9-1 in their first 10 games and can become only the 7th to go 10-1 in their first 11. There’s some prestigious company among those other six seasons: four of those Gators’ teams played for a national title (three won) and another finished the season 13-1. And the Gators have done that this season while facing the nation’s toughest schedule.

Jacksonville State is not the Gators’ toughest opponent of the season, but Louisiana-Lafayette wasn’t supposed to be either. We all saw what happened last week and I’m fairly certain not a single one of us could handle something like that again. At this point in the season, we want Brent Pease’s 50 points more than he might. In order to do so though, the Gators’ offense will be in the hands of the backup quarterback. Jeff Driskel is out; Jacoby Brissett is in. The (necessary-due-to-injury) change is intriguing and there isn’t a single fan that isn’t somewhat curious about Brissett’s ability. Do the Gators open up the offense and go for broke? Or do they play it safe and give us another win typical of all the rest we’ve seen in 2012?

Saturday marks another test. I’d like to say that test doesn’t involve getting the win because that’s guaranteed, but…well…that doesn’t seem like the right thing to say this season. The real test is how the offense performs. Perhaps most important is how the offensive line performs. The line looked much better early in the season, but has regressed the last few weeks. There are times (too many times) where linemen are turning around to watch Driskel get sacked or running backs get tackled behind the line of scrimmage. A very good defensive team takes on the Gators in only one week’s time and all of that has to stop. The key to the offense starts with the line. As green as you may want to believe Driskel (or Brissett) is, no quarterback can work miracles without time. The challenge is on the line. Get that 10th win and get the offense going.

I’ll enjoy my Saturday; I always do. I want to enjoy it more though. I want last week’s maniacal laugh to turn into a joyous one. First though, I want win number 10. Go Gators. Just win.

The Long Snapper: September 11, 2009

Suddenly everyone seems to be in full panic mode about the lack of depth behind Aaron Hernandez. Yes, Hernandez could go down. And yes, the other tight ends on Florida’s roster are far from experienced. But why do we have to keep reading about this? The season has started. There’s not much Florida can do at this point. Let’s just hope Hernandez stays healthy and move on. It seems as if everyone just realized there was no experienced backup behind Hernandez.

Troy at Florida, broadcast information.

Fans be warned: it’s going to be hot!

Expect to see more defensive schemes against Troy as Florida prepares for the SEC schedule. The Trojans throw the ball more than most teams and the Gators are preparing to defend the pass. We should see more of what we saw last season from the Florida defense. More passing by the opposing team means more interceptions and more hits. Oh the hits. The glorious, wonderful hits.

And the answer is no, I won’t ever get tired of posting this clip.

A few former Gators are in the news. Cameron Newton threw five touchdowns and ran for another helping Blinn College destroy Southwest Prep 65-6. Blinn is now #1 in the junior college rankings. And Torrey Davis will be back in Florida as Jacksonville State (it’s in Alabama, not Florida) faces FSU.

B.J. Daniels, get excited.

You can head over to the USF Sports Bulletin and participate in a live blog/chat during the USF/Western Kentucky game. Something I’ve thought of doing here from time to time, but I talk to myself enough as it is.

Jim Leavitt stopped using Twitter and so have the USF players. At least publically.

Jason Pierre-Paul, the debut.

The Michigan receiver with a historic jersey number and more than memorable name, Junior Hemingway, is questionable for the Wolverines game against Notre Dame. Hemingway caught five passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns in Michigan’s season opener. Definitely a fan of Junior performing well with the #21 Michigan jersey on.

Matt Barkley gets a huge test early in his career and it may be a good thing for the signal caller. Whether Barkley gets out of Columbus alive or not, playing in an environment that hostile will help him gets any jitters he may have out early in his college career. And if he crashes and burns, we may be one step closer to seeing Mitch Mustain! One can dream.

Seriously? We’re debating which top five team should be ranked higher in only week two?

Sigh. Bobby. Bobby. Bobby. As someone who has a deep hatred for your team, take this however you want, but many would agree. It’s time Bobby. You’re one of the more accomplished coaches in the history of the game and despite the fact you coach my favorite school’s biggest rival, I appreciate your contribution to the sport. But it’s time to move on. It’s time to hang up your straw hat and your numerous pairs of Oakleys. You look lost. On the field and in front of the press after the game. Your teams aren’t playing to level people have come to be accustomed with at FSU. It’s time Bobby. It’s time.

What to Watch – Week 2

Week two has already begun. Georgia Tech survived Clemson, who was determined to make a game out of it. And tonight, Colorado visits Toledo. I have mixed feelings about the Buffaloes. Darrell Scott was one of my recruiting man-crushes a couple of years ago. He had offers from every big program and decided to follow his using, Josh Smith, to Colorado. Smith has since transferred and Scott’s career hasn’t been nearly what it was expected to be. Even if it is only his second season. Scott carried the ball one time in the Buffaloes season opener and has said he wants to become more involved in the offense. We’ll see if that happens against Toledo.

Here are the games you should be watching on Saturday:

Syracuse @ Penn State – 12:00 – The Greg Paulus Experiment wasn’t half bad in game one. But Syracuse still lost. Penn State wins this one big. Paulus looks like he can still play despite years off, but none of that matters if you can’t collect wins.

Troy @ Florida – 12:21 – Ah the SEC Game of the Week start time. Not 12:00. Not 12:30. But 12:21. What is this, this Super Bowl? I was happy to find out the station I get this game on in my area is also offered in HD, so that’s two-for-two in terms of high def Gator games this year. I don’t think I can watch football in standard def anymore. At least not on the big screen. It’s too frustrating. We are spoiled at this point.

Notre Dame @ Michigan – 3:30Charlie Weis vs. Rich Rodriguez. A classic matchup for years, the intrigue is back. Even if it’s small. Although not a matchup of powers as it may have been in the past, it is back to being a definite watch. Notre Dame’s offense looks very good this year. Michigan’s offense looks like it may be on track. Both teams rolled in their season openers. No telling which way this one could go, but at the moment, the Irish appear to be a step ahead.

UCLA @ Tennessee – 4:00 – The Vols offense was running full speed during their first game, but now they get more of a real opponent. There is a theory that you cheer for your fellow conference teams. Or you cheer for the teams you play to win so your strength of schedule improves. But if you are the #1 team in the nation, why should you do either? Florida is in a position to go to the national title game as long as they keep winning. If a school in a conference like the SEC goes 12-0, then they’ll be in it. I don’t need to follow the unwritten rules of cheering for teams some think I’m supposed to cheer for. And this is Tennessee we’re talking about.

Jacksonville State @ FSU – 6:00 – This game isn’t on any station in my area, but it’s worth tuning into if you can if only because One Eyed Willy has this as his upset special. Of course at this point, what would be the upset?

Vanderbilt @ LSU – 7:00 – I can’t decide if LSU is really that good. They’re LSU so first thought is to rank them in the top half of the polls. But I’m not so sure. They have talent equaled by only a few other teams in the nation, I’m just wondering if we’re a year or two away from them putting it all together again.

South Carolina @ Georgia – 7:00 – Although it may seem the Bulldogs have the upper hand in this series, the games have been surprisingly close over recent years. Have it on, because it could be another good one.

Mississippi State @ Auburn – 7:00 – Yes, another 7:00 SEC matchup. I didn’t get to see Dan Mullen’s offense in motion in week one. Now I get to and I’ll have this one on to see if he can even remotely replicate what he did at Florida.

South Florida @ Western Kentucky – 7:30 – Another Bulls game on the Bright House Sports Network. Watching it won’t be pretty and many of you not interested won’t give it a chance. But USF fans will watch eagerly hoping the Bulls get a faster start than they did last week.

USC @ Ohio State – 8:00 – The big game of the weekend was a virtual blowout last season. After watching Terrelle Pryor and company against Navy, it could be the same. A true freshman at quarterback for USC and playing at home should level the playing field for Ohio State, but it’s hard to envision the Buckeyes having the speed on defense to stop the Trojans.