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Friday, October 29, 2010

Behind enemy lines: Florida edition

This week we turn to Pat Dooley, the longtime writer and columnist for The Gainesville Sun. Dooley has been around Florida football for years, and has seen a lot of Georgia-Florida games. According to the bio on his Twitter page, Dooley believes in "background vocals, a college football playoff, Marriott upgrades, baby back ribs and long, slow, wet tugs on draft beer."

So if you see Pat in Jacksonville this weekend, buy him a beer, debate the BCS with him, ask what it was like to cover Steve Spurrier and Ron Zook - and thank him for answering the following questions:

SE: Let’s get this one out of the way first: The Chris Rainey situation. How is Meyer’s handling of it being viewed around Gainesville, and by Gator fans in general?

PD: Oh I think most Gator fans are fine with it. It’s not like they haven’t seen this kind of thing before. I think nationally and around the Southeast he’s getting killed. I don’t agree with it. I don’t think (Rainey) should’ve played the rest of the year myself.

I think the average Gator fan is wondering if he’ll make a difference.

SE: So what do you make of Urban Meyer’s supposed offensive overhaul? Will they switch to the veer, or the single wing?

PD: I think they’re only going to give the ball to players that have been arrested. But no, there won’t be anything really noticeable.

SE: One of Meyer’s biggest concerns is getting bigger run plays. Will that be helped simply by the presence of Rainey, Jeff Demps and Mike Gilleslee, or is the problem bigger than that?

PD: Yeah I mean you’ve gotta get them in space, first of all. And that’s been part of their problem, not having those guys. Rainey is the one guy that can make them miss. If you take it from a strictly football standpoint, he’s been a big loss for them.

SE: What about quarterbacks John Brantley, and Trey Burton, how will they rotate.

PD: I think it’ll be 70-30, Brantley and then Burton. I don’t think you can tell a guy that’s waited around for three years (Brantley) ... that we’re going to bench you because we’ve given you an offense that’s unworkeable.

SE: Why do you say unworkeable?

PD: Because he’s a drop-back passer and they’re running Tebow plays for them.

SE: So do people talk a lot about Cameron Newton and what might have been?

PD: They do, and this is the truth: When Cameron left here, no one made a noise. … And Cam Newton, I’ll be honest with you, wasn’t that good when he was here. He was a talented, athletic kid, but he couldn’t throw the ball, he was erratic. But it wasn’t an 'Oh My God he’s leaving.' Now of course in hindsight, everyone’s like, 'Why didn’t they keep him?'

SE: Everyone’s talking about the Gator offense, but what about defense: Do they miss Charlie Strong?

I think where they really miss Charlie Strong is he was the guy who would get on him if they weren’t playing well. They have some guys that in my opinion are playing very selfishly, and there’s nobody to get in their face and tell them that.

SE: Two-part defensive question: How capable is Florida of keeping A.J. Green in check? And if the Gators do focus on Green, how vulnerable does that leave them to the running game and the middle of the field in general?

PD: I think they’re vulnerable to the running game no matter what they do. Because they’re not a physical defensive front seven. Secondary-wise, they started out great, then when (LSU receiver) Terrence Toliver torched them, they lost their confidence. They’ve played their heavy package against running teams and done a decent job of that. And then all of a sudden against Mississippi State, they couldn’t do anything. So they’re hard to figure.

SE: So what are the two or three keys to victory for Florida?

PD: Number one is win the special teams battle, which they haven’t been doing this year. … And the other thing is the turnovers. To me it’s just that simple, special teams and turnovers, the things that coaches talk about and fans ignore, those are the things. … I don’t think either of these teams are good enough to win just on their own, they need breaks.

SE: Finally, what’s the view on Mark Richt and the Georgia program from down there?

PD: Well, I think the average person down here has a lot of respect for Mark as a person, but they wonder why they haven’t been able to do better against Florida. When he lost twice to Zook, I think he went down in their eyes then, and he could’ve lost a third time when he was a lame duck. But everyone knows he’s still a major improvement on what they had the previous decades.

(Richt) does have the trifecta going against him: Not only the Georgia coach, but played at Miami and was at Florida State for years. But people do like him, they just wonder why he hasn't done better against them.


Anonymous said...

David used to say the food served in the Gator Bowl pressbox was the worst in the SEC so we want to know if he is right.

Willb said...

Win the turnover battle, and win on special teams? Those just so happen to be ga's specialties this year. Everything about this game is setting up for ga to win.

If we can't beat fla this year then when can we?

Anonymous said...

Great coverage Seth - these behind enemy lines pieces are my favorite blogs.

CSA said...

Pat doesn't sound too confident about Florida's chances. I like it.

IveyLeaguer said...

Good stuff, Seth, Dooley is the guy at Florida.

But Dooley misspoke once. Florida wasn't looking down on Georgia for decades before Richt took over. One decade maybe.

Before 1989, it was Georgia who wondered for decades what would happen if Florida ever got a coach. I was one of those who was happy to have wondered for all those years.

Anonymous said...

SE: So what do you make of Urban Meyer’s supposed offensive overhaul? Will they switch to the veer, or the single wing?

PD: I think they’re only going to give the ball to players that have been arrested. But no, there won’t be anything really noticeable.

That has got to be the best quote EVER for someone out of Gainesville!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately the same can be said for our team.

Anonymous said...

Any word on when UGA/AUB might be played on 11/13, Seth?

Seth Emerson said...

Regarding the game time:
There's a good chance it'll be at 3:30 on CBS. I'd almost bank on it if Georgia wins today. If not, it will likely be an ESPN game at night or noon.

Anonymous said...

This is the best Behind Enemy Lines yet. I feel like these are honest, unbiased answers. I have a lot of respect for this Dooley guy.

Good work Seth, great questions.

CSA said...

I can't be surprised because you're supposed to be giving an objective, unbiased look at our team, but I can't believe you predicted a Florida win today, Seth!

Though I will say, it is likely to happen if the Bulldogs aren't on point in all facets of the game. These Gators are hungry for a win.