It’s Florida-Georgia Week! Yaaaaaay! Being from Jacksonville this was one of the games I loved to play in as I grew up dreaming of kicking the Dogs. It’s Dogs. I can spell. Back then this game had an emphasis on the terms “COCKTAIL” and “PARTY” that put this current shell of a libation congregation to shame. The tailgating used to be as hard hitting as the play in the stadium. In some corners of the grounds it still remains so. I would spew the locations and incidents witnessed but I have been sworn to secrecy via penalty of death and banning of admittance. Anyway, you can call the place what you want. It’s the Gator Bowl to me. You ask me to this day and I still say Gator Bowl. You correct me, I still say Gator Bowl.
The bad part about this rivalry is that my memories were built on as much hate of the Mutts as love for the Gators. I won’t hash up old wounds but it is accurate to say that my two least favorite players to this day are still Hershel Walker and Lindsay Scott. I met Hershel during my limited time in Philadelphia. He was at the end of his playing days and unbeknownst to me so was I. I hit him playfully and in real circumstances every chance I got during camp as most vets were playing brother-in-law (avoiding unnecessary contact). One day he just asked me, “What’s your problem?” My response, “You’re a good guy but you know I can’t stand you because you’re a MUTT!” He laughed as I told him of how he hurt my feeling growing up. Unfortunately, he was one of the nicest people I have ever met and the unnecessary contact ended quickly as I needed my check. I got in my childish shots though.
I call this nationally known but regional hate match a South Park monetary term: “FIDDY.” As in 50/50. My first two years we lost. In 1988 we lost, 26-3, featuring a display offensive ineptitude all too reminiscent of last week’s debacle in Missouri. Yeah I said some harsh things last week. AS I TOO <in my infomercial voice> have felt the pain of offensive ineptitude leading to defensive collapse. In that 1988 game our highly ranked defense was run over and around and through by Misters Rodney Hampton, Tim Worley and Keith Henderson. In 1999 we lost another offensive barn burner, 17-10, but it was really close at the end. I watched that tape a couple of years ago and was wondering, “who the hell taught me to catch?” It was the last time we lost to the mangy Mutts thanks to the inking of Darth Visor and the Fun and Gun death star (I love whoever came up with that). Losing to the Dogs was not happening again as we put the leash on them, 38-7 and 45-13, with more balls in the air than at a circus coupled with a pretty good Erricht Rhett/Willie McClendon rushing attack.
What did we learn from the above? All the old Gators know this well. The 1988 and 1989 Gator team had more talent than the 1990-91 teams. The NFL Draft pretty much said so especially when you had a guy that might be the G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time) of NFL running backs (Emmitt) departing early. Injuries? Don’t talk to me about injuries and missing personnel. During the first two years of 1988, 1989 and some of 1990 we had more injuries, suspension and AWOLS than the absence of the forward pass in our current offense. However, the next few years we had a new outlook that turned things around. It was a real simple philosophy and everyone knows the basics of it. <In my high-pitched Spurrier voice> “We’re gonna toss it around a ‘lil bit, get after ‘em on defense and hope the good Lord smiles on the Gators today.”
Translation: “We are coming to kick your ass in every phase of the game and it’s up to you to prove to us why we can’t.“
Staying on subject, I got a call from a friend asking why I hated Champ (Will Muschamp) so much. I told him, I don’t hate Champ. I actually like the fiery guy and I’m pulling for him to CONTINUE to be successful and really hope we can get this thing back on track before Saturday. Calls for the guy’s head are completely uncalled for. HOWEVER! Like everyone else I have an opinion and an anus. I just have this forum to voice it louder. I hate losing to the Mutts and feel this is a momentary setback due to injuries, the league catching onto the overall style/scheme and growing pains.
My issues are: (1) Did he not take anything of Florida football history from those ass whoopings he took in this very game? (2) Did he not learn that change is needed and extremely necessary for growth even if it does not fit the pretty picture you drew as a HCIW (head coach in waiting)?
SOS did not have his full book of plays installed that first year. He saw what he had and drew up some ball plays to fit the personnel at his disposal. Anyone remember Shane Mathews the year prior? Urban Meyer had the “Percy position.” The Ole Ball Coach had the “Let me toss it around to the dude that can catch it position.” More to the point, it would be wholly illogical for me to buy into his paradigm of three yards and a cloud, win the time of possession and keep the defenses fresh style. It would be insanity and illogical after living through 1987-1989, which was pretty much the exact same thing. Sorry, I banged my head enough playing football.
So, what do I expect to see? For starters, I expect us to win. In fact, I think we will win. Why?
- Week to get healthy. (Well as healthy as we can get)
- Defense, bruised, embarrassed and pissed off. We have the DB’s to challenge every throw if we play the ball better.
- Mack Brown and Kelvin Taylor running hard. I suspect Junior Taylor to get a lot of carries and make his old man very proud, not to mention the rest of us.
- O-line Pass Blocking will be better
- Mr. Tyler Murphy steps up and makes the plays needed to win.
Yeah I’m a Sunshine Pumper on game week. Last year I spoke at the Gator Club saying I expected to win and win big. I stand by it then and I stand by it now. I expect my Gators to win every week. I will acknowledge the challenges and critiques the game afterwards but on game week it’s time to get the positive vibes flowing. Be safe with your solo cups and don’t burn the brats! I might be tailgate stalking.
Thank you for your time,
Ephesians A. Bartley II