A game within the game

Marvin Westwestwords

There is a game within the game.

A few days ago, in the aftermath of Florida-Michigan, Gator fans “fired” offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier. He’s got to go. Here is bus fare.

Their beloved team, champions for sure as soon as suspensions run their course, scored 17 points in the depressing loss to the Wolverines. The Gators produced a pair of pick sixes and a field goal. The inept offense was described as three D — disappointing, dull and dumb.

Florida gained 0.4 yards per rush.

There is an additional problem. It does not know who is the quarterback.

A few days ago, in the aftermath of the remarkable Tennessee victory over Georgia Tech, Vol fans celebrated the wonderful difference in winning and losing. It feels so good to rescue success from the clutches of abject failure.

That the orange team “lost” most of the game (and gave up rushing yards just short of a world record) suddenly mattered less.

Tennessee defensive coordinator Bob Shoop absorbed a few verbal lashes about the head and ears but was allowed to stay and help do away with the Indiana State Sycamores.

That does not mean Shoop gets a free pass. The Vols looked as if they had never heard of a jet sweep. Nobody set an edge. Ends did not penetrate and change the flight angle. If there was an adjustment, I missed it.

Nussmeier had no comparable problem in week 2 but there was another. Florida and Northern Colorado did not play because of the incoming hurricane. The game was to have been redemption for the opening defeat, a day to establish team identity, an important tune-up and confidence builder.

Nussmeier and Shoop can start over this weekend. Weather permitting, Tennessee will face Florida in a real swamp. The Gators will get another chance to earn a few first downs. The Vols will be allowed to plug the middle and even play some on the perimeter. They might turn in the occasional wide run.

Florida can put the ball aloft. If Tennessee can find the receivers, it will be OK to defend.

Just guessing, no proof, but this game may actually be the beginning of the end for one coordinator or the other. Head coaches have to do whatever they have to do to preserve their multi-million-dollar jobs.

This Tennessee-Florida meeting is again magnified because it, like almost always, is a crossroads in the race for the East division title of the Southeastern Conference. Florida made it to Atlanta last year but couldn’t explain how. Tennessee forfeited the trip. Injuries were blamed.

This matchup emphasizes interesting similarities. Tennessee and Florida are natural optimists. Fans at both schools expect to win. Hype often overflows. That means the heat is always on. Neither group is famous for patience.

Both coaching staffs face excruciating pressure. Up to now, neither has distinguished itself. One large triumph would help but it won’t be a permanent solution. Georgia is out there as a pivot point for both.


Leftovers from Indiana State:

The Tennessee quarterback rivalry is a myth. Defense is not yet ready for prime time. Given the football, John Kelly can be Alvin Kamara in versatility.

That was a very brief handshake when Butch Jones and Indiana State coach Curt Mallory, very good friends, met at midfield after the game. Butch paused, as if waiting for more, maybe a hug or at least a token good-luck goodbye. Mallory moved on, perhaps vexed by the late aerial assault.

Friendly aside: Butch wasn’t deliberately running up the score to affect the polls or impress recruits. He was trying to develop a happy No. 2 quarterback.

Shy Tuttle, recovering from injury, made a brief appearance and actually struck some foes under the chin. Brave man gave a lot to get back on the field.

Brandon Johnson made a good first impression in the slot. If 6-6 receiver Jeff George goes for the ball at the highest point, defensive backs are in trouble.

Punter Trevor Daniel is not related to the Colquitts. It just looks that way when he kicks.

Did you see Micah Abernathy run with an Indiana State receiver, actually look back for the pass and deftly tip it away? Cheers.

(Marvin West invites reader reaction. His address is [email protected])


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