Man, last week would’ve been a great one for a column -- Alabama vs. LSU, “The Gators are back!” ... “The Gators are not back!” ... and neither are Florida State, Miami or South Florida ... and the state’s NFL teams all have a quarterback problem ...
Just wasn’t the space here in the section or the time to bang out all that wonderful news. It happens that way. Sometimes the act of putting News-Gazette Sports is like making sausage: what’s on the plate looks great, but you didn’t want to see it prepared.
At least we still have the local quarterbacks to kick around. It’s quite possible the Bucs, Jags and ‘Fins could all open 2019 with new quarterbacks.
We know what a mess Tampa is. Jameis Winston has played his way out of town, FitzMagic has turned into a FitzMirage, and the Bucs just can’t win.
In Miami, they’ve run out of spackle, wall joint compound and Bond-O to hold Ryan Tannehill together, and Brock Osweiler isn’t the answer. The Dolphins played and beat the Jets Sunday, but they only get to play them once more.
In Jacksonville, poor Blake Bortles, or who our Twitter friend @KTA calls, “Basura Hombre” (look it up), is under the microscope again. Are you starting to get the sneaking suspicion that last year was one of those “good fortune” years -- kind of like UCF had with Bortles in 2013 -- when everything went right, and now the universe is just balancing things out?
The proof is, you need a solid quarterback to win in football, college or pro, unless your defense rivals the 1985 Bears or the 2000 Ravens. That’s two teams like that in 33 years, so forget it and go find a quarterback. Looks like Florida’s three pro teams will all be starting over looking for their signal caller of the future.
If you want to know what a quarterback looks like, here’s a few in this week’s Mighty News-Gazette Divine Nine, Behind Center Edition:
1. Tua Tava--oh forget it, Nick Saban’s guy. 2. McKenzie Milton. 3. Patrick Mahomes. 4. Tom Brady. 5. Drew Brees. 6. Will Grier. 7. Kyler Murray. 8. Ben Roethlisberger (just wanted to prove I could spell it). 9. Joe Montana (if Brady isn’t the G.O.A.T., this guy is).
Now on to the Picks of the Weak:
South Carolina at Florida (-6): No quarterbacks to be found here, although I do have a solution for Dan Mullen, who quibbled about the Florida Field crowd last week, and how some were dressed as empty seats. We’ve sent fannies for some of those seats; our publisher Tom and his sons will be going -- and rooting for his alma mater Gamecocks. Tom’s Team by 4 in “I Want The Boss To Be Happy” Upset Special.
Florida at Notre Dame (-17): Last time the Irish played for a title, they mowed through Miami. This is close enough, although Notre Dame’s starting QB (Ian Book) likely won’t play. Golden Domes by 7.
Navy at UCF (-25): Noon game, but we had to wait until Sunday for ESPN to call the kickoff time. Um, Navy’s part of the government, right? Couldn’t we have asked Trump to call the network to say when they’d play? As for the game, it’s an ugly one. Knights by 32.
Ohio State (-3.5) at Michigan State: Urban Meyer knows a thing or two about quarterbacks. He might even have one on Saturday in this annual slugfest. Buckeyes by 1.
Mississippi State at Alabama (-23.5): Bulldogs might be the fourth-best team in their division and the sixth-best in the SEC, but they’re the 16th ranked team in the country — and have no chance against the Saban machine. Crimson Tide by 27.
Clemson (-20) at Boston College: Eagles are ranked, too. And have the same kind of chance. Tigers by 17.
Auburn at Georgia (-14.5): These two split huge games last year, and Georgia ended up in the Big Game. So does this even matter? ‘Dawgs by 7, I guess.
The paid professionals:
Washington at Tampa Bay (-3): Only way this spread verifies is if none of Washington’s quarterbacks get on the plane south. Redskins by at least one QB in Upset Special.
Jacksonville at Indianapolis (-3): Bortles vs. Andrew Luck. Which one of either of these guys is going to really show up? Bi-polar Colts by 4.
Miami at Green Bay (-9.5): Brock Osweiler against Aaron Rodgers. That’s not even hardly fair, hence the point spread. Packers by 10.
Seattle at Los Angeles (-9.5): Quarterback Jared Goff. All I need to hear. Rams by 7.
Dallas at Philadelphia (-7): Quarterback Carson Wentz. Ditto, although Dak Prescott isn’t bad either, and these games are four quarters of snarl anyway. Eagles by 3.
Petey “The Gators Are Going To Win” Covino says: Gators by 4 and a broken ankle (QB Kyle Trask broke his ankle in practice).
Brian “Big Man” McBride’s Super Sniffer of the Week: Redskins by 3 over Bucs.