ORLANDO, Fla. — Country music pioneer Hank Williams Sr. once wrote a song called “Move It On Over” and in one of the verses he challenged his rival by twanging, “Move it on over … Move over little dog cause the big dog’s moving in.”
After Florida’s record-breaking 51-35 season-opening victory over Ole Miss Saturday, this should be the Gators’ new fight song.
Move it on over, Georgia.
Every dog has his day, but your day is done.
As you saw on Saturday when the Southeastern Conference finally and thankfully kicked off its season, the Florida Gators are coming to get the Georgia Bulldogs this season.
Many Georgia fans didn’t like the column emanating from this space three seasons ago after the Bulldogs beat up the Gators in Dan Mullen’s first year as UF’s head coach. The gist of that column was that Georgia better enjoy its superiority in its rivalry with Florida while it can because once Dan the Man gets his system, his players and his offense in place, Georgia wouldn’t be Dogging the Gators for very much longer.
As evidenced by Florida’s offensive eruption (OK, so the Gators defense could use some work), this looks like it will be the year Mullen’s Gators end Georgia’s reign of superiority in the SEC East. Florida — with Heismanesque quarterback Kyle Trask throwing for a career-best 416 yards and six touchdowns (four to monster tight end Kyle Pitts) and leading the No. 5-ranked Gators to the most yards (642 ) they have ever gained against an SEC opponent — spoiled Lane Kiffin’s debut as Ole Miss’s coach and, more important, sent a message to Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs.
Said a giddy Mullen after UF’s victory: “With a school record for offense (against an SEC opponent), I would expect my neighbor, Coach Spurrier, who lives right around the corner, will have a nice bottle of wine sitting on my desk. If I broke one of his offensive records that’s at least deserving of a nice bottle of wine.”
Gator fans should indeed be raising a glass of vino and toasting athletics director Scott Stricklin’s hire of Mullen three years ago. Much like when Spurrier took over a generation ago, Mullen has added confidence, culture, attitude and offense to a once-stagnant program. He has done virtually everything right since he took over as head coach. He won 10 games his first year, 11 games last year and now seemingly has the Gators poised to make a national-title run. Three seasons ago in his first game against Georgia, it was clear, especially on the offensive side of the ball, that the UF quarterbacks, running backs and receivers were not nearly the caliber of Georgia’s players.
Now the Gators have the best quarterback in the league in Trask, offensive weaponry all over the field, a deep group of wide receivers and running backs and, of course, Pitts — a 6-foot-6, 240-pound tight end who is the most dangerous receiving threat in the league. Trask and Pitts were so dominant and dynamic on Saturday that #KyletoKyle was trending on Twitter.
Pitts is big and fast and nearly impossible for one or even two defenders to cover. He out-muscled two Ole Miss defenders for one of his TD catches in the back of the end zone Saturday and on another reception stiff-armed a defender while running away from him for a 71-yard touchdown.
“He’s a matchup nightmare for defenses,” Trask said of his titanic tight end. “He’s too big for corners and too fast for linebackers.”
Said Mullen of Pitts: “He’s a special player. … But one of the things we want to do is have playmakers all over the field. If you want to focus on one guy, we’re going to get it to the other guy.”
And when you have a quarterback as poised and precise as Trask, Pitts and Florida’s other receivers should put up absolutely amazing numbers this season. How good was Trask on Saturday? He completed passes to 11 different receivers and became only the second quarterback in SEC history to throw six TD passes in a conference opener. The only other SEC quarterback to do it was Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow last season when he led LSU to a national championship.
Because of Trask, the Gators have the polish and presence at the quarterback position they haven’t had since Tim Tebow. Trask has five 300-yard passing games in 11 starts with the Gators. UF produced three 300-yard passing games during the previous nine seasons.
It’s no wonder the SEC announced earlier this week that the Gators, for the first time since 2010, have been picked by the media to win the SEC East and end Georgia’s three-year reign. Said Pitts: “I wouldn’t say I was surprised that we were put in front of Georgia, but it’s about (time).”
Speaking of the SEC, how awesome was it Saturday to have the nation’s premier college football conference back up and running? Even though this was Week 4 of the college football season, the season didn’t really seem official or legitimate until the SEC kicked off on Saturday. And if ever there was any doubt who is the king of college football, we got the answer back in August when the nation’s two most powerful conferences — the Big Ten and SEC — had monumental decisions to make.
The hoity-toity Big Ten, thinking all of the other conferences would fall in line with its plan, decided to postpone the football season. The SEC, meanwhile, smartly decided to proceed with caution. The ACC and Big 12 followed the SEC’s lead while the Big Ten and Pac-12 were left with their noses pressed against the glass. Not surprisingly, those two leagues flip-flopped and announced their decisions to come crawling back by early November.
“It was so great to be out there playing football again,” Mullen said. “It kind of felt normal for the first time in a long time to be out there playing SEC football.”
And after the game, Mullen and his team, even though the UF marching band didn’t make the trip, stood on the field and sang the school fight song.
I believe the opening verse went something like this:
“Move it on over.
“Move over little dog cause the big dog’s moving in.”
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