Picks Column Week 11

Eight Gators beat writers pick eight college football games against the spread.

Here’s a statement that goes without saying: Football can be an extremely brutal sport to play.

If you’re on a Division I college football team, odds are, your body is probably going to get pretty f----- at some point over your three to five years in school.

It’s just the nature of the game. Injuries happen all the time, and the 2017 Florida Gators have been no exception to that rule.

Starting in July when safety Marcell Harris fell casualty to a season-ending torn right Achilles tendon, UF has seen player after player go down with a myriad of health problems.

Quarterback Luke Del Rio (collarbone), quarterback Kyle Trask (foot), quarterback Jake Allen (back), running back Malik Davis (knee), receiver Kadarius Toney (shoulder), receiver James Robinson (heart), defensive lineman Jordan Sherit (hip), defensive lineman Jachai Polite (shoulder), linebacker Kylan Johnson (hamstring), linebacker Nick Smith (knee), defensive back Quincy Lenton (knee), defensive back Garrett Stephens (knee) and defensive back Nick Washington (a whole bunch of s---) all missed last Saturday’s 45-16 blowout defeat to Missouri, along with Harris.

None of them are expected to return this weekend against South Carolina, as well as the team’s latest injury-bug victim, starting offensive lineman Brett Heggie (leg).

This football program might as well create its own health insurance plan. Yeesh.

But with such turmoil plaguing the Gators this fall, Alligator assistant sports editor Dylan Dixon and sports editor Matt Brannon have been sent into post-traumatic stress.

They both experienced numerous injuries over the course of their playing days on the gridiron, all of which were as gory and graphic as anything you’ve ever seen.

They still get emotional just talking about it years and years later, but in a therapeutic attempt to get over their haunted past, Dylan and Matt will now debate which one of them suffered the worst injuries ever in the history of pee wee football.

 

Dylan’s injuries were the worst ever in the history of pee wee football because…

I remember it all like it was yesterday.

Seventeen torn ACLs, 13 broken ribs, nine ruptured spleens, five concussions and one dislocated eyeball. All in the first half.

Let’s just say, I didn’t have a very pleasant experience playing in my pee wee league’s annual father–son football game when I was 6 years old.

My injuries were so gruesome and I lost so much blood, the EMTs who tried to resuscitate me gave up halfway through because I was “beyond repair.”

But I survived. And after years of physical therapy, I finally learned to walk again two summers ago.

It’s been a difficult journey, and while I’ve finally gotten to the point where I can lead a normal life again, nothing will ever change the fact that I was on the precipice of my final breaths that fateful day.

There’s no way Matt ever experienced the carnage I went through in that father-son football game. There’s just no way.

- Dylan Dixon

 

Matt’s injuries were the worst ever in the history of pee wee football because…

I played in an insanely dangerous pee wee league that a lot of NFL stars played in as toddlers. My first game was a doozy.

I should’ve known to quit when Jameis Winston tried to bite my fingers off in a pregame speech. In the first quarter, I lined up against Adam “Pacman” Jones, but he somehow had a gun and shot me when the ball was snapped.

My teammate, Plaxico Burress, came to defend me but shot himself in the foot instead. Ben Roethlisberger offered to take me to the hospital on his motorcycle, but sent both of us flying into another car’s windshield.

We actually made it back in time to see the final seconds of the game. I thought I was safe when we won, but my arms were blown off by Jason Pierre-Paul’s postgame fireworks show.

- Matt Brannon

 

Now, onto our competitors!

In first, at 51-32, is 247Sports’ Thomas “On to South Carolina” Goldkamp, who wasted 15 minutes of Q-and-A time with interim coach Randy Shannon when he kept asking questions that had the same answer. It went something like this. Thomas: Are you guys still thinking about Missouri or moving on to South Carolina? Shannon: On to South Carolina. Thomas: Where did Will Muschamp go after being fired from Florida? Shannon: On to South Carolina. Thomas: Do you like breaking the huddle on two or on three, and what is your favorite state to go skinny dipping in? Shannon: On two, South Carolina. Thomas: If you’re in Texas which direction do you drive in to get to Mexico on Interstate 2, and what team doem does Cam Newton play for? Shannon: On 2? South, (and) Carolina.

After Thomas, at 45-34, is Gator Country’s Nick “Man crush“ de la Torre, who when asked on Twitter several days ago if he thought Johnny Townsend is underappreciated, wrote back “Not by me. #PuntersArePeopleToo.” It’s no secret that Nick likes Townsend twice as much as anyone else on Florida’s football team. But maybe he should turn it down a notch or two. Or seven. The last time Nick interviewed UF’s punter, he gave him a hug and tried to kiss him on the cheek. Not cool, man. Not cool.

In third, at 43-36, is the Orlando Sentinel’s Edgar “How the hell do I get this thing to shut up?” Thompson, who couldn’t figure out how to silence his cell phone at a recent post-practice media session. Edgar’s phone going off every five seconds wasn’t too big of an issue, except for the fact that his ringtone was the song “Stanky Legg” by GS Boyz. Every time the phone rang and the words “now hit da booty doo” emanated from his pocket, Edgar couldn’t help but break into dance, violently pivoting his leg back and forth while yelling “someone get this s--- to stop!” Maybe think about turning your phone off in the future, Edgar.

Next, at 42-37, is the Alligator’s Ethan “Email etiquette is for p------!“ Bauer, which is exactly what he screamed at his personal branding professor on Thursday after she asked him about the importance of being professional on the internet. No wonder Ethan is never able to land a one-on-one interview with a Gator football player. Every time he emails the UAA, he simply writes ‘Yo, ya’ll trippin. Lemme talk to Feleipes Frank today.” A simple “please” and “thank you” might suffice next time, man.

Tied for fifth, at 40-39, is the Gainesville Sun’s Graham “Proudly cheers in the press box” Hall, who for the umpteenth game in a row picked the Gators against the spread. We get it, Graham, you’re from Gainesville and named after a dorm, but at least try to hide your fandom. We’re supposed to be objective. Meanwhile, your objective seems to getting Luke Del Rio to tousle your hair and tell you you’re a good boy.

Also at 40-39 is the Alligator’s Ian “Rogaine is my cocaine” Cohen, who has been wearing hats every day this week in a futile attempt to shield the world from his polished cue ball of a noggin. Whether it’s his dirty yamaka, worn-out Miami Heat cap or his other dirty yamaka with a Heat logo stitched in the side, he’ll wear just about anything to stop UF defensive tackle Taven Bryan from rubbing his head for good luck.

After Ian, at 36-43, is the Alligator’s Dylan “School board? More like school bored” Dixon, who threatened an Alachua County School Board member last week at a seafood restaurant because he thought her stories were too dull. Dylan finally learned his lesson when she whipped a can of pepper spray from her purse and got him so badly that the restaurant started wafting entrees in front of his face for free seasoning.

And in dead last, at a pitiful 35-44, is the Alligator’s Matt “Arrogance courses through my veins“ Brannon, who egotistically messaged a colleague on Thursday guaranteeing that he’ll go a perfect 8-0 in this week’s picks column. I don’t know if you’ve checked the leaderboard lately, Matt, but you’re goddamn awful at this game. College coaches have called you every week for the past month begging you not to choose their team. Get a grip on reality, man. You have no business making a statement like that.