It's hard sometimes, Morgan Newton. ( Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE)
The extremely homerish and subjective thing where we talk about Florida football from that past weekend. Relevant Kanye: "No Church In The Wild."
1. Morgan Newton will be playing flag football one day. "No, it's cool, this guy, he played football. Like, SEC football." Someone will say "oh, furilldoe?", and those on his team will nod smugly. We've got a ringer, dude.
So then the surprise happens. He'll play well, because even at lowly Kentucky, even at three-quarters empty Commonwealth Stadium, Morgan Newton is still a very good athlete, a three-star QB coming out of high school who can throw the ball beyond the limits of your very mortal rotator cuffs. He'd wreck your flag football league, probably after a few throws where Newton has to remember to slow down for the MBA student wideouts and their very breakable, soft fingers.
He is a very good athlete. He might even have thought, somewhere back in his brain, that he would get a shot at the NFL. This seems so silly, but you've got that moment, some awful moment where a dream of yours was crushed by cold reality and the very obvious limitations of genetics, opportunity, and circumstance.
2. We have a list:
- Age 5: realized in sad field day experience that we were the slowest child in any class at any weight, a human knuckleball while running.
- Age 7: realized we could not be an X-wing pilot. This is the only one that still evokes some sorrow.
- Age 12: rock star nixed due to inability to sing or coordinate fingers in any way on a guitar.
- Age 18: The "Rushmore" moment where one realizes one is not in fact bound for pampered genius scholarships, and has in fact forgotten to apply for college at all until the last moment.
- Age 28: the worst moment of all, realizing one will never beat Battletoads without cheats or controller assistance, and may never have the time to try again.
3. Those moments all suck in their own way, but nothing can be as bad as Morgan Newton staring down a receiver in glowing green grass in a relatively close game against a sluggish Florida team, cocking the arm back, and then throwing a full fifteen feet over his receiver's head for an incompletion. His body hasn't failed him until this point, but now it and his brain are engaged in this drunken fistfight over control, and 7/21 for 48 yards and 3 INTs is the result.
4. It is a joy to watch a college athlete finally hit stride: Robert Griffin in his senior year, or Carson Palmer when talent and coaching finally mated and had a baby called the 2002 season. It's equally miserable to watch someone hit their ceiling at high speed on a bad team on a hard, hot afternoon in enemy territory. Morgan Newton looked laughably bad for a quarter, and then the pathos set in, and then there was this charred scarecrow of cinders and sadness where he once was, and it's hard to feel really good about much of it. supposed to beat Kentucky, but no one signed up to watch someone disintegrate and recalibrate every life decision they'd likely ever made in front of your eyes.
5. By the end, he was misfiring on simple throws and doing so with the randomness of a sentry gun shorting out, skipping throws in the grass, overthrowing, missing receivers entirely, tossing the Reggie Bull in-cut that whizzes by a full three yards behind the receiver. Ghastly is the word that comes to mind first, and then "Reggie Ball." Reggie Ball isn't a word, but it is precisely what came to mind.
6. Five points into a recap of sorts, and not a single mention of Florida because...because this felt like procedure, and procedure is progress with a team previously incapable of executing even the simplest of football tasks. Without Trey Burton, Florida still controlled the game with the run, bled clock once Kentucky began gushing out turnovers, and ended the game with twelve straight runs and a massive lead. You know that long sequence in Breaking Bad where they break down the RV and have it shipped overseas as scrap? The methodical ripping apart of something and its cold disposal: that was this game.
7. A bye week means you're looking at nothing, and then the LSU game, a game against one of the SEC's pair of true current standard-bearers. The usual foreboding is there, but this team sat at 4-0 last year, too. Then the Alabama game, and the LSU game, and a combined score of 79-21 fell in on their heads, and the rest of the season was one long reel into the gutter from there. This is not the same team, and if you care to make any real and definite guesses about any game against LSU, go right ahead and watch whatever the hell that was that happened against Auburn on Saturday night.
8. This is the best part of the cycle, though. There's no real knowing if Zach Mettenberger is going to uncork his 5 TD game against Florida, or if Jeff Driskel's long scrambles will turn into sacks against the marauding LSU defensive line. There are no givens. Morgan Newton had an open man down the sideline on Saturday, wide and screamingly open, and hitting it could have changed things, or maybe not. Maybe he would have just missed every single man that day, and was lucky to hit just one.
9. Football is a bitch like that. When it says no, it leaves no wiggle room. Florida plays four teams currently ranked in the top ten over the rest of the season, games where there will be very little wiggle room of any sort. That's the only definite in all this, that and "No Church In The Wild" possessing the power to make anything sound cooler than it is. You could set your rumpled, miserable ass waking up hungover to it, run it in slow-motion with fade transitions, and it would look incredible and important. Just imagine it set over some slo-mo, darkened clips of Home Improvement. My god, that would be disturbing, especially the parts with Wilson lurking over the fence while Kanye raps about cocaine and threesomes. Forget this game, and that idea, or any of this, really. Especially you, Morgan Newton.