The Florida Gators ended their 2015 regular season 10-3 – something almost no one thought was possible.
That record, however, has been overshadowed by two straight losses by an offense that has been one among the worst in the country.
While many fans were ecstatic to even be in the SEC Championship on Saturday, most knew that the Gators didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell to win because of the offense.
There were two main schools of thought heading into Saturdays game: Either you were on Team “I am just happy we are here because no one thought we would be” and Team “We won 10 games for a reason, we need to play like it, and excuses no longer count”.
No matter what “Team” you side with, the Gators are your SEC East Champion and have one last opportunity to win in Jim McElwain’s first season at the helm against the Michigan Wolverines in January.
But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, (we will have a year in review next week and preview of the Michigan game in three weeks), let’s take a look at the Gators game against Alabama.
The Florida Gators offense is the real-life, football-version of “Groundhog’s Day”. The offensive line does enough to create time for the wide receivers to get open and have Treon Harris miss the pass. That sounds cruel, but it’s true.
Treon Harris, who went 9-for-24 for 165 yards on Saturday, finished the season with only 111 total completions on 214 passes (51.9%). (Fun Fact: Treon Harris threw 54 more passes on the season than Will Grier and had only five more completions.)
He was missing open reads, struggling to see over the offensive line, and even forgot the rules of the forward pass and tried to pass the ball twice.
I do not need to harp on the fact that the Gators passing offense was nearly non-existent, or at least inconsistent, since week seven, so to go over those facts once again would just simply anger you.
But we have to go over a few mind-blowing statistics for Treon:
- He has had five games this season at 50% or worse completion percentage
- Three straight games (and five out of the last six game), where he completed less than 170 yards of passing
- Four out of five games with an interception
- Two straight games with negative rushing yards
This Gators offense officially ranked worse than last year in total offense, red-zone offense, total first downs, yards/pass completion, total yards, scoring offense, and nearly every other statistical offensive category.
On Saturday, Treon Harris missed passes, overthrew balls, made bad choices, and hell, threw a ball twice.
However, I cannot only blame Harris for Saturday’s poor offensive performance that yielded only 180 total yards (their fewest since 2013 against Missouri).
The Gators offense had a series of drives that started at the end of the first quarter and went until the fourth quarter that yielded 6 yards, -5 yards, -2 yards, -8 yards, -5 yards, 2 yards, -4 yards, and -1 yard. For that? I have to partly blame the coaching staff. The Gators ran the ball a total of 10 times by their running backs. While they only averaged 1.9 yards per carry, you HAVE to try more than that. Further, nearly every run was between the tackles. After not being able to establish a passing game, Alabama started to stack eight players in the box…well, running into the middle of that, is not going to be successful. So I would have liked to see more sweeps or outside counter runs. It was just vanilla play calling and play calling that did not seem intuitive.
That has been a gripe, as you know, of mine all season. Treon Harris was a huge liability, but they never seemed to adapt to him being a limited quarterback that could not be a pro-style quarterback. I think Jim McElwain and Doug Nussmeier, with the right quarterback, can call a great game with the right quarterback, but I was not impressed with their ability to call plays with Treon Harris.
This Florida Gators defense is going to go down as one of the best Gators defense’s in history, but will not be celebrated as such, because of their lack of offense. As we said last week, sometimes the best defense is a good offense, and unfortunately, since Florida could not move the ball, they relied on their defense and there is only so much you can ask for out of a defense.
- The Gators held Derrick Henry to his third fewest yards per carry of the season (4.30)
- The Gators finished 12th in the country in yards per rush attempt on defense after facing Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, and Derrick Henry – all of whom will likely finish in the top-8 of the Heisman Trophy rankings
- Gators finished the season ranked 5th in the country in sacks per game, 5th in sacks per opponent pass attempt, 8th in scoring defense, and with the 5th overall defense in the country
- The Gators finished the season as the No. 4 ranked 1st quarter defense and No. 1 ranked 3rd quarter defense.
Unfortunately, because of the lack of offense, we will never quite know quite how good this defense could have been.
My three defensive MVPs (and we will talk about this next week) are: Jon Bullard, Jarrad Davis, and Jalen Tabor.
Four simple special teams facts:
- Johnny Townsend had 69% of his kicks end up as fair-catches or land inside the 20 – among the best in the nation
- The Gators were in the red zone 48 times this season and only had five field goals. That is the fewest FGs made per red zone trip in the nation
- Since Caleb Sturgis has left Gainesville, the Gators have hit 31-of-63 field goals.
- Antonio Callaway finished regular season ranked sixth in the country in yards per punt return.