Watching this team reminds me why I stopped watching heavyweight boxing. You know there is always that mauler that comes along that beats up everyone until he faces a boxer with enough power and technical expertise to make him pay for his lack of basic skill. The Gators are like a boxer with no jab or devastating overhand right. We can body punch you to death but can’t set up a damn thing because opponents don’t expect their chin to be rocked with a quick two-piece extra spicy; i.e. deep pass. They know the over hand and body punch are coming so they pull guard and load up the box leaving us as incompetent as our current congress. Plainly speaking, our ability to throw the forward pass is non-existent.
We don’t practice it, we don’t perfect it against lesser opponents when games are in hand and most disappointing to me, I’m not so sure our head coach places a lot of value in it. I’ll say again what I’ve said for years: Complete teams win championships. This year’s Gators are not a complete team. They are good on defense and they run the ball pretty well against teams that aren’t that strong up front, but this is not the kind of passing game that you can win championships with.
A complete team is able to lean on another facet of the game when its area of strength is either being matched or is overmatched. LSU matched our strength in the run and when we turned to the passing game, we couldn’t protect our quarterback.
When you have no fallback plan – which is what happened Saturday – you lose. There is only so much the defense can do if the offense doesn’t help you out.
One statistic: 4.5 yards a carry. I watched the game with fellow Fletcher and Florida alum, Jacksonville attorney Brett Hastings and his family. He was giving me a lot of variables for the loss, which were extremely pertinent. As usual, in my direct manner, I handed him the iPad with two variables – 2.8 and 4.5 – as my lone argument. The Gators averaged 2.8 yards every time they ran the ball. LSU averaged 4.5. When you’re a running team and you can’t average even three yards a carry. When your defense all but gives up a first down every two carries, you’re in trouble.
You can deliver the greatest closing argument ever but giving up close to five yards per carry simply tells you that we got punched in the mouth up front.
We miss Dominique Easley in the worst way. We don’t have that consistent three- technique for our even fronts nor do we have the immovable space-eating Tony Siragusa/Vince Wilfork type for our odds. We have a front filled with active, talented defensive ends. Jon Bullard, for example, is a great young player on the outside but we’re asking a lot for him to play on the inside.
The linebackers were active as hell but LSU’s push up front and ability to get up to the second level limited their ability to make plays at or behind the line of scrimmage. That killed us.
The play was solid as usual at corner although VH3 (Vernon Hargreaves III) got a dose of an equally talented athlete letting him know we’re now in a different part of the schedule where everybody has players at every position. But, he played and as a whole the second played extremely well against a group of LSU receivers that will play on Sundays. The tackling needs to improve from safeties filling the alley but overall I would say their play was pretty good.
Les Miles reverted to his Michigan roots putting a hat-on-hat and challenging his guys. This was straight out of the Bo Schembechler playbook football. Unfortunately for the Gators, where we have in five games prior been the bully, Saturday the roles reversed and we got the short end of the stick. I am hoping that we work extensively on our passing game this week and while we’re working on it, trash passing out of the empty set. When we go empty we can’t protect our quarterback for crap.
Thank you for your time,
Ephesians A. Bartley II