“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” – George Santayana
With Santayana’s words in mind, Gator Country writers Nick de la Torre and Richard Johnson embarked on an endeavor to re-watch the 2012 football season. Re-watching the season seven months after the final whistle was blown gives us an ability to watch the games with a perspective to consider all things that happened during the 2012 season, and the knowledge to analyze each game with a better knowledge of the team.
Throughout this series, we will break down each game, splitting up the offense and defense to give you a comprehensive breakdown and re-tell the story of the 2012 season.
Florida entered the game against Bowling Green with a ton of question marks on offense, I’m sure Richard will cover those in his breakdown. For all the question marks that the offense had, the defense was filled with answers, veterans and playmakers.
We entered the season with recognizable names like Easley, Floyd, Elam, Bostic, Jenkins and Hunter. Names that fans knew they could count on to lead the team while the offense figured things out – we didn’t know just how long it would take the offense to get up to speed.
So as a new season began, Florida won the toss and deferred to the second half – sending their defense out on the field first. The first defensive stand was indicative of how the game would be played out for the defense. Florida lined up in a 4-3 defense and didn’t show anything exotic or any blitz packages all game long. For most of the game, the Gators relied on being more talented than their opponent, rather than scheming exotic blitz packages and defenses. In total, Florida would blitz just 16 times in 79 plays on defense.
The second drive of the game resulted in the first points scored by either team. First, a roughing the passer penalty from Lerentee McCray – which was a blatant late hit – tacked on an extra 15-yards to what was already a nine-yard gain for a first down. That set Bowling Green up in great field position. Cody Riggs was also called for a holding penalty, which gave Bowling Green a new set of downs on the goal line. The touchdown play was blocked well by the offensive line and was more a result of a long sustained drive rather than a breakdown by the defense.
Getting into Riggs’ penalty briefly. The style that Will Muschamp asks his defensive backs to play is very risky. Florida plays a lot of press-man coverage with only a single safety up top. That puts a lot of pressure on cornerbacks, especially, but it allows Florida to get pressure on the quarterback and bring extra men up to the line of scrimmage. Overall, it’s an aggressive style of defense, but Florida has the talent and veteran leadership to make it work.
Florida would take the lead heading into the locker room behind the running of Mike Gillislee, and a defense that was stingy for the remainder of the half. Florida’s defense seemed to wake up after allowing a score, giving Bowling Green just 42 yards the rest of the first half.
Coming out of the locker room, Florida’s defense had another slip up and allowed Bowling Green to score on their first offensive possession of the half. The Falcons quickly faced a fourth down, but ran a successful fake punt and had another 15-yards tacked on for a late hit out of bounds. The Falcons would use that momentum to continue on what turned into an 8-play, 55-yard touchdown drive capped off by a Anthon Samuel touchdown.
Florida played a bend-but-don’t-break style of defense the rest of the way, giving up 158 more yards in the half but keeping the Falcons out of the endzone and off of the scoreboard.
The standouts, in my eyes, on defense were Sharrif Floyd, Marcus Roberson, Jaylen Watkins and Dante Fowler.
Watching the tape again there were numerous moments where Richard and I were just wowed by something Floyd did on the field. It was obvious that he was the best player on the field that day. Roberson and Watkins played great in coverage all day and Fowler played a very good game in his first ever college game. He didn’t look like a freshman and it will be interesting to see how he plays the rest of the season after getting called upon early.
Up next is Florida’s SEC opener on the road in College Station to welcome Texas A&M to the conference. The game will also be Johnny Manziel’s, before he became “Johnny Football”, debut in college football.