The Florida Gators football team is wandering aimlessly through the 2014 season. After back-to-back losses Will Muschamp’s group is all but eliminated from the SEC East race. Sure, if the stars and planets aligned, Florida won out and got a tremendous amount of help from just about every team in the SEC, there is a slim — mathematical — chance the Gators could win the east but not with the team that showed up and was blown out 42-13 on homecoming.
So where do the Gators go from here? How do you suit up the next five games, what do you need to do, what is there to accomplish?
Here are five things that the Gators need to do in order to finish the season out strong.
1) Find three wins and make it to a bowl game
The rest of the schedule reads Georgia, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Eastern Kentucky and Florida State.
Given the state of the team, the way they have performed the past two weeks and, of course, the Georgia Southern factor, none of these games can be penned into the win column.
We’ll use pencil to give the Gators a win over the worst team not named Florida in the SEC — Vanderbilt — and another against Eastern Kentucky. The Gators have to find one win against Georgia, South Carolina or Florida State.
Wins in any of those games seem a long shot but Florida needs those bowl practices that they missed out on last season.
Sure, you may not want to see the Gators playing in the Duck Commander Independence Bowl but missing out on a bowl game two seasons in a row is unacceptable and the Gators need to get valuable practice in the weeks leading up to a bowl game to help their younger player develop and get ready for next season.
Speaking of next season…
2) Build for the future
This season is a wash. It’s time to open things up, give players who have played little this season some more reps to see what you have moving forward. Chris Thompson’s speed was something that as talked about in the spring. Why can’t we see the field when the rest of the receivers are dropping balls at an alarming rate?
The Gators need to get the freshmen that they have recruited, the sophomore and players who will be returning to the tea next season playing time this year.
We hear all the time that the best 11 will play on both side of the ball. Well, you’re “best 11” on both sides of the ball aren’t cutting it. Try something different.
3) Treon Harris needs to start
Credit Jeff Driskel. He’s handled a lot of adversity the past two years beginning with a season ending injury and then being called out by fans and the media this season. Driskel has handled everything with class of the field.
With that being said, watching Muschamp and Roper continue to throw Jeff back into the game against Missouri after his confidence was shot and the game was all but over wasn’t fair.
Driskel — a redshirt junior — is not the future of this team. He is not going to turn the Gators around this season or next. Thank Jeff for being a great Gator off the field. He’s a guy who’s never had any issues away from football. He just doesn’t have what it takes to get the job done on the field.
I’m not saying Treon Harris is the savior that will return Florida back to national prominence. I simply continue to contend that you know what you’re going to get from Driskel, it isn’t good enough, so you need to see what else you have behind him.
You’re not going to find out what Harris can do when you stick him into a game, down 14-0 and backed up on the 10-yard line.
Let Treon start. Let him know that this is now his offense and his team. He doesn’t need to be looking over his shoulder the rest of the season.
4) Find something to play for.
The coaching staff was dangling the “we have all our goals in front of us carrot” in front of the team before Missouri came and ate that carrot.
This team needs something to play for. They have a lame duck head coach waiting to be fired, they won’t play in Atlanta and even becoming bowl eligible seems like a long shot.
Play for the name on the back of your jersey, play for the name on the side of your helmet, play because you love your coach or just for pride. Whatever the reason, the team needs to find something to play for or they’re doomed to go on another seven game losing streak to end the season.
5) Open things up offensively
Florida scoring 65 points against Eastern Michigan seems like it happened in another dimension. How in the world did this Gators offense score 65 points? Given that Eastern Michigan has the 121st ranked defense in the country it kind of makes sense, but given that the Gators have only scored 107 points over their next five games (21.4 points-per-game) it is still baffling to think about.
I believe that part of the reason that Florida’s offense has been so poor is scheme. The coaching staff lacks confidence in the offense’s ability to move the ball and score points. They know that the defense (which is ranked 12th in the country in total defense) can keep Florida in games if the offense doesn’t turn the ball over and give up bad field position, so the offense is being run to protect the defense.
They still can’t manage that.
You can’t play football like that. Open up the offense, throw in some trick plays, change things up and get creative.
Right now the Gators are playing not to lose and doing a terrible job of it.
Take some risks. Take some shots. Put a product on the field that is, at the very least, entertaining to watch.
You’re not winning games by playing conservatively. You’re not even running the up-tempo style of offense that everyone expected Kurt Roper to bring to Gainesville.
Change it up.
What’s the worst thing that can happen? You’ll lose a football game? You’re already doing that anyway.