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  • Sep 20, 2014; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Florida Gators coach Will Muschamp reacts to an extra point after a Gators touchdown in the first quarter of their game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Florida Gators Football:
Pessimism or Prediction?

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Written by Ryan Randall, September 22, 2014, 7 Comments,
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In all the years I’ve followed the Gators, I’ve never experienced a weekend like this.

Not even following heartbreaking losses (some against Alabama, ironically), have I seen the fan base in this shape.

Gator Naton is revolting.

Sure, the fan base has shown consternation previously; look no further than last year’s 4-8 campaign. It’s not like a significant amount of fans have changed their tune about Will Muschamp and quarterback Jeff Driskel. But it’s in a different tone right now. There’s a mix of anger from Saturday’s 42-21 loss to Alabama, betrayal after watching the season opener and fear that the Gators are headed down another losing season.

Despite the same group of people calling for Will Muschamp’s job last year, there was a small pass in that a good portion of the team was injured during the season. A new offensive coordinator, one from a school that racked up a lot of points last year, gave supporters hope coming into this season. Throughout the offseason, the media and fans were told about the improvements of the offense, how the uptempo style is meshing well with the talent, and how Driskel looks more comfortable in the offense.

The claims seemed to have been founded in the season opener against Eastern Michigan. Sure, the Eagles were a cupcake, but Florida devoured them the way a major program does, scoring the most points under Muschamp, 65. Even though the following week’s victory over Kentucky took three overtimes, the concern from some fans was met with understanding and respect of a Wildcat team that is removed from the lackluster seasons of decades past. While Driskel threw an interception, he stood in the pocket and helped put points on the board too. Players like Vernon Hargreaves III and Chas Green saw a difference in the way their team handled the adversity. It seemed like a good test before Alabama.

While the worries of Gator Nation were pacified, Alabama’s opening play against the Gators opened those emotions up. Shortly after the 87-yard touchdown pass from Blake Sims to Kenyan Drake, the sentiments were the same on social media: Not this again.

Even when Florida kept it close, as they did for most of the game, there was still a sense of nervousness, a type different from usual feeling of a big game. It was as if Gator Nation knew the horrors of last year would arise, and was just waiting for it.

Florida and Alabama’s offenses helped make those fears a reality. While the Gators sputtered out on offense, Alabama wore down Florida in the second half with their running game. The Gators couldn’t tackle, were out of position and allowed 21 second-half points.

They also set the fan base into overdrive.

After the game Muschamp said the team will work on communication issues in the secondary, but the schemes ran Saturday left Alabama receivers wide open. The head coach also said Driskel, who went 9-28 with 93 yards, gave them the best chance to win.

In a young season, the football program already finds themselves at a crossroads. The supporters that were pessimistic, optimistic, and then pessimistic after Saturday will not waiver any more. They want change, because in their eyes the season is slipping away under the current plan.

As extreme as sports opinions can be, it’s hard to argue otherwise.

At one point during the game, I was having a discussion with one of my followers, Jason Cooley about the game and the state of the team. His quote summed up a lot of Gator Nation’s sentiments and the resounding feeling of change that needs to take place.

“Bro. Seriously. Stay positive. I’m just tired of this. I used to find the positives.”

Ryan Randall

About Ryan Randall

From Melbourne, Florida, Ryan has lived in Florida since he was three, becoming a sports fan around that age.. His passion for journalism rivals his love of sports. Shortly out of high school he covered prep and community sports for his hometown paper in Brevard Country, before moving to Gainesville, where he covered the Gators in the pros as well as prep sports for a few publications. A Telecommunications major at UF, Ryan now interns at Gator Country and ecstatic to showcase his talents for the publication. When not working on stories, Ryan enjoys playing basketball, music, as well as art. Follow Ryan at @_RyanRandall_

  1. GSU_GatorSeptember 22, 2014, 12:10 pm

    I’m not sounding the alarm yet. Did anyone really expect us to beat BAMA? JD must have an all world performance against UT or be benched IMO. Muschamps recipe for success this year is win all the games he is expected to win and hopefully win a few that he isn’t favored in. That goal is still intact. On the BAMA game, it could have been uglier way quicker than it was. I don’t think we could have done much better with Harris or Grier. This is a team thing, the OL was getting whipped all game.

    • Chosen12395September 22, 2014, 12:43 pm

      No one expected us to beat Bama…but we all wanted to see serious progress in the O which we didn’t and I disagree that the OL was getting whipped all game. They gave Driskel time to throw the ball, he was rushed only a few times…major improvement over last season.

      I agree the goal is still intact in regards to the SEC East but some changes need to take place at QB, if not out right replacing Driskel at least getting our future QB’s ready for action in meaningful games. No reason we couldn’t have seen backups the last five minutes of the Bama game as the game was already out of hand.

      Muschamp’s comments about Jeff giving us the best opportunity to win is a bit scary. Not sure there is a “perfect” solution this year, but we need to show improvement. Other QB’s around the Nation are playing better than Jeff is right now, we don’t need to make any more excuses but we can’t keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

    • GSU_GatorSeptember 22, 2014, 1:01 pm

      The “stay the course” comment was definitely scary. I just base the OL getting pushed around on our inability to run the ball. That inability to run could have also came from our inability to complete passes…it wasn’t pretty either way.

  2. g8trgirlntxSeptember 22, 2014, 2:33 pm

    My issues, along with other obvious ones that have been belabored here on this site in many posts, are the “intangibles” that you just can’t teach. Things like leadership, command, confidence and willingness to put the team on your back and fight are things that I have not seen from Driskel. I know Jeff has been dragged around the internet and I think we have seen his ceiling. I just don’t get that “feeling” from him. He has a modicum of mental toughness certainly because he is playing QB in the SEC. I don’t see that toughness, command and leadership that Tebow displayed when he gave us the “Promise” speech. Tebow was a class act and a great football player who loved this game and loved the Gators. He didn’t want to let us down and you could see the fight in him as he got in guys faces on the sidelines to lift them up when the chips were down. He motivated them, he accepted responsibility and he lead them. Even though he wasn’t the best passer, Tebow had “intangibles.” When he stepped on that field, you knew that he was going to give everything to push this team towards victory. It was urgent with him. I don’t see any of that from Jeff. I see a kid who is just trying not to make mistakes under the enormous pressure of playing QB for Florida. He’s making mental errors and seems shaky and unsure sometimes. Even when he does get it right and the receivers fail to catch the ball, it sticks with him and frustrates him to the point of making costlier mistakes to right previous wrongs.

    Jeff has physical skills and I don’t doubt that he has the heart. I just wish he possessed some of those intangibles that we saw in Tebow and Wuerffel. When times are rough, the team wants to rally around their leaders and sadly, I don’t get the feeling that they feel that way about Jeff. I’m not saying that Treon is the immediate answer but there has to be some answer apart from where we are now. One thing is for sure, we know what we have with Jeff Driskel. What we don’t know is what we have in the freshman in big time situations. Truth be told, if Treon can show those intangibles, everything else should come along a little easier. Confidence is key. Sometimes freshmen QB’s rise to the occasion.

  3. ryanrandallSeptember 22, 2014, 3:00 pm

    Thank you all for checking out the story. I agree with the points on Driskel. The offensive line actually did had one of their better games overall, which highlights the errors made by #6. GatorGirlNTx you hit the nail on the head, the intangibles make a world of difference and Jeff hasn’t shown that at any consistent point at Florida. There were elements in the Kentucky game in overtime, but when was the last one before that? Can’t really think of one, and that is the issue. It’s not so much an issue of finding a more talented quarterback, as much as it is finding a smart field general, and the Gators haven’t had one for some time.

  4. snowprintSeptember 22, 2014, 6:03 pm

    Of course everyone is upset. It turned out that all the propaganda from the off season was nonsense. It was last week’s struggle to beat Kentucky at home that perked up everyone’s radar. To try to ignore that feeling that something was still rotten within this team, many convinced themselves that, suddenly, Kentucky as a good team. It was absurd to see the athletic director celebrating like the Gators had just won the Super Bowl. Now Florida fans are going to have to wait an agonizing two more weeks to find out if that gnawing feeling in their gut that this Florida team is even worse than last year’s bad team. If UF loses to Tennessee, there will be such a wailing and gnashing of teeth that I don’t see how Muschamp could possibly still be the coach the next week for LSU. To get demolished by a team that turns over the ball four times in unheard of. It’s normal to lose a game that you have four turnovers in. Foley said he wanted UF to compete for championships and be relevant. If Florida loses to Tennessee, Florida won’t be competing for championships and will have become irrelevant. It’s so bad that Alabama, which may not be a great team, actually put on the brakes because they knew Florida was not any better than any other bad team they normally crush.

  5. pcolagatorSeptember 22, 2014, 11:40 pm

    This comment “The head coach also said Driskel, who went 9-28 with 93 yards, gave them the best chance to win.” caused particular outrage with me and I suggest a majority of the Gator Nation. In the 4th quarter with the game in hand, Boom did not bring in Treon Harris to help give him experience, much-needed hardening the wars of the SEC require and hone his skills to lead the Gators in the future.

    Really? JD gave the Gators the best chance to win? not this past Saturday and, sadly, maybe never. Coach Boom, don’t ride with JD much longer or else you may likely ride yourself out of town. I like you and really, really want you to succeed and be the Gators’ coach for a long, long time. HOWEVER, you learned your lesson last year and changed your offensive scheme, not mention your OC and OL coaches…so, pay attention to your ability to change in the off-season and adapt again. Otherwise, ask not for whom the bell tolls because it tolls for thee…

http://www.gatorcountry.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Will_Muschamp_Florida_Gators_Football_092014_USAToday-150x150.jpg Ryan Randall FeatureFootball ,,,
Print Friendly

In all the years I’ve followed the Gators, I’ve never experienced a weekend like this.

Not even following heartbreaking losses (some against Alabama, ironically), have I seen the fan base in this shape.

Gator Naton is revolting.

Sure, the fan base has shown consternation previously; look no further than last year’s 4-8 campaign. It’s not like a significant amount of fans have changed their tune about Will Muschamp and quarterback Jeff Driskel. But it’s in a different tone right now. There’s a mix of anger from Saturday’s 42-21 loss to Alabama, betrayal after watching the season opener and fear that the Gators are headed down another losing season.

Despite the same group of people calling for Will Muschamp’s job last year, there was a small pass in that a good portion of the team was injured during the season. A new offensive coordinator, one from a school that racked up a lot of points last year, gave supporters hope coming into this season. Throughout the offseason, the media and fans were told about the improvements of the offense, how the uptempo style is meshing well with the talent, and how Driskel looks more comfortable in the offense.

The claims seemed to have been founded in the season opener against Eastern Michigan. Sure, the Eagles were a cupcake, but Florida devoured them the way a major program does, scoring the most points under Muschamp, 65. Even though the following week’s victory over Kentucky took three overtimes, the concern from some fans was met with understanding and respect of a Wildcat team that is removed from the lackluster seasons of decades past. While Driskel threw an interception, he stood in the pocket and helped put points on the board too. Players like Vernon Hargreaves III and Chas Green saw a difference in the way their team handled the adversity. It seemed like a good test before Alabama.

While the worries of Gator Nation were pacified, Alabama’s opening play against the Gators opened those emotions up. Shortly after the 87-yard touchdown pass from Blake Sims to Kenyan Drake, the sentiments were the same on social media: Not this again.

Even when Florida kept it close, as they did for most of the game, there was still a sense of nervousness, a type different from usual feeling of a big game. It was as if Gator Nation knew the horrors of last year would arise, and was just waiting for it.

Florida and Alabama’s offenses helped make those fears a reality. While the Gators sputtered out on offense, Alabama wore down Florida in the second half with their running game. The Gators couldn’t tackle, were out of position and allowed 21 second-half points.

They also set the fan base into overdrive.

After the game Muschamp said the team will work on communication issues in the secondary, but the schemes ran Saturday left Alabama receivers wide open. The head coach also said Driskel, who went 9-28 with 93 yards, gave them the best chance to win.

In a young season, the football program already finds themselves at a crossroads. The supporters that were pessimistic, optimistic, and then pessimistic after Saturday will not waiver any more. They want change, because in their eyes the season is slipping away under the current plan.

As extreme as sports opinions can be, it’s hard to argue otherwise.

At one point during the game, I was having a discussion with one of my followers, Jason Cooley about the game and the state of the team. His quote summed up a lot of Gator Nation’s sentiments and the resounding feeling of change that needs to take place.

“Bro. Seriously. Stay positive. I’m just tired of this. I used to find the positives.”

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