I am at a loss for words, which doesn’t happen often.
For months I have been planning my trip back to Gainesville for Homecoming, hoping to revenge the loss that happened last year against Vanderbilt. Every year, a group of my fraternity brothers reunite in Gainesville and for the second year in a row we have watched, in-person, something so horrifyingly awful on the football field that our annual tradition may change next year unless drastic changes have been made.
The problem is not just that the Gators lost, but that they look lost. They struggle with the playbook, they struggle with assignments, and most importantly, they struggle to look excited, confident, energetic, or ready-to-play. And nothing is more frustrating.
20 Random Missouri and Middle of the Season Thoughts
- The Gators have lost 11 of their last 14 games, which is completely unacceptable, especially because I can think of at least six of those games that Florida should have won, but couple that we silly mistakes and unprepared teams you have a situation Florida has not found itself in since the late 1970s.
- That was the first time since 1947 and 1948 that the Gators were beat on two consecutive Homecoming games.
- I noticed during the game that when a penalty is called on the other team, the student section chants, “Move back you suck”. Not only is that phrase really stupid, but it also makes Florida fans look bad and is not at all classy. I am not sure when they started chanting it – it’s been in the last few years – but stop, please.
- Want to talk about disparity? The Gators are ranked 13th in the country in total defense, but 62nd in scoring defense. What does that mean? The offense and special teams are really bad – giving up short field position for the opposing offenses to score. The Gators have a heckuva defense, they are just not being put in a position to be successful.
- The Gators have fallen every week in every single nationally ranked statistical category:
- Scoring offense: 2nd to 7th to 24th to 54th to 56th to 74th
- Rushing offense: 22nd to 25th to 41st to 45th to 57th to 60th
- Passing offense: 4th to 12th to 50th to 85th to 91st to 94th
- Total offense: 2nd to 6th to 42nd to 76th to 90th to 101st
- The “two quarterback system” that was talked about by Kurt Roper and Will Muschamp was in no way a two quarterback system. Two quarterback systems are not alternating quarterbacks when the other is struggling; it is effectively using the strengths of each and keeping the opposing teams on their toes. What I saw on Saturday was a pair of coaches simply calling numbers every few drives when the other one was struggling and Treon Harris only played the last few drives of the game because Jeff Driskel could simply do nothing right. Kurt Roper utilized a two quarterback system well at Duke last season, so either, Kurt Roper forgot everything he did last year or Will Muschamp was forcing Roper to stay with Driskel, or call Harris’ number only when he saw fit. I am not sure what it was, but boy was it ugly and not at all a “system”.
- The defense that takes the field is starting to become very good. Outside of the game against Alabama, the Gators have allowed more than 305 yards of offense just once, and have allowed less than 235 yards three times. In fact, if you take out the game against Alabama, the Gators are only allowing 3.62 yards per play, which would be first in the country by one tenth of a yard.
- Outside of the defense, which was improving, the only real statistic in the Gators favor this year was turnover margin, well, they are now average in that category as well. After being first in the country for four weeks in a row in turnover margin, the Gators are now ranked 61st and Jeff Driskel leads the SEC in interceptions.
- I am really disappointed in the play-calling, again, of Kurt Roper. The offense is predictable, did not use the players strengths, and for some reason, we can’t seem to get the playmakers the ball. Brandon Powell looks outstanding and he doesn’t get carries until the score is 42-7 in the third quarter. Treon Harris was not given a far shot in his play calls and was only put in the game when the ball was on the 10-yard line after the score was 7-0 and had no momentum – and it certainly didn’t help his confidence that Matt Jones missed an easy block that allowed him to get blown up – he should have played the next series. The coaching staff never seems to call plays that are creative or different – just simple draws and simple out routes. I have not seen anything that resembles the play calling at Duke and after six games, the Gators are no better on offense than the last few years, even though they have better play makers.
- Get rid of the “blocking” shtick to play, and just let players play. The Gators are really bad on offense with players that “block well”, so you might as well give it a whirl. Kelvin Taylor is not good at pass blocking, but who cares now? You have nothing to lose. The offense has given up, so just give the ball to players to try to get a spark and if it doesn’t work, it wasn’t working before either.
- Maty Mauk had a QBR of 14.7 and it was the highest of the night.
- Florida’s defensive special teams is atrocious. They are ranked 13th in the SEC in both Kickoff and Punt return coverage and have given up three special teams touchdowns. Opponents are averaging 24 yards per game on punt returns (worst in the SEC) and 82.5 yards per game (11th in the SEC) on kickoff returns. Remember when Florida had strong special teams?
- The team was down 20-0 going into halftime and had the ball, and again, for the second time in three games seemed perfectly content going into halftime and just stalling the drive out by running out the clock. Show some guts. Try to score. They admitted defeat early and it is tough to see because I am used to Florida being a group of fighters.
- Give anyone a shot now. Give Andre Debose, Alvin Bailey, and Christ Thompson the ball on offense – lets see what they can do with the ball in their hands.
- We do not run a hurry-up offense. I was watching the play clock for most the game and the Gators snap the ball with about 15 seconds on the play clock, not the 21 or so that Muschamp is looking for. If you take out the overtime plays against Kentucky, Florida is running 72 plays per game, which is just four more per game than last season. Florida is supposed to be running a hurry-up offense and it is anything but. Florida ran 79 plays against Missouri, but as we all know, that is because Missouri scored on a kickoff return, punt return, interception return and fumble recovery, and along with their inept offense, they only ran 49 plays.
- Florida is really bad at stopping teams on 3rd and 4th down, ranking 82nd and 101st in the country, respectively. Against teams not named Eastern Michigan, Florida is allowing teams to convert 44.30% of their third downs and in games that they have lost teams are converting 52.17% of third downs – unacceptable. On the other hand, Florida only converts 29.63% on third down against teams not named Eastern Michigan.
- In regulation against Power 5 conference teams, the Gators only average 18.2 points per game. Last year, the Gators averaged 18.72 against Power 5 conference teams. I didn’t think it could get worse…
- I feel badly for Chris Thompson. He has played for two years and has almost zero to show for it because he hasn’t been given a good opportunity to utilize his speed – his biggest weapon.
- Firing a coach mid-season does nothing except appease masses and convolute situations. Take a look at USC last year, when Lane Kiffin was fired and Coach Ed Orgeron took over, he led USC to a 7-1 record including a win in the Las Vegas Bowl. Oregeron, although likely deserving, was passed-up for the new head coaching job, leaving many fans upset and the situation caused numerous internal issues. Firing Will Muschamp now does nothing but solve any immediate problems, because the next Gators coach is not in their current stable, and that immediate problem resolution doesn’t solve anything for next season. The Gators are a destination for many coaches and the search should start now, but not be completed until seasons end. The only way that changes is if the Gators look absolutely unprepared and uninterested in the game against Georgia and Florida gets blown out once again. At that point the team could be lost and you make the change, just to rid the air.
- I do think, however, that the Florida head coaching job is not as sexy as many places because of the fans. Florida is in the hottest location of recruiting talent, has good facilities, has a great Athletic Director, and has the support of the University, but the Florida fans and their generally toxic attitudes could keep many away. Winning at Florida is not easy. Winning at Florida means Florida must win 52-10 every game, or people complain. People complained, loudly, when Florida went 11-1 in 2012, they yelled at Meyer in 2009 for not winning by enough points, even though they went 12-0 in the regular season. Fans, are by name, “fanatics” or “fanatical”. But Florida fans are known, nationally, for having very unreasonable expectations and that could drive coaches away. Of course, every school has loud fans that complain about just about everything, but Florida seems to have the most. Why? Because when the sport became more popular and access to watching the Gators grew because of cable and television, Florida was at the height of their success. Just think, the 1990s and 2000s saw the rise of increased cable television rights for college football and the internet became your one-stop shop for news and information and during that entire time, except under Ron Zook, Florida was a national title contender. Recruiting became very popular to follow in about 2003 until now via cable television and sites just like this one, and that is exactly when Florida won two National Championships. Most Florida fans are not used to seeing Florida lose, or struggle, or not contend for championships. And there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting that, but with so little margin of error every season, it can become nearly impossible to please the Florida Gator faithful. I know many of you will disagree, but it is the common word on the “street” and could deter coaches from seriously considering coming to UF.
Dan’s Heisman Standings
- Dak Prescott
- Marcus Mariotta
- Amari Cooper
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Song of the Week
Ever since I saw Garth Brooks last week, I have been on a big listening spree of Garth and associated acts.
At his concert the most entertaining song was “Shameless” by Billy Joel. It was not the best performed song or the best sung song, but he was wildly entertaining during it. He was all over the stage and just looked like it was the most fun song he performed.
Well here is Garth singing along with Billy Joel at Joel’s concert at Shea Stadium in New York.