This isn’t going to be a pleasant read for those of you who are faint of heart, so consider yourselves forewarned.
The Gators’ effort Saturday vs. LSU was an epic failure. I wrote a piece on Friday openly questioning what we knew about this team, and that after the game we’d probably have most of our answers – for better or for worse.
I’m going to do my best to balance every rant with a rave here. But it’s going to be hard. Fair warning, tender reader
with a desire to read puff pieces that may mask the ugly truth: I’m better at tricking others into whitewashing fences than Tom Sawyer. Leaving that bit to others who are a little calmer and rational. Huck?
And I love you, Becky Thatcher.
1. THE OFFENSIVE LINE: Here comes a really bad joke. This offensive line is offensive. Insofar as it should be considered “offensive” as defined – “unpleasant or disagreeable to the sense: an offensive odor.” There are no more excuses at this point. This unit’s coach has been here long enough. We’ve got veterans on the unit. We’ve got talented players there, but this line is a sieve. It’s as bad as any I can remember and it’s concerning that our OL recruiting does not appear to be going all that well this year. I’m getting soooo tired of saying it – and even more fatigued trying to make myself believe it’s possible – but we have a coach who has a philosophy rooted in winning games with the run, protecting the ball and controlling the clock. It’s year three in this regime and we’re doing none of those things well enough to beat the upper tier teams in the SEC.
2. THE OFFENSE: Despite the aforementioned struggles of the offensive line, which is obviously a key component of any offense, we coached and played incredibly poorly on that side of the ball Saturday. I asked in my prior column what might happen if we were to fall behind by double digits? Would Tyler Murphy be able to respond? Would the coaches open it up and make some good calls? Does this offense have the ability to rally? Hard to tell. No. And no. Tyler Murphy could have been picked off three times Saturday. But he had shackles on him the entire game. Someone pointed out in one of the many post-game catharsis threads that our longest completion Saturday was from our punter and our longest punt was from our quarterback. Forgive me for this but that’s just freaking ridiculous. It’s embarrassing and shameful. Good luck selling that to the high school players we want to come in and fix this mess. Murphy has answered every challenge in front of him and we had no reason not to let him play some wide open football. What’s the worst that could have happened? No touchdowns? Two trips to the red zone? Six points?
3. TIME OF POSSESSION: It’s one of the most deceiving stats in football. Those who are baseball fans and study sabermetrics fully understand how certain stats that seem to tell you one thing may frequently be telling you another. A Gator fan may glance at the stats and see we “won” the time of possession battle. This inquisitive fan may also find solace in the fact that we held yet another SEC opponent to fewer than 20 points. Said fan, who probably didn’t watch the game, may walk away from his or her glance at the stats and have a mental picture of a game that just didn’t happen. Lies, damned lies, and statistics. I’m not going to make this more complicated than it needs to be. We ran too much. We had no urgency. We wasted too much time. We should have thrown more.
Because we ran too much a lot of time ran off the clock limiting the possessions for both teams. This can be deceptive because the final output for the opposition seems low but upon examination of the entire product one finds that they, too, had few opportunities to score but they took advantage of more of theirs. On paper holding this LSU offense to 17 points seems like an achievement. But those who watched the game know this was far from a dominant defensive effort. We just wasted a lot of time … plodding towards nothing … like a Harlequin romance.
1. FRANKIE VELEZ: No idea who this guy even was before the game. But he split the uprights. Twice. Cooly, confidently and in a hostile environment. Maybe he’s the answer to the placekicking dilemma. We can hope.
2. KELVIN TAYLOR: Yeah, he missed blocks. Yeah, he’s raw. But even behind this embarrassment of an offensive line he ran hard and ran well and showed explosiveness that just hasn’t been there. He’s going to see a lot more PT – he’s got to – and he’s going to be special, just like his dad.
3. MICHAEL TAYLOR: Stud. Was all over the place Saturday.
4. GEORGIA LOST: We still control our own destiny. A very good Missouri team has to beat us next week without James Franklin, who makes their offense go. Georgia’s injury-riddled and is down to third string playmakers. South Carolina looks fine. Trying to fish the inner optimist out of me right now is tantamount to trying to pull a hooked grouper out of a deep coral. But we can still make it to Atlanta if we can get this ship together.
Sorry for the negative tone but I am a fan before I am anything else and I am not one to sugar coat things. It’s always great to be a Gator and sunny skies likely await us. Go Gators.