ASK ACK: UF Still Owns The Dogs

Each week, former Gator football player and now sports talk radio host Brady Ackerman will answer your questions about the Florida Gators. Whether it’s this week’s game or the game just played, no question is too hot for Brady to handle.

Brady: What are your thoughts on the Gator victory over Georgia?

A victory over Georgia and staying on top of the SEC East is always good for the Gators. UF played the first half like they were headed to a 30-point blowout but in the second half the penalties and turnovers gave the Dogs a bit of life. There are some things that are really hard to pinpoint with this team. First, why are there so many penalties? Secondly, what has happened to Chris Hetland? Finally why can’t this offense let the clutch out on someone and put a team away? Those things stood out the most to me on Saturday. That said, how good must it feel to know Georgia was counting this as a “moral victory”? UF still owns the Dogs.

Ack: Why can’t the offense duplicate the first half performance?

This is the million dollar question and it really is tough to answer. First, give Auburn and Georgia’s defense credit for making adjustments. I also think the fact that UF did not feature the tailback in this game hurt the running game in the second half. The Gators shot themselves in the foot with turnovers and penalties and sometimes that can happen when you have complete control of a game. You can lose focus and slip into a passive mentality. I think the Gators need to add another pitch to the weekly gameplan in the case that someone makes adjustments at half time. It is tough for Dan Mullen to walk in at halftime the last two games and tell his offense that they are going to have to do something different. The fact is that they have dominated the first half in the last two games.

Brady: Why is the defense so ahead of the offense? Don’t we have as much talent on offense?

I think the difference with the offense and defense at Florida is the experience on the coaching staffs. The defensive staff has been around longer and has shown a propensity to be able to adjust very quickly. I think the Gator offensive staff is made up mostly of young, bright successful guys who have always dominated the leagues they have coached in. They are learning that coaches in the SEC are pretty tough but in time will be able to put together the complete game against a quality opponent. Remember this staff has lost just six games in four years so they have a strong belief in what they do. Florida does have talent on offense they just need to find a way to keep them all involved.

Ack: What’s wrong with our passing game and why don’t we throw it down the field?

Florida’s passing works best when the running game is working. Schematically it matches up with what UF likes to do out of the spread and the play action. I think UF needs to develop a passing game that stands alone so when the running game is not working they can go to it. You see UF likes to give defenses the look that they could run or pass it on every play. This is good until defenses get a hold of your running game and squeeze your short passing game. This is where it would be okay for UF to line up in passing formations (trips, bandit, one back) and say “okay stop our passing game.” Florida needs to have a drop back scheme that throws the ball down the field. Florida also needs a four minute offense that they can go to when they want to ice a game. The last drive of the game was a good start on the four minute offense.

Brady: Should we bench Chris Hetland in favor of Eric Nappy?

I don’t think so and here is why. If Nappy’s problem in practice is the low trajectory you don’t want to run him in and have one blocked for a scoop and score. That could result in a touchdown for the other team or at least 2 points on an extra point. If you can separate a bit then put him in for the extra point to get his feet wet. At least with Hetland it appears to be just a mental problem, so why not send him to the UF psychology department and see if he can get some free help? I feel bad for Chris because he deserves a better fate than this for his senior season considering how hard he worked to earn a scholarship.

Brady: What did you think of the defense’s performance?

Suffocating. Florida is so good at getting pressure without wasting blitzers. Even when they brought Earl Everett it was a simple five-man stunt in which Everett just dominated his blocker to get to the quarterback. Derrick Harvey is a bona fide star and Reggie Nelson is now a player who affects every play just by his presence. Brandon Siler was very strong versus the run and let’s give some props to the coordinators. They emphasized third down defense for two weeks coming off Auburn and they held Georgia to 3-13.

Brady: Any early thoughts on Vandy?

I think Florida will try to find a running balance of Wynn with Percy Harvin/Bubba Caldwell against the Commodores. The offensive line will work hard to tighten things up a bit although I still think they have been very good all season. The key on defense is Vandy’s athletic quarterback(Chris Nickson 150 yards rushing against Duke) who in his first start this season at Michigan, kept the Commodores in the game until the second half. Florida must prepare for the early kickoff start and focus on protecting the football this week.

QUICK THOUGHTS: Let’s look at the good from the Georgia game. UF won the time of possession, improved it’s third down defense, forced four sacks and held the Dogs to 64 yards rushing. Offensively they got the ball into the hands of their playmakers Harvin, Caldwell and Tebow 18 times in the first 32 snaps. The Gators have out-rushed all their opponents this season which is impressive in the SEC. Finally we are bound to see a touchdown by Brandon James that won’t be called back. As long as the Gator defense continues to dominate the Gators could end up in the BCS title game.

Please check out College Kickoff on Friday Night on SunSports at 7 p.m. for a preview of the game. Our post game show with interviews and Coach Meyer’s press conference follows the conclusion of Saturday’s game. Join me along with Whit Watson, Terry Norvelle, David Steele, Nat Moore, Steve Babik and Todd Lewis for all the coverage on Sun Sports this weekend. You can hear the Brady Ackerman Show from 7-10 a.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN Radio 900 Ocala/1230 Gainesville.