MILLER REPORT: The all important first game

It is finally here. Football season has arrived, sort of. Practice begins for real on Monday. These are extremely important practices this August. Not just because the Gators have a new offensive scheme to iron out. This year the first game is of great importance and it cannot be prepared for the same way a Gator team might usually prepare for an opener against a lesser team like Idaho.

Most years the Gator nation is discussing such topics as “not showing too much” and “playing vanilla” in such a game. Most years there is suspicion that the coaching staff will withhold most of the playbook against an Idaho. I do not believe that Florida can afford that approach this season.  These Gators need a blowout win over Idaho. I hate it for Idaho but it is what it is.

These Gators need to build confidence and get that nasty taste of 2013 out their collective mouths. These Gators need to begin executing their offense like a well-oiled machine as early as possible, like the first quarter against Idaho. This Florida team needs to be comfortably ahead early in this game so reserves can get into the mix and quality depth can be developed. And this team needs to begin showing recruits at the first possible moment that all is well in Gainesville Florida.

Most years, Gator fans can just be comforted by the knowledge that the team opens the season against an opponent that should allow them to overcome some first game jitters and work out some bugs in the new offense. Not this year. This year needs to be complete domination from the opening kickoff.

Head Coach Will Muschamp and Defensive Coordinator DJ Durkin need to open practice driving the point home to every defensive player on the roster that the lackadaisical starts to games that took place last year are not acceptable. Shame them into understanding that nothing short of a shutout against Idaho will be considered adequate. The Gator Nation wants to see the Florida defense come out and smother the Vandals into submission by halftime.

Much more importantly, Gator fans (and recruits) want to see an aggressive and explosive offense. This is not a season to hide some of the offense from Alabama or LSU or Georgia. This is a season where the Gators should come out firing all of their bullets and boldly stating to everyone on their schedule that last season was an aberration and Florida plans to exact revenge in 2014. I know there is at least the perception out there that it is preferable to keep opponents from seeing all of your playbook (especially on offense) any sooner than absolutely necessary. Personally, I think the advantage is greatly overstated. More importantly, I do not believe that the Gators can really afford to hope that they can just turn that switch on when they need it.

The one thing I see missing more than anything else from the Gators these days is swagger. I want to see the team step out onto the field like they own it. I want to see that look in their eyes that says “we don’t care what you planned all week, we intend to impose OUR will on YOU”. Swagger isn’t something that a coach can instill on the practice field or in the film room. Swagger must be EARNED on the playing field. I believe it is imperative to do that from the opening snap of the first game. The ONLY way to acquire any swagger from a game against Idaho is complete and utter domination in all facets of the game.

It cannot be done by establishing a ten or seventeen point lead and then burning every possible second between running plays as you let the air out of the ball. I firmly believe that the Gators need to go wide-open on offense using every play in their arsenal and then let the reserves come in and do the exact same thing. The defense must flex their muscle from the first snap and make every effort on every play to demoralize the opposing offense. Muschamp and staff cannot be satisfied with a comfortable 31-14 victory doing their best to avoid embarrassing an overmatched opponent needlessly or protecting against injury. After last season, the Florida Gators find themselves in a position of needing to show all of college football that their demise has indeed been greatly exaggerated. The goal here needs to be a 55-0 type victory in this first game. It may not matter to the staff what I and the rest of the nation believe, but if this game remains relatively close for two and a half quarters with the Gators pulling away to a two touchdown victory with a boring time-eating fourth quarter I (and the rest of the nation including recruits) won’t believe it was because Muschamp didn’t WANT to dominate a lesser opponent. We will all suspect it was because his team could not do it.

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  1. Well, UF could not have picked a better opponent to accomplish the goal you asked for. FSU scored 80 on them last year, that was done trying to hold down the score. I would be unhappy if UF scored less than 50. As for the shutout, that’s not important, what is important is that Idaho doesn’t score when it matters. If Idaho scores after UF is up by five touchdowns or so and has the reserves in, it means nothing. Speaking of seeing UF out the backups in, can anyone remember the last time that actually happened? I can’t. I suspect you may have to go all the way back to when a guy named Tebow was on the field. One thing for sure about UF recently, they haven’t dominated anyone.

  2. from all the idiotic things you guys write and all the ass kissing you guys do to WM , this is the best article I have seen in the last 12 months , you are 100% correct and well written by you , congrats.

    now focus on coaches BS and stupidities, go back and see what it took for WM to play Taylor , you should know, well THEY NEED TO PLAY HARRISS , and they said they will , let us wait and see if they do it ——–u and other writers should keep an eye on that , UF needs explosive playmakers , period.

    • Agree with the article and above comments 1000%.

      UF is in no position to “hide” anything. As far as we, and all the coaches and players know, UF is nothing more than a pathetic 4-8 team that has sat around in the off season nursing broken pinkies hoping for real results in 2014. This first game will tell us all we need to know about whether the Gators were truly humbled by last season.

  3. Amen…Mark, you are so right on in your summation…I feel like a want to hide under my blanket for the first game and not peek out until we’re ahead by 40 or so..I almost threw my back out and pulled a hammy just flashing on last years debacle. We don’t have the luxury to be cute here. Domination! Albeit with some expected errors…but there has to be domination. We need to show complete and total domination; and as you said, get some needed reps for everyone. And then build on it…. Go Gators…

  4. This is the first article that i have read in a LOOOOONG time that i agree with 100000% more than anything!!! This sh** got me so pumped up for the first game its not even funny. I really hope this is how the coaches feel also. I really hope im not let down come that first saturday but i believe i wont be. Revenge Tour starts soon and i cant wait!!!! Great read Mark–

  5. Agree with Mark 100% and with most of the comments. Very rare.

    “I hate it for Idaho” sums it all up. And fair or not, that is the expectation – blowout. If we don’t win handily and get some backups in, I’m not sure things get better for the year. Having a spring and fall camp to dismantle Idaho while getting some backups in, is about the same as being very competitive in late Sept/Oct. I know we should get better should things not go as planned in that first game, but the competition obviously ramps up as well. So we’ll see come Aug 30.

  6. Mark, Here’s the latest update on two players suspended by LSU and FSU. Both Jalen MIlls and Jesus Wilson have had their charges reduced to misdemeanors. Both are still suspended, but it’s probable that both will be on the field by the time the Gators play them.