A weekend for what if games

With the Gators on a relatively news-free bye week and little new injury news nor commitments (or de-commitments) on the recruiting front, there’s been a paucity of topics for an idle Gator fanbase to discuss this week other than the temperature of Will Muschamp’s seat – a seat which is merely a loss or two from being more accurately described as a hot plate.

I’ve read the boards very diligently this week and I’ve been bored, for the most part. It’s just one variation of the same two subjects after another – the future of  Muschamp and offensive coordinator Brent Pease. Yeah, we’re all unhappy with what we’ve seen on the field and most of us have opinions on how to fix the problems.

I think most fans still support Will. Fewer support Pease. Many are in that highly sought-after “undecided voters” column, those people who decide the outcome of almost every political election. There’s always some deciding factor that causes an undecided voter to cast his or her ballot in the “yea” or “nay” bucket.

Tonight I’d like to discuss some things that may affect the opinion of many of you passionate yet patient Gator fans by examining what things our coach may do to try to right the ship this season and what the fallout of what some of those changes may be; how these hypotheticals may affect your opinions. Yes, my friends, more “what if” dialogue.

I like “what if” questions when it comes to discussing sports, because sports is a hobby for most of us. Don’t care for those types of questions when it comes to my personal finances, international affairs, health and my wife. This is not to say, of course, that sports discussions don’t evoke many a strong opinion and emotion out of many a fine person. Many of those fine people are our wives, who likely have strong opinions about the amount time we spend discussing these capricious things as opposed to mowing lawns, keeping oil changes current in our vehicles and paying compliments to these lovely women.

My wife is visiting family this weekend, so I’m free to dish.


1. Muschamp and Pease stay the course and Florida beats Georgia next weekend? No change at quarterback nor any other personnel. No visceral nor discernible change in the current offensive philosophy nor playcalling. Florida grinds out a 20-13/17 type of win in which the defense is again the star. But Tyler Murphy plays better and manages the game and makes big plays when needed. Kelvin Taylor looks good. The offensive line actually blocks people from time to time.

The offense is effective enough to keep the defense off the field enough to keep the defense fresh and effective. Does this type of win sway anyone who is currently anti-Will back into the pro column? Is an obvious improvement in the status quo going to play in Peoria?

2. Conversely, same scenario as above – no real change and the Gators lose to Georgia but, for the sake of discussion, let’s say Florida keeps it very close (we all know it’s going to be absolute mayhem around here if Georgia blows the Gators out)? What say you then, Muschamp supporters? Do more of you jump ship? Are those of you who thought he needed to go now in a position where your opinion can never be swayed? How much more of the “Muschamp is a Georgia plant!” dialogue do we have to tolerate if he goes 0-3 against his alma mater?

3. Muspease (yeah, I know it’s an awful portmanteau but I didn’t come up with it and a lot of Gator fans have taken to using it) flips the script? Murphy is turned loose. Wide open play calling with multiple receivers each down. Vertical passing game. Ball control offense and clock management be damned! Or let’s imagine that the change isn’t quite so extreme or widespread but it’s obvious the coaches are trying to change this offensive philosophy. Let’s say this works and works beautifully. Florida wins 37-14. Murphy looks comfortable. Taylor runs like a wild banshee. Offensive line looks cohesive.

If you are one of those “undecided” Gator fans, how do you react to these changes? Do you credit Muschamp for abandoning all or part of his philosophy and credit him for being flexible? Or does it make you angry? Knowing even with a third string QB and all the other struggling or injured offensive personnel, we could be unbeaten or at least not as embarrassed and embattled as we currently are if CWM hadn’t been so dedicated to a failing offensive plan to this point?

4. Again, same scenario as above but bad results? Murphy gets his brains beaten in and during the rare occasions in which he has time to throw he makes bunches of bad throws and turnovers. Taylor and Mack Brown are mugged the whole game. The offensive line is still abysmal. The defense has to stay the field most of the game and wears down late, just like the Missouri game. Georgia wins by 20-24. Is it then abundantly clear that we simply don’t have the players, at least on the offensive side of the ball, to succeed regardless of philosophy and does it then become apparent that the coaches were simply doing the best with what they had?

5. Injuries? Yeah, I know all coaches and teams have to deal with them. But no one argues we’ve had more than our fair share and, to a lot of vitally important players and positions. How much has our injury situation affected your opinion of this staff, if at all?

Interesting things to consider, no? Hopefully this will make for some interesting discussion in a bye weekend.

At the very least, I think everyone’s answer to each of these hypothetical questions will help him or her come to terms with where they really stand with this staff … even those who publicly profess to be firmly entrenched on one extreme side or the other.

Have a great weekend and Go Gators.

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Thor Kolnes
Sports and writing have always been passions of mine. I was unfortunate enough to be born in Cincinnati, Ohio and even more unfortunate to be born with an unwavering sense of loyalty. I chose the Gators in a Cub Scout meeting as a young boy after my parents moved us to Florida and I have never looked back. Suffice it to say the loyalty to the Gators has paid off but the Bengals and the Reds are withholding their dividends. Geographical determinism made me a Reds and Bengals fan, but God's grace made me a Gator.