There’s a saying in sports that winning cures everything. Winning allows people to often overlook glaring issues on a team because winning is all that matters in sports and everyone is happy following a win.
However, losses bring those glaring holes and areas that need improvement out to the forefront. They expose the weaknesses of a team whether they be play-calling, personnel or depth. Back-to-back losses have exposed the Gators in all three of those areas and with a bye week ahead before their annual showdown in Jacksonville with the Dogs, Florida can learn a lot form their two tough losses.
5. Self Evaluation Time
The message after losing to LSU was that the Gators still controlled their own fate and that “everything is still on the table for us.” That all ended with that thumping in Missouri.
It’s gut check time now. You don’t control your own fate. The door to Atlanta is about to slam in your face. How are you going to handle it?
Following the loss to Missouri, Muschamp said he told his team to “circle the wagons, the arrows are flying.” Florida needs to use the rest of the season to figure out what kind of team they are and more importantly, find a combination of players who can win football games.
4. Missing Dominique Easley
Just how good was the Gators defense with Dominique Easley? Well, even after giving up 500 yards of offense to Missouri, statistically speaking the Gators are still the best defense in the SEC.
Without Easley eating up double teams, Florida’s pass-rush has no bite and the linebackers aren’t filling the gaps Easley created on nearly every down.
Football is the ultimate team game but right now Gator fans are seeing just how much one player can matter to a team and more specifically to a defense that was once considered one of — if not the — best in the country.
3. Kelvin Taylor is the answer at running back right now
I’m hesitant to crown or anoint player after one or two good performances but look what Taylor has done. Taylor came in with fresh legs in the season opener to gash a tired Toledo defense. Fans began calling for Taylor to get more touches right then and there but I held off, instead looking at the other things that Taylor needed to work on, namely pass-blocking and getting the playbook down.
However, after watching the Missouri game and with Matt Jones done for the year it has to be Taylor time in Gainesville.
Let’s play a game. Here are Florida’s drive summaries from last Saturday. Can you spot the only drive where Taylor was the feature running back? 8-yards, 18-yards, 6-yards, 12-yards, 6-yards, minus 2-yards, 9-yards, minus 1 yard, minus 4- yards, minus two, 70-yards, minus 1-yard, minus 10-yards, 3-yards and 19-yards.
After that 70-yard touchdown drive where Taylor carried the ball on five of six plays, gained 52-yards and scored a touchdown but he carried the ball only one more time the rest of the game. Why? Mack Brown is a good story and it’s nice to see a player who has been around for four years get an opportunity and play well but Kelvin Taylor is the future and he needs to become the present.
I’ll hop on the Taylor bandwagon now. He deserves more carries than he’s getting now.
2. The offensive line isn’t deep enough to cover up glaring issues
Following a rough outing against LSU, D.J. Humphries was benched. Max Garcia slid over to left tackle but that wasn’t the right combination for the Florida offense.
Towards the end of the game, after the offensive line had given up more sacks and quarterback hurries all season, there was another move made. Humphries came back in at left tackle and Max Garcia was moved over to right tackle.
The problem goes back to the Urban Meyer era. From 2010-2012 the Gators signed just two linemen in each of those three recruiting classes.
2010: Chaz Green (injured), Ian Silberman (backup)
2011: Trip Thurman (backup), Tommy Jordan (not on team)
2012: D.J. Humphries (starter), Jessamen Dunker (not on team)
Of those six players, two are no longer with the team, two are starters and two have proved to be somewhat effective as backups but are not SEC starting offensive line material.
Florida has been unable to compensate for Green’s season-ending injury. Tyler Moore is not a tackle. We said that after watching just one practice in the spring and he’s done nothing to disprove it. Muschamp and the coaching staff are trying. Humphries was benched against Missouri as the staff tried to shuffle things around on the line to find the best combination. That experiment didn’t work and there has to be more tinkering along the line.
In a couple of weeks, it is possible that you could see a line that looks like (from left to right) Humphries, Moore, Harrison, Halapio, Garcia. Is this the answer? Maybe, maybe not. But the line play can’t get any worse than it was against Missouri.
1. Tyler Murphy isn’t Superman
You can’t blame Tyler Murphy for Florida’s 151-yard performance last Saturday. As previously stated, football is the ultimate team game and you need every player on the field to be on the same page and to execute for things to go your way. Murphy didn’t have time to breathe let alone time to actually sit in the pocket and try to pick apart Missouri’s defense.
However, after Murphy led the Gators past Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas people were ready to anoint him as the next great quarterback at the University of Florida.
What this season boils down to is Murphy and the Gators have played well against inferior teams (Toledo, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas) and they’ve been exposed against the better teams in the SEC (LSU, Missouri).
Murphy and the Gators have a tough row to hoe the rest of the way with Georgia, South Carolina and FSU staring them down the rest of the way out.