Where Have They Been?
All is not lost, there is still plenty of reasons to play and goals to obtain for this edition of the Gators. SEC East and conference championship are still there. The odds right now are not in their favor though. After three consecutive iffy performances from the offense, a team that has injuries mounting up, a schedule that still has challenges on the road and a pesky Gamecocks team coming to town this week. How will Florida respond?
At this point in the season, Florida still has the same questions they had during August practices. Luke Del Rio had underachieved, based upon expectations, and with him being injured Florida has to go back to Appleby or one of the two freshmen Felipe Franks or Kyle Trask. The running game has been inconsistent at best without a lead back, blame whoever or whatever you like on that. Florida has not been able to create explosive plays in the passing game and the offensive line is still trying to find some traction. It makes you wonder if it is an offensive identity issue, a talent issue or a misstep somewhere from the coaching staff. Regardless of what it is, it’s not working. Defensively, Florida could not hold up while the offense sputtered. It wasn’t Tennessee bad, but it sure felt like the last few games from last year.
As previously stated, Florida is a beat up. On top of the injury to Luke Del Rio, Florida suffered a season ending loss to Alex Anzalone, Jarrad Davis reinjured his ankle and will probably be out a while. The Gators also loss Cameron Dillard, Chris Thompson and Tyrie Cleveland to injury during the Arkansas game. CeCe Jefferson will be a game time decision come Saturday. Florida is going through the most grueling part of the season missing some key components to their early season success.
There is not much to share on the game other than it was a disappointing loss with so much on the line. The Arkansas game was a painful loss, not just physically but mentally as well. This team wanted to make it to the playoff and compete for a national championship. For that to happen they were going to need drastic improvement on offense and that just has not occurred. At this point the Gators cannot dwell on the past and can’t look to LSU or Florida State. Winning the SEC East and making it to Atlanta is still in play, but losing to South Carolina would be devastating.
We learned a lot about this team on Saturday, confirmed what many didn’t want to believe about the offense and this week we will learn more about the type of leadership is on this staff and roster. Florida is better than South Carolina and should win but a mental breakdown could ruin what was a promising season.
If I told you that a Will Muschamp offense is performing better than a McElwain led offense as of late, would you laugh or cry? Well unfortunately, that has been the case over the last three games for each team.
vs Missouri, Georgia, Arkansas
Vs UMass, Tennessee, Missouri
|331||Total Offense Per Game||382|
|24.7||Team Points Per Game||29.7|
Since putting in the high school quarterback South Carolina has found lightning in a bottle and reeled off three consecutive wins, and are in play for reaching a bowl game. Muschamp deserves credit for that when considering the state in which he picked up the program.
Besides all the feel good stories coming from Columbus and regardless of how much Will Muschamp deflects, this game has to have a ‘special’ place in his heart. I don’t think he would mind sticking it to the Gators with so much on the line and this being his first time back in Gainesville.
Florida could very well rise to the occasion and roll the Gamecocks, but it should not surprise any of us at all if this was a 4th quarter game.
What’s Down the Road?
November is when the wheat gets separated from the tares. Across the country this occurred and in the SEC it was no different. Alabama once again took another step forward from the pack defeating LSU 10-0. LSU could not muster up anything to move the ball effectively and now the future leadership of the program is in limbo. Alabama left points on the field and the game never felt like the Tide were in trouble. If Alabama does not win the SEC, it would be the biggest shocker of the entire season.
As for LSU, it will be interesting to see where this team goes from here. They have lost again to Alabama and faces a confident Arkansas squad on the road, then take on Florida and close with Texas A&M. Now that the Coach O rocket ship has returned to the reality of earth, can this team maintain that excitement and momentum prior to Alabama punching them in the face.
The other remaining team on the Florida docket is that team in Tallahassee, that despite losing to Clemson is growing in confidence. The Seminoles survived a scare from N.C. State and should come into the game against Florida riding high. The game may not have the national attention but that game in Tallahassee will be physical and extremely emotional as both teams look to close the season strong.
Thankfully the Georgia Bulldogs made a comeback and defeated Kentucky, because I don’t think I could have taken another week of Kentucky winning the SEC East discussion. The win by the Bulldogs kept the Gators in the driver’s seat on the path to Atlanta, even though it seems like that Gators may be relenting that position. By 4:00 PM on Saturday we will know if Florida will be SEC East Champions or will need to go to Baton Rouge to seal the deal. A Kentucky win in Knoxville and a Florida win will punch the Gators ticket to Atlanta.
The other team alive in the race is Tennessee who rolled a cupcake in Tennessee Tech and now has to beat the Wildcats to stay alive. The difference between the SEC East and West is wide and regardless of who makes it to the Georgia Dome, they will have a hard time beating the SEC West representative. Tennessee is in the midst of a disappointing season but still has an opportunity to salvage it.
One team that cannot salvage their year are the mighty Blue Hose of Presbyterian. They lost another heart breaker at home falling 16-0 in a conference battle against Liberty. The Blue Hose have two more games remaining in their season and hopefully they can right the ship and finish strong.
Looking to finish strong is a group of seniors that will run out of the tunnel one last time this weekend. This game against South Carolina is senior day for the likes of Bryan Cox, Marcus Maye, Jarrad Davis, Joey Ivie, Daniel McMillian, Ahmad Fulwood and others. They have committed so much to this program, gone through some tough time during a coaching change and have one last shot at an SEC Championship. As fans and media we love the game of college football, probably more than we should, but it has become such a major part of many of our lives. As for these players they live and breathe this game even more. This week show your appreciation for the great moments these seniors have provided, as they show us why players train, study and play so hard and with so much pride for the good ole orange and blue.