Missouri 42, Florida 13: For all his achievements, Jeremy Foley is selfish

In my own humble opinion, I feel like I’ve been a pretty rational and reasonable person throughout the entire mess that we can now officially say is Will Muschamp’s tenure at Florida. I’ve stated facts and numbers to back up my opinions, radical as they may have been at the beginning (I first saw the warning signs after the Miami game last year), from the get go. And most of all, I was patient with those who opposed me about my disdain for Muschamp leading this team.

I’m done with that, all of it, because here we are well over a year later and nothing has changed.

So here we go: Jeremy Foley is selfish. He’s accomplished an incredible amount at the University of Florida, and he is among the best AD’s in the nation. But at the same time, he’s selfish. There, I said it. He’s selfish. And I’ll add this- 24 national titles in 22 years sort of gives him a pass to be. That does nothing to change that fact. All that success made him that much more sure of himself that he’d found the right man for Florida. But now, there’s nobody left to defend Muschamp. And so by refusing to fire him immediately after the game, like USC athletic director Pat Haden did with Lane Kiffin, he is proving that he is only keeping Muschamp on staff because of his pride.

But when he sits back in a rocking chair in the private of his living room, Jeremy Foley has to know at this point in time that Will Muschamp is not the right coach for the Florida Gators, not just going forward, but for the rest of the season. I mean, he’s just got to know by now. How can he not? What excuse is there to not realize that he messed up (big time) with this hire after what happened on Saturday? He hasn’t ever beaten Georgia; why should I believe he will this year? His teams constantly self destruct in big stages; why should I believe they won’t again this year? He simply can’t win big games, and with two left (Georgia and FSU) why should I believe that will change now?

At this point, there’s no other possible explanation for allowing Muschamp to continue to run this team (straight into the ground) for the rest of the season. Muschamp was supposed to be his home run hire, his Billy Donovan of football that he snatched up young so he could lead the Gators to decades of success. And again, I’ll concede that when you average more than a national championship per year, you sort of have the right to try something like this. It wasn’t a horrible idea. He wasn’t my first choice- or Ryan Moyer’s- but from his perspective, it was worth a shot.

But now that it didn’t work, Foley’s failure to remove him right now is beginning to set the program back. Who are we kidding? Recruits are laughing at this mess of a football program right now. The on field performance is killing recruiting far more than losing the head coach possibly could. Yet Foley is too proud- too stubborn, really- to admit that he made a mistake that I could have forgiven for had he admitted and corrected it far sooner than he has (and he still hasn’t officially fired Muschamp, which is why I’m writing this… but let’s face it, Muschamp isn’t coming back).

So. Do I want Jeremy Foley fired? No. I just want him to do his job. It’s a job that should have been done a year ago after losing to Vanderbilt, but better late than never (or in this case, better late than later, because again, Muschamp isn’t coming back in 2015). I understand that firing a coach that you were so sold on is tough, but I don’t care. It’s part of his job. He’s done that job remarkably well over the years, so it’s time to do it again.

The thing is, after what happened on Saturday, Muschamp has zero supporters left. Zero. Well, unless you count the Georgia fans jumping up and down with glee at how their little double agent has wrecked this football program. But among Gator fans, he’s out of support.

I knew something was wrong when Missouri returned the opening kick back for a touchdown. Florida’s special teams are supposed to be so staunch, but that was a huge red flag. I had a feeling things would just get worse- and they did. So, exactly what went wrong against Missouri? Well, I’m going to sounds like a broken record since I’ve been calling his teams out for the same damned things over and over again, but here we go.

The Gators self destructed. 6 turnovers is bad, really bad, even by Muschamp’s standards. That ties for the most this team has turned it over in one game, the other being the disgraceful performance in the Cocktail Party two years ago. But this time, there wasn’t just one culprit. The whole team was not doing what it as supposed to do. Marcus Murphy returned a kick and a punt for touchdowns, and in both I could count at least three Gator players who broke their lanes and thus gave Murphy a seam. And of course Jeff Driskel was his usual gift giving self- throwing two picks (one really bad one that Missouri linebacker Darvis Ruise took back for a touchdown) and fumbling once… which Markus Golden returned for a touchdown.

The offense was nonexistent. You know, again. The offensive line was abhorrent, missing various assignments and thus allowing constant pressure on both Jeff Driskel and Treon Harris. Three and a half years. Three offensive coordinators. Same paltry result. Another game in which Florida failed to accumulate 300 yards of total offense. No one person to blame- certainly not Roper, as each of Florida’s three highly touted offensive coordinators have failed at Florida- except for Muschamp, as the common denominator.

This was a big game, and the Gators played their worst. Another constant theme under Muschamp. Huge rivalry game against Georgia in 2012? Check. BCS Sugar Bowl against Louisville? Check. Final game of dying Miami rivalry? Check. Pretty much every game in 2013 down the stretch that Florida needed to win in order to stay in contention for the SEC East? Check. And then the last two weeks’ games, in which Florida had to win to remain alive for the SEC East? Check, and check. Sigh.

For once, Muschamp actually did the smart thing and let Harris play a lot of the game. I don’t expect him to be the next coming of Tim Tebow, but if somebody’s going to be throwing interceptions and overshooting his receivers by 10 yards, I’d rather it be Harris than Driskel. We all know Driskel has reached his ceiling as a Florida QB, so why not give the freshman the experience and let him learn? Harris’s ceiling as a playmaking QB may be Chris Leak, but you can win a national championship with Chris Leak and good coaching behind him- something Harris doesn’t have.

But it’s too late to be looking for positives under Muschamp. The time for trying to find signs of hope and a future with Will Muschamp has passed. The Gators’ chances at the SEC East may be gone, but we still have a chance to erase three years of frustration in Jacksonville against Georgia, and we still have a chance to wreck Florida State’s season. Neither will happen under Muschamp. We know all his teams do in big games is collapse. Why let it happen more? How much larger of a sample size does Jeremy Foley need to believe this? Or if he knows and is going to fire Muschamp at the end of the season- why wait? Do you enjoy losing to Georgia? Do you enjoy getting smacked around by FSU? Sure seems like it, because why else would you allow this clown to run his circus act for another day of practice, let lone another game?

I’ll say this until I’m blue in the face: no, we don’t know that Kurt Roper or DJ Durkin will lead this team on a magical five game winning streak to close the season. But we do know, from three and a half years of experience, that Muschamp will not. If it were me, I’d take “I don’t know what they can do” over “I know he is incompetent and will lead us to failure” any day of the week, and I think all of you reading would too.

Please, Foley. Do the right thing. I get on my knees, clasp my hands and beg of you, on behalf of Gator Nation, to remove this idiot from his job before this season turns into a complete disaster. It’s a forgettable one right now, but beating our two rivals will change that. I guarantee you that. But we will not beat either if Will Muschamp coaches the team, and if I am wrong, I will come back on here and publicly apologize.

Do not let your pride get in the way of what could still be a somewhat decent season.

Muschamp defenders- this one’s on you, but now what?

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(Note: this is not the game recap. That will come later in the week, as we now have two weeks to dissect this game.)

In All Kinds Of Weather, we all stick together. It’s the basis of this website. It’s a string of words I try to live my life by. It’s also a phrase that has created quite a rumble among Gator fans lately.

It really does sound like a simple message, right?

Note the next line of the song, though: for FLORIDA. Not MUSCHAMP. I do love my Gators in all kinds of weather, but I will not unconditionally defend a coach who’s clearly not adequate at his job. The differences in interpretations of the song has caused a major rift between this site and its supporters and those who blindly defend Will Muschamp (though that number is rapidly shrinking). And now, those differences are starting to take a toll on the football team.

Throughout the article, I’ll touch on a few things I haven’t ever touched on yet. But sadly, the current problem starts with some of this team’s own fans.

This has been an interesting week for us at In All Kinds Of Weather, probably unlike one we’ve ever experienced before. We added a new staff writer in Rylan Romano, who I expect to continue doing great stuff for us. Other than that, though, it wasn’t all great. We were criticized by ESPN.com “writer” (word used loosely) Jeff Barlis in a series of tweets taking shots at our site’s name. You’ll see them a little later in the article; for now, keep reading until we get there. But while those tweets did receive a mostly negative reaction (roughly 85% of the people who responded sided with us), there were a few Gator fans- and you can put quotations around either of those last two words- who laughed along with his shots at us (given the timing of it, I think Barlis was actually taking aim at Rylan, but the all the writers of this site are unanimous in wanting Muschamp gone, so who really knows. And truthfully, I don’t care; he’s my writer and I’m going to defend him the way I’d defend myself, because anybody calling him out is just as wrong as they would be to call me out).

In short, what happened was that I had called for Muschamp to be fired mid season and to give Kurt Roper the reins on an interim basis. And Barlis laughed at that while I held my ground and continued to explain that the Gator football program was crippled. Most of you agreed, which is why I’m going to warn you that a lot of what I’m about to write is directed at the select few who were foolish enough to cling to Barlis like a crazed ex for the ensuing 48 hours.

What Will Muschamp has done in his Florida tenure is far worse than what Ron Zook did. Muschamp’s winning percentage is now a ghastly 56.8%, which makes Zook’s 62.2% winning percentage look like a Hall of Fame coach by comparison. At least Zook could beat Georgia. At least Zook didn’t lose to an FCS team. At least Zook left the team in a good spot for the next coach, whoever it may have been, to start with. Muschamp has done none of those things. In fact, his team’s ineptitude is starting to scare off some recruits, which makes me question this team’s future.

If you watched the Notre Dame-FSU game last night, you saw Travis Rudolph make a sweet move en route to a touchdown. Guess what? Rudolph was going to a Gator. But then Muschamp went all four and eight on us and Rudolph fled to Tallahassee and now he’s a star. Same with Dalvin Cook. Same with Ermon Lane. And rumor has it that Georgia freshman running back Sony Michel was quietly considering Florida- until the team went to the toilet. Who’s next? Which four or five star recruit is Muschamp going to scare off next with his team’s unacceptable performance?

In that article I linked earlier in this article, I stated that Muschamp needed to be fired immediately. Yes, the SEC East was within reach at the time (it sure as hell isn’t now!) but that was all the more reason to fire him before the Missouri game. We’ve seen what Muschamp’s teams can do- nothing good- so why give him the chance to derp around some more? Why allow him to kill another season in which a championship is attainable? My point was to give Roper a shot because we don’t know what he could do. OK, so we don’t know isn’t the most ringing endorsement you can possibly give a guy, but for the love of God, it’s more promising than “we know he is incapable of leading this football team”, right? So why not go with the unknown over the known ineptitude?

Matter of fact, I directly predicted that Florida would embarrass itself last night once more with Muschamp at the helm. No, really. Click the link and laugh sadly at what I wrote. Of course, that earned me some more flak on social media. So by the time the game got out of hand as I predicted it would, I had had enough. And I let Barlis have it for ridiculing us. You detect a little sarcasm there, Muschamp supporters? Good. Congratulations, you’re as perceptive as Muschamp. I told you exactly what was coming, and you either called me out for being a fair weather fan or laughed at me. Guess what, Muschamp defenders? I was right, and you were wrong.

But why stop there? Barlis, for all his faults, is FAR from the only offender. And at least he has an excuse to do it; he’s (somehow) a beat writer for ESPN; he has to stay neutral. While he never should have tweeted what he did about us, the blame lies just as much with those “fans” who agreed with him- and who blindly defend Will Muschamp.

Which is why I’m going to say this: if you continue to support Will Muschamp, or if you call me or my writers out for failing to do so, you are a bad fan. I know, In All Kinds Of Weather. I’ll refer you back to earlier in this article; the song continues for F-L-O-R-I-D-A. For the good of the program. Muschamp is detrimental to the program; therefore, supporting him means you are supporting something that anybody with a grain of common sense knows is ultimately going to fail (and we have three and a half years’ worth of proof of this).

What people like the ones who blindly defend Muschamp, from Barlis to random people with twitter accounts, do is something called enabling. Jeremy Foley, for all the wonderful things he has done at the University of Florida (24 national championships throughout all sports in his 22 years at UF) is scrambling right now, desperately trying to find some reason to believe that Will Muschamp was the right hire. There’s no doubt that there were better coaches out there after Urban Meyer resigned in 2010, but instead, he went out on a limb and made a gutsy hire in Muschamp, and now he’s trying to justify it. Let’s face it, the on field statistics don’t help his argument. So he’s looking for something- ANYTHING- to even hint at the fact that he might not have made the worst hire of his 22 years as AD. And the sad thing is, those who continue to directly support Muschamp give him the weakest reason possible not to fire him- but it’s a reason nonetheless.

And I’ll say it again. In All Kinds Of Weather, I will always be a Gator fan. I will always want the best for the Gators. Unfortunately, as much as I like Will Muschamp as a human being, him coaching the Florida Gators is not what’s best for the Gators. And yes, that most definitely does mean that I love and care for the Gators.

Consider the following analogies. We all love somebody in our lives, right? We all have people we need to look after. When they do wrong, how do you react? Think about that, now.

When your 12 year old son punches a girl in the face at school and really hurts her, and you get called into the principal’s office to deal with him, what do you do? Do you congratulate him? “Hey, nice shot big guy, you made her nose bleed! High five!” Do you buy him ice cream? Or, best of all, tell the principal to back off with the criticism and leave him alone and that you love and support your son in all kinds of weather?

That was fun; let’s try another. Now you’re a college student (like me, and I actually have dealt with this before). You’re at a party. One of your best friends wants to experiment with crack. Do you let him do it? Do you allow your deep level of care for your best friend to interfere with your better judgment- or worse, allow him to do it on that basis? Do you just say, “in all kinds of weather I support you, go ahead!”?

See, loving somebody (or something) does not always mean you agree with every move they make. Of course you punish your son for hitting another child. Of course you do all in your power to stop your best bud from trying crack. Does that mean you don’t care a great deal for them? Absolutely not. Sometimes, you have to step in and express disagreement (and then do something about it, but that’s not applicable as we can’t fire Muschamp ourselves) with a decision they make in order to make them better in the long run. But by the logic of the blind Muschamp defenders, it’s completely OK to agree with what somebody or something you love does regardless of the potential ramifications, no matter how drastic.

So, let’s be clear: if you continue to call me, or anybody else out for not being true fans because we are critical of Will Muschamp after the 42-13 beatdown we received at the hands of Missouri last night, you are expressing support for your son’s decision to punch a girl in the face, or your friend’s decision to experiment with crack. We are true fans because we see a problem and want fix it in order to provide a net positive result for Gator football, and you are bad fans for supporting something that three and a half years of experience have proven will not work. Really, now. That’s what you Muschamp apologists call a true fan? Supporting something that greatly damages the program? Anybody with a thimbleful of sense knows that there’s something wrong with this line of thinking.

I do want to be clear with one thing, though. This isn’t including those who boo players; I don’t agree with that. The players are just college kids, like me. That’s not fair. But Muschamp is not a kid. He is a professional who makes millions of dollars to coach this team, and so he deserves every word of criticism aimed at his ability to coach that he gets.

Now, onto Jeremy Foley.

I can’t say enough about the job Foley has done overall as the AD. But at the same time, he’s clearly not doing the smart thing by keeping Will Muschamp on staff. So, my thoughts? Foley made a mistake. We all make them; we’re all human. But by refusing to fire Muschamp for as long as he has, he is compounding the mistake and turning a simple error in judgment into a nightmare for Gator Nation. I just beg of him to correct the mistake now before it hurts us any more than it already has. Meaning, before we lose our fourth straight to Georgia.

But he’s in a tough position, you might say. Firing a coach mid year could hurt recruiting, and plus, who’s going to coach the team the rest of the season? I realize it’s tough for Foley to swallow crow and fire Muschamp now, but I don’t care. He is making millions of dollars to be the athletic director at the University of Florida. This is a part of his job. He needs to do that job now the same way he did it to bring home 24 national championship trophies. Recruits aren’t stupid. They know Muschamp is on his way out eventually- and that’s for those who haven’t even decommitted in their minds yet on the grounds that this current football program is a disgrace.

At this point, I’m not even mad. I knew it was coming. Too bad not everybody else did. I involuntarily erupted in hysterical laughter when Frankie Velez’s extra point was blocked following the Gators’ second touchdown, because if I didn’t laugh, I would have cried. Of course it would get blocked. It epitomized the night perfectly.

The thing is, though, there’s still a lot to play for this year. We have a chance to end our three years of misery against Georgia in two weeks in Jacksonville, and we have a chance to crush FSU’s dreams of a national title before they even get the chance to play for it (let’s face it, losing at home to a three loss- and that’s at best- Gator team would send their stock way down). And we have a chance to finish on a high note, which is always good as it would give new recruits reason to believe that Muschamp was really the problem and that a new coach would fix it.

But none of that’s gonna happen with Muschamp. We all know that by now, and if we don’t, we are in some serious denial that only a licensed therapist could break.

And so I’m signing off for the day (go Giants, beat Dallas) with this:

Please, Jeremy Foley. Overall, you are a great athletic director.  You have said over the years that if something must be done eventually, it must be done immediately. Firing Muschamp is going to have to be done eventually. He’s simply awful at leading this football team. So do it immediately. Do it now. Not after we lose to Georgia for the fourth straight time, not after we choke against another FCS team we paid almost a million dollars to come take their beating in the Swamp, and not after FSU humiliates us for the second straight time. NOW. Fire him NOW. NOW NOW NOW NOW. Make Kurt Roper the head coach for the rest of the year, because he can’t possibly be any worse than Muschamp.

Florida-Missouri Preview: A winnable must win, and the key to win is Treon Harris

This isn’t the first time I’ve said this, but it remains just as true today as it was when I said it before the Tennessee game: Will Muschamp’s team needs to win tomorrow in order for him to keep his job. That’s it, I’m just cutting to the chase and letting fly.

The good news for Muschamp is that Missouri happens to be very beatable.

Let’s start up front. Florida’s offensive line vs. Missouri’s defensive front seven is about the only battle I can see Florida easily losing. The Tigers employ two nasty defensive ends in Shane Ray and Markus Golden. Each of them defines the term “speed rusher” because… well, they’ve got speed. On the contrary, Florida’s offensive line (while it has improved somewhat) is still full of question marks. So this is going to be a challenge, and I accept that.

But in just about every other matchup that you’ll see, I believe Florida has the upper hand. Maty Mauk threw four picks against Georgia last week, and most of them were forced. He also lost a fumble when Georgia linebacker Leonard Floyd chopped down on hiss arm as he released the ball, knocking it out of his grip. Granted, that was the worst Mauk has ever played in his career. But that’s also his most recent performance, and that was at home against a Georgia front seven that isn’t horrible… but isn’t nearly as good as Florida’s. So you get where I’m going with this; Florida’s front should have its way with Missouri’s line.

Getting to Mauk kills the entire offense. There’s a lot of speed in their skill position depth chart between Marcus Murphy, Russell Hansbrough, Bud Sasser and Jimmie Hunt, but get enough pressure on Maty Mauk to force some mistakes and it all becomes irrelevant.

On the offensive side of the ball, it’s a little tricky. Mizzou has given up an average of 190 yards on the ground in their last three games (to Georgia, South Carolina and Indiana) but has done pretty well against the pass. Of course, Florida’s strength on offense is running the ball, so that seems like a good thing. But as long as Jeff Driskel remains in the game, that’s all Florida can really do to hurt Mizzou, and Gary Pinkel knows that. So the Tigers are going to stack the box and take away the holes and dare Driskel to beat the through the air.

That leads me to my next point: I don’t believe Florida can win the game if Jeff Driskel plays most of it. I’m sorry, Driskel supporters; he seems like a nice kid who works hard and does what he’s supposed to, but he’s simply not an adequate Florida Gators QB. We’ve been through that time and again.

See, this is what happens when you force Driskel to throw the ball. The results are very, very bad. That ends that discussion. Or it should, anyway. Take the hint, Muschamp.

Now, am I saying that Treon Harris is going to come in and put up Sam Bradford (at Oklahoma) numbers? No. But the fact is, we don’t know what he’s capable of. That’s a double edged sword, I know. But at least with Harris, there’s the possibility of improvement even if he struggles mightily. And hey, we don’t know for a fact that he will struggle, while with Driskel… well, that’s really all he’s done throughout his Gators career. With Driskel, we know exactly what we’re going to get: a run heavy offense that tries to beat Missouri three yards at a time, bad decisions and miscommunications and drives that end with one first down at most, which will gas our defense and allow Mizzou’s speed to tear up and down the field.

The sad thing is, with Driskel in the game, the offense reminds me almost of the putrid grunt and punt “offense”- and putting quotations around that word doesn’t even begin to describe how loosely it’s used- run by Steve Addazio. A Driskel led offense carries approximately zero threat of beating a team deep, just like the Addazio offense. A Driskel led offense cannot be counted on to generate more than one touchdown a game against a legitimate team, just like the Addazio offense. The only major difference is that Driskel is a legitimate running threat, but in a way, that’s even worse. Now the defense knows that there’s no chance the ball is going to be thrown more than 15 yards down the field, so that’s what they defend; the same minuscule percentage of the field that the offense operates on. And with that knowledge that there’s only a small portion of the field that they have to defend, the offense will flounder. Book it.

Meanwhile, with Treon Harris in at QB, things are a little different. Put bluntly, the offense will function better than it does with Driskel by default. It can’t possibly be any worse… wait, why am I saying that? We saw what happened to the offense when Harris got the reins against Tennessee; it wasn’t perfect, but it worked. Gears were grinding. Chains were moving. Tennessee actually had to play defense, and the shock that came with that fact was too much for them to overcome as Florida scored 10 fourth quarter points. Maybe it’s because the defense respects his throwing ability, or maybe it’s just because his refreshing presence puts a charge into the entire offense. But we saw the Tennessee game. Three quarters of ineptitude, and then one quarter that was far from perfect, but seemed Tebow-ean by comparison. Missouri will have to back off with Harris in the game because he has proven that he can throw the deep ball, which will open up running holes… and then the offense will function the way Gator fans would love it to. Or at least closer to that point.

So, Muschamp: I BEG OF YOU. PLEASE don’t leave Driskel in too long. You really can’t afford it. In case you’ve forgotten, your job security is on life support. But as much as I doubt you’re the long term answer as our head coach, I want to see my Gators win every game. And the truth is, winning the SEC East, weak as it is, may not be doable. I think the Gators will have a tough time with Georgia, Gurley or no Gurley. So I really don’t know if this team is capable of winning the East. But they can beat Missouri. And they have ‘to for you, Muschamp to keep your job.

Now; will it happen? I say no. Penalties, turnovers, and just a general high level of overall ineptitude have been what we’ve come to know Muschamp’s teams’ identities to be. With no reason to believe it won’t happen again based on three and a half years of screwing around, I’ll predict the worst showing yet. Go big or go home, right? Well, here’s betting the Gators lay the biggest egg of all tomorrow night. I’d love to be wrong, but I’ve got this sickening feeling that we’re in for a letdown after what many actually considered to be a good performance against LSU.

And the only conceivable way it won’t happen is with Harris leading the offense. So do your part, Muschamp, and play him as much as you can.

Introducing Rylan Romano To In All Kinds Of Weather

First, apologies for the lack of content from me lately (I’ll have a Missouri preview up tomorrow), but I’ve been super busy with other stuff. A lot of it was my own schoolwork, but one of the things I was doing was preparing to unveil a new writer to our team, whom y’all met yesterday.

Meet Dominick “Rylan” Romano. He’s a freshman at the University of Florida, which gives us our second current UF presence (along with contributor Tanner Dennie). Part of the idea of this site is to be the most fan friendly and student friendly place to talk about everything Gators, and damn it if it didn’t take me 11 months to find two people to represent the current student population of UF (nope, I don’t attend the school whose athletic programs I devote hours of attention to. Shocking, I know).

But this isn’t about me; it’s about Rylan. He has lived in the state of Florida all his life, which is at least partly responsible for making him about a big a Gator fan as you can find. And while pretty much everybody who owns a blue or white #15 Florida jersey can say that, I can tell you that from experience talking Gator football with him. The guy knows his stuff, too, and that’s every bit as important as being a die hard fan. His deep interests in law and politics landed him a volunteer job at the Lake County Courthouse his senior year of high school, and have also given him a fair but firm take on everything Gators.

It’s the combination of all of that that made jump at the idea of taking him onboard; he’s capable of engaging in thoughtful discussion with any type of Florida fan, in all kinds of weather.

Really, that’s the purpose of the site. Being a Gator fan is one of the trickiest things there is in life. The thesis of the song girls and boys sing while locking arms after the third quarter is that no matter what, the support of their Gators will always be there regardless of what happens. When things are going great, it’s quite easy, and a lot of fun. All you need to do is quote scores, bark like a little doggie at a Georgia fan, or make an exaggerated and much lengthier hand shaking motion to a Florida State fan (I hate the gesture so much I refuse to even name it) and you’re set. But when things aren’t going so well, it gets much, much harder. It’s times like the one Florida football is undergoing right now- a fan base divided over head coach, and quarterback issues- where it’s much tougher to be a fan.

Rylan is here to help with that. He can’t fix the issues that are currently plaguing Gator football (though he’d be a better coach than Muschamp if he made decisions by picking out of a hat), but he can take you through them and explain them to you in much greater detail than “we suck” or “that’s unacceptable at Florida”. Rylan can tell you why it sucks, or why it’s unacceptable. That’s why I took him on. His opinions may differ from mine, but that’s totally fine. Discussion is always welcome here at In All Kinds Of Weather, and his takes may be different than mine, or Joey’s, or NWB’s. And thus, his takes could create some fascinating discussion that without him, this site would lack.

I realize Rylan is also going to bring a number of new readers to the site, mostly his fellow students at UF. To those of you: welcome. Your thoughts and opinions are valued here as long as you’re respectful and articulate them to the best of your ability. We want to engage with our readers as much as possible, so I highly encourage you to comment on anything you see on this site. Questions about things you’d like to see us do? Leave a comment. Something you read spoke deeply to you and you want to let the writer know it? Leave a comment. Disagree vehemently with what a writer says? Leave a comment (but be respectful).

A couple quick rules. We talk with a lot of incoming recruits; thus, a lot of incoming recruits read what we all write, and some of them check the comments box. If one of them sees a comment that reads “Driskel sucks,” it doesn’t speak well about the fan base. Don’t do it. As the site manager I can easily ban a person’s IP address from ever commenting again, but if a recruit sees a low class comment directly taking a shot at a player or coach before I have a chance to erase it, it could really leave a negative impact. You’re only hurting your own school’s recruiting. Again, don’t do it.

Good rule of thumb: attack what somebody did, not somebody. If you want Jeff Driskel to be benched (come on, we all do) then explain why. Describe why he never should have thrown that slant to LaTroy Pittman in the waning seconds of the LSU game. Describe why Treon Harris and a fresh start would benefit the Gators. Some things the Gators do piss me off from time to time, but online ranting isn’t the answer. I’m a college kid, just like most of you new readers that Rylan has brought along. Things happen. Emotions burn. Trust me, I get it. But I keep those emotions off this website, and so I ask you to do the same. It looks bad.

So anyway, welcome Rylan warmly. As the season progresses and things start to play out more, you’ll see much more of him. Follow his new twitter handle @IAKOWRylan. Enjoy what he does for us.

Judging from the comments section of his last article, I can see lots of you already do.

It’s time for a change: Muschamp needs to go

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Editor’s note: this was Rylan’s “application” article to write for the site, and it was so good that I decided to make it its own post. We’ll formally introduce him later; welcome him warmly!

When I stand up and lock arms with 90,000 Gator faithful after the clock strikes zero in the third quarter to sing “We Are The Boys”, I truly mean it when I sing the words “in all kinds of weather”. However, after Saturday’s loss (or self destruction) against LSU, the category five hurricane looming over Gainesville just pushed me over the edge. Up until this loss, I was one of the few who still thought Muschamp could somehow bring Florida football back to the standard required by the Gator Nation. I was wrong. Muschamp has to go. Watching him blow yet another double digit lead to lose at home against LSU did the trick.

Before this loss, I was “that guy” defending Muschamp by placing some of the blame on the refs, an inept receiving corps, and Jeff Driskel’s unacceptable performance. No more. Losing this game opened up the floodgates and really epitomized all of Muschamp’s faults over the last four years. All of them.

2011 (7-6)

  • 3-5 record in the SEC (First time Florida had a losing record in the SEC since 1979)
  • Ranked 98th in the FBS for total offense*
  • Ranked 83rd in the FBS for passing offense*
  • Ranked 5th in the FBS for penalties*
  • Losses against five rivals (LSU, Georgia, Auburn, South Carolina, FSU)
  • Loss in final series game against rival Auburn
  • Virtually no top tier offensive talent recruited in the offseason (besides two O-linemen)

2012 (11-2)

  • Rocky 27-14 win vs. first game cupcake team  (Bowling Green)
  • Ranked 97th in the FBS for total offense*
  • Ranked 116th in the FBS for passing offense*
  • Ranked 3rd in the FBS for penalties*
  • SIX turnovers in loss against rival Georgia
  • Almost losing to Louisiana-Lafayatte in the Swamp
  • Embarrassing loss to Louisville in Sugar Bowl

2013 (4-8)

  • First losing record since 1979
  • Ranked 114th in the FBS for total offense*
  • Ranked 107th in the FBS for passing offense*
  • Ranked 18th in the FBS for penalties*
  • Loss in final series game against rival Miami
  • Seven game losing streak (LSU, Missouri, UGA, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, GSU, FSU)
  • Homecoming loss to Vanderbilt (First loss since 1988, First home loss since 1945)
  • Home loss to FCS team Georgia Southern (First FCS loss in Florida Football history)
  • Loss to Georgia Southern
  • Did I mention we lost AT HOME to Georgia Southern?
  • No bowl game for the first time since 1990

*124 teams in the FBS

The list of Muschamp’s faults is long enough without including the laundry list of poor coaching decisions this season. With a total win/loss record of 25-18 (a percentage of 58.1%, which is well worse than Ron Zook’s percentage of 62.2%), Muschamp has brought embarrassment to Florida football and the University of Florida as a whole. There is absolutely no excuse for having a team consistently ranking in the top of the FBS for penalties. That is poor coaching. There is no other way around it. On the same note, having a team that has never ranked better than 97th in the FBS for total offense is disgusting. This is not Florida football.

Five games into the 2014 season, Muschamp has continued to bring down the Gator football team, and let down the Gator Nation. Aside from the 65-0 demolishing of Eastern Michigan, Florida has looked awful all year. Against Kentucky, Muschamp’s pride and joy -his defense- blew multiple coverages and assignments, allowing a number of long pass plays (most of which were the same go-route to the right sideline), including two wide open touchdowns that brought Kentucky back into the game.

During the spanking we received at Alabama, the offense looked atrocious once again while the defense allowed two 75+ yard touchdown passes and a conversion on third and 23 that made me want to gouge my eyes out. When it was all said and done, the defense gave up a school record of 645 total yards. The defense’s performance, however, wasn’t Muschamp’s worst coaching of the game. With the Gators trailing 21-14 with 1:44 left in the second quarter and three timeouts, Muschamp elected to run the clock out. Are you kidding me? How can a coach just give up a possible game-tying drive like that? Worst case scenario, the drive fails and the game goes to halftime. At least try! Take the 2013 Oregon team, for example, their average scoring drive took only 1:50. Granted, we aren’t 2013 Oregon, but we have just as much talent, if not more. So why doesn’t Muschamp give the team a shot? With the breakout speed of Andre Debose, the sure hands of Quinton Dunbar, and the downfield vision of Kelvin Taylor, the tools for running a two minute drill offense are all there. Imagine how the offense felt when their own coach wouldn’t let them try and tie up the game.

The Tennessee game was an embarrassment as well. The offense got shut out until Muschamp finally took his head out of his rear end and put Treon Harris in the game after three quarters of dismal play from Driskel. On top of that, the defense looked as confused as an FSU student in a third grade math class. Multiple times throughout the game, the defensive corps was seen frantically moving around on the line, not knowing their assignment. Luckily, the talent of the defense allowed them to avoid many big plays… that time. Muschamp and the Gators didn’t deserve that win, but they got away with that one. They weren’t so lucky in this Saturday’s game against LSU, though. Florida blew a double digit lead by committing multiple avoidable penalties, dropping passes, and turning the ball over in crucial situations. The simple fact of the matter is, ALL of these issues can be fixed with proper coaching. Every single one of them.

The effect of Muschamp’s poor coaching goes further than the game as well. After the horrific 2013 season, seven players on the offensive side of the ball chose to transfer schools in search of better opportunities. These players included tight end Kent Taylor, defensive back and fullback Rhaheim Ledbetter, offensive lineman Quinteze Williams, quarterback Max Staver, offensive lineman Trevon Young, offensive lineman Ian Silberman, and quarterback Tyler Murphy. Let’s not forget stud quarterback Jacoby Brissett’s transfer in 2012. All of these players could have been a game changer this year, but chose to transfer to less renowned schools simply because Muschamp doesn’t care about the offense or the well being of the team (per Florida’s offensive ranking among FBS schools since his arrival). What does Mr.Will have to say about all of this? “These young men felt it was in their best interest to look for an opportunity to play somewhere else” Can you blame them? To make a horrible situation even more unbearable, Kelvin Taylor is possibly flirting with the idea of transfer, apparent through his retweet of (@JRob_T), which reads “Kelvin Taylor gonna mess around and transfer, and I wouldn’t be able to blame him”. He later undid the retweet, but not before the frightening message was sent to the Gator faithful.

Jeremy Foley, are you blind?

Normally, I am completely against firing a coach in the middle of a season. It brings down the spirits of a team and leaves them without a real head coach to look up to. This is different, though. This needs to happen before any more harm is done to the program. Let’s say we fire Muschamp right now. Worst case scenario, we lose out and finish with a record of 3-8. Okay, we had another season we want to erase from history, but we can at least hang our hats on the fact that we removed the cause of the issue, Will Muschamp. Don’t get me wrong, I like Muschamp as a person, but not as a head coach. His four years in Gainesville have shown us, and the rest of the college football world, that he is not head coach material.

Foley, do us all a favor and give Muschamp the boot now.

I want my football team back: Muschamp has crippled the Gator program

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We really didn’t learn anything new on Saturday night in the Swamp. The exact same issues that have plagued Florida football since Will Muschamp took the reins of the program in 2011 cost the Gators yet another football game. Like I said the other day, I could break it all down, but why bother?

Did he do anything so egregious on Saturday night against LSU that warrants a firing by itself? No. He (and his team) just made the same old mistakes over and over again. Penalties and turnovers have killed this team week after week, and how does Muschamp respond to people grilling him about it? “We’ll get it fixed.” “That’s on me.” “That can’t happen if we want to win.”

NO KIDDING, EINSTEIN.

But here’s the part that the few people who still support Muschamp don’t get. Merely acknowledging a problem doesn’t fix it. Think about it like this. If you are addicted to a drug, and your family stages an intervention for you, the purpose of it is to get you well. The first step to fixing a problem is to admit you have one. But if you admit that you have an addiction, only to go right back and do the same drug the very next day, have you fixed the problem? You admitted it, right? You know, the same way that Muschamp apologists point at the fact that he admits that he knows his team has a problem self destructing. So by that logic, everything is OK, isn’t it? Problem is, it’s not.

Simply put, this team is addicted to self destruction, and Muschamp’s admittance of this problem has not done a damned thing to fix it.

A common response to that from the few supporters Muschamp has left is that the Gators have had penalty problems since the Spurrier days. You know what else we had under Spurrier? Break out your dictionary, because this may be an unfamiliar term for you: an offense. A good one.

Which brings me to my next point: under Will Muschamp, the Florida Gators’ offense has been the worst it has been in at least a quarter century. In each of Muschamp’s first three years at Florida, the offense has been ranked in the lowest 20% in the FBS. That’s bad enough to get a coach at Vanderbilt fired, yet somehow Muschamp came back for a fourth season. Jeremy Foley, who is oh so determined to prove that Muschamp was a home run hire, just shrugged it off as a bad offensive coordinator and made Muschamp hire a new one.

But here we are in his fourth year, and his third offensive coordinator, and the offense is still abysmal. Are you going to tell me that all three offensive coordinators- who were each deemed as a great hire- were all just that bad? Look at how insane that statement is. Charlie Weis had a fantastic track record at developing quarterbacks and directing explosive offenses. Brent Pease was the guy calling the plays for several years for that incredibly fun to watch Boise State team. Kurt Roper manufactured an explosive offense at Duke- DUKE, for God’s sake- and led them to an ACC Championship Game appearance.

Now, each of them come to Florida and suddenly the offense they’re in charge of magically sucks. Who’s really to blame for that? Think, Muschamp supporters. Which is more likely? That each of the three offensive coordinators who had done well enough at their previous schools to be considered great hires for the mighty Florida Gators all of a sudden forgot how to run an offense? Or that Muschamp is the common denominator and doesn’t allow his coordinators to do what they want- and do what made them so successful? Look at Auburn with Gus Malzahn. He came right in there after a 3-9 season, and boom, the offense went from listless to explosive in one year. Why can’t that be us? We recruit well enough for each and any of those three offensive coordinators to come right in and provide instant success, do we not? Shouldn’t those rankings translate into at least some offensive success? Or are those recruiting rankings blatantly lying each and every year?

Saturday was just the most recent of a long list of examples. We put 300 yards of offense on LSU; Auburn hung twice that on the same Tiger team the week before. Why can’t we be Auburn? Again, we recruit the same players as Auburn (and beat them out for a lot of them), don’t we? Why is this something we as Florida fans have to accept?

This isn’t Florida football, girls and boys. Florida football does not go three and out on a third of their drives, and Florida football does not consider a drive that picks up two first downs to change field position a successful one. It’s Muschamp football, and it makes me physically sick to watch. Even when this team wins, it’s ugly as hell, and I just can’t take it anymore.

Here’s the thing. Somehow, in this messed up world in the SEC East, the Gators essentially control their own destiny. Technically they don’t because Kentucky has to lose again, but with Georgia, LSU and Mississippi State still to play, I don’t think that’s going to be a problem. This Gators team can win the SEC East, but it’s not going to happen with Muschamp at the helm. His teams display no ability to win big games, and from here on out, they’re all big games. Here’s betting that if Muschamp remains the head coach for the rest of the year, Florida finishes 7-4 at best, and maybe as bad as 5-6 (I think we’ll beat Vanderbilt and Eastern Kentucky regardless… though, yes, I’m aware… GEORGIA SOUTHERN and all). I’d love to be wrong, but I have this sickening feeling that we haven’t even seen the worst of this team yet. I have a premonition that Tevin Westbrook’s dropped touchdown will not be the most frustrating example of this team’s self destruction. Let’s wait and see.

Anyway, what I want to see happen is this (and I sort of covered this on Saturday, but I’ll go into greater detail here). Fire Muschamp, and give Kurt Roper the head coaching job on an interim basis while Jeremy Foley gets a head start on his search for a new coach. Do I think Roper is the right man for the head coaching job in the future? No, I don’t think he is. But “I don’t think he is” is a hell of a lot better than “I know he’s not”. It will also give Roper a chance to audition to potentially remain on staff as the offensive coordinator (depending on who Foley hires). If nothing else, it gives me a chance to prove that I’m right about my point regarding Muschamp handcuffing the offensive coordinators. Let’s see how this offense goes with Roper doing it his way, with nobody to tell him no.

I totally understand why this is extremely unlikely. Firing coaches mid season is the exception, not the rule, and plus, Foley has already said he’d give Muschamp the entire season. But I’ll say this. With Georgia and FSU still to play, Florida’s bound to lose again, and quite possibly in an even more frustrating manner than they did against LSU. I know this not from a crystal ball or a time machine, but from past experience with Muschamp. He’s 1-5 against Georgia and FSU. His teams are constantly among the most penalized and the most inept offensively; why should I believe that’s suddenly going to change now? None of this has been fixed within Muschamp’s first three and a half years, so why am I supposed to think Florida will magically turn into a disciplined team now? Exactly. I’m not supposed to, and I won’t. There’s still time to salvage this season- we can still make it to Atlanta and take home some bling (meaning an SEC East ring. Let’s be honest, we’re not beating the Mississippi or Alabama schools in the SEC Championship)- but it’s not going to happen unless a change is made.

In a crazed effort to prove to the world that he made the hire of the century, Jeremy Foley continues to give Muschamp chance after chance, week after week, and game after game to do something that gets Florida football some respect. Since Muschamp is incapable of doing that, this program has gone from football royalty to a crippled old man who needs a wheelchair to get around. You can’t just get “un-crippled” just like that. One big win over Missouri this week won’t erase all of Muschamp’s failures, and neither will beating Georgia, for that matter. Hell, at this point, nothing short of winning out would fix the program. One more SEC loss and this team will have gone four years without an appearance in Atlanta under Muschamp. That’s simply unacceptable.

We’re Florida. From the Fun N Gun, to the Tebow Touchdown machine, the Gators are historically an offensive powerhouse- and that has translated into championships. That’s gone, never to return as long as Muschamp remains the head coach. That’s been proven over the last three years and will continue to be proven week after week for as long as he remains employed. But again, we’re Florida. Why should we settle for this shit?

We shouldn’t; that’s the point. We deserve better, and I believe we’re going to get it. Unfortunately, I don’t believe we’re going to get it until after this season. And that’s a shame, because there’s still a legitimate, recognized championship that this team is very much in the running for. For Jeremy Foley to pass that up by giving the man he so deeply believed in more, unnecessary chances to prove that his home run hire was really a home run is just a damn shame.

I’m not asking to win national championships every year. I’m not asking to be Alabama, or the USC of last decade. I’m not even asking to be the Florida of the 90’s, where winning the SEC Championship was expected every year. That’s not realistic.

All I want is a football team that plays to its potential. All I want is an offense that makes the recruiting rankings look relatively accurate. All I want is an offensive coordinator who does the same things that made him successful enough to be hired at Florida in the first place, with similar results. All I want is a program that puts itself in the best position to win that they possibly can.

All I want is my Florida Gators back.

LSU 30, Florida 27: Tigers topple Gators, and possibly Muschamp

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Four years after a wild and wacky fourth quarter at nighttime in the Swamp ended with LSU on top, the Tigers returned to the Swamp and broke the Gators’ hearts in even more disheartening fashion.

Despite a huge special teams night by Andre Debose, the game was tied at 27 with a few second to go, and Colby Delahoussaye hit a game winning 50 yard field goal to give LSU its fourth win in its last five tries against the Gators…

Alright, I can’t do this anymore. Breaking down the game with in depth analysis like a sane person would do is pointless, because this team has driven me positively insane. Was every single thing that went wrong tonight Muschamp’s fault? No. In fact, most weren’t. Tevin Westbrook’s drop was not Will Muschamp’s fault; it was Tevin Westbrook’s. Jeff Driskel’s interception wasn’t Muschamp’s fault; it was Jeff Driskel’s. And if you’re going to respond to that with, “Well, then how can you call for Muschamp’s head tonight?” the answer is the same it always has been: Georgia Southern, Vanderbilt, 4-8, 0-3 record against Georgia, and so on. Muschamp dug his grave last year, not tonight.

I want to restate that last sentence, because it’s important: this game did not have a direct impact on Muschamp’s job security itself. Losing to LSU, from the other division, didn’t cost Florida anything. The Gators still control their own destiny in the SEC East (OK, technically that’s not true. Kentucky has to lose again… but they still have to play Georgia, LSU and Mississippi State). All tonight’s loss to the Bayou Bengals did was add more fans to the Fire Muschamp bandwagon. The newest members of this bandwagon have joined strictly because of emotion- this loss stings like hell- and not because of any legitimate, rational reason. You can’t construct a legitimate argument to fire him based on this game, but the loss does hurt like a bitch, and after a few years of losing now, these fans have had enough and want to point the finger at somebody. That somebody, naturally, is the head coach. And that’s fine with me. If you joined the anti-Muschamp parade tonight, I’ll welcome you with open arms. I just want you to know that losing to LSU at home isn’t a good reason to call for his head. It was agonizing, I know, but don’t try to use it to persuade others to want Muschamp gone. Use the reasons at the end of the last paragraph.

Anyway, there comes a point in time where the who, how and the why become irrelevant. At that point- which we really passed early last November- all that matters is winning, and as a head coach, Muschamp is about as good at that as I am at speaking Somali. “This went well”, “that could use improvement”, “if this had been different”… no. Screw that. That kind of talk is for first year coaches, or established coaches like Urban Meyer or Nick Saban in what’s clearly a rebuilding year. We’re WAY past the point in time where that kind of discourse is acceptable.

Sure, I could talk about what went wrong on the third and 25 bomb from Anthony Jennings to Travin Durel, about how Brian Poole bit and how Keanu Neal was badly out of position, but what’s the point? So we as a fan base can just discuss ways in which a real coach would get it fixed for next game but that our coach undoubtedly will not? What’s the fun in that? It’s not the first time our defense has been gashed for a big play in a key situation- Blake Sims says hello- and it won’t be the last. The Gators were burned for touchdowns of 33 and 60 yards by Garrett Johnson of Kentucky, and after breaking down those plays in detail, Kenyan Drake and Amari Cooper burned the same players responsible for the Johnson touchdowns the following week. And tonight, Travin Durel gashed the same Gator players in the secondary. And guess what? It’s going to happen again. Here’s betting Jabari Gorman, Brian Poole and Keanu Neal are responsible for giving up a big play by Bud Sasser or Jimmie Hunt from Mizzou.

I could also go into the penalties and turnovers issue for about the decillionth time, but again… why bother? I wrote about these same issues THREE YEARS AGO and said they had to be fixed if Muschamp wanted to win. At this point, you have to be on heavy doses of crack to believe that a Will Muschamp team will stop self destructing. Tonight, the Gators turned it over three times, including one that directly led to the game winning field goal, and two pass interference penalties on two straight third and longs gave LSU new life twice, allowing the Tigers to score a touchdown on the drive. Why even bother saying that these issues have to be fixed? I know they won’t be. It’s like telling a coke addict on the streets of Manhattan that he needs to stop. It’s a waste of time; he’s just gonna keep snorting coke after you walk away. It’s an addiction, the way this Florida football team is addicted to self destruction (more on this tomorrow or Monday). This team simply cannot get out of its own way as hard as they may try, the way alcohol addicts just can’t put the bottle down as much as they want to.

Bottom line: Georgia Southern still happened, folks. Will Muschamp still led Florida to 4-8 last year. He’s still 0-3 against Georgia. None of that has gone away, and it never will. It was all just shoved aside as the new year started. Revenge Tour UF. We’re gonna be back. Unleash Hell. Blah, blah, blah. Nothing has changed. The shine of the new season has worn off, and we’ve been subjected to the same old bullshit every Saturday that we were forced to endure last year. The difference is that this time, there are very few Gator fans who still believe in Muschamp.

And so, Jeremy Foley: on behalf of Gator Nation, I beg of you. FIRE. WILL. MUSCHAMP. Somehow, someway, the Gators still have a chance to win the SEC East. But it’s not going to happen with Muschamp at the helm. Let’s give Kurt Roper a trial run as head coach and see what he’s made of. Who knows, he may pleasantly surprise us. And should talks with our big targets (Dan Mullen, Kevin Sumlin, Bob Stoops, Chris Petersen, Kliff Kingsbury) all fall through, we have a solid backup plan in our back pocket. Now, is Roper my ideal candidate to be our next head coach? No. He probably wouldn’t be the right man, for various reasons. But we know Muschamp isn’t the right man for the job. And I’d take “probably not” over “definitely not and we have dozens of volumes of proof that he is not” any day.

One last thing: there’s no one player to blame for tonight. Jeff Driskel is not a good quarterback, and turned in his usual terrible performance. Tevin Westbrook should have caught that touchdown. Keanu Neal and Brian Poole should not have been so badly toasted than Travin Durel had an easy catch to convert a 3rd and Missouri to go. I know. But think about this. Andre Debose’s special teams heroics gave Florida one touchdown, and led to another with a two play, nine yard drive. Other than what Debose gave them, this Florida offense generated 13 points. That’s absolutely abhorrent against the weakest LSU team in Les Miles’s ten years there, and it’s on the offense as a whole.

OK, so you can kind of blame Roper for less than stellar play calling, but who’s in charge of the program? It’s Muschamp, and like everything else I’ve called him out for, it’s nothing new; each of Muschamp’s offenses have ranked outside the top 100 out of ~125 FBS teams. This one is no different; it plain sucks.

Anyway, I’m off to bed, probably with a long night’s worth of nightmares awaiting me. But know this, Gator fans. After tonight, Muschamp is one loss away from being fired. I said before the year that he had to win the SEC East to keep his job, and I stand by that after talking to a source close to the program. Once the Gators are eliminated from Atlanta, Muschamp will be finished. Count on that.

The Treon Harris saga is over: Harris will return against Missouri

Perhaps it was Tampa Gator who said it best in the comments section of my last update today: “Gotta love Fridays”. Well, Treon Harris and Florida fans everywhere are loving this Friday, anyway.

Finally, at last, this horrible nightmare is over. The alleged victim recanted her claim today and it all took off from there. Treon Harris has been reinstated, his suspension has been lifted and he will rejoin his teammates tomorrow on the sidelines against LSU. He will not play against this set of Tigers, but he will be able to play against next week’s set of Tigers from Missouri in a game that could be much bigger than the one tomorrow.

The reason he isn’t playing against LSU is simple; he hasn’t been allowed to practice all week. That’s all. Well, that and the fact that Jeff Driskel would have started anyway. There is nothing more to it than that.

Here’s Muschamp’s statement on the matter: “We have been notified that the University and legal process is complete. Treon has been reinstated to the team, but he will not play. This has been a learning experience for everyone involved. Treon has been honest with me throughout the whole process and is looking forward to rejoining his teammates.”

The girl who made the story up deserves anything and everything that comes as a result of this, don’t get me wrong, but that shouldn’t be our focus as Florida fans. We have a real season to focus on. Florida controls their own destiny in the SEC East, but a loss tomorrow will erase that barring a Missouri loss to Georgia. But this Gator team shouldn’t lose to LSU, even with Driskel. If the Gators do manage to hold serve in the Swamp, they’ll face Missouri either with a confident Driskel or a rejuvenated Harris, and I’m liking the Gators’ chances in that game as well.

 

BREAKING: Treon Harris’s attorney said the accuser has withdrawn her complaint

I told y’all Treon Harris would not be charged with a crime! That assertion comes true in the best way possible; it’s because his alleged accuser has withdrawn her complaint, according to Harris’s lawyer.

Harris should be reinstated immediately, though Driskel will still start against LSU. I am told that Harris will not play against LSU (if only because he hasn’t practiced all week).

You won’t get a word of defense for this girl out of me; she deserves anything and everything that comes her way. At the same time though, that shouldn’t be the primary focus. Instead, let’s celebrate this. We have our star QB back, and should Driskel struggle against LSU, I would not be shocked if Will Muschamp pulls him in favor of Harris much quicker this time than he did against Tennessee.

This is GREAT NEWS. I’m celebrating Harris’s freedom. But we have a game tomorrow. As hard as it may be, let’s try to think about that.

Florida-LSU preview: Defense is key, but Driskel must play well

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I wrote something similar a week ago before Florida faced Tennessee on Rocky Top, but the idea is even more important now.

Simply put, Florida’s defense must be ferocious if the Gators want to beat LSU.

I understand completely that Florida was pretty solid against Tennessee for all four quarters. I understand that Jeff Driskel struggled mightily for the three quarters he was allowed to struggle for. I understand that Treon Harris entered the game and bailed out the Gators in the very end, and I understand that Florida would have lost the game if not for Harris.

But in the end, the defense nearly let the Gators down. Watch the tape. In the fourth quarter, the Gator defense allowed Worley to convert a 3rd and 10 and then a 4th and 10 on the same drive. Yes, immediately after the 4th and 10 conversion, Keanu Neal made the game clinching pick, but Florida’s defense got burned first.

OK, so it wasn’t all their fault- the offense allowed them to get really, really tired- but the defense is what Will Muschamp hangs his hat on. This defense is going to have at least four immediate NFL starters, and as many as all eleven could be starters some day on Sundays. The offense, on the other hand, will not even come close to matching that level of success. Maybe a couple of linemen can find themselves on NFL rosters someday, maybe a running back or two and possibly DeMarcus Robinson. This offense, for lack of a better phrase, is not supposed to be good. Muschamp recruits defense first, the defense has proven their worth with impressive stats, and on the other hand, Jeff Driskel is about one more bad performance away from being considered the biggest bust in Florida Gators QB history.

So this team has to work with what it has. This team doesn’t have Treon Harris right now, and this team doesn’t have a proven alternative to Driskel unless you count Will Grier, who just returned to practice this week after being sidelined with back spasms. What this team does have is a truculent defense capable of imposing its will on anybody other than Alabama.

The point is that Florida’s defense was good against Tennessee, but it needs to be even better to beat LSU. This team simply cannot rely on Driskel, so the defense has to play with the mindset that every possession is to preserve a championship. Yes, I’m saying that the Gators’ defense literally has to pitch a shutout if they want to win. Sure, Florida may give up some points here and there, but a shutout has to be their goal. The sad fact is, this offense is downright disgusting when Driskel leads it. I’m sorry, but that’s the truth. A grand total of zero points through three quarters against a Tennessee team that gave up 48 through three quarters against Georgia and Oklahoma combined is unacceptable… but that’s the current state of this offense. And so it’s up to the defense to save us.

On the other hand…

Driskel has to play better. I mean, he’s just GOT to. No two ways about this. One more awful performance like the ones we saw against Tennessee and Alabama and he can guarantee that he’ll never take another snap at Florida unless every other quarterback gets injured (or unless Muschamp is even worse at making personnel decisions than I thought).

What does this mean?

To me, Driskel has proven over time that he is simply incapable of winning big games. Every time he tries to, he loses it, like against Georgia, Miami, Alabama and Louisville in the Sugar Bowl. But when he settles down and just hands the ball off, hits his short, easy tosses and just plays smart, Florida wins. See LSU and FSU in 2012. When given a small amount of responsibility, Driskel is fine. If you tell him, “you’re going to throw 10-15 passes and none of them will be deeper than 20 yards,” he does well. It’s when you ask him to read coverages, make throws under duress and throw an accurate ball that the trouble starts.

So it’s up to Kurt Roper to simplify the game plan for him. Every time he wants Driskel to throw, the play needs to be designed for Driskel to have two, three at most possible options. Driskel has to take every snap knowing there are only three things he can do: throw it to receiver #1, throw it to receiver #2, or get the hell out of here and pick up whatever I can with my feet, which is what he does best (Driskel for Doak Walker!). Overload him with possibilities, and mistakes happen. Roper has to call a game that decreases the chances of these mistakes as much as possible.

It’s not that Driskel “sucks” at throwing deep balls, or that he “is really bad” at making snap decisions; it’s that he’s physically incapable of doing these things. There’s a difference. I don’t “suck” at kicking 55 yard field goals; I simply cannot do it. I’m not “bad” at hitting 450 foot home runs, it’s just that it’s physically impossible for me to do it. Kicking 55 yarders or blasting baseballs 450 feet are things that I was not born to do, just the way reading defenses and throwing passes farther than 20 yards against SEC defenses are things that Jeff Driskel was not born to do. I don’t put myself in situations where I have to kick 55 yard field goals or hit baseballs 450 feet under pressure with lots of people counting on me for that very reason, and thus, Kurt Roper cannot put Driskel in situations where he will have to do these types of things with the fate of an entire football team riding on them.

Playing well, for Jeff Driskel, means two things. One, he has to avoid mistakes, and I’m going to break this down for you in great detail in a second. The fumble late in the first half against LSU in 2012 was a perfect example of what not to do. On a 1st and 10, Driskel took the shotgun snap, saw nobody open- now FREEZE. What he should have done was throw the ball away the instant he realized nobody was open and live to see 2nd and 10. That’s not the worst thing in the world by any means. But here’s what actually happened.

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Throw it away. There’s nobody pressuring you but you don’t see an open receiver that you trust yourself to get the ball to. That said, you do have a wide open first row of seats. The pocket is collapsing, making a scramble impossible. Just get rid of it and go to work on 2nd and 10.

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There you go, Jeff. Now you have the right idea. You’ve made a decision to throw the ball (I just hope you planned to throw it out of bounds and not force one into double coverage) and you’re about to follow through with your decision…

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…and then for some insane reason, you decide you’re Tim Tebow and try bully your way through a trio of LSU defensive linemen. On second thought, a sack isn’t the worst thing in the world either. Just go down there and limit the damage.

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No, DON’T change tactics midway to the ground, try to reverse your direction, get around the LSU lineman and make something spectacular happen. And for God’s sake, if you’re going to do all of that, at least PROTECT THAT FOOTBALL.

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Of course Driskel changes tactics midway to the ground. Of course he then tries to reverse his tactics, get around the LSU lineman and make something spectacular happen. And of course he doesn’t protect the football. End result? Fumble, recovered by LSU, and the Tigers are gifted with an easy field goal to end the half.

This is the kind of WHAT ARE YOU DOING mistake that Driskel cannot make against LSU this time around. Even though this year’s LSU defense appears to actually be worlds worse than that 2012 defense was- or maybe because of that- Driskel absolutely cannot give the Bayou Bengals any sort of gift.

The other thing that Driskel has to do in order for Florida to win is simple: he has to make two big plays. Yes, with his arm. One to make the Tigers think twice before sending the house, and two to prove that it wasn’t a fluke and to make them back off. Against Tennessee, Driskel couldn’t even make one big play with his arm. When he tried, DeMarcus Robinson played volleyball and spiked the ball right to Cameron Sutton for the easy pick.

If Driskel can make LSU respect him, things will come a little easier. The line will have an easier time blocking four or five guys than they will seven, holes will open up in the running game, and Driskel will have seams to scramble for big gains. Softening up this LSU defense will make the entire offense tick.

I believe it’s possible for Florida to win tomorrow, even with Jeff Driskel. Look, they’re 1-0 against LSU with Driskel at QB, and that win was against a Tiger team that was much better than this one. But Driskel will have to play perfect, mistake free football. A mistake like the fumble two years ago might not be salvageable this time around because that offense was slightly better than this one, and thus able to overcome it.

One last thing: if Florida loses tomorrow, it should cost Muschamp his job. Insert your “you say that every week” comment here, but this LSU team very well may be the weakest in Les Miles’ ten years in the Bayou. This Tiger team could easily finish 7-5, which isn’t bad for the SEC West, but is losing to a “not bad” team in the Swamp- at night- something we as Florida fans have come to accept? A loss could also kill Florida’s chances of winning the SEC East. Missouri is unbeaten in the SEC right now (OK, 1-0, but still) and should they beat Georgia, they will have knocked off their two greatest threats to the SEC East crown. Couple a Missouri win with a Florida loss tomorrow, and the Gators would need to run the table and have Missouri lose again in order to win the SEC East. We’ll know about this by the time Florida and LSU kick off tomorrow, as Georgia and Missouri play at noon.

But here’s the thing: the time for excuses is long over. I have no sympathy for Florida drawing Alabama from the West. It’s a mathematical certainty that you as an SEC East team can lose one game to a team from the other division, win your other seven SEC games and represent the East in Atlanta because that means you’ll have beaten every other team from the SEC head to head with (at worst) the exact same record. I’ve long ago given Muschamp a pass for losing to Alabama (really, before it even happened). Right now, Florida controls its own destiny to win the SEC East and go to Atlanta. If this team does not make it to Atlanta, it will be because the Gators have lost again, and considering that none of Florida’s remaining opponents are particularly impressive, the next loss very well may be- and definitely should be- the guillotine. Georgia’s good, but, you know, you have to beat Georgia.

The next game is LSU. Like I’ve said a million times this week, it’s winnable. If Driskel plays mistake free football and this defense lives up to its billing, Muschamp will live to see another week.