It’s safe to say that this was the single worst offensive performance since Charlie Pell’s days.
No exaggeration, no takebacks, no apologies, no nothing.
At least against Alabama last year we drove the ball inside Alabama’s 5 yard line a bunch of times. At least against Mississippi State and Florida State last year we scored a touchdown. At least against Alabama and LSU this year we scored a touchdown. At least against Alabama in 2005 the Gators hit some big plays.
And at least against Auburn last night our defense held firm, or we would have seen our third consecutive blowout.
Thank god for the punting game too. We very well might have found our man in Kyle Christy. I was worried we would never replace Chas Henry but Christy hit a few boomers. We appear to be in good hands there through the 2014 season.
You saw the word punt and you knew it’s coming, so I’ll stop being cute and circling around and simply come right out with it. Florida just couldn’t catch one.
That’s got to be addressed in practice. Muschamp is supposedly big on special teams just like Meyer was, so at the very least, we can take comfort in knowing that he won’t just ignore it.
Unfortunately, that’s just the beginning of our problems.
Our penalty situation was better- ‘only’ 6 for 40 yards- but that’s still not good enough. It just looks fantastic compared to unheard of 16 or 18 in a game. It needs to be cut down to two or less per game, especially for a team that’s so bad that every yard is as precious as a gemstone.
Jeff Driskel played like a freshman. He had a wide open touchdown pass sail way over the head of Jordan Reed, he sometimes held the ball too long, and just didn’t look comfortable. Neither did Jacoby Brissett for that matter. But that can be corrected; they’re freshmen. They have plenty of time to improve.
Our offense looked very much like 2010, in both formation and in result. I can’t blame Charlie Weis for that- not when Brantley is injured and neither freshman QB appears to be equipped with any confidence. It was the only way to manufacture any offense at all, and it worked better than using Driskel or Brissett. So I don’t fault Weis for that.
What I do fault Weis for is using Rainey way too much. Of course not having Demps is a gigantic blow but what about Mike Gillislee, the guy that Muschamp claimed would be so involved? He was involved in exactly three plays- and all three of them gained 6 yards. 3 carries for your backup running back? That’s just bad game calling. Rainey and Demps formed such a formidable duo in the backfield, but just because one of them is out doesn’t mean you don’t at least attempt to replace him. Gillislee may not be able to smoke South American speed demons in the Olympics but he can shake tackles and is about as fast as Rainey. He’s more than an adequate replacement for Demps, and why Weis didn’t use him is beyond me.
It falls back into the one glaring problem I’ve said Charlie Weis has all along: when he sees something that works, he sticks with it until it doesn’t work, and then still uses it. It’s his hamartia, and it directly cost the Gators a chance to win tonight’s game. To keep using Rainey when he’s clearly gassed and possibly playing injured is not a good idea, especially not when he’s as flustered as he was between not seeing any running room and trying to field the punts in the lights at Jordan Hare.
And finally, we come to our offensive line.
It was simply horrendous. Even the Munchkins could have pressured our QB. Seriously, Auburn, the same defense that allowed 38 points to Utah State and could not contain USU QB Chuckie Keeton with a soccer net completely swarmed Florida’s backfield.
I could not believe my eyes the entire game. This is a bad Auburn defense- one of the worst in college football so far this year- and here we are, the mighty Florida Gators, three years removed from rewriting all the record books and a BCS Championship, making the former toothless Tigers’ defense look like that of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Call me crazy, but I think the blocking was worse this week than against LSU and Alabama.
So I’m through bashing my beloved Gators because the next thing I’m going to bash is my head through a wall.
There were some positives, namely the punting game and the defense. The other positive is that Florida unofficially controls their own destiny in the SEC East.
Georgia and South Carolina both looked far from perfect, struggling for their lives to beat Vanderbilt and Mississippi State, respectively. Technically, Florida is a game behind each of them with three losses and they both have one. If Florida runs the table and they both lose again, the Gators win the SEC East.
You have to think South Carolina will lose at least one more with Arkansas looming on the schedule- in Fayetteville. They could also lose to Tennessee in Knoxville, though that’s less likely.
Georgia has three SEC games left on their schedule- Florida, Auburn and Kentucky. Circle November 12th on your calendar, that’s the Auburn game and our best hope. Kentucky won’t do much more than roll over and play dead.
But winning the East feels impossible at this point, and even if the Gators do, what’s the reward? Get humiliated again by either Alabama or LSU in the SEC Championship and have that stick in the mind of bowl selectors so that Florida drops to the Liberty Bowl?
I’m good with skipping that this year. Let’s just try to get back there next year, and let the Bulldogs or the Gamecocks take the mauling from their superior counterparts in the West.
For this year, I just want to beat Georgia and FSU and win a bowl game. That’s all I ask for, Gator fans. If we lose the rest of our games, even to Furman and Vanderbilt, and just win those three, I’ll be content. It would give the Gators their fifth sweep over their rivals (Tennessee, Georgia, FSU) in the past seven years, their fourth straight bowl win, a winning season and Mickey Marotti a ton of ammunition to get this extremely talented but raw football team motivated and into shape for 2012, and he is very good at getting his teams ready without ammo. Beat Furman and Vanderbilt in addition and we’re looking at a 9-4 season in Muschamp’s first year.
At this point, this season is lost. I just want to use what’s left of it as a springboard for 2012. This means improve as a team, mature, and give the seniors a good sendoff.
And for god’s sake, make a block every solar eclipse or two.