First, before I even begin, I’d like say that it’s been a lot of fun posing as Steve Addazio and interacting with you guys. It’s been really fun, and I see that y’all have enjoyed it too.
Now, onto more serious stuff.
As you may or may not have heard, Charlie Weis has taken over the offensive command and play-calling duties. And as you may or may not have heard, Will Muschamp has taken over our defense.
Just joking. Of course you guys know that.
Since the time of those hires, Ryan and I have broken down pretty much every player and major coach on our new team. Ryan did a feature on Muschamp on firesteveaddazio.com, I did a couple of Rainey/Demps articles, Ryan did a fantastic job on a John Brantley piece, we both did one on the dearly departed Janoris Jenkins, Ryan did one on Weis, and then I did a humongous “Who’s Going to Break Out in 2011?” piece.
Then we went into breakdowns of what our offense and defense would look like in 2011.
That, unfortunately, wraps up our x’s and o’s football talk. There’s not much more to really do with our Gators- we’ve covered them to death. It gets old talking about different players over and over again, so I’m done with that.
What I will do is say this: karma is on our side this year.
Well, let’s back up a little bit.
Legend has it that anybody foolish enough to mock our Gator Chomp is forever cursed.
This was way, way back when Florida started playing football. In 1981, the Jaws music was played simultaneously with the action of the chomp itself to add a little more of a foreboding aura to it. Still, nobody thought much of it until Georgia coach Ray Goff, in his first year as UGA head coach, beat Florida in 1989 and ran around the stadium like a petulant child doing Gator Chomps at every section of the stadium.
Anybody know how the series has gone since then?
Yeah, that’s right. It’s been 18-3 Florida since.
That’s one sign. Here’s another.
Sebastian Janikowski, 1997. He kicks a ‘winning’ field goal to push FSU’s lead up to 4 points and does the chomp- only to watch UF go 80 yards in 3 plays and win the game. He tries again two years later, but this time waits until after the game is over. FSU has won just 3 of the past 11 since then.
Remember Wes Byrum mocking the Gators with the Gator Chomp in 2007? Of course you guys do. But what’s not as easy to remember was Auburn completely self destructing in 2008, bumbling and stumbling their way to a 5-7 season, Byrum pulling his groin in spring practice and Tommy Tuberville being fired.
Mark Ingram doing some Gator Chomps after the 09 SEC Championship game. The curse? How about his knee injury, which caused him to miss two games for Alabama and immediately ruin his Heisman chances? Who knows, maybe if he was healthy, and had been even better than in 2009, he would have won it over Newton?
Then there was Marcus Lattimore doing some Chompulation at our fans. Say Cam Newton had a hand in it, but what followed was by far the worst beating in SEC Championhip game history. And that was followed by getting knocked unconscious against FSU in a Chick-Fil-A Bowl loss.
And most recently, Shelvin Mack mocked Florida with the Gator Chomp. The result? How about the single most embarrassing championship game performance of all time? Butler was so bad against UConn that Florida’s 2010 football team scored more points on three different occasions- WITH ADDAZIO AND WITHOUT TEBOW!!!
Sweetest of all, this type of lightning has proven that it strikes more than once.
So look out FSU, Alabama, South Carolina and Auburn.
I’ll be doing a schedule breakdown soon, so I’m not going to do that here, but of the four, only Alabama has a legitimate shot to beat Florida. And they have to come to the Swamp. I don’t like their chances. Say bye bye to McElroy, Jones and Ingram- essentially their entire offense from last year. Enter Trent Richardson, an explosive running back. But what happens to great RB’s without a passing game? They fall apart. And in his first legit road test (Happy Valley sounds like a cemetary compared to the Swamp), I expect Florida’s defense to pressure and beat up AJ McCarron, their likely QB starter. Bama’s defense can do the same to Brantley, though. That will make it interesting. Stay tuned for my pick.
FSU isn’t going to beat Florida. Not quite yet, anyway. Muschamp may be friends with Jimbo, and they may own a beach house together, but he’ll have no mercy on him. EJ Manuel is a running quarterback, FSU fans? Well he better be. Because we’ll chase him all the way to Tallahassee if we feel like it. FSU’s offense is their strength, and we have the luxury of having both our units as ours. I do believe Fisher has evened the series out, though, and I believe each team will hold serve at home most years.
South Carolina has a pretty fearsome offense with Garcia-Lattimore-Alshon Jeffrey, but can their defense stop a team of suffragettes? We’ll soon find that out.
Auburn has one thing going for them- they’re home. That’s never good for a visiting East team. But player-by-player UF is far more talented. Kiehl Frazier is no Newton, and while Michael Dyer is fantastic, he’s just one player. 11 is more than one.
So if Florida succeeds against these teams, and win them all, the Curse of the Gator Chomp will prove to be a real phenomonon.
Or at least a test for morons to fail.