If ever you want to send anything to the University of Tennessee, you’ll have to make sure that the address is not Knoxville. Be sure to send it to Sloppy Top. Because in a battle of sloppiness, Tennessee topped Florida in a rocky game.
Knoxville, TN, is now Sloppy Top, USA. They are tops in sloppiness.
They had to work hard, though.
In order to top the Gators’ 16 penalties for 150 total yards, multiple dropped picks and Dread Zone woes (again), the Vols had to commit 10 penalties for 94 yards, rush for -9 yards on the day, get a punt blocked, miss a 37 yard field goal, have their QB throw a pair of inopportune interceptions (when Brantley threw none, and when the Gators could have had as many as 6) and have their center snap the ball all over Alachua county.
And get schooled out of their shoes by Chris Rainey.
That last one might not be their fault, though.
Rainey for Heisman is beginning to sound like a legitimate proposal.
Through 3 games, Rainey has 306 rushing yards on 48 attempts, 11 receptions for 214 yards, 5 total touchdowns, and a blocked punt to go along with it. Translation: at this rate, Rainey will have better numbers than he did throughout his first three seasons minus five games plus one game within 8 games. But that’s the question: should he be used that much?
Look what happened late in the game when Weis ran Rainey one too many times. He got a stinger. He got off OK this time; he might not be next time. What’s wrong with running Mike Gillislee, Mack Brown, or even Jeff Demps for that matter? Why ride Rainey so long? Sure, he broke off a 24 yard gain with a minute and a half left, but who really cares? Who really gives a (pick a noun) what he does when the game is already over? Even Heisman voters don’t; Rainey made his point with the 83 yard TD and the blocked punt. So that argument, which is already a weak one, is now defunct.
Charlie Weis, as I have always said he would do, has one major flaw: when he finds something he likes, whether that be a play, a formation, a player, an angle for his hat, whatever, he sticks with it and never adjusts. Of course, that’s better than Addazio, who ran three plays and stuck with them and never adjusted. Weis at least looked for things he liked.
But this is another knock on Addazio. He was so awful, my two year old cousin could have called a better game had she picked plays out of a hat. So naturally, anything looks better by comparison, and sometimes, what appears to be far better really is only slightly better.
Now, I’m not saying Weis is as bad as Addazio. He IS leagues better of a play-caller and offensive coordinator. But he does need to quit overusing Rainey. You’ve got a trio of talented running backs behind him just sitting there. They need to be developed for the future, and Rainey might get hurt.
Onto another topic: John Brantley.
This is hard for me to say, because Brantley’s been really loyal to the Gators and he does have a good arm, but he just doesn’t have it. Whether that’s his fault for being a baby or Addazio’s for permanently wrecking his confidence I can’t say, but he just does not have the Tom Brady big-play ability that he showed in high school.
You may pause now to unload a stream of profanities against Addazio if you so choose.
Back to the issue: Brantley obviously didn’t show enough in practice to be trusted to do any more than throw dump off screen passes and hand the ball off. That worked against FAU, UAB and even Tennessee, and probably against Kentucky, Georgia, Auburn, Furman and Vanderbilt. That’s 8 wins, same as last year. It might work in a bowl game, for 9, and maybe work once against Alabama/LSU/South Carolina for 10. There’s nothing wrong with winning 8-10 games in a first year as a coach. I would be thrilled with a 10 year season. But that’s about all Florida can do.
It’s really sad to have an offense that has so much firepower in Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey alone and have to feed them the ball so much. So I can sort of understand why Weis uses Rainey so much. This is the problem Florida has to fix on offense, not for Alabama in two weeks, but for 2012 and beyond. Percy Harvin, Chris Rainey, who’s next?
But let’s stick with 2011 for a minute. Just because I don’t think the Gators can win more than 10 games (at the most) doesn’t mean they won’t. How do they get better?
Play football. That’s all they have to do. The defensive backs for Florida were simply horrific aside from the two picks they made. 7 pass interference penalties and a bunch of dropped picks prevented this game from being a replay of 2007- a complete and utter beatdown. Up 30-7 midway through the third quarter, the Gators could have kept their foot on the gas pedal and poured it on. Instead, they chose to self destruct.
When I talked to Marcus Roberson before the season started, I had the sense from what he said (and knowing Will Muschamp’s style) that he would be an aggressive, physical corner. Well, he was, but he was all the way on the black side (no racial pun intended) instead of being in the middle, gray. It’s not just black and white, you have to have a balance, and Roberson did not. He committed many of the interference penalties himself, often by getting too eager and jumping the route and hitting the player.
And then we come to the Dread Zone. Should I even bother to cause you all that misery again? I just can’t do it, sorry. Let’s just say that there was a game and there was this thing called a punt that went backwards thanks to something called speed and an outstretched arm and there was a first down and goal and there might have been two other drives that started inside the enemy’s 50 yard line and there were nothing but field goals to cap off the drive. Whew, got rid of that. Thank god, let’s move away from this disaster area and focus on next week.
There are four things separating Florida from a #1 ranking: dropped picks, red zone issues and penalties. Brantley and his limitations aren’t even a problem of this seriousness, because every team has a weakness of some kind. Limited Brantley I can handle. But the other three…
Let’s just say that without those problems, the Gators can beat anybody.
Now, let’s sing Rocky Flop all night long!!!
Oh Rocky Flop, you’ll always be,
The Gators’ mid-September feast,
Good! Ole! Rocky Flop,
Bid farewell to the SEC East
You’ll finish in fourth place at least.