Rock bottom: Gators shown up in Show-Me State

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Hello, Rock Bottom. Nice to see you again.

Four years after Florida sunk to the lowest depths imaginable with a loss to Georgia Southern, a new batch of Gators engineered the school’s return to them. And with the Gators’ 45-16 loss to Missouri- which came into today’s contest winless in the SEC- Florida is not just in danger of replicating that 2013’s fate by missing a bowl game, but in serious jeopardy of replicating that team’s dubious distinction of losing its final seven games, too.

Much like Georgia a week ago, Missouri didn’t even need a half to put this one away.

Drew Lock guided the Tigers right down the field to start the game, but a miscommunication led to him throwing an easy interception to CJ Henderson. That was the highlight of the half for Florida. Unable to move the ball, Florida punted. And the game was effectively over.

Lock then hit Kendall Blanton for the first of three touchdown passes he would throw on the day.  The Tigers followed that drive up with three more touchdown drives to make it 28-3 with under a minute to go in the half. All Florida could do in response was kick a pair of field goals on the last drive of the second quarter and the first drive of the third, and Missouri replied to that adorable little salvo with two more touchdown drives to make the score 42-9 early in the fourth. To its credit, Florida finally reached the end zone when Feleipe Franks hit LaMical Perine out of the backfield for a 16 yard touchdown.

This is, put bluntly, as embarrassed as I’ve ever been as a Florida football fan. By the time Florida lost to Georgia Southern in 2013, we knew the season was already going to end an abject failure. But with the midseason firing of Jim McElwain, there was a flicker of hope that Randy Shannon would rejuvenate this team and come out firing.

Instead, they quit for the second straight week.

Missouri racked up 455 yards of offense against the Gators, but far more concerning was the inverse stat. Florida managed just 349 yards of offense against a defense that came into the contest averaging 456 yards of offense allowed per game- and 89 of those 349 yards came on the final two drives with the outcome a foregone conclusion and the scout teams on the field.

The task falls on Scott Stricklin to make the best possible head coach hire that he can. I have faith that he will rely on Steve Spurrier and others within the program who have experience at hiring head coaches to help him with his search, and I have faith that the right head coach can engineer a turnaround and someday return Florida to its status among the nation’s elite.

But after today’s loss, the Gators’ 2017 season has cemented its legacy as a failure. On the flip side, though, this year is- and pardon my lack of nuance- the absolute worst it’s ever going to be for this proud program. So soak in the failure, the misery and the embarrassment now. And when the day that Florida returns to the nation’s elite comes, we can look back at this day and appreciate just how far the program has come.

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    Creator and founder of IAKOW 2.0

3 thoughts on “Rock bottom: Gators shown up in Show-Me State

  1. I’d love to leave a reply, Neil, but you’ve said it all and really, there’s nothing left to say. We stink. There, I said it.

  2. While I respectfully disagree that this is the low point in our season (there is the possibility of losing to a mid major at home and the always humbling indignity of losing to FSU,) I agree that our next hire is IMPORTANT, and I hope that Scott Stricklin does more than address the need of a good head coach. Our football program still recruits pretty good talent [27 players from that team in 2013 that lost to Georgia Southern are on NFL rosters,] but there is a lack of accountability, execution and just plain desire that plagues this program on the field during Saturdays for almost the last ten years. Our coaches after Meyer have been okay with just competing for the East instead of being the best we could be. We’re not maximizing our talent, we’re just looking at everybody else in the East and making sure we were better than they are. That’s not good enough anymore because the SEC, as a conference, is not the death march it used to be. It has become top-heavy, and we are in a place we’re not used to as fans of this age: a 3d tier SEC Program [1st tier: CFP contender and potential SEC Champ; 2d tier: Bowl eligible lock; 3d tier: Bowl eligible hopeful; 4th tier: Everybody’s Homecoming opponent] that is hoping to win two of its last three to possibly make a bowl. Whoever this new coach is, he HAS to know that the goal is not just to compete in the SEC East. WE HAVE TO BE ABLE TO COMPETE FOR THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP. That’s the goal, which we will accomplish by winning the SEC. In my opinion, having tough years while you rebuild isn’t the sin. The sin we’ve been committing is not realizing when the goal needed to change.

  3. Pretty embarrassing. I hoped they’d come out with some fire and passion, but some of them looked as though they wished they were anywhere else. Painful as it is for me to say, it seems Mac has instilled a losing culture where field goals are a win and winning a weak SEC East the past two years is a great accomplishment.

    Here’s to hoping Scott Fr-err, whoever the next head coach is can light a fire and bring back a winning culture to a battered program.

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