Tide Pulls A Florida; Time For Gators To Pull a Bama

I honestly don’t understand why ESPNU is showing numerous replays of the 2012 BCS Championship Game. Unless you have a two year old child and you want him/her to learn how to count by threes, there’s just no point in watching it.

Simply put, Alabama won the ugliest BCS Championship there has ever been. But it still counts as a BCS Championship, and coupled with their 37-21 victory over Texas, Alabama has now won two out of the last three BCS Championships.

Say, that sounds familiar. Wasn’t there another team not too long ago that won two out the last three BCS Championships? Specifically a team that wore orange and blue and rode a suffocating defense and dominant special teams to the title?

Yeah, there was. And while Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, Chris Leak, Andre Caldwell, DeShawn Wynn, Aaron Hernandez, Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps, David Nelson, Riley Cooper, Louis Murphy and a solid offensive line certainly played a big part, it was ultimately defense and special teams that pulled the Gators through in the end- especially against Oklahoma in the second title game. Having an explosive offense is a luxury, not a necessity- look at how Alabama pulled off their two out of three run.

I’ve always said that I want- and even expect- the Gators to build a dynasty through lights out defense and great special teams, and that the only thing the offense is responsible for is moving the chains, giving the great defense a good rest and then allowing the dominant special teams to boom a punt to pin the opponent inside their 20- the point where I unleash that rested defense on the opponent.

That’s been the formula for winning for Alabama under Nick Saban and since Will Muschamp worked under Nick Saban for a while, I expect him to build the Gator program back up in the same fashion as his former boss. Of course, having an explosive offense is nice, but it’s a want, not a need. That’s the last thing that should be built in Gainesville.

The good news is, this utopian defense I speak of is almost here. An extremely young, talented group with only one senior finished 9th in the nation in total defense last year- and when you remember that Alabama and LSU were on a totally different level than anybody else, it makes that number appear even better.

The special teams is already here. If there’s one thing Will Muschamp will keep from Urban Meyer, it’s the importance of special teams. Putting your most productive receiver, Andre Debose, as your kick returner and not some scout team nickelback as your kick returner is proof of how much Muschamp cares. There’s obviously an injury risk to returning kicks, but then there’s the importance of it as well, and for Meyer and now Muschamp, the importance of a dominant kick return game outweighs the risk. Debose has returned 3 kicks for TD’s and has 3 others of 50+ yards in basically one full year of returning kicks. Muschamp also had the same deal with Jeff Demps, a valuable offensive player who wound up doing the bulk of his damage on kick returns.

Same goes with using Chris Rainey as a punt blocker. Maybe it had something to with all the kicks he blocked under Meyer, but the more likely explanation is that Muschamp held tryouts for spots on the punt block team all over again since he was very clear that he wanted to tear the program down and build it back up his way”.

Look at last night’s game to see the importance of the special teams. LSU’s weren’t horrible, blocking a field goal, but Alabama’s was much better. Jeremy Shelley was 5-7 on his field goals, though he did miss a PAT (side note- anybody remember the last time Alabama won a national championship… and didn’t miss an extra point in the title game? I’d be interested to find out). Then there was the completely un-Saban like fake field goal executed to perfection, LSU could never return a kick or punt very far due to the Tide gunners staying in their lanes and getting to the ball with lightning quickness and the big punt return by Marquize Maze early to set up an easy field goal.

AJ McCarron exemplified my utopian Florida QB: athletic enough to buy time and escape sacks, plays smart football and doesn’t make mistakes, and makes a big play every now and then when he has to. This is what I would like Jeff Driskel or Jacoby Brissett to do initially. If either one turns out to be better than Brett Favre? Great! Then we have the luxury of a great QB. But again, that’s not a need. Putting that much pressure on a young QB is not good.

I admit, I am an offensive guy. But defense is what wins championships. Special teams also wins championships. And game controlling, chain moving offenses win championships as well.

See where I’m going?

The Gators are not far away from contending for a national championship. They were in every game they played until the end aside from LSU, and they could have easily beaten Georgia and South Carolina.

The defense returns 10 of 11 starters from a unit that finished in the top 10 in the nation playing against SEC opponents.

Andre Debose, who should be our primary kick returner again in 2012, is only a junior and most of the guys on the return team will be back as well. A lot of our speed returns, and we have new speed coming in to help out with the kick/punt blocks.

The lone question is our offense. Matt Jones should see considerable playing time next year and maybe we’ll finally see some of Mack Brown, who has been buried on the bench the past two years. Mike Gillislee, the lone speed back left over from Meyer, should be used to throw teams off as a change of pace back- a change from bruiser to speed demon.

But it all comes down to our offensive line.

We have help coming in, with DJ Humphries, Omari Phillips and Jessamen Dunker, three of the top 15 linemen in the nation. But they’ll still be young even if they play, and in most cases, it takes time for young guys to mature in the SEC.

We’re really not that far off, though…

(Update- the rumor as of 1:10pm is that Florida is expected to announce Brent Pease as offensive coordinator. But it’s just a rumor until proven true, remember. I think he would be a great hire. Expect to see lots of tricks if he comes to town. Again, though, it is a RUMOR).


Comments

Tide Pulls A Florida; Time For Gators To Pull a Bama — 7 Comments

  1. Alabama is the exception that’s proving the modern rule.

    The most important thing is a TIMELY defense. It does not have to be lock down.

    Here’s the problem with the blueprint you propose – Alabama builds that way because they have to. Florida can go high flying if they want. They merely need athletic opportunistic defenders. Like they had in 08.

    In Florida’s run, they did not have a demon defense – they had elite athletes and SUPERB tacticians, on the field and in the booth. They were technically solid.

    The 08 defense looked like a beast BECAUSE of the O and ST. I have said it multiple times – there was nothing wrong with the secondary this year. They didn’t really get burned. What happened was, Florida’s offense was so inept teams had ZERO reservations about turning the ball over so they took shots.

    In 08, teams were TERRIFIED of giving the ball to Florida. Who wouldn’t with the greatest player in football history on Florida’s O. I am referring to Harvin, of course. Add in Tebow, Murphy etc. What ended up happening was teams played cautious and found themselves in a position where they HAD to take chances and, of course, that leads to turnovers when you’re “playing scared”

    In 2009, people like to blame Adazzio for the failure, but the fact of the matter is, Florida’s D just couldn’t match Bama’s. Bama is mean. Angry. Vicious. Florida’s D was full of technical perfectionists. What they lacked was mean people. Sure, Spikes gouged an eye, but he had been neutered as a result.

    Bama just wasn’t scared of Florida and dared them to take a shot. Of course, the out of control expectations caused Florida to play a ball control game. Couple that with the Debose experiment getting side tracked, Florida never had a chance to develop a game breaker. That, and as tacticians instead of animals, they were caught off guard when Bama came out spread.

    What am I saying ? Florida’s never had a Bama type D. It hasn’t had to. All that’s needed is elite athletes and superb technical coaching. Team that up with a devastating offense and ST and THAT is how you win. And you can still be exciting in the process instead of the shit we saw last night.

    Just as a matter of fun, because it is somewhat relevant, how’d that top flight D fare in the NFL this past Sunday ?

    The name of the game now is Offense. Top flight offense and top-middle tier D is the real key.

    The obvious question is “why not a top flight O and animalistic D ? That’s the dream but it’s just that – a dream. It’s how to make that work when each has to practice against the other.

    We hear a lot about what happened to Oregon’s O when it faced SEC speed ie Auburn and LSU. They better question is, what would happen if the Oregon O was implemented in places like Florida, USC and Texas, where elite athletes are discovered on a paper route ?

    Imagine if Florida put in a Oregon style offense ? Holy mackerel. It was half decent last year with the trio of Burton, Reed and Tissue; imagine if it had the people to actually run it properly ? Can anyone honestly say, if a Denard Robinson was there with Demps/Rainey, running Meyer’s read option with the likes of Debose, Dunkley etc it wouldn’t be downright devastating ?

  2. Great article Neil, after watching the game I to change my thoughts. Im all for getting back to the promise land and Nick knows how to do that better than anyone. In college whatever Saban does works all the time! If Muschamp can duplicate that with our athletes we will truly be unstoppable

  3. The problem with your argument is that Will Muschamp is a Nick Saban disciple, and will build his team my way. Not saying my way is perfect or right or whatever, we just agree on how to build a football team.

    Next, Florida’s defense was LIGHTS OUT in 2008. Sure, it was easy to forget with Harvin/Tebow/Murphy/Hernandez etc. and with Brandon James taking a punt to the house every other time you turned on your TV or the Gators blocking a kick nearly every game. It was still a damned fearsome unit with plenty of monsters. You’re telling me Brandon Spikes isn’t one of the nastiest linebackers in the last decade of college football?

    As for the technician vs. mean person argument, I kind of agree. Alabama’s players aren’t technicians merely because most of them aren’t smart enough to. Those guys grew up having sex with their goats and their sheep so pardon them for their general lack of intelligence. They just play see-ball-run-to-ball-go-get-the-ball-and-maybe-kill-the-guy-that-has-it defense. I agree that Florida’s defensive players were by far more intelligent but by no means less fearsome.

    Florida will not put in an Oregon offense. They’ll put in a Boise State offense- Brent Pease’s offense, to be exact. It would be cool to see a reprise of the funky speed based offense with Driskel but SEC teams have seen that movie before already.

    Next, that three headed clusterf*ck you speak of worked better than two other offenses in the conference. 10th in the SEC is where you want to be? More often than not, Brantley would come in to try to convert a 3rd and Montana to go and would fail because that musical chair rotation did nothing and set up an impossible third down.

    There’s only one Tebow. SEC defenses are smart. Once they see something new, yeah, it might fool ‘em for a couple of years but not forever. They’ll eventually catch on. That’s why I don’t want the read option offense- teams now know how to stop it.

    Oh and for your information, Dunkley left the Florida program a long time ago. Did you mean Quintin Dunbar?

  4. Neil, are you mentally stunted or something ?

    Have you not heard of hypothetical ?

    I wasn’t arguing the direction WM is taking; I was arguing the tired old notion of “offense puts asses in seats, defense wins…” on the notion that an “elite” defense is the be all end all.

    “You’re telling me Brandon Spikes isn’t one of the nastiest linebackers in the last decade of college football?”

    [b]“What they lacked was mean people. Sure, Spikes gouged an eye, but he had been neutered as a result.”[/b]

    What part of what I said didn’t you understand ? Are you having trouble with mean and nasty being synonyms ? Ok, Spikes WAS [b][u][i]nasty[/i][/u][/b] but the eye gouging incident neutered him. There, since I used the word “nasty” instead of “mean,” do you understand it now ?

    “I agree that Florida’s defensive players were by far more intelligent but by no means less fearsome.”

    Ok, who else ? Major Wright, possibly. He was a torpedo. Who else ? I am talking scary as in “oh fuck here he comes” boogeyman style, not “oh fuck, he’s fast, how do I pass protect” Think Suh. Unrelenting, every snap, every step. Go go go. Will beat you with technique OR club you. And when he gets you, he’s going to just tackle you; he’s trying to fuck you up. Now, who on the 08/09 defense was like that ? Spikes a bit, before neutering. Wright somewhat with WRs not paying attention. Who else ? Doe ? Jones ? Cunningham ? Haden ? Jenkins ? Who ?

    Back in the day, 49ers vs Steelers. 49ers defense was amazing. Full of technicians. Steelers’ D was amazing too. They were full of people who were technically sound but were downright animals. Nobody in their right mind would say the 49ers D was fearsome in the same breath as the Steelers.

    “Next, that three headed clusterf*ck you speak of worked better than two other offenses in the conference. 10th in the SEC is where you want to be? ”

    I guess you missed the part where I said “imagine if it had the people to run it properly. Let me rephrase it for you since you seem to be “having a day” – it was a on the fly thing they tried. They did not have the personnel to run it properly. It had pockets of success. Imagine if they had the right people to run it and it was the philosophy to build around in practice.

    “That’s why I don’t want the read option offense- teams now know how to stop it.”

    Yes, because teams don’t know how to stop the pro style. When the talent levels are even and a team has not been decimated by attrition, the read option is more effective.

    “There’s only one Tebow. SEC defenses are smart. Once they see something new, yeah, it might fool ‘em for a couple of years but not forever.”

    Yeah, until a Cam Newton comes along. Because of the Newtons and RG3 and the Tebows, there’s a whole load of qbs coming up the line in that mold. They are no longer being moved to different positions because of their athleticism.

    And yes, after 3 years of Tebow the SEC adjusted so well that Cam Newton led Auburn to an undefeated season in the tougher of the two divisions. Yeah, great fucking adjustment SEC defenses.

    If we’re keeping count, in the SEC’s run, that’s 3 read option offenses, one half and half (LSU 2007) and 2 dust based offenses.

    “Oh and for your information, Dunkley left the Florida program a long time ago. Did you mean Quintin Dunbar?”

    No, I meant Dunkley. For your information, Denard Robinson is the Michigan QB. It was a hypothetical statement where Urban Meyer wasn’t forced out and went hard after Denard Robinson. In this hypothetical scenario, Dunkley hasn’t left because Florida is still running that style of offense under Urban Meyer or someone like him.

    You do understand hypotheticals right ?

  5. LOL to the mentally stunted.

    You implied that despite Spikes poking an eye, he wasn’t that nasty. That’s the impression you gave off.

    Major Wright, Ahmad Black, Reggie Nelson, Derrick Harvey, Brandon Siler, Carlos Dunlap- that’s who else. They could all lay a bone jarring hit if they needed to and they did that plenty during their time at UF.

    I understand what you said about using the read option offense. We need players to run it properly? What, Trey Burton isn’t good enough for you? Hurdling defenders isn’t enough athleticism to trust him? Jordan Reed’s strength isn’t enough? Demps on an option pitch isn’t fast enough for you?

    Maybe you could say they needed more time to develop it but Burton Reed and Demps aren’t exactly bad choices for it.

    Yes, I understand hypotheticals. No, I had no idea Denard was the Michigan QB. I thought he was a drill sergeant in the Middle East. There’s a hypothetical for ya.

  6. LOL to the mentally stunted.

    [b]Yes, mentally stunted[/b]

    You implied that despite Spikes poking an eye, he wasn’t that nasty. That’s the impression you gave off.

    [b]I implied NOTHING. I outright said he was mean until the eyegouging and that neutered his meanness. he was gunshy after that.[/b]

    Major Wright, Ahmad Black, Reggie Nelson, Derrick Harvey, Brandon Siler, Carlos Dunlap- that’s who else. They could all lay a bone jarring hit if they needed to and they did that plenty during their time at UF.

    [b]Major Wright struck fear in receivers. Ahmad Black didn’t scare anyone. He was awesome, but the guy was 185 pounds. Trust me when I see neither the Trindon Holidays nor the Trent Richardsons of the world were quaking when they saw him “lining up a hit”

    Reggie Nelson was a flailing arm tackler. QBs were afraid to throw toward him. Receivers and runners weren’t scared of getting hit by him. Harvey was a speed and finesse guy. With a questionable motor.

    Siler was a technician.

    Dunlap. LMAO. Dunlap’s biggest critique was work ethic. People aren’t afraid of guys with little work ethic. A bad work ethic = lazy. Lazy cannot be vicious. That’s the point. What makes someone vicious and feared is the never ending desire to tear your head off and a complete lack of regard for horse collar and face masking penalties. Like Suh.

    These players you name were all awesome. They weren’t mean and vicious animals like Saban trains his guys to be. It’s like Demarcus Ware vs James Harrison. Both awesome right ? You’d be fine with either one right ? Who do you think strikes more fear? With Ware it’s “oh shit, I might lose 7 yards and/or give the ball away on a strip sack. With Harrison it’s “fuck, I might lose 7 yards, give the ball away and that prick might crack my neck.”

    Jared Allen vs Mario Williams. Suh vs McCoy[/b]

    I understand what you said about using the read option offense. We need players to run it properly? What, Trey Burton isn’t good enough for you? Hurdling defenders isn’t enough athleticism to trust him? Jordan Reed’s strength isn’t enough? Demps on an option pitch isn’t fast enough for you?

    Maybe you could say they needed more time to develop it but Burton Reed and Demps aren’t exactly bad choices for it.

    [b]I’m not the one who forced Meyer to use the human wet wipe at QB, am I ? And no, Burton probably isn’t quite good enough to cut it on an every down basis. Same with Reed. I know there were some fools last year comparing him to Cam Newton. I want to give the benefit of the doubt that it was merely fanboyism and not more superficial reasons. There’s a reason he was moved to TE and QB depth wasn’t one of them. He wasn’t going to unseat the Human Wet Wipe, but he obviously wasn’t good enough to cut it at QB. That being said, either one would have been a better option than the Baby Wipe.[/b]

    Yes, I understand hypotheticals. No, I had no idea Denard was the Michigan QB. I thought he was a drill sergeant in the Middle East. There’s a hypothetical for ya.

    [b]Ok, fantastic so then you know when I spoke of Dunkley and Meyer I was referring to a hypothetical scenario where the arseholes didn’t force Meyer out in favor of Captain Kotex[/b]

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