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).