They tell you when you’re investing in the stock market that, “past performance does not guarantee future performance”. Well, in the case of the Florida Gator offense, it certainly does.
I could simply cut-and-paste the LSU review, and it would be pretty much spot on.
Another great crowd, another inept passing scheme, another poorly-played QB game, another mind-numbing series of play calls in the second half, and another soul-crushing defeat as the coaching staff pulled defeat out of the jaws of victory.
The offense again consisted of a strong running game, pitiful passing game, and blown opportunities by Feleipe Franks – missing wide-open WRs for 2-3 scores that would have made this a easy win. Noosemeier outdid even himself in the 4th quarter on the last 2 Gator possessions, each time calling poorly designed runs on 3rd and 1 and setting the game up for losing. That toss to the short side of the field with no additional blocking help from a TE was especially egregious……but that’s Noose. The final play (again) was stunning – Deandre Goolsby was running free down the middle for an easy completion for 20+ yards, and Franks throws a line-drive to a LB not even expecting the ball. Everyone can see that Franks ain’t the answer, and is a stopgap player until Matt Corral shows up on campus in January (and Gator Nation had better pray he does). He did his usual Jekyll-and-Hyde performance when running the ball – taking unnecessary losses when pressured out of the pocket and giving up on making easy first downs, while looking great on a few designed runs and that spectacular 79-yard run at the end of the 3rd quarter that set up the Gators’ tiebreaking touchdown.
RBs Malik Davis and Lemical Perine had another solid game. Each one ran very hard, broke a lot of tackles, and had a lot of YAC. Once again, however, Noose refuses to incorporate them more into the passing game to help Franks out and maintain drives. Brandon Powell is the only guy that Franks seems to trust to throw to and did a solid job of getting open on some short routes. But there is still no threat of a deep playmaker until Tyrie Cleveland is healthy again. He came in for a few plays, but it appeared mostly as a decoy. Deandre Goolsby played his best game of the season at TE – he had some good blocks to spring the RBs for big gains, and was open on most of his routes, including the ill-fated last play. The O-Line played very well against a good SEC D-Line. They opened plenty of running lanes, while providing Franks a clean pocket and time for most of his pass attempts against an Aggie defense that is one of the leaders nationally in sacks.
The Gator defense played another excellent game, giving the offense more than enough chances to put the game away. This despite the LBs being unable to defend the middle zone in the passing game and not accounting for QB Kellen Mond to run. The handful of times it appeared that a LB was going to account for the QB, they took bad angles and were swallowed up in the wash at the LOS. The D-Line was dominant almost the entire game – Taven Bryan was unblockable most of the night, and the DEs did a much better job of setting the edge and playing the run. Tedarrell Slaton played very well and was immovable in the middle, but he is still out of shape and limited in the number of snaps he can play effectively. Sadly, Florida’s best DE, Jordan Sherit, is lost for the season after a hip injury that will require surgery. There goes one of the few leaders on this team.
The Gator secondary was again very impressive, holding Texas A&M to 180 yards in the air on 8-24 passing and allowing only one completion of real significance when Christian Kirk broke free on a go route to set up the tying TD in the 3rd quarter. CB Marco Wilson continues to push for Freshman All-American honors. Injuries to Nick Washington allowed Shawn Davis and Jaewon Taylor extended playing time at safety, and they did very well in a pressure situation. The secondary is set through 2019 at least with this amount of quality talent.
To his credit, Randy Shannon had the defense ready to play, but failed (again) to make one crucial adjustment. Mond predictably struggled passing all night and did most of his damage by running in the second half, keeping drives alive with QB draws and scrambles. There was either no spy to contain him, or it was poorly executed with no adjustment. Inexcusable, and incredibly frustrating to watch.
The special teams had some breakdowns as well, which were magnified by the close score. Johnny Townsend did not punt to his usual standards, and made a huge mistake by punting right to Kirk on the return that set up the Aggies with a short field for their winning FG. Eddy Pineiro made his only FG attempt, but also had another kickoff go out of bounds, giving Texas A&M starting position at the 35-yard line. The coverage units did well except for the ill-fated final punt return, where they allowed Kirk to break outside containment and get down the sideline for a long gain.
Florida now stands at 3-3 overall, and (sadly) may struggle to become bowl-eligible. Who knows where this team goes from here the rest of the season. Coach Mac isn’t taking responsibility in the press for the offensive struggles, saying the game plan was “good” and the execution wasn’t. Well, he’s gonna learn what execution really is if he doesn’t get it fixed by next season, as it will be his last if he doesn’t make major staff changes along with changing his in-game decisions. Way too soft and passive, with an offense he knows lacks playmakers in the passing game and wears down his own defense. If he goes for it on 4th down with only a few inches needed twice in the second half, the Gators likely run enough clock where Texas A&M never gets a chance to drive for a winning FG. I am hearing that there are some serious discussions taking place during the off week that will have ramifications for the current staff. I’m not expecting anything to be announced publicly until after the season, but internally there may be “changes” made as soon as the next game. Something’s gotta give.
I’ll be back next week with my preview of the Georgia game. Go Gators!