Well, I got my answer – it looks like the team and staff have thrown in the towel for 2017. What a pathetic effort against a bad Missouri team. No fire, no leadership – just a bunch of guys going through the motions, embarrassing themselves and their fans in the process. This is just another indictment against the current coaching staff, most of whom have done a terrible job and have lost the player’s trust.
The Gator offense actually showed some flashes with Malik Zaire at QB. He was able to make some reads, make some accurate throws to all depths, and kept some plays alive with his legs. In just one start he showed much more as a QB than Feleipe Franks has all season – another in a litany of errors by the offensive staff. Lemical Perine was the workhorse at RB and ran hard and effectively. Zaire was able to get more than 1-2 WRs involved, made some good throws in the flats to the RB and TEs, and actually completed some throws between the hash marks. However, stupid penalties and poor blocking by the tackles and TEs doomed most of the scoring chances – just further proof that a lot of the players have mentally checked out. Of course, there couldn’t be a game without another critical injury, this one a knee injury to Brett Heggie, who has been the best OL this season. Finally, Doug Noosemeier did the offense no favors in critical situations, running into the short side of the field with inadequate blocking, and not keeping things simple in the red zone. He has no clue on how to maximize the strengths of his players. The hits just keep on coming.
The real disappointment in terms of player performance (or lack thereof) was watching a listless defense basically give up. Other than Taven Bryan and David Reese, there was no energy or fight. The D-Line was pushed around by a mediocre Tiger O-Line, while both CJ Henderson and Marco Wilson were burned for TDs. At least they have the excuse of being true freshmen, but even their performance wasn’t up to their standards. It was shocking to watch Missouri run the ball so effectively, as they have struggled in the SEC up to now – the Gators generated a lot of negative rushing plays against Georgia, a vastly stronger running team. The pass rush was also lacking, allowing Drew Lock all day to pick his receivers out. A total collapse due to zero effort.
Randy Shannon did the team no favors, coaching very conservatively, not overruling Noosemeier on bad play calls on either 3rd-and-short yardage or in the red zone, and not taking advantage of one real weapon he has in Eddy Pineiro. He allowed Pineiro to not kick off into the end zone for touchbacks – instead letting a pathetic coverage team coached by Greg Nord to consistently allow big returns to help the Tigers start in great field position. He also could have had Pineiro try a long FG in the 1st quarter, but chose to punt instead – why? Well, at least I won’t have to worry about him being around in 2018.
It’s on to South Carolina, and Won’t Misschump has to be excited about watching the Gators implode and wishing to kick them when they are down. Just another coach that Florida has allowed abuse it’s program while learning what not to do and damaging the brand.
The Gamecocks are led by QB Jake Bentley, RB Tyson Williams, and WR Bryan Edwards. While none of those guys should scare the Gator defense, given the fact that most of the players have seemingly given up, it appears anyone is a threat at this point. The Florida D-Line looked terrible the past 2 weeks, and now even the secondary is starting to break down. On paper, the Gator defenders are better than anything the Gamecocks can throw at them. The D-Line is much better than Carolina’s O-Line, and if any of the other guys can follow the lead of Bryan, who continues to play hard, they can make life miserable for Bentley and give the team a chance to win. South Carolina’s offensive stats for the year are pretty offensive, despite their win-loss record. Their success has come against a weak schedule, but perhaps the Gators are just another weak opponent right now due to the current circumstances. If Florida can force Carolina to throw the ball, they will have a decided advantage.
If the Gator O-Line comes put and plays hard this week, they should continue to find success running the ball. Perine, Mark Thompson, and Adarius Lemons should be able to move the chains. As always, it’s up to the passing game to provide some balance and prevent the defense from loading the box. Zaire was able to make some plays last week, and perhaps can build on that going forward. Tyrie Cleveland is still limited by injury, but had success against Missouri and is the primary threat. It would be nice to see Noose actually play to Zaire’s strengths, and allow him to run more read option plays and also call some QB runs. Anything different at this point would shock the opponent, as Noose has done NOTHING different all season. You can’t count on that, though……I’m tired of banging my head against that wall of stupidity.
It’s starting to look like the Gators won’t even be bowl-eligible, and that may be a blessing at this point. No sense in giving this current staff any more time screwing these kids up any more with systems that don’t work and won’t even be used in the future. Athletic Director Scott Stricklin has to get this hire right, or he’ll just continue the downward spiral of the football program. I don’t see anything to allow me to pick the Gators to win this week……and maybe not again until 2018. Perhaps the players rally together to prove they are better than they have shown the past 2 weeks, but I can’t count on that until I see it on the field.
Prediction: Carolina 35 Florida 14