Florida $t. Review

The embarrassing, depressing, and in a bad way historic season of 2013 mercifully ended with a lopsided loss to F$U.  Another painful and inept offensive performance – as John McKay once so aptly put it, “Our offensive execution?  I’m all for it!”

What a disaster.  Even the one glimmer of hope in game-planning a lot around Trey Burton in the Wildcat formation had to be scrapped as he injured his shoulder being tackled after his 55-yard run in the 1st quarter – a perfect summary of the offense of 2013.  With Skyler Mornhinweg at QB, the Gator offense never really stood a chance.  Brent Pease disappointed again, as he refuses to throw downfield – even with low-percentage attempts at a few big plays, and with nothing to lose.  There is really nothing else to add, as I have harped on the poor offense ad nauseum for weeks.  But to go out so meekly without taking some shots deep is maddening and has no excuse.

On defense, the front seven simply wore down with the pathetic effort of the Gator offense constantly returning them to the field.  The scheme was there to perhaps pull off an upset, but only with a college-level offense to support it.  After holding F$U’s offense  down for most of the first half, I was disappointed in the pass coverage that allowed Kelvin Benjamin to score twice and turn momentum completely to their side.  Loucheiz Purifoy was burned badly, and showed why even though he is a terrific athlete, he lacks elite cover skills as a CB and has been picked on the past 2 seasons.  VH3 took over and slowed Benjamin down in the second half, but still gave up some completions due to the size differential.  The loss of Marcus Roberson to injury was sorely felt.  The injuries in the LB corps helped necessitate playing a lot of nickel and dime packages.  That was fine with me, as I didn’t fear the Criminole running game at all, even with the scrambling ability of Jameis Winston.  But given the amount of time the defense had to play, even that scheme cracked late.

All in all, a microcosm of the entire season.

Talk about a stunning fall from a 12-1 National Championship season just 5 years ago, followed with a 12-1 season in 2009.  The shock won’t wear off for a while for many who haven’t experienced something like this.  However, the offseason purge will begin quickly, and will benefit the program in the long run.  Expect OC Brent Pease and OL coach Tim Davis to get blown out in a few days.  Also expect to see quite a few transfers of players that are disenchanted with lack of playing time and perceived slights from the coaching staff, but in reality were either too soft or simply aren’t SEC-caliber talent.  In a strange way this will lift some of the dark clouds hanging over recruiting the past few months as the losing streak grew, and will generate some new excitement with some of these kids.  I also expect a few current commits to waver if not decommit, but that will open the door to other guys who want to be Gators, and also open up more scholarships than expected before the season started and allow flexibility for Muschamp and the staff to pursue talent.

It’s a delicate balance that Jeremy Foley has to strike with a head coach that’s perceived as on a 1-tear leash, and Will Muschamp in turn has to find an OC and OL coach that are willing to come in with that risk.  Obviously not the best scenario for access to coaches you want to interview, but this is what happens when through a variety of causes your program bottoms out……and it can be a difficult climb out of that dark hole.  With no bowl practices, the staff has more time than ever to plan out a strategy for the balance of the recruiting season through NSD, and also take a hard look at the roster and how best to utilize the returning talent.  I hope a few moves are seriously considered, such as moving Leon Orr to TE to take advantage of his size, speed, and athleticism, as he simply doesn’t make impact plays as a DL, and there was ZERO production from that position in 2013.  Perhaps Ron Powell gets a look at MLB depending on the health of other returning LBs.  A few guys like Purifoy and Roberson could leave early for the NFL, opening up the depth chart in the secondary.

For those that are stepping out on the ledge, I would like to remind them to go back and compare Florida’s performance starting in 1980 to any program in the country……and that was accomplished in the SEC, the premier conference in college football.  One bad season every 30 years or so is more easily accepted and understood when compared to what many of the other traditional powers have suffered through.  This too shall pass……but had better pass quickly.  College football is religion in the South, and Saturdays are the high holy days.  Even the Visor has limited patience!

I’ll be back after NSD with a recruiting recap and look ahead to Spring Practice.

Happy Holidays!

As always, Go Gators!