Georgia Review/ Vanderbilt Preview

Another loss.  Another loss to the Puppies (3 straight).  2013 continues to spiral down into a season that no one will want to remember.

Right now, Florida is a team that is just good enough to lose respectably.  The zombie-like 1st half performance of the defense was an indictment of the entire coaching staff.  This unit is the one that Will Muschamp has hung his hat on since he arrived at Florida, and that was an abomination.  No fire, no energy, no pulse – they really were the Walking Dead.  The LBs are simply been exposed this year as undersized and quite frankly, not SEC-caliber.  Tank Morrison has not lived up to the hype all season, and was guilty of the blown coverage on Todd Gurley that led to the 2nd Puppy TD on the long pass play.  The D-Line was only marginally better, rarely pressuring the QB, and gashed for long runs early and late.  Speaking of Late, allowing Georgia to hold the ball the last 8 minutes of the game was unacceptable……talk about a symbolic end to a game that has reflected the season to date.  Even a great moment – the 4th-down stop early in the 4th quarter that gave Florida a chance to tie or take the lead was hampered by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Neiron Ball for removing his helmet while on the field……WTF?!

While the second half performance of the offense showed signs of life and some new wrinkles in scheme, I’m not going to fall into the trap yet that they will build on that performance until I see it the rest of the season.  It was great to see a long pass completed early in the game, but not a single similar attempt was made after – there’s no good reason for that.  Tyler Murphy was allowed to start running some zone read plays again, but that didn’t really start until the 3rd quarter.  Kelvin Taylor had his most carries and yards in his young career in his first-ever start, and again showed flashes of future greatness.  Solomon Patton again had some nice receptions and a very good KO return, but also negated an easy FG opportunity in the 1st quarter with a stupid personal foul.

See a trend here?  “Something positive happened, but……”  It’s depressing at this point and sucks out any positive vibe from the fans.  Seeing the Gators pushed around for an entire half in a rivalry game is unacceptable.

It’s on to Homecoming against Vanderbilt.  The Commodores beat Georgia this year, but have been wildly up and down for most of the season.  WR Jordan Matthews will be a future NFL player and leads their offense.  The rest of the team is fairly average, but can rise up without much warning.  James Franklin continues to do a good job as Head Coach, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he finally jumps ship (I’m so clever) to a more prestigious job.

I was hoping to say that the Gator offense should be able to build upon it’s second half performance against Georgia, but that was before OT Tyler Moore suffered a broken arm falling off of a scooter during the week.  Now the OL is going to have a 3rd-teamer in the rotation, and possibly have to shuffle positions again.  What  freakin’ joke.  No continuity, no foundation to develop from as the season progresses……..just an utter fail.  Vandy’s defense is not as good as last year, and maybe the Gator OL can survive this latest crisis.  Perhaps Max Garcia will have to slide out from LG, but it looks like the redshirt may have to pulled off of a freshman now by default.  I think that Tyler Murphy will have to run the ball more on zone reads now, and again could be under pressure if he tries to stay in the pocket.  Which affects the passing game……and the running game……and possibly leaves the defense on the field longer……yeesh.  Something tells me the reins are pulled in again on offense instead of the other way around, and Muschamp tries to gut out a close win.

At least Joey Townsend has done well as the new punter, and Frankie Velez has been adequate as the new FG kicker.  The return game and coverage unit was solid again against UGA.  Perhaps this decides this week’s game.

Even die-hard fans are starting to wish this season would just end as soon as possible.  Just burn all the game film from 2013, and start fresh in 2014.  The Bataan Death March seemingly won’t end.  Of course, the staff and players still want to be bowl-eligible (I can’t believe I’m typing this) and gain the extra month of practice that affords.  Recruiting is definitely being affected now, as some guys long in the Gator camp are starting to look around.  Will Muschamp is feeling the heat and pressure of a lost season and how it affects the entire program……and his job status heading into 2014.  Injuries have conspired against him to ruin what could have been an 8-9 win season, but there are other forces at work out of his control.  There’s no way Jeremy Foley doesn’t allow him another full season to recover, but as I’ve said before, there are certain staff members on notice right now, and I’d be very surprised if there is no turnover in the existing staff after the season ends.  This has turned into the worst season of Gator Football since 1989, and it will take a tremendous mental effort to push through and try to finish strong.  I just don’t know if this offensive staff can coach the remaining guys up to that level, and if all of the negative crap that started even before the season can be overcome.

Another noon start for a mediocre matchup, and probably a LOT of empty seats and a disenchanted crowd.  Sounds like the perfect recipe for Vandy to end a losing streak to Florida that began in 1989……there’s that year again.  We’ll see how much fight and pride are left in this team starting now.

Prediction: Florida 23      Vanderbilt 17