Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, Dan Mullen and Todd Grantham completely gutted the 2021 season with another upset loss to an outmanned LSU. Repeating the same mistakes from the 2020 fiasco, the Gators turned the ball over 4 times, one, a pick-six, and reverted back to their horrific defensive play, allowing the Tigers to run through them like swiss cheese to the tune of 300+ yards. This coming from a team ranked next to last in rushing in the SEC.
It’s already appearing as if some players have checked out mentally, as I feared. Kaiir Elam started at CB, but looked tentative as if he’s saving his health for the Draft. No one on defense really stood out. The D-line embarrassed itself by getting pushed around all afternoon. The LBs missed tackles and continually looked lost trying to fill their run gaps. The secondary played touch with LSU’s WRs all afternoon, allowing too many easy 3rd down conversions. Brenton Cox regressed back to blindly rushing off the edge, allowing LSU to easily run right by him for huge gains – again and again. Once again, the Gators made weak-armed Max Johnson look like Joe Burrow at times. And……again…..Grantham couldn’t figure out how to stop the same counter-run play for an entire game.
The Gator offense lost it’s identity, failing to run the ball effectively against a bad LSU front seven. Emory Jones looked completely lost at times, and threw 2 terrible interceptions, the second being the pick-six that gave LSU a 35-21 3rd quarter lead and getting him benched. From then on, Anthony Richardson came in and rallied the Gators back time and again, making a handful of spectacular TD throws and keeping drives alive with his legs. Yes, he also had 2 interceptions, but the last was a desperation throw with under 2 minutes left and with a defender (again) bearing down upon him. The O-line played it’s worst game of the season, getting abused physically, and blowing a lot of pass protections. LSU was down 5 starters on defense, including both all-SEC candidate cornerbacks. And……once again……Mullen laid more than just an egg……an entire omelet.
And in the largest bit of irony, even winning this game wasn’t enough to give Ed Orgeron any more time, as he’s been shown the door by LSU. Partially for a poor win-loss record since the end of 2019, but also for covering up rape allegations, a Title-IX investigation currently ongoing that includes some actions of the football program, and for personal indiscretions off the field, some of which are well-publicized.
Sadly, we’re right back at the same place where Won’t Misschump and the Swamp Donkey were. Mullen has shown zero propensity for changing his staff, and Grantham is the anchor around his neck that is dragging the entire program down. Mullen likely survives and gets another year in 2022, but he has exhausted all equity he built up his first 3 1/2 seasons with last year’s late collapse and now the latest two disasters.
Here are the ugly truths:
– Florida is now 4-6 in it’s last 10 games, 3 of those wins against FAU, USF, and Vanderbilt
– The Gators are 2-6 in their last 8 games against Power 5 opponents
– Mullen is 0-2 vs. Alabama, 1-3 vs. LSU, 2-2 vs. Kentucky, 0-1 vs. Texas A&M, and soon to be 1-3 vs. Georgia
All of his talk about “The Gator Standard” is lip service – he shows no passion or care when losing (which he’s getting a lot of experience with); he goes with seniority over ability at many positions; he continues to employ bad coaches like Grantham and John Hevesy, who most teams wouldn’t even interview; he continues to provide meaningless comments to the media and fans when pressed for details on what he’s going to do to change the program’s fortunes; and, finally, he shows no ability for self-reflection, believing he’s always the smartest man in the room. The only reason he gets another year in Gainesville is because his buddy, Scott Stricklin, is the AD……and I hope the mess he helped create within the women’s basketball program gets him fired. That seems to be the only way to make Mullen feel any heat and possibly make some LONG overdue staff changes.
I said in my season preview that the floor for this team was 7 wins – at this point I’m just hoping the Gators don’t fall right through that floor. Mullen has frittered away the huge advantages he could have had recruiting in-state players vs. Miami and F$U, who both stink, and now has to try and hold the 2021 class together. Important targets and some commits are looking around now, and the decommitment of Shemar James, the top LB prospect in the country, is a killer – he likely flips to Georgia.
It seems those who feared that Stricklin and Mullen would turn Florida into Mississippi St. east may have been right. Now, Gator Nation has to go through the ringer (again) for 2 weeks until the Georgia game in Jacksonville, which right now looks like Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid vs. the Bolivian Army. It looks like a long, drawn-out 5 games to go for the 2021 season, with rumors of player and coach movement throughout and into what will be a rough offseason.
And the worst thing of all? It all could have easily been avoided if Mullen had the guts and humility to make changes during and after 2020. This is self-inflicted damage. He’s choosing to ride-or-die with the Mullen Mafia.
On that happy note, I’ll be back next week with a preview for the Georgia game.