Vanderbilt Review / South Carolina Preview

Vanderbilt Review / South Carolina Preview It was talent over execution or game plan, as the Gator offense took a step back to where it has been wallowing for over a month. So much for the hope that the game plan for each game forward would build on the success against Georgia. Back to the dive plays against a stacked box, shaky pass protection, and no downfield pass plays to the WRs. Does Steve Addazio really believe he’s playing possum with future opponents, or is he simply incapable of being both the OL coach and Offensive Coordinator? I know Coach Meyer is fiercely loyal to his assistants, but Coach A has failed this year to put a talented group of players consistently in position to be successful.

One again the defense was stellar, allowing only a FG. That’s now a total of 6 TDs allowed by the defense in 9 games. Yes, the Commodore offense is a level below most SEC opponents, but the performance of the defense has been consistently solid all year. Ryan Stamper filled in nicely for Brandon Spikes, who served his suspension for “giving Washaun Ealey the business”. The DL and secondary were never really challenged, but played hard and hustled to the ball. Carlos Dunlap is playing his best ball of the season, running many plays down from behind to make the tackle.

Another week, another distraction (or distractions), as Coach Meyer was fined $30,00 by the SEC for criticizing the referees for not calling a penalty on the late hit on Tebow by Georgia. What a joke — while *&%#! Lame Kiffen gets a “reprimand” for calling other coaches liars and criticizing recruits that don’t come to Tennessee.

For some reason, I’m more worried about the upcoming game with the Lamecocks than I normally would be. I’m sure part of it is the inconsistent play of the Gator offense this year, but I also wonder, now that the SEC Championship Game matchup is set, if Coach Meyer can keep the team focused on the next game only. He has done a fine job so far, but there remains work to be done..

South Carolina actually has shown signs of life this year in the passing game, and Stephen Garcia is a good runner who can keep plays alive. His biggest problem is still accuracy, though, and I hope that continues at least one more week. The USCe running game has tailed off, which should allow the Gators to get by with a 4-man line and drop the LBs into the intermediate zones and cover the seam route to the TE that they go to multiple times each game. The Florida cornerbacks will be outsized, but neither Alshon Jeffery or Freddie Brown have elite speed, so the safeties should be able to keep things in front of them and help over the middle.

The real mystery is what Gator offense shows up? Eric Norwood is going to be a matchup problem for both of the OTs, and Aaron Hernandez may need to block a little more than usual in the passing game. Of course, a strong inside running game and some actual read option plays on the edges can help negate Norwood’s aggressiveness somewhat. Normally I would say that the passing game should have success against an inexperienced Carolina secondary, but there is no consistency week-to-week. There is a lot of pressure on the Florida offense to finally make a statement against a good defense, and it’s getting late in the season to make it happen. Tebow can still play better, and his reads and decision-making have to speed up. He has help the ball too long much too often this year, and takes too many sacks. Some of this is attributed to Coach Meyer’s “Plan to Win”, which includes limiting turnovers, but I think Tim has played things a little too safe, and has not made the pass plays he did in 2007 and 2008.

Ultimately, I believe that despite the offensive struggles this year, there is simply too much talent and leadership throughout the lineup to allow a letdown now. It’s time to remind the Pariah that the Gators come first, no matter what. I’m hopeful for another beatdown similar to the past 2 years, but it’s “survive and advance” in 2009.

Prediction – Florida 27 South Carolina 17