I debated skipping this altogether or forcing myself to put type to screen and go through with it. I decided, against my best judgment, to go for it and put something together. This is the result. Not very thought out. Just jerky rambling with as much coherency as I could muster without really editing myself. One could say it resembles the Florida offense at times. Little planning, just going out and winging it, and hoping for the best.
The best didn’t come against South Carolina in the SEC East championship game. It actually may have been the worst. That offensive performance was beyond offensive. For three quarters, the Gators did anything but help themselves on that side of the ball. By the time the offense did put anything together, it was only because the Gamecocks were in safe mode and were just doing what they could to get the game over. There were actually a few well-executed plays late in the game, but Florida fans should realize it wasn’t because the Gators changed what they were doing, it was because the Gamecocks had the game wrapped up and knew it.
Before the game, some said Florida didn’t deserve to be in the SEC Championship Game even if they beat South Carolina. I wouldn’t go that far, because even though the Gators didn’t seem worthy at times, they would have deserved it if they had technically won the SEC East. Then I watched them bow down to the Gamecocks and I thought different. Now I’m actually glad we won’t be subjected to an extra game in which we might have to watch that ineptitude. And I’m not blaming the players. I’m really wondering what the coaches are thinking.
Chris Rainey was a spark in his return to the Florida lineup, but in the game against South Carolina he was used too much. That may seem weird to read given that Rainey only touched the ball nine times on offense, but look at those nine times. Six were in the first quarter. In fact, those six were in the first eight offensive plays the Gators ran. During their first two possessions, Florida went three and out. Rainey touched the ball five times in those six plays. Why am I pointing this out? Because he was used too much early and then barely used again. Rainey averaged 6.4 yards per carry and 8.0 yards per catch yet only ran the ball five times and caught only four passes. The Gators made a commitment to involve him, then almost immediately abandoned it.
The running game as a whole was non-existent, despite the fact that Rainey had moderate success. Some will be quick to point that 25 of Rainey’s 32 rushing yards came on one carry, and that’s true, but why give him the ball only five times? The Gators never even attempted to control the clock. 20 rushing attempts (three were sacks) and 19:14 in time of possession. You don’t run 100 plays by running the ball the majority of the time, but Florida only managed 59 plays with their “high-octane” offensive game plan. I’m not a rocket scientist and definitely not a football coach, but the entire offensive flow to the game couldn’t be explained. Whether that’s on Urban Meyer or Steve Addazio, I don’t know, but I have a feeling one of them (and you can guess which one) may only have three games left in his current position.
On the defensive side of the ball, the same questions can be asked of the coaching. The Gators have a number of extremely talented linebackers. Jon Bostic, Brandon Hicks, Jelani Jenkins, A.J. Jones, and Ronald Powell would start anywhere in the country. The schemes Teryl Austin and company run have made them virtually invisible. Marcus Lattimore is an extremely talented player and I don’t want to take anything away from him (seriously, he’s an absolute stud and will be a superstar for many, MANY years), but part of his career-day could be attributed to the fact that if he got past the line, he didn’t get hit until he reached the secondary. Linebackers were nowhere to be found. I have to imagine that’s because of the schemes and not a lack of talent. When Ahmad Black leads the team in tackles (16) in a game during which the opponent runs the ball 54 total times, that’s not a good thing. Not a good thing at all. Black had a great game, but he shouldn’t have had to do so much.
That’s just about enough for now I think. I could talk about Andre Debose (who I hope returns every kick for the next three seasons). I could get into the offensive line. I could question going for it on fourth down. I could even turn red yelling about the same offensive problems the Gators have had for most of the season. But that’s enough. There’s still some season left. Still games to be played and plenty of more words to write. So I’ll end with this…
Congrats South Carolina. You’ve made it to Atlanta. Sure it was an off year for the SEC East, but you accomplished the number one goal. You’ll be playing in the SEC Championship Game against an offensive juggernaut, but one you’ve faced once before. For now, celebrate the accomplishment, take care of business against Clemson, and go into the SECCG strong.