Post-game Gator team cheer along with the band and the fans

Bowl Win and a (Relatively) Bright Future

No one thought that we were going to win the Outback Bowl by a score of 30-3 at this stage of the season.

Ok—-yes it was Iowa.  Not the greatest of offensive teams out there.  Frankly, the common held belief was that a score of 12-9 was probably the most likely outcome.  You know you were thinking this, too.

All that said, Iowa did possess a reasonably good defense that was healthy and was rested.  Of course, we were rested as well, but we were still playing without six starters.  We can address that later, but our offense with a few scares at the beginning was reliable for the most part.  When Mark Thompson took that swing pass at the end of the first half, you had a sense that this game might go better than expected.  When DeAndre Goolsby scored a TD (twice) on the same drive, the word “blowout” was possibly coming to mind.  I did not expect three interceptions and one returned for a TD, but you knew that Iowa wasn’t going to make a massive comeback running the football….which wasn’t gashing us for big run after big run.

In the end, it was a very satisfying win.  Which begs the question “Why?”

Well, for one, I will personally admit (very hard for me to do) that there were Gator names on defense that I had barely heard during the season….and they were playing well.  Yes, again, it was Iowa.  None the less, that is promising.

After the two interceptions on successive drives, we were moving the ball all day.  We had some drives end in punts, but there were very few three and outs during critical periods of play (we did have them at the end of each half) and the one play, 85 yard TD run by Thompson.  Our defense HAD time to recover and when it was rested, was playing at a high level.  Young players and quality D play….good times.

Running game….yes, we had one!  Jordan Scarlett has at the end of the season, solidified himself as the featured back.  I was kind of hoping he would get one more carry and six yards to break 100, but in between passes, he was solid in his performance.  Iowa may not seem like much at present, but coming into the game, they did have a run defense.  The fact that we could run bodes well for…..

…the offensive line.  Returns 12 players next year.  Quality recruits coming in with National Signing Day looming.  There may be a ray of sunshine in our offense next year.  It has been the weakest link in the Gator football team for awhile.  A team that puts up 30+ points a game next year would be fun to watch.

Finally, what was most satisfying was the focus.  Even after two straight interceptions to open the game, the Gators did not ever look defeated.  Did not look like it wasn’t their day.  Were battling the entire game.  Looked more energized at the end than they did at the beginning.  It is something we have missed for awhile, but came at a very good time for us because this win in particular should bode well for recruiting.

Were it not for a hurricane-reduced schedule, we could be looking at successive 10-4 seasons and a current bowl win.  That is the right direction.  One stellar QB and a force of an offensive line in place and we get right back to where we are all comfortable.  Winning by A LOT!!  You have to love that.  ‘Nuff said.

TGN

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The new field on display

The SEC is Bad and We Played Horrible

That seems to be the sentiment this morning, Gator Nation!

Sure, we did not put 50 on UMass like we should have.  We looked pedestrian at times and the fact remains our Offensive Line is nowhere near where we need it.  Truthfully, at halftime of our game last night the best SEC team was…..Kentucky who was up 35-0 on Southern Miss…..then absolutely collapsed and Alabama was behind 3-0 to USC.  Georgia was the lone bright spot in an absolutely horrid weekend of play and, honestly, I didn’t think they played that well either.   Is this a down year in the SEC?  Are we going to struggle like last year?  Yes, no, maybe, let’s talk some football…

We have a kicker, so let’s start with that Eddy Pineiro was absolutely as billed.  Just came in with ice in his veins and knocked three 40+ yard field goals like they were a day at the park.  He also brings a ton of energy and enthusiasm which is not a bad thing to have on the team.  If I sound optimistic, I will point out that he technically kicked and made over half the sum total of our made field goals last season (we did remove one from the scoreboard on a penalty).  The conditions were atrocious as well, so the fact he made them is a plus.

Our O-Line is young and most of our offense last night was geared at getting them going and in the game.  I agreed with Coach Mac’s decision to take away the made FG and go for it on 4th and 1 in the red zone.  Either we have what it takes to move the ball or we don’t.  We didn’t last night and it was apparent all night long.  Luke Del Rio managed the game well at QB and didn’t make any gross errors.  He threw good passes, but never really stretched the field.  Had he connected on the opening pass for a TD the tone might have been considerably different.  The fact we went for an opening play like that in the pouring rain was actually impressive.  NOTE: the rain is neither a factor in our play nor an excuse.  A team still has to execute.  I think there is more to the game than the score as well.  Running plays over on the side of true freshman, Jawaan Taylor, is more likely a need to beef up the game experience of the entire line itself rather than a need to score more point.

Yes, we were only up by 3 at the end of the third quarter, but we had the game in control.  Our defensive line performed well…too aggressive at times because UMass doesn’t score were it not for 35 yards in penalties on the one scoring drive they had.  Our secondary was not the same without Teez Tabor and having Duke Dawson leave early did not help.  Our young DB’s were often confused on routes.  I would expect a big difference next week in this area, primarily because Tabor is the leader of that unit and having him around is a good thing.  Dawson went out with an arm injury.  Will have to wait and see the outcome on this.  As I explained in my Facebook post this week my two areas of concern for this team are the offensive line and the secondary.  Not where we need them to be at this point.

I’m going official with this next proclamation.  I’m done with the running back by committee.  Yes, it was the proper game to do it, but leave it at alone at this point.  Give the ball to Jordan Scarlett until he proves he can’t do the job.  Rest him on plays with the others, but let him carry the load.  Period.  (I know McElwain is absolutely on pins and needles now that I’ve said this!)

Mississippi State, Kentucky, Auburn, LSU, Tennessee, South Carolina, Missouri, Arkansas and the Gators did not represent well this weekend.  Whatever.  Some were embarrassing losses, some were potentially embarrassing.  Regardless, next week is next week.  A team figure things out, game plans and moves on.  I admit I was a bit giddy watching UT and South Carolina struggle on Thursday night.  Then watching the rest of the SEC lay stink bombs one after the other heightened that giddiness.  That obviously went away when I watched us last night.  At one point, I believed we were going to be the bright spot in the SEC this weekend.  Turned out not to be true.  Regardless, what will we will do is develop our talent.  Get more game reps in and work on the experience of a young team.  We get some playmakers back this next game and make some progress in our ability to execute.  I’d rather have a lackluster effort this week and win than a poor showing next week and lose.  I think our O-Line is in for a brutal week of practice.  That can only be a good thing.

It’s one weekend.  The conference has had a great run for well over a decade.  Odds were going to be like this at some point.  Time to focus on the next game.  We have Kentucky next week and the possibility of extending the win streak to 30 games.  Kentucky had an implosion at home last night so they likely have a long week ahead of them as well.  You just gotta love college football, Gator Nation!

Go Gators!

 

 

Got this off the internet somewhere---but can't remember who gets credit.  Go Gators!

Game Day and McElwain

I couldn’t resist, Gator Nation!

My current personal situation requires a very conservative approach to social media, so the postings stopped and the weekly updates stopped. I didn’t mind too much because it was quite a bit to keep up with, but I couldn’t let the start of new season and new coach go by without some comments. I mean….that’s what I do….I comment on things. Things have been just too juicy for me to pass up this opportunity, thus I have some thoughts to share. We open the season against New Mexico State who will not show us anything about what the Gators are made of, but are a perfect opponent to get things rolling. Let’s talk some football…

The Jim McElwain era begins today and there is room for hope. He has approached the off season time with an attitude to “win now”. He made some moves to shore up our issues on the offensive line and he has positioned athletes as playmakers (see Brandon Powell) in hopes of generating far more offense than we have seen in recent years. That said, our offense will not be on the production of the Spurrier or Meyer teams just because we still have issues on the O-Line and we don’t have all the playmakers we need for an explosive offense. There have plenty of articles on the last time we played New Mexico State 25 years ago and the offensive juggernaut that were the Steve Spurrier teams, but he had an incoming trio of freshman receivers (along with Jack Jackson) that would go on to win us the National Championship. For the rabid Gator fan out there that is just ACHING for some serious offensive play here is my rule of thumb for the game and how best to judge the upcoming season in terms of what we can expect from the offense. If we are in the vicinity of 60 points at the start of the 4th quarter (think 60 +/- 5 points) then I would expect a far better offensive showing than the last four years. If we are in the vicinity of 40 points at the start of the 4th quarter (40 +/- 5 points) then I would not expect anything different than what we have seen in recent history. I don’t think this is a result of the coaching, but the O-Line, and the near term loss of Martez Ivey, combined with not enough receiving talent will be something that is hard to overcome this year. I think we have potential for a strong running game with Kelvin Taylor and company, but again it comes down to the O-Line and if we don’t have as much success passing downfield then it becomes a repeat of last year. We will just have to see.

Before I forget, we have a new Indoor Playing Facility (IPF). Yay. Moving on. Much has been made of the defense. I think our secondary will be good, but I’m not as confident about our pass rush on the D-Line or even how consistent our linebackers will be. I’m sure we all want to see a shutout. That would be nice. However, based upon New Mexico State’s QB play last year, it is very conceivable that we record 3-4 interceptions. Not kidding here. They threw multiple interceptions in 9 games last year. That’s A LOT! It is possible that we see a couple of defensive scores….which we all know I love, but will really not be indicative of anything significant other than watching Gator blue running early and often into the end zone. VH3 is set to be the punt returner as well as our premier defensive back. Among other things, that should be fun to watch. I know the first game of a head coach is huge for the fan base so we have some themes for this weekend’s game. How well will Treon Harris and Will Grier play? Is our defense for real? Is our offense better than expected? Will we pass down field? Special teams? How about Brandon Powell as a slot receiver? The bottom line is this…you have to be watching tonight. If you are a hard-core Gator like me or even a passing Gator fan, this game has too much to offer in the way of excitement, hope and amusement to pass it up. If this season turns out to be even special, then who better to celebrate it with than all of the Gator Nation!?!? It is like no other….and we are due. Gators 70 Aggies 3. I have always gone big with scores, but I expect more special teams and defensive scores than normal, so don’t read that much into this. It will be a great start to the Coach McElwain era and the excitement will build. If the last four years have left you ambivalent, then tonight should be an exception. Go to your nearest Gator Club and enjoy a festive atmosphere with the Gator Nation with a Victory over the Aggies in the Swamp! ‘Nuff said.

Go Gators!
TGN

Teaching a Debt Perspective to 12-Year-Olds

Teaching a Debt Perspective to 12-Year-Olds.

via Teaching a Debt Perspective to 12-Year-Olds.

Ok, Gator Nation, not my usual rant.

Absolutely loved how well this presentation was written. With kids who fall into the age range (and soon bound for college) for this presentation on debt, I thought it was truly a great piece and worth sharing. Whether you buy into the premise or not, I thought it laid out a fairly great argument.

Posting for your use and reference.

Gator Men’s Basketball still #1 and an interesting last week to go in the regular season. If you’re not following you should.

Go Gators!

Back On Top

#EverythingSchool

It seems after a dismal football season, the spring is shaping up nicely for the Gator Nation!

That is not to say that the fall was not without its successes.  The Lady Gator Volleyball team did quite well as did the Lady Gator Soccer team.  Right now, though, is quite a different story.

The Men’s Swimming and Diving team just captured the SEC and is currently ranked #1.  So is the Women’s Softball team, currently undefeated and ranked atop the polls.  Lest we forget, we are a current gymnastics powerhouse, ranked #1 and having defeated both #2  and #3 in head to head meets this year.  We’re talking about a National Champion program repeating as a National Champion.  There is probably an entire post on the Women’s Gymnastics program itself (Note to self: may want to follow up on the one).

A quick shout to the Women’s Basketball program.  I was able to watch them play UK in Lexington last month as they beat the #5 team in the nation and then beat them again this month when UK visited Gainesville.  They are suiting up 9 players because of injury and they play hard.  Right now, they are in a good position to make the NCAA tournament…so keep an eye on the rest of their season.

Fact remains is that it is always Great to Be a Florida Gator, but especially now with our student-athletes doing so well.  You just have to make sure you’re following all the right sports.  Women’s Lacrosse has not yet began, but I expect good things from them as well.

Oh yeah, the Men’s Basketball program attained its first #1 ranking since 2007.  Billy has them playing at a great level right now, but each game you can see they are working for more.  They are on an all-time Gator winning streak, but I’ll take a regular season loss and a drop in the polls for a SEC Tournament Championship and a deep, deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

It’s Great to Be a Florida Gator!  ‘Nuff said.

Go Gators!

The Noise in the System is Screeching

First loss by Florida to an FCS team ever, Gator Nation.

Probably first loss to a team with ZERO passing yards since the 1940’s.

Lost not only our first time to Vanderbilt in 23 years, but the first time we lost at home to them since 1949.

First six-game losing streak since 1979 and first losing season since then.

First time that Florida will not go to a bowl game since 1990….and that one was due to NCAA sanctions.

We have the longest streak in the nation in not being shutout.  Each successive week this year, I have grown more concerned that this streak will be coming to an end as well in the Muschamp era.  We have absolutely no offense and I truly don’t believe that we couldn’t muster more scoring opportunities against Georgia Southern than we did.  Frankly, if you take away GeoSo’s turnovers in the red zone, we aren’t even close to being able to win the game at the end.

We may even be looking at a year where we will lose to Miami, Georgia and Florida State.  That should absolutely be unheard of here?

I say it all the time…I’m not invested in streaks because they eventually come to an end, but I would have never predicted that we would end all our streaks in the same season.  Kentucky must be kicking themselves at not capitalizing on the opportunity this year.

I was not going to be surprised to see Jeremy Foley announce on Sunday that Will Muschamp’s tenure is over at Florida.  Of course, I was also not surprised that an announcement did not come.  Muschamp is our coach next year regardless of whatever happens next weekend against Florida State.  Everyone wanting him gone should concentrate their energy on something else. 

I ask this question to the GatorNation….”when was the last time you ever heard of a coach who has had this kind of season in their 3rd year and turned things around and won a National Championship?  An SEC or conference Champsionship?”  I don’t have the answer to that.

I understand that a first year coach may have this kind of season, but by now, you should be established in your program.  The injuries haven’t helped, but I also haven’t seen any action taken to rectify the problem (Note: I’m not close to the program so I’m only going on what has been reproted thus far).

Can a program in this state recover with the same head coach?  I ask this because I simply don’t have the answer.  I’ve never seen it done. 

If Will Muschamp pulls all this off at the end of the day, then I will fully support him going forward.  He needs to know, though, that he has asked for a great deal of trust from the Gator Nation and to this point he has not inspired confidence in that trust.

In all kinds of weather, Gator Nation!

Go Gators!

The Grounded Eagles

Florida Gator

Florida Gator (Photo credit: johnny9s)

Triple Option Saturday, Gator Nation!

The Georgia Southern Eagles are coming to town with an offense that rolls up over 300 yards on the ground per game. Our last time we played them we won 62-14, yet they were still running the triple option and put up 300 yards on the ground against Spurrier, Wueffel and Company. I’m thinking we will be far from 62 by the end of the game. Let’s talk some football…

To sum up…Georgia Southern runs the ball quite a bit. They do pass the ball for an average of 100 yards a game, so they can throw it, but they just don’t. We should beat them because of all things that are happening right now with Gator football, we still have a pretty solid defense. If we get an interception this game then you can expect a blow out, but I’m not seeing that happen. We still need to force some turnovers because ultimately we need a short field for our offense. If GeoSo sustains drives to mid-field and then punts and pins us near the 20-25 yard line, it will be a long day. We should win, but I would not expect 62 points. We’ve basically scored 24 or more points four times this year and never more than 21. So how we are 27.5 point favorites for this game is beyond my comprehension. Our offense just doesn’t operate that fast. We would need defensive Touchdowns, special teams Touchdowns and lastly…offensive Touchdowns. What will become frustrating by halftime is that GeoSo will probably run for well over 100 yards by then.

I thought we played well against South Carolina and, frankly, the Gamecocks had to be sweating bullets by the start of the 4th quarter after Auburn took care of business and all they had to do was win. I still can’t tell you much about Skyler Mornhinweg but he did an admirable job for a third string QB in his first start on the road against the Head Ball Coach. Kelvin Taylor was also very good (maybe he gets 150 yards today). We didn’t do a very good job of countering SoCar in the second half on offense, but let’s face it….we were in better shape than 99.9% thought we would be at that point. I would expect more of the same. Lots of running. An occasional pass. A special teams highlight. We win, they lose. The game will probably go quickly. Florida 24 Georgia Southern 9. Game time is 2pm EST, 11pm PST…that’s kind of weird to type after all these years. No Vern. No Gary. Sunshine Network or ESPN3 are your choices. If you live in Central Ohio, good luck finding a place to watch the game because the OSU-Indiana game will be on at the same time. You, however, should join your local Gator Club where a last home game Victory over the Georgia Southern Eagles is best served with Gators! ‘Nuff said.

Go Gators!

Link

Blatant Homerism: Georgia (Article Response/Rant)

TGN has a Facebook page where I link to articles that apply to the Gator Nation.  Most recently after the Florida-Georgia game, I posted the link above in the title section with the comment “This one is blunt and to the point.  Not for young children’s reading, either.”

There were a few expetives in the article just for your warning.  Of course, there were expletives in some of the responses.  Gators will be Gators.  None the less, I found the article, the response and the mood not only entertaining, but enlightening.

So read the article and then review the following comments:

MH: Geez, are things really that bad at UF?  he seems awfully negative.  Admittedly i have not seen many UF games this year.  I was wiating for the “it’s Urban’s fault” quote.

RRD: Sheer brilliance.  And dead on balls accurate.   (TGN here: the last sentence made me wince a bit)

AA: Can’t argue with anything there.

EA: Frowning Face Emoticon

TGN:  Muschamp is a coach…he had shown no ability at all to run and lead a program.  That is the crux of the issue.  (TGN Here again:  I may have more to say about this comment later).

RRD: He MUST go.  And now, before he does any more damage.

MP: Yah, it’s getting more and more difficult to go to the SD Gator Club viewing parties to watch the game.  This week’s is at 9am and it’s against Vandy, so I don’t expect a big turnout.

SS: how encouraging.  I don’t think you should be able to cry like a spoiled (expletive deleted) without offering any solutions.  just a pet peeve of mine.  so my 2 cents is for him to stf up.  no one would be ranting about our script logo if we were winning. but muschamp will go.  personally i’d like to LAF to weigh in.

LAF: (TGN Note – some very good points about to be made)  While some salient points are made, there are some errors as well.  the supposed strength of this year’s Gator team – the offensive line – but they never even had that chance in losing starting tackle Chaz Green before the season started. Transfers Garcia & Moore seemed to be only onkay in playing in big boy’s conference, the SEC.  Moore especially – he of the drive–killing offensive procedure calls.  Lose another LT in Humphries, Halapio playing through injury to his pec and this last week throwing in junior college transfer Brown to start his first ever game with a true freshman at running back (albeit, Mr. Taylor will be a good back with the glimpses of playmaking ability one cannot teach, but only admire).  Another game, another patchwork offensive line.  Continuity along both the offensive and defensive line makes anyone look okay.  One cannot replace first the ability of Dominick Easley and second the intangibles he brought with his effort, leadership and presence.  No QB likes to see his pocket invaded up the middle.  Easley did that, his replacements cannot.  In postings I hae made throughout the year, I have ripped our play calling as OFFENSIVE.  One likes to place the blame wholly on Pease, yet one wonders if his hands are being tied in multiple ways: #1) a back-up QB with no real gametime experience since coming to Florida having to learn how to read SEC defenses on the fly, #2) a head coach trying to play “Saban” ball without the same pieces or “head coach” mindset, #) WRs still learning how to get open, 4) TE – I forgot – how often do we ever throw to them (no Burton is not a TE and I think they are still trying to figure out how to use him effectively.  I am all for promoting from within, but DJ Durkin is not a qualified SEC defensive coordinator.  I think even Morrison regressed this year, but not sure if that’s due to losing Easley in front of him or watching all those unsportsmanlike conduct penalties being called EVERY game on the Gator dfense or his off-the-field lack of maturity issues in his  head.  As far as coordinators without head coaching experience doing okay, I guess one should not look at what Charlie Strong has done for Louisville or Jimbo Fisher has done at Florida State (oops, I guess you were wrong there as well).  All this being said,  I think Muschamp may have the opportunity to have one more year provided he makes changes on both sides of the ball with some of his staff unless he stumbles and loses 3 of the remaining 4 games – yes I am giving us a W versus Georgia Southern, they of the single wing.  I probably missed countering or agreeing with certain points made, but we are only human.

RRD: It’s all too depressing to even think about.  Not that long ago we were the national champions.  WTF?

FK: A BS comment on the inuries not affecting the O-Line.  Chaz Green was supposed to be the mainstay at LT, and he was gone before the season started to the labrum inury.  While they have not performed well, that, and other minor injuries have forced the coaches to constantly have to rearrange who is playing on what on the O-line.

FK: So this guy complains for no end, and then he offers no solution.  His entire thesis is that Will should be fired, and then he gets to that point, states that there aren’t any vialbe alternatives, and says he shouldn’t be.  The author can’t have it both ways.  What IS his solution to a mess that’s been going on before Will got here (wasn’tthe 2010 season fun?).

TGN: speaking of the O-Line the Gators just lost Tyler Moore for the season to a….scooter accident.  The Gator Football program needs to take a comprehensive look at the injury situation.  Most of the injuries occurred either in practice or off the field.  This has a been a recurring theme, of course not to this extreme, for several years now and we have one of the top Sports Medicine programs in the nation.  I’d expect Muschamp to stay, but the program needs some serious evaluation.

WHEW!!

I don’t know Spencer Hall from EDSBS, but if he wanted to generate interest he surely did so.  To his credit, it was clear he wasn’t putting things out there that the entire Gator Nation was frustrated with watching on game day.  Whether accurate or not, I’m not entirely sure that was ever his intent.  He did capitalize on a growing mood across the Gator Nation.  While I don’t think Will Muschamp will get fired this year…or probably even next year, the Gator Nation needs some venting because we do expect more from our Gator Football team.

The Gator Nation is frustrated and justfiably so.  This is not even remotely what we are accustomed to seeing on Saturdays.  We have definintely been spoiled in the last twenty years.  Muschamp will have to make some major adjustments in the off season, but this too has to be tempered.  These Gator players have had a cornucopia of coaches in recent years.  There is also a good argument for stability.  Some of these players need some stability right now.

My thanks to everyone who participated in the conversation.  It’s on the TGN Facebook page if you want to check it out live and in person.  I will leave you with this parting thought—even with the rant above, there is always a flip side:

 On Will Muschamp, Florida Football, and Everything

Go Gators!

The Game and the Gamecocks

English: Steve Spurrier at fan day while coach...

English: Steve Spurrier at fan day while coaching the Florida Gators, 1999 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Football is an odd sport, Gator Nation.

We celebrate multiple men on a field running into each other at high velocities and enjoy bone crushing events like they were the only thing happening on a Saturday.  We get excited and high five when someone becomes so fluid and elusive that others buckle at the knees to keep up and watch as an individual trots into a big patch of green.  The game of college football brings its ups, its downs and in all kinds of weather, Gator Nation.  There’s nothing like it.  Let’s talk some football…

Steve Spurrier is easily the greatest active college football coach in the SEC.  Oh…you think Saban and Miles are better.  Really?  Want to go toe to toe with me on this one?  Sidebar: Yes, I’m a big of the Head Ball Coach.  End Sidebar.  Many of you in my generation and before understand that the 8-5 record that Urban Meyer left us with and the 7-6 that Muschamp began his tenure with before Spurrier was THE STANDARD.  I remember sitting in the stands in 1988 watching us unable to move the ball against Memphis State.  Not Mississippi State.  Not Florida State (that game was uglier…52-17).  I’m speaking of team in southwest Tennessee that beat us 17-11.  We finished 7-5 and guess who we lost to the very next week?  Yes, Vandy.  Another sidebar: Before you note the 9-1-1 seasons, understand those have been wiped from existence due to NCAA sancation and SEC buffoonery.  End second sidebar.  Before Spurrier there wasn’t the Florida Football we have known the past two decades.  Before Spurrier the Gamecocks were who other teams scheduled for their Homecoming.  Both Alabama and LSU were winning football games and National titles before Saban and Miles ever set foot on the campus and both enjoy a recruiting advantage in their home states full of football prospects.  Spurrier built programs and won at places that weren’t winning before and is easily the better coach on the sidelines.  He may not have the horses he had at Florida in the earlier years, but there is no denying he is always the better the coach.  Oh yeah, I’m not a big fan of either ‘Bama, LSU or the Gamecocks for that matter, so there is some legitimate bias in this assessment.

SoCar is bringing in the better team.  They score more points.  Their defense is not that great, but neither is our offense.  They have a good QB who is not out for the year with an injury, so that right there is a plus.  They boast one of the greatest defensive players in the country in Jadeveon Clowney, who also is not out for the year with an injury.  It’s actually interesting how good a team can be when they have most of their players suited up for each game.  This game is at SoCar so that puts at least a few points in their favor for the game.  It’s a night game and they have to win to keep pace in the SEC East which means they will bring a raucous crowd to the game.  They have the SEC’s leading rusher in Mike Davis, a former Gator commit that we blew it with by trying to recruit another RB the same year after we had already signed him and Matt Jones.  Best head coach, better team, better record, at the opposition’s home field…it doesn’t look good does it?

Whatever.  No one ever said I wrote these posts for my health or for my sanity.  Sure we have now have 10 starters out for the season after Antonio Morrison tore cartilage in his knee presumably not barking at a neighbors dog.  We may have even lost our backup QB and will be, most likely, starting our third string QB, Skyler Mornhinwig, who has a famous father and no NCAA snaps at QB in his repertoire.  The fact each of us who have been following Gator football this year know this is a blowout before it starts.  Yet I’m not going there.  Game time isn’t here and we still have a chance.  Kelvin Taylor might break tackles enroute to a 200 yard game.  Our third string QB may prove to be the best QB we have in the rotation.  Has a knack for getting rid of the ball quickly and out to the receivers for big gains.  Our secondary could conceivably intercept Conner Shaw four times and return a couple for Gator TDs.  The fact is the ball still needs to be put in play and we have a chance…albeit slim…to win this game.  Because of that, I’m still going with the Gators.  I’ve never predicted a Gator loss and I’m not about to start now.  Besides, this is a SoCar team that lost to Tennessee that we manhandled while losing our starting QB at the same time.  Florida 31  South Carolina 29.  Game time is 7pm EST and 4pm PST on ESPN2 which mean Verne and Gary are covering another set of SEC schools, thankfully.  You probably haven’t been going to your local Gator Club recently, but this week is a good time to go because a Victory over South Carolina and possible continuance of a yearly winning record are best served with Gators.  ‘Nuff said?  Not quite.

I posted a great article on why the situation for us will get worse before it gets better on the TGN Facebook page.  The problems started under Meyer and were exacerbated under Muschamp.  We’ve had all these great recruiting classes that did have skill players develop, did not provide us depth at QB and absolutely obliterated the offensive line.  We didn’t realize that a 12-1 Gator squad in Tebow’s last year was operating very thinly and it was only because of who we had at QB and the recruiting class that came in with him were we able to get through the season.  As much as Urban Meyer has fell out of favor with me for how he left the program, I have to admit he is a better coach than Muschamp and better at recognizing opportunity and assistant coaches.  He said the program was broken when he left.  He should know, he broke it.  The fact that Ohio State opened up with plenty of quality players and no SEC schedule was only a bonus.  Muschamp for his part made the situation worse with poor coaching selections and his overall bull headed approach to fitting round pegs in square holes.  Right now Jacoby Brissett should be our pro-style QB, but that was never going to happen because we needed Jeff Driskel to scramble around due to a very weak offensive line with no depth.  No receivers to throw to also means that Driskel is scrambling A LOT.  We are taking athletes and shoving them into positions that they are not used to playing while Muschamp builds his stable and to his credit he has recruited a significant number of offensive lineman last year and this year.  The injuries this year just brought the house down and now we sit at 4-5 and looking at our first losing season since 0-10-1 in 1979.

Our AD, Jeremy Foley, came out in support of Muschamp this week.  Frankly, Gator Aaron had the best response on Facebook this week with “Actually, I think the only valid reason not to fire him is the lack of anybody on the current coaching staff who can step up in his place.  Brent Pease?  COME ONE!”  No truer statement can be said.  Muschamp is here for the remainder of this season and will be the coach next year.  He went 11-2 last year and one bad season….and this is a really bad one for Gator fans…will not be enough to get him fired.  It is quite likely we may have a second bad season next year, but should have a winning record.  Muschamp has to find some quality assistant coaches who can develop player talent.  He then has to identify what is happening in his program that is resulting in so many injuries.  This season is abnormal in terms of injuries, but it has been a continual problem since he came on campus.  He has to decide that some games are more important than others.  He has one Victory over FSU on his resume that he can claim as a rivaly Victory.  We haven’t beaten Georgia and are more than likely going to go 1-2 versus FSU this year.  His statement when he first took the job that he didn’t believe in rivalry games speaks volumes as to why I don’t think he’s the best X’s and O’s coach we could have, but he is who we have for the time being.  So, I’m going to work with it.  With this year’s recruiting class getting shakier by the week (see De’shawn Hand choosing Alabama over us this week—it gets worse if we lose Dalvin Cook at WR), Muschamp will have to do his best to reassess and get everything back on track.  In all kinds of weather we all stick together, Gator Nation.  This storm is going to last a bit longer.  Hang in there.  It might just all work out for us in the end.

The bright spot in all of this is that Gator basketball is starting and I will say up front that November and December will be a trying time.  We just lost to a ranked Wisconsin team with seven scholarship players and a walk-on playing 21 minutes, nearly winning the game in the final minute at Wisconsin.  We get Damontre Harris and Dorian Finney-Smith back from their team suspensions this week to get a bit more size on the floor.  Eventually, Will Yuegete, Michael Frazier and Eli Carter will recover from their surgeries and illnesses.  We will get Scottie Wilbekin back in a few weeks to allow us to have more than just a freshman at point guard.  Chris Walker is also set to join the team in December which will allow us to see the highly touted big man in action.  Come mid-January, I suspect you are going to see a very good Gator basketball team and probably the only one who can compete with Kentucky in the SEC.  This is a Gator basketball team that is lying in wait.  Have some patience, but most importantly tune in and watch the games because they are going to be good.  Lastly, the 5th ranked Lady Gator Volleyball team plays the 7th ranked Misouri Tigers this weekend.  This the first time Mary Wise has had a Top Ten game in the SEC since her first season in 1991.  I have great expectations for this Volleyball team.  I’m looking for a Final Four appearance this year.

Ok.  ‘Nuff said.

Go Gators!

Vandy Has Been

Florida at Vandy

Florida at Vandy (Photo credit: da_mere)

Bylines are deceptive, Gator Nation.

The Vandy football team is also deceptive. This is a team that, for 22 years in a row, we have been able to defeat them. Most times we have done so by a large amount of points. This year is much more different and the game couldn’t be more important to the Gator football team. A winning record, a possible bowl game and just a little satisfaction for the Gator Nation are at stake. Let’s talk some football…

It is not your mother’s or grandmother’s Vanderbilt football team. Vandy comes to The Swamp with a 4-4 record and a win over Georgia (who we just lost to) and presents the ability to put a lot of points. They’ve scored at least 24 points in every game which contrasts to our ability to even reach the 20 point mark. The are fairly balanced running and passing the ball, but their starting QB, Austyn Carta-Samuels, is nursing a knee injury from their game against Georgia. There is a big drop if they go to their backup, but I’d expect Carta-Samuels to play. Their big weakness is their defense. They have given up 35 or more points four times this year and haven’t exactly played the same caliber of teams that we have. Keep in mind they’ve also had two weeks to prepare for this game. The head coach is James Franklin who is, like Muschamp, is in his third year and has completely turned around a program that for the majority of its existence was the SEC doormat in football. Not your father’s Vanderbilt football team either. James Franklin is a highly regarded coach who is rumored to be a candidate for the USC football job. Whether that is true, I’m not getting into here, but to have your name in the conversation while you are coaching Vandy says something about your ability to run a program. Vandy has been…a team we routinely beat by an average of 20 points. Vandy has been…a great team to play on Homecoming. Vandy has been…the week we could take off and not play as hard. Vandy has been…isn’t anymore. Too much is resting on this game for the Gators to consider what “has been”.

Pleasant surprise last week against Georgia…except we still lost. Our defense has been the one competitive group on the team this year, but we can’t afford an entire quarter off and get in such a hole. Vandy has the potential to put points on us fast like Georgia. Our defense has to step up immediately and make a statement today. Muschamp is going to have to do his best sales job and fire up a squad that is playing for the entire Gator Nation today on Homecoming. I have to admit that bowl fantasies are not part of my thinking these days. I really just want to see us playing well rounded football the remainder of the season. I’m tired of thinking about injuries and who our next playmaker will be. It has been ugly football, but a win is a win. We beat Vandy and then we look at the next game…and then the next game after that. Kelvin Taylor had a flash of brilliance last week. Even Tyler Murphy seemed to be used better than most games. Frankly, all our good fortunes last week started with the defense. I don’t see us winning without our defense setting the tone early and putting the offense in position to get points. We have to get early and often pressure on the QB, force turnovers, not turn the ball over ourselves and run the ball well…and we probably need a defensive or special teams score. Florida 23 Vanderbilt 14. I have high expectations for both Kelvin Taylor and Trey Burton. Will see how they live it to that today. Gametime is High Noon EST, 9am PST…it’s breakfast for the West Coast Gators and hopefully a good turnout at the Gator Clubs. Which is where you should be because a Victory for Homecoming is best served by Gators. ‘Nuff said.

Go Gators!