Monthly Archives: September 2012

Monday Morning (Speed) Rant

Courtesy of the I Hate FSU page on Facebook.

A quick and dirty on this weekend, Gator Nation!

I love the shutout, but I fear it was more to do with UK’s inept offense than our defense. We had several blown coverage plays that could have netted the Wildcats points, but they were unable to capitalize. Not having their starting QB didn’t help either. Still….gotta like a shutout.

I’m a big fan of Mike Gillilslee. Throughout the years he has been a model of consistency and professionalism. I’m hoping he does get 1500 yards this year and 24 TDs. That said…Matt Jones will be the future of the Gator ground game. Sorry, Mack Brown.

Offense needs to get on track quicker in the SEC games. If we want to beat LSU next week, this is imperative. I think our defense can contain LSU’s offense, but we need to score on them consistently throughout the game. Not in just the second half.

We’re +5 in turnover ratio. We’re heading in a good direction on this stat.

I’m disappointed that Jacoby Brissett did not get a chance to pass the ball at all. If the offensive line were better, it might be him out there instead of Driskell.

On the flip side, I also understand why Muschamp is running the ball as much as he is. He’ll win far more games with a good running attack than just passing.

I can’t believe that Jordan Reed took that hit and immediately bounced right back up. I hurt all over after that play and I’m 7000 miles away. I don’t think he’ll be able to do that against LSU, UGA, SoCar and the rest.

Despite the shutout and 38 points scored, I’m sensing that this team is far more focused and sharper when they are on the road. That game on Saturday lacked a lot of intensity on our sidelines.

Kentucky‘s pass rush is nothing compared to LSU’s. Driskell holds the ball too long. He will not be able to scramble as well against LSU’s speed. Our rushing game has to pick up yardage in two weeks.

Jordan Reed likes to hop up and make catches. He doesn’t run his routes very well. He makes beautiful catches though. I’ll take ’em, but he could be infinitely better.

We gave up 150 yards on the ground to UK—a team that couldn’t get to 50 against WKU. I’m thinking we will need to do better than that in October.

Zero fourth quarter points allowed so far this year by our defense. Nice!

One sack by the defense. Not so nice.

Might be an odd time for a bye week this week, but one thing is for sure, we will have more healthy players available for LSU than we did last year. I’d always prefer the bye week before UGA—-mainly because Spurrier liked it that way. Can’t say that I’m agreeable to the timing, but I’ll take it this year. Hope the administrators see fit to putting that bye week back in front of UGA.

Last, but certainly not the least, if you want to taunt that ‘Nole fan who is always nearby, let them know that no one has ever won the National Championship and given up more than 35 points in a regular season game—EVER! Then tell them the score of their game this past weekend. Buuwahahahahaahah (evil laugh onomatopoeia).

‘Nuff said. Go Gators!

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Not So Wild-Cats

Photo by Lee Force via Facebook. Go Gators!

We’re getting the big heads, Gator Nation.

After two very hard fought Victories on the road with a complete defensive shut down of the opponent in the second half, we are now headed back home to face an unassuming challenger in the Kentucky Wildcats.  We’re hearing all this talk about hanging “half a hundred” on the Wildcats by our offense.  Not sure that anyone realizes that we’ve only done this six times in 62 meetings….and we’ve only had one half out of six where our offense clicked.  I’m all for scoring more points, but let’s not put the cart before the horse.  Let’s talk some football…

Kentucky was beat by a very bad Western Kentucky Team last week that was absolutely pummeled by Alabama.  So as logic dictates, we will now score 187 points on Kentucky.  Let’s take a closer look, shall we.  Kentucky has running attack that is minimal compared to Florida’s at this point and they rush by committee with Jonathon George leading the way last week and Raymond Sanders leading the team overall.  Regardless, they put up only 44 yards rushing against WKU.  Their QB, Maxwell Smith, on the other hand is quite prolific and has spread the ball around to 11 different receivers and has almost 1000 yards passing to date.  If you are not keeping track that’s about 500 more than we have.  They have also tallied 30+ points twice this season…which we’ve only attained once.  I will not-so-quietly point out that we played horrible in our one game at home this season.  OK, in all reality we win this game, but I can’t buy into the talk about hanging half a hundred on Kentucky until I see us be more consistent on offense…and defense.  Let’s face it our first halves this year have not been impressive….and we’ve brought serious firepower to our Kentucky games before and almost got beat (1991 Shane Matthews leads a late TD to secure a win and the SEC against a UK team that down 28 points in first quarter only to trail 28-23 in the 4th, Wuerffel to Doering, Chris Leak‘s 21-point deficit come from behind Victory in the 4th quarter, 2007 where we matched TD for TD and no defense was played in a 45-37 game, etc).  We’ve had the blowouts as well, but like I said, we had the firepower.  We appear to have firepower this year…but this jury is still out until I see more.  We’re still gonna win, though.

The second half against UT was good for the Gator collective.  We are beginning to see the development of this Gator team.  The defense seems to be further ahead of the offense at this point, but neither has put together a complete game this year.  That’s really what I would like to see from the defense this week.  Kentucky is more or less one dimensional.  Our secondary needs to step up and shut down the Wildcat passing attack.  We were able to do so for a half against UT, but I’m looking for the the “Package, Total T!” (read: The Total Package) this week.  I’m not concerned with 50 points, I’m looking at ZERO as in a shutout this week.  If our defense is getting better and playing better as a team then that’s my goal for this weekend.  We will win this season with our defense shutting the other team down and putting our offense in a position to have more scoring opportunities.  The letdowns in the past have come as a result of big games played before and after the UK game.  We had a big game last week and a big one next week—regardless we have to focus on THIS week.  Strangely, I was at all the games I mentioned in the paragraph above, so no worries this year, as I’m 7000 miles away from this weekend’s game.  I going all in on the defense this weekend and just looking for a great game running by Mike Gillislee and adding positive numbers to our turnover ratio (currently at +3).  Florida 35  Kentucky 0.  Game time is 12:21pm EST, 9:21am PST and 7:21pm here in Kuwait, so it’s breakfast on the west coast and a reasonable time here in the Middle East. I hope you are joining your local Gator Club where a 26th straight Victory over the Wildcats is best served with Gators!  ‘Nuff said.

Go Gators!

Monday Morning Rant

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

Control your destiny, Gator Nation!

Those are great words that absolutely have zero meaning for me here in the desert. Very little of what goes on here am I able to control. Make suggestions, yes. Influence, maybe. Control? Not even remotely.

Case in point (which will get us to football in a moment)—you’ve probably heard or read a thing or two about the “tensions” in the Middle East recently. I can’t go into any detail, but suffice it to say, these events have added to my day here. Nevertheless, I waited anxiously for 1am on Sunday morning to watch the Florida-Tennessee game. It was supposed to be broadcast on the Armed Forces Network.

There I was (actually working) with the TV on and the first quarter underway. Very excited since this game was a real test for the Gators—when in reality it wasn’t. I had my iced tea in a jug nearby ready to go and wanted to see what we could do.

THEN AFN SWITCHED TO ESPN NEWS AND ALL I COULD GET AFTER THAT WERE THE HIGHLIGHTS!!!

Really? After being up more than 24 hours, this was more than I could bear. All I could get was an occasional snippet and the score. Eventually, it go so boring that I went back to my room and went to sleep with the score UT 14 UF 10. Note: there were very few highlights to this point.

Awaking at 6am—0600 for you military types or those who like the 24-hour clock—I decided that I’d check on the final score thinking it was somewhere around 24-20 given that there wasn’t much offense being played.

37-20 GATORS!!

For the second time in two straight weeks, with the Gators trailing at halftime on the road in hostile environments and playing like puppy poo in the first half, I miss the second half and an extraordinary effort by the Gators to finish the game. Tons of offense too! Who’d have thought that two weeks ago? Are you one of the millions of Gator fans who think that Will Muschamp has this team on the path to greatness? Well, I’m cautiously optimistic. I’m going to be a bit of a bubble-burster and tell you that UT still hasn’t become good enough to be on the top tier of the SEC. They are better than last year, but so are we and the results are similar. We need Tennessee to step up and be what they once were. Same for UGA. I’ll explain why on Wednesday.

Here I was really upset that I stayed up and couldn’t watch the game and then finding out after the fact that we blew them out, which I have to admit was a nice reward for getting some sleep. I eventually made my way to work and went about my day. I have a monitor in my office hooked up to the local broadcasts which usually is tuned to the news—perks for being the #2 person in the organization. About 2pm on Sunday, lo and behold, what was this? A REPLAY OF THE GAME! Awesome!

So, here are my initial thoughts on the Gators vs Tennessee from this weekend:

-Our defense has legs. They are playing hard through the 4th quarter. We couldn’t have even accomplished that until halftime last year.

-I thought Jacoby Brissett was the future. Jeff Driskel is on a mission to prove me very wrong.

-Every Gator across the world should thank Urban Meyer for signing Trey Burton, who has single-handedly affect more games for Gator Victories than any other Gator through these last (harrowing) 2 1/2 years. Too slow, no real position….just a football player.

-Too many injuries against poor teams. Not good.

-We’re coming from behind on the road, in big name stadiums with an unproven QB and a defense that has not allowed any points in the 4th quarter—-it’s ok to feel REAL good about this one!

-Two word: Mike Gillislee

-Offensive line played well, but needs to get much, much better. Too much running around by Driskel, but I’m glad he didn’t get sacked this weekend…or throw an interception.

-For Steve “Gator” Wood—Congrats on calling the right number of interceptions this past weekend. That puts us +3 in turnovers.

-UT is not LSU…or UGA…or SoCar for that matter. We still have important games to play this season…..but they are all in Florida!!

Things are looking up for the Gators, but there are miles to go in the season. Maybe we will even sell out for Kentucky? In all kinds of weather, Gator Fans. See ya’ on Wednesday. ‘Nuff said.

Go Gators!

It Starts In Knoxville

One good half, Gator Nation.

That’s all we’ve had so far this season. One good half. It’s enough to give everyone optimism, but it is not enough to provide everyone with some relief for the last two years. While that half was enough to bring some joy to Gator fanatics every where, let’s face it….that was Texas A&M. They might be a good team, but we’re going into Knoxville and playing Tennessee and that’s just a whole other football game. Let’s talk some football…

The Vols are starting to look like a more promising team. Their competition to date has not been fierce, but they can absolutely pitch and catch the ball with Tyler Bray at QB and Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson at WR. They are gigantic receivers compared to our secondary. Our defense has to do two things very, very well this weekend…stop the run and hit the QB. It is REALLY that simple. The team that runs the football wins this game. Tennessee has shown flashes of brilliance, but this is their first game against significant competition (I wish I could say it was top tier competition but we are far from that right now). I keep hearing from every media outlet that our defense is the strength of the team. Well, I haven’t seen it except for one half out of four so far. We have to have a complete game. The Vols have home field advantage, a strong passing attack that can rack up points quickly on us and motivation. They’ve lost seven in a row and have not even been a factor in the SEC East for quite some time. In the 90’s this was THE matchup in the SEC and now it has become an after thought. We need UT to be very good. We need them to bring a strong team to the SEC. We need them to be a competitor in the East. Then we need to go to Knoxville and lay waste and devastation on them.

Our secondary will have its hands full. If they play a first half like they did last week at any point, UT will go up on us quickly. I’m not inclined to believe that the Vols have a strong defense, but I’m not so sure they have to given how anemic our offense has performed. We obviously need to run the ball and Mike Gillislee getting close to 200 yards will be a big help. Jeff Driskel will get the nod again at QB and while I’d prefer he not get sacked 8 times in a game, he didn’t throw the ball away, so I’m going to go with that for now. We can’t afford turnovers, especially since it doesn’t look like we can force many either. I will be rooting for as many 3 and outs as we can get. The fact is we get down by too many points and we do not have the offense to comeback. Even last week, we had minimal offense to win that game. Our defense needs a complete game. They are going to be up against a no-huddle offense that wants a quick strike. We will load up the secondary and rush four and those four have to get pressure on the QB. This is a turning point in our season whether we like it or not. Starting 3-0 is a good step toward progress and it will be a more significant 3-0 start than it was last year. We find out a little more about this team this week and I know you want to find something good. Florida 21 Tennessee 19. Game time is 6pm EST, 3pm PST on ESPN with Game Day in attendance for a second straight week. We’re +1 in turnovers—would at least like to see that go to +2. I’ll be up past midnight to watch the game here in Kuwait. I honestly can’t wait because while the rivalry is not back, the relevance just might be. I hope you join your local Gator club where a Victory over the Vols is best served with Gators! ‘Nuff said.

Go Gators!

Monday Morning Rant

Half-good was good enough, Gator Nation.

I spent last weekend in Afghanistan. So I’m in Kandahar awaiting a flight out and, lo and behold, on the monitor in a building that was fresh out of Mad Max and the movie “Road Warrior” was the Florida-Texas A&M game. The heavens opened, angels sang and a bright light descended on this fortuitous moment for TGN. While awaiting an interminable delay for my flight out, I get to watch the Gators beat up on the Aggies.

Whoa there spanky…not so fast!

I proceeded to sit in very agonizing discomfort as I watched the entire first half that essentially amounted to fast-break football by the Aggies. Was it bad? It was so bad that everyone else there (not necessarily Gator fans) were oohing and aahing (literally) at the Aggies ability to punch the Gators right in the face and then laugh about it. Seriously—they said “oooh” and “aahh”.

We looked horrible. Not only horrible, but incompetent. The fact that it was only 17-10 at half was a veritable miracle on the leg of Caleb Sturgis and a very poor timeout call by Aggie Coach Kevin Sumlin were we even that close. I then proceeded to watch the Gators almost let the Aggies score again as halftime approached.

Then the call came to board the plane. I was not in a great mood, it was midnight, I was tired and there absolutely no glimmer of hope from the Gators on offense or defense that we would mount a substantial comeback in the second half. After all, the Aggie defense was having its way with our offensive line. Our defense couldn’t seem to contain their freshman QB at all and we had a Gator player injured on the field after darn near every play. Quick note: I mentioned in last week’s analysis that Kevin Sumlin knows a thing or two about QBs that can play pitch and catch. We should have seen Johnny Manziel’s performance coming.

I arrive back in Kuwait. Begin the commute back to my base without a clue as to the outcome. It is now 7am (0700 to you military types) and I arrive back at my room, let out a sign and decide to check the final score on ESPN.com.

Holy second-half shutdowns, Batman!

Fully expecting a score of 41-20, I was very surprised to see a 20-17 Victory by our Gators. So then I had to do further research. Texas A&M apparently couldn’t do a thing in the second half. Our defense completely shut them down and our offense did enough to get by…which is what I think we should be expecting at this point. All of us expect second half adjustments, but I don’t think any of us saw this one coming.

We have the promise of something better than last year. Unfortunately, given our first half performance, it is still something of a mystery, these Gators. Jeff Driskel played solid football. He managed the team, did not turnover the ball…which would have absolutely killed any chance of Victory in this game…and provided some flexibility on offense because, let’s face it, our offensive is not that good right now (8 sacks…really!?!?) Our defense finally lived up to its billing, but it took a really big sucker punch to the face to wake them up. If we’re going to have any success this year, our defense has to show up at the beginning.

So we’re 2-0 and headed to Knoxville. It looks like we’re going to have Jeff Drikell as QB for awhile. As long as he’s not turning over the ball and scrambling from the defense, that’s about as good as we can expect. Mike Gillislee (hopefully not too banged up from this weekend) will provide us a superior rushing attack. Andre Debose will not be returning kickoffs for TDs any time soon with the new kickoff rule (stupid NCAA!). Our team is still +1 in turnovers and we had a lot fewer penalties this week.

It’s all headed in the right direction…but I’ll say it for everyone “we are expecting more”. Not sure if we will get that this year, but we at least know that last week was not indicative of our season. Next week is going to be a thrill, no doubt, Gator Nation! I do like the fact that Florida vs Tennessee is significant again.

That’s enough ranting for now.

Congratulations go out to a fellow Gator who got married this weekend, but ensured that the game would not go unwatched (see photo below). Sorry, I wasn’t able to be there, Lori! ‘Nuff said.

Go Gators!

Nice reception!

The SEC in Texas

Get fired up, Gator Nation!

No sense in wallowing in ambivalence over last week’s game.  It was horrible to watch.  We just have to believe that this week will be a totally new look to the Gators.  We’re heading to College Station to play the Texas A&M Aggies in their first SEC game EVER!  In past years, this would be nothing different than traveling to Vandy or Kentucky, but a what a difference a year makes….or actually doesn’t.  Texas A&M is going to attempt to be the exact opposite of what the Gators have been the last two years…a wide open offense.  Let’s talk some football…

How do you scout a team that has a new head coach, a new offensive and defensive coordinator and a QB that hasn’t played one college snap at the position?  Well, you don’t.  I know we’ve watched films from Head Coach Kevin Sumlim’s teams at Houston—where Case Keenum put up astronomical passing numbers.  We’ve been watching every other piece of footage from the rest of the coaching staffs’ history at their respective schools to prepare for a team that did not play last week due to Hurricane Isaac.  The only thing we can really expect of a team that went 7-5 last year is something at least better than that.  Their defense gave up LOTS of points, so the new defensive coordinator will have a challenge on his hands, particularly since they didn’t get their warm up game in before ours.  Their QB, Johnny Manziel, has never taken a college snap.  Hasn’t even seen the field during a college game.  I’m going to say that this probably works in our favor, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Kevin Sumlim didn’t put up arcade level passing numbers for no good reason on his Houston teams.  I would suspect that young Johnny can toss the ball around.  Our secondary will definitely need to show up this week.  There is reason for Texas A&M to feel good about this game.  They are at home.  We are away from our fan base at college game in Texas.  We did not play inspiring last week and our passing game was not as expected.  Oh, well, we’re gonna beat them anyway.

I’m just chalking up last week to life’s little surreal moments and moving on this season.  Our defense will demonstrate this weekend why it was highly touted coming into the season.  We didn’t blitz last week and only rushed four, which I assume was by choice.  If our front four get good pressure on the QB, our secondary should have a field day picking off some passes—-something I think we really all need to see.  Mike Gillislee showed us the future for the season.  I don’t know if he will get 24 touches this weekend, but I think 18-20 is doable.  We will just have to see what he can make of it.  I have to admit that it would be nice if we had someone getting 100+ yards each week.  Jeff Driskel gets the nod at QB, but my gut tells me it’s only because he is mobile.  Our offensive line really needs to exert its presence this week and push around what should be a small Texas A&M defense.  I don’t like the new kickoff rule, but am still counting on Andre Debose breaking a kickoff for the distance.  Now that he is returning punts maybe we will see the same on punt returns.  I think we all need to see something new this weekend, Gator Nation.  We’ve been waiting for this.  It’s unrealistic to expect it to harken back to our National Championship teams, but I think we deserve more than the last two years.  Our history is rocky in Texas (1-7-2…..2 ties, really???) and we’re only 1-1 against the Aggies, but an SEC reckoning is heading towards College Station.  Florida 38  Texas A&M 24.  ESPN Gameday is visiting with kickoff at 3:30pm EST, 12:30pm PST and some ungodly hour here in Kuwait.  Before the season is out, I plan to make it to my local Gator Club, but I’m hoping you are at yours because Victory is best served with Gators!  ‘Nuff said.

Go Gators!

The Monday Morning Rant

The ambivalence is overwhelming, Gator Nation!

What exactly did we see this weekend? It is not as if our expectations could have been in the stratosphere to start this season. Ok—I did expect a wee bit more offense this year. I did not expect to see a whole lot less.

First, let’s address starting both QBs on the first play. It makes us look especially arrogant given the underwhelming victory. Why are we continuing this debate into the season? Pick one, game plan and move on with the season. We have lost any amount of luxury of time to be making this decision.

Technically, I was correct that Jacoby Brissett would start–even if it was for the first play of the game. The problem as I see it is that Jeff Driskel has the edge on starting ONLY BECAUSE OF HIS SCRAMBLING ABILITY. Our offensive line is supposed to be improved, but that is hardly the case. We couldn’t even pick up 3rd and short on six different occasions….against Bowling Green!?!? They only positive I see is that we were very one dimensional on offense which I assume was on purpose. My only hope is that we break open the play book next week against Texas A&M. The only thing working in our favor is that Texas A&M did not play this weekend and will be facing us in their very first game of the season.

I want to take this opportunity to introduce our new Offensive Coordinator–Will Muschamp. Apparently, hiring Brent Pease to design a shifting motion offense for us was a clever deception for other teams to prepare for all summer long when in fact we intend to pound the ball running straight into a defense stacked up to stop the run. Ok, I get he wanted to test his players. Fine. How about at least not telegraphing for the world to see what we are going to do? Most of the Top 25 this weekend played against inferior teams and didn’t open up their offenses, but still managed to push around the other teams. I’ve said from the beginning that I did not know if Muschamp was an X’s and O’s type of coach. That still has changed.

On the positive front, Mike Gillislee ran the ball 24 times and picked up 148 yards. There is promise there for us….even if it was against a second tier team.

We have no passing game. Not sure if that was by design this weekend, but I know if we go another season with no downfield passing, then last year’s 7-6 record is going to look good by comparison.

So what do we have?

Jury is out on the defense. I know we had a bunch of returning players, but we weren’t especially effective on defense last year unless we played someone ineffective on offense. We didn’t blitz and we rushed the front four. No sacks, but we did get some pressure. Our tackling was spotty at time. I’m going to do a “wait and see” on this one.

We are starting the season at +1 in turnovers.

I still say Jacoby Brissett should be starting, but if the O-Line can’t protect then we have to go with Driskel only because he can move the pocket around.

The new kickoff rule is going to seriously hamper Debose, but this is also a wait and see.

Ultimately, I’m throwing this game away and starting the season fresh next week against Texas A&M. I’m going to assume that we have a solid gameplan ready to go for next week that will showcase our significant improvements. I’m also counting on Brent Pease to call the offense next week and not Muschamp. In essence, I’m expecting everything that did not happen this week.

In all kinds of weather, Gator Nation.

Go Gators!