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!