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American Gator

Thanks to Chris P. for sharing on Facebook

I hope everyone has a good day today!
http://patrickinkuwait.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/patriot-day/

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!

Falcons in the Swamp

Gameday is here, Gator Nation!

Despite some of my summer commentary about the state of the Gators, there is nothing like the start of the season to make you eager for the start of college football and see exactly what our team can do.  Sure we don’t know who is starting at QB.  Also we plan on playing at least 2 guys at QB…possibly more.  We’re not sure if we can run the ball…or get it to our receivers.  Heck, there are a ton of questions we have about this team.  ISN”T IT GREAT!!  I hope you’re as excited as I am, fellow Gators.  Let’s talk some football….

The Bowling Green Falcons will be visiting the Swamp with great intentions.  I’m sure they are hoping that our inability to select a QB will play in their favor of keeping it close until the end and maybe pulling off a miracle.  They have some reason to be a bit confident rolling into Gainesville.  They return 20 starters on their team…of course that team went 5-7 and played in the MAC….sooooooo I’m thinking that’s not necessarily the best thing.  They do, however; bring in one significant trait that will be great for us.  They love to air the ball out.  If our secondary is as good as it is being advertised then we will know something about them tomorrow.  If we have the capability of shutting down the pass and creating some turnovers, it’s going to be figured out pretty early tomorrow.  As far as BG’s defense, all I know is that they gave a lot of points and about 400 yards a game in 7 losses last year.  I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that one year with quite a few returning starters will improve the defense some, but I’m expecting some points tomorrow regardless of who the QB may be.  The Falcons QB is Matt Schilz and he passed for more yardage last year than John Brantley did the last two seasons…..more TDs as well.  An experienced QB will go along way to making tomorrow an uncomfortable game.  Of course, I’m expecting our defense to put that to rest very early.

The Gator defense is the supposed strength of our team.  If that is the case I’m assuming we shut down BGSU early and often.  If we’re not getting turnovers then I want a ton of three and outs.  I’ll take a blocked punt by our specials teams while I’m placing my order.  Shoot, while I’m at it how ’bout a kickoff returned for a TD by the Andre Debose?  I’ll take any option to scoring points this year.  Likewise, I have big hopes for Mike Gillilee and until proven otherwise, I’m tuning in for a great viewing of The Mike Gillislee Show.  If he’s the runner that we think he can be and with an improved O-Line then I want some yardage on the ground tomorrow.  Sure, some downfield passing would be nice, but first and foremost our offensive line has got to raise up and place a mighty beast of burden on the BGSU defense.  If we can’t shove them around then the SEC will be very interesting for our team.  There’s a lot of hope in this post this week.  If I knew more, I’d put it right here, but we start this season on equal footing and will have to go from there.  Methinks Jacoby Brissett to start at QB.  Florida 45  BGSU 13.  Game time is 3:30pm EST, 12:30pm PST on ESPN—except here in Kuwait where it will be on Armed Forces Network-Atlantic at 10:30pm.  I hope not to wake my neighbors with loud cheers.  It’s easy to do when we’re National Championship contenders, but hopefully this week starts us off well and you find yourself at your local Gator Club where Victory is best served with Gators!  ‘Nuff said.

Go Gators!

2012 Gator Football Preview — Offense and Defense

A Football-teaser, Gator Nation.

As build up for this week continues toward our first game of the season and anticipation is at an all-time average level, I thought I’d draft a little teaser on what to expect from our offense and defense this year.  With my keen and intellectual insight into all that is Gator football, it should prove to be enlightening to the Gator masses.  After all, things can’t get any worse than last year (knocking on wood as I type—quite a feat actually).  Without any adieu at all, I’ll get into the offense and then tackle the defense.  Let’s talk some football…

That was a great teaser.  How many of you actually came to this site thinking I had any clue on the offense at all?  Truly…has anyone out there seen much in the way of information about our offense?  Brent Pease came to the Gators via Boise State.  This has been the oft-repeated statement regarding his offense “myriad of motions and shifts in the offense Pease brought with him from Boise State”.  OKKKKKKK.  We can shift, move, dance, sing and shout for joy, but it doesn’t matter much in the SEC if you can’t rise up off the offensive line and knock the intestines and entrails out of the defense.  Apparently we’re also going to play two QBs because that’s going to work!!!  I’m now officially voting for the Wildcat to open our season.  I know, I know…I’m being very negative.  Fact is we don’t know what to expect this year, but we do know it will be better.  Our offensive line is deeper and we’re bringing at least one year’s worth of experience to a bunch of new faces.  The offensive line is the key.  If they can move some bodies around we’ll definitely be better than last year.  Unfortunately, we just won’t know until this weekend.  I’m somewhat giddy (no joke) to be able to see if The Mike Gillislee Show will be as I expect it to be.  Giddy, I’m tellin’ ya.

I’m saving some tidbits for the defense for this Friday’s post because it plays nicely on what to expect with Bowling Green this weekend.  Needless, to say many think our defense will be the stuff of legends.  I’m here to tell you right now, that we need significant improvement from last year before I buy into that.  Where did our defense excel last year?  Against an abysmal FSU team that would not have scored if we hadn’t given them the ball 3 feet from the goal line THREE TIMES?  Against and even more abysmal Ohio State team that couldn’t move the ball against Big Ten defenses?  Does anyone remember that Furman——FURMAN——scored 32 points against us very late in the season?  All right, I can see you’re freaking out now.  Don’t be.  We have far more depth on defense than a year ago and I think we have better solidarity among the defenders.  I think we will especially be good on pass defense, but if we are -12 in turnovers again then we are in for a long season.  Ultimately, I have confidence in our defense this year.  If we are to improve on last year’s performance it is going to be because of our defense.  That’s it for now.  More to follow and start making your plans to join your local Gator Club this weekend for the first game of the season where Victory is best served with Gators!  ‘Nuff said.

Go Gators!

Virtual Columbus Gator Club Kickoff

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Skype session with the Columbus Gator Club Kickoff Party

Even in the middle of Kuwait, I’m able to virtually attend my local Gator Club’s Kickoff Party. Here’s me in the middle of a Skype session with the Greater Columbus Gator Club and few of their members. A little Gator football talk and a little while just to catch up on things. Had a goal of “Be Back By Vandy” when I started this, but I think the most likely scenario is “Back Before Bowl Game”. Such is life. Thanks Kathy & Deena. Go Gators!

Where Are You, Gator?

One week left, Gator Nation!

Football season is just around the corner and we’re gearing up for an exciting season this year. Not sure what to expect on offense and plenty of anticipation for our defense. Year Two of the Will Muschamp era kick offs against the Bowling Green in just over a week. I know we are all hoping it is significantly better than Year One which amounted to much of what I came to expect my first three years in college when 6-6 and 7-5 seemed to be a frequent occurrence. Then the Head Ball Coach came to town and Gator expectations were through the roof….and have never come back down. What to expect this year? That is the question. Let’s talk a little football and some other stuff…

I’ll get more into football in the coming week. The fact remains we have no QB designated—though both promise to be GREAT quarterbacks. They are sophomores and at least this qualifies for one of my rules: The great thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores. Life can’t get any worse on offense than it was last year….can it? I don’t think it will be. We have far more depth on both sides than last year. The thing is….and this is hard to ignore…does anyone out there know what to expect this year??!? Information about the Gator football team has been about as minimal as I’ve seen in most years. The fact that Muschamp makes Nick Saban look like a blabbermouth is interesting. Makes me nostalgic for the Spurrier days when darn near everything he said was a riot….oh, yeah, we also blew teams out as well. So let’s start this season out correctly….we’re just going to assume the Gators are great this year and go from there. Game one will be over soon and we will definitely know more than we do now. We might even find out who the starting QB is going to be as well.

Finally, let me address the question in the subject line. I’ve been in Kuwait (and other not so nice places) since January of this year. It has cut into my TGN time, but I’m trying very hard to be back with a vengeance. As such, I’ve decided to get serious about this whole Gator Narrator gig. I like writing the weekly posts and reading up on the Gators from week to week. It’s about time I’ve managed my operations with it better. Usually this is just something I draft up and send out in my spare time. Since I’ve been in the desert, I’ve been using a WordPress site to tell my tale here in the Middle East. I believe many, if not most, of you are on it. It really is user friendly and not as controlling like Blogger and other sites. I thoroughly enjoy its functionality. So, I’ve setup shop there with my own TGN page (link below). It is currently a work in progress, but all these emails that go forth will be posted there, so if you sign up you can watch it mature…and that’s pretty much why I’m telling you this. I’m going to stop the email distribution and utilize the function on thegatornarrator.com to distribute my weekly musings. I’ll keep this email distro up for awhile, but eventually it will go away. This will also give you the opportunity to be released from the distribution if you choose—no worries, my feelings won’t be hurt, if you’re not reading, you’re not reading—just a fact of life. For now things will stay the same, but changes they are a comin’! I hope everyone is enjoying their Gator Kickoff parties this August. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can expect next week. It’s going to be an exciting season. Hopefully, you’ll join your fellow alumni at your local Gator Club where Victory is best served with Gators! ‘Nuff said.

Go Gators!