Tag Archives: SEC

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!

 

 

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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!

The State of This Gator

Where are we at, Gator Nation?

Many words come to mind, but none of them pleasant.  You watched our game with Miami and all you could do was sit there and shake your head and wonder if we could call a decent play or catch a break on offense.  None of that happened.  The one thing this weekend did was prompt me to write this missive.  Life gets busy, so whether you noticed my considerable absence from the Gator Nation in recent months or not….or the fact that I didn’t produce anything for the start of football season…is probably not high on your list of things to manage.  Well, it wasn’t on mine either.  Let me ‘splain.

I was very frustrated at our lack of ability to show up for a BCS Bowl after a hard fought season, I was equally miffed at our basketball team for blowing the SEC Tournament Championship….and…really…mainly…I just made a conscious choice to spend more of my free time with the family after being gone a year for deployment.  It was needed and still is, but I’m at a better point now with balancing life after 9 months of being back in the swing of everything.  I didn’t miss writing this blog or doing the research necessary to write this blog.  It was kind of nice.  NOW…however…I recognize that it’s time to get back in the swing of things.  For those who had no clue I had even fallen off the map, no worries, you probably encompasses the largest majority so balance in the world was maintained.

That said, I was highly charged during basketball season when I thought we had a Final Four team.  We almost did and then reality came crashing in hard with Michigan in the Elite Eight.  Our periodic, big time no shows during the season didn’t help either.  I was not at all convinced our football team would be as advertised.  I didn’t think we had the long ball receivers and I really didn’t think, even with our depth that we could have a power running football team that would bowl everyone over in the SEC. Having watched two games now this season, I would say our defense is pretty darn good and going to get much better. Our offense is not bad, but we have no deep threat receivers and, let’s face it, Jeff Driskel is solid, but not great. Solid could work for us except for one glaring point….our play calling on offense is abysmal.

I did not expect much in the Toledo game. I expected a majority of rushing plays right up the middle and with almost 50 run calls, that’s what we received. I did expect more during the Miami game and, truthfully, we did get more. Just very little of good. I have never been sold on Muschamp‘s bill of goods with this team. He has stuck to his principles and has been upfront about what he wants to do as a coach. I can’t fault him for that. Of course, you and I both know that we want more and in his 3rd year we expected more. We at least expected 40 points against Toledo. I’m guessing a paradigm shift is in order which means I need to start enjoying our defense more since that is what our team image is gonna be. I’m probably not going to get too many kickoffs returned for touchdowns this season either.

So waa, waa, waa. I think I’ve got it all out of my system now. Time to get focused on Gator football and the rest of this season. Join your local Gator Club for your weekly Gator games where Victory is best served with Gators! ’nuff said…for now.

Armageddon!!

English: Logo of the Southeastern Conference (...

English: Logo of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another loss on the road this week, Gator Nation.

Everything is falling apart. Locusts are coming. The pale rider is galloping near. Soon hellfire will be raining from the sky. Ok, not so much. Yes, we blew a 13-point lead at Mizzou and that coupled with the loss at Arkansas and at Arizona now has the nation convinced that we can’t win big games on the road. Does anyone remember a 2007 Gator National Championship team that lost 3 straight games right before the SEC tournament?

How we respond to games like this is the biggest thing this Gator team can learn right now. No team in the nation is going undefeated and upsets are rampant. It’s all about the preparation and learning to play your best as a team. Finding where you are weak, addressing the concerns and showing the distinct ability to play hard at all times. Wallowing in a loss isn’t this team’s style.

Tonight’s game against Arkansas should fuel the fire for the Gators. Last time we played them at Arkansas and they came lights out from 3-point range and we never caught up. We have them at home and I think this game will play out just a wee bit different. From a season standpoint we are definitely at a critical point in the last part of the regular season. After this we have Tennessee on the road, a home game against Alabama and Vandy with a final regular season game at Kentucky. To maintain control of the SEC we have to win them all, but we need to start it tonight with a win and then move on to the next game.

At Missouri we completely got out of our game plan. No one was attacking the basket. We were content to launch threes at every place on the court. We basically handed the game back to Missouri at the end. Heck, we still should’ve won. Time to get back to the basics. Wilbiken needs to run the point, penetrate and open up shots for everyone. We need Patric Young to dominate the boards…COMPLETELY. Our defense needs to ramp back up.

Arkansas has won their last two games by 2 points each at home. This will prove to be a much tougher contest than those. The Gators will have to show that they can get their mojo back on defense. That has been the deciding factor all season. It has to show up tonight regardless of whether we are raining threes or not.

I hope you’re tuning in or putting it on the DVR. We are 12-0 at home and its time to make it 13.

Go Gators!

Auburn Game Takeaways

Primary logo for all UF athletics since the ea...

Primary logo for all UF athletics since the early 1990s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A relatively efficient win for us, Gator Nation.

The biggest takeaway from the game this weekend at Auburn was our efficiency on offense—our ball movement was exceptional—and the hitting open jump shots on the road. The road wins are by far the most important thing to us right now because it is the best we can do to prepare for the SEC and NCAA tournament. The more hostile the environment, the better it is for the team in preparing for the tourney.

We were so efficient the other night that Patric Young didn’t really even need to contribute in the rebounding department. Auburn boxed him in all night and that gave everyone on the perimeter open 3’s to shoot with 25 assists along the way. Hitting over 50% of our 3’s was huge. Having Casey Prather and Michael Frazier II step up and have solid games is also helping negate the loss of Will Yuegete.

All of that said….we have an interesting road on the way to the SEC tournament.

We are at Missouri this week and then have Arkansas visit in a contest, I’m sure is circled on the calendar by this group of Gators. Not to mention games at Tennessee, and at home against ‘Bama and Vandy. The regular season would have culminated with a game at Kentucky, but that doesn’t look as impressive now that they are down their most dominant inside player. None the less, this is crunch time of these Gators. They need to treat these games seriously as preparation for tournament time. We only go 7 deep right now without Yuegete and we aren’t the tallest. We have limitations. There just needs to be a continual focus on proper execution.

Exciting times. I hope you’re catching this season. It’s a good one to be watching.

Go Gators!

The Wildebeest and Beyond

Anyone watching Gator basketball?

I ask that because this season is shaping up to be some of the finest roundball we’ve ever played as a Gator team. I went back and watched highlights from the 2006-2007 teams and have to admit that they were a level-above most teams they played. The two National Championships speak for themselves.

Our team this year is much smaller and about as thin as those teams Championship teams were.  We had a great initial run in the SEC schedule winning 10 in a row, but lost last week at Arkansas.  Truth be told, Billy has never had great success at Arkansas on their home floor.  The loss, while very unexpected for this team, was not surprising overall.  We weren’t going to continue the harassing defense every game and the hot shooting from 3-point land.  We were due for a lull.  As it turns out the last three games have been a bit of a lull overall.

Our 3-point defense has been incredible all season holding opponents to 27 percent shooting…the last three games have seen opponents shoot 41 percent including the Razorbacks 8 of 18 from three point range.  That’s not how we’ve been winning games and it appears that Billy has been working the team extra hard the last few days at practice in preparation for the Kentucky Wildcats.  Both Sunday and Monday’s practices were defense-centric.  The other reason is that we will be without Will Yuegete for the remainder of the regular season.  That’s absolutely gonna hurt when we full court press moving forward because Yuegete is the centerpiece of the press and how the ball moves is dependent on how Yueget reacts.  We’ve had enormous success with our press and let’s not forget his near 7 rebounds a game.  Yep—this is going to come back to bite us.  Here’s hoping we get him back near the end of the regular season.  Yuegete’s arthrocopic surgery went well (according to his tweet) and now it is on to the physical therapy with the athletic trainers who are in the top tier of their business.

I digress.

Our defense is key to our success and that all starts with Scottie Wilbiken out front.  We have not been the same team when “The Wildebeest” is starting and playing well.  It is not strange that all three of our losses happened when we did not have the services of Wilbiken or we had poor play by him.  He’s been the bedrock of the defense and has shut down some of the best scorers in the league.  We’re getting ready to go against Kentucky at home.  If we are to contend with their talent and athleticism, we will need The Wildebeest at his most intense best.  Further we will need significant contributions from Casey Prather and Michael Frazier II.  Frazier has proven reliable at three point range and an adept rebounder.  We need Prather ball-hawking on defense.  It also wouldn’t hurt to have Patric Young dominate the middle against UK’s 6-10 and 7 foot post players (Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein).  Our inside shots will not come easy and if our 3-pointers aren’t falling our main recourse is defense….it’s has to be seriously intense.

The game tomorrow night is on ESPN at 7pm EST and 4pm PST.  If you’re not watching the Gators play this season, it might just be time to start tuning in to their games.  We are playing very well as a team.  We have some more work to do, but this team has bought into what Billy is selling.  Maybe you should buy some too.  If your local Gator Club is hosting a viewing part, that would be a great time to join them since Victory, especially over Kentucky basketball, is best served with Gators!  ‘Nuff said.

Go Gators!

Gator's Home Court

Gator’s Home Court (Photo credit: jimmywayne)

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!