C l i c k   for   H  O  M  E  P  A  G  E

2 0 1 0    R a n t s

2005    2006    2007    2008    2009

  Pre-Season Rant Miami (OH) USF Tennessee Kentucky Alabama
  LSU Miss. State Georgia Vanderbilt South Carolina Appalachian State
  Florida State SEC Championship National Championship

Pre-Season Rant

Hello Gator Nation…

Welcome Gators. I'm back after an extended bout of writers block I did not handle the SEC title game loss very well. Then there was the Christmas heart-stopped over Coach Urban Meyer's sudden retirement and un-retirementS Suffice to say I didn't rant about that, the big Sugar Bowl victory over Cincinnati, Tim Tebow's single game passing record, the Gator's top-ranked recruiting class or the Orange & Blue game.

But it's a new season and life begins anew.

Tebow has moved on to the pros and redshirt junior John Brantley is the Gator QB. With three years to absorb the system, let's concede that JB will be more than adequate to run the Gator offense. And no, Brantley will not be called upon to run the football.

The big question mark seems to be who will be catching all of those passes launched by Brantley? Deonte Thompson appears to be the go-to guy, although he might be the most underwhelming top receiver at UF in recent memory. Carl Moore has done little in a game environment during his UF career so until he proves to be capable, the jury will remain out on him. The remaining receiver corps consists of largely untested players who have seen limited action in mop up roles.

If the receivers fail to produce, UF will be forced to move the ball on the ground. With three returning backs who each averaged about seven yards per carry last year, this should not be a problem, right? It has been suggested that the success enjoyed by UF's running backs is owed to Tebow's ability to run the football from the QB position. While that may be true to some extent, I have a hard time believing that speedsters Jeff Demps and Chris Raney and bruisers Emmanuel Moody and Mike Gillislee won't perform well enough to take the heat off of Brantley.

My thought is that the offense is going to be just fine.

By all accounts, it should be a down year for the defense, after losing such stalwarts as Brandon Spikes, Carlos Dunlap and Joe Haden to the pros, and Coach Charlie Strong to Louisville. But Coach Urban Meyer has stockpiled a lot of talent on this side of the line, and it is simply a case of it¹s time to shine for players like Will Hill and Jelani Jenkins. In addition, Meyer's top-ranked recruit class features some players like Sharif Floyd, Matt Elam and Ron Powell who are almost certain to see immediate playing time.

Here is how I think the season will play out: Automatic wins against Miami of Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt and Appalachain State. All of these are home games. Week two features a visit from the South Florida Bulls ­ the first ever meeting between these two schools. USF (which is FSU spelled backward, but it actually is a much better schoolS) has flirted with national success ­ they beat FSU in Tallahassee last year -- and new coach Skip Holtz (son of Lou) will have his team primed and ready to play. Should be an interesting if not great game. The next week UF travels to Knoxville to play Tennessee. Should be no contest. A new coach, a new QB, all new starters on the O-line.

The Gators travel to Alabama on Oct. 2 for a rematch of the past two SEC title games. Hate to say it but Bama probably wins this one. Too many intangibles favor them.

LSU visits the Swamp Oct. 9 and until the Tigers prove they are capable of playing up to par, I give UF a strong nod in this game. With a week off to prepare for Georgia, I almost listed this game as an automatic win. Unless UGa's freshman QB proves to be a phenom, I can't see them beating the Gators. We are too entrenched in their heads.

Coach Steve Spurrier visits his alma mater on Nov. 13 with what some are calling his best team at South Carolina. It better be. His last trip to the Swamp saw the Ol Ball Coach absorb his worst ever defeat. I do not foresee USC beat UF in the Swamp.

Which brings us to Florida State. Good talent. New coaches. Game in Tallahassee. UF has a 6-game winning streak. Insufficient depth. Make it seven in a row.

I say 11-1 heading into the SEC Championship game.

As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

Miami of Ohio Rant

I'll keep this week's rant short and sweet. The Mighty Gators beat Miami of Ohio 34-12 in their home opener on a steamy afternoon in the Swamp. The score was not indicative of how much UF struggled during the game.

UF's woes seemed to be centered around the center. Rock steady senior performer Mike Pouncey had problems delivering the ball to quarterback John Brantley. Numerous times, the ball rolled past the QB resulting in substantial loss of yards. In fact, despite having a comfortable lead on the scoreboard, the Gators entered the fourth quarter with just 25 yards total offense.

As a result, UF tumbled five spots to number eight in the most recent poll.

Alabama remained at number one.

This is not the time or place to point fingers or name names, I've singled out Pouncey because his miscues were the most obvious, the most glaring.

Let's just say that he had plenty of mistake-making company out there. My personal opinion is that the "mighty Gators" felt that all they had to do to win was show up. That kind of attitude ­ and the resulting effort -- will get you killed in the SEC. Indeed, I doubt that UF's performance Saturday could have beaten Vanderbilt, Kentucky or Mississippi State. Certainly UF would have lost to teams Georgia or South Carolina.

I have no doubt that coach Urban Meyer has diagnosed the problem and will have it fixed.

The bright spot was the Gator Defense, which held the Redhawks without a touchdown. Janoris Jenkins returned an interception 68 yards for a 2nd quarter TD and Ahmad Black followed with a 50-plus yard return inside the five-yard line to set up the offense for another easy score. Freshmen Sharif Floyd, Matt Elam and Ron Powell each looked impressive ­ especially Powell, a physical specimen whom I believe will make UF forget about Carlos Dunlap.

Next up is the South Florida Bulls. It is the first meeting between these teams and the Bulls would love nothing more to claim a victory at the Swamp to enhance their resume as a solid Division I player. USF beat Auburn a couple of years ago (at Auburn) and defeated Florida State 17-7 last season.

The team is a complete enigma, as coach Skip Holtz (son of coaching legend Lou) prepares for only his second game at the USF helm. We don't know what USF is going to throw at us, but I expect they will spare no effort in what they regard as a "respect game."

Gators versus Bulls in the Swamp, kickoff at 12:21 p.m. Should be quite an interesting game.

As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

University of South Florida Rant

The Florida Gators out-muscled the South Florida Bulls in the second half to claim a 38-14 win in one of the hottest games in recent memory at the Swamp.

From the out set, it was clear that USF had come to play, and that grit and determination sustained them to a 7-0 lead over the Gators until the final minutes of the first half. However, after the effect of USF playing a “statement game” wore off, UF rode Jeff Demps’ 62-yard TD burst to a lead it never relinquished.

So what do we know about the Gators? Not enough. We know the coaches adjusted the defensive scheme after they determined that USF couldn’t throw on them. That allowed the Gators to stack the box and snuff the run and forced USF into two 2nd half interceptions, one of which was returned for a back-breaking touchdown.

I don’t what to think about QB John Brantley. He appears hesitant and unsure of himself. This affects the offense, which takes its cue from the quarterback. Brantley does not appear as animated as he did in the Orange & Blue spring game. It is almost as if he lives in mortal fear of making a mistake… John, listen, you’re it. We have nobody else ready to step in and supplant you for any reason. Take the snaps and run the offense. Please. I can only hope that he shakes off this persona as he becomes more comfortable at the position or at least as a starting quarterback in the SEC.

The Gators face Tennessee this week in Knoxville. For Tennessee, I expect the game to go much like this past week’s game against Oregon … on emotion or perhaps on challenge from their coaches, UT will hang around for about a half, before the opponent’s superior talent overwhelms the Vols. For the Gators, I hope that Urban Meyer opens up the playbook some. I want to see Andre Debose actually touch the ball. Keep shuttling in players, including all of those heralds freshmen, get them some experience playing in front of a hostile SEC crowd. It is going to come in handy in about three weeks.

It’s hard to decipher what's in store for the remainder of the season… This could be a repeat of 2006 when a potent offense featuring lots of future stars scored just enough points to win each week. Then again, it could be 2007 when the bottom falls out against the true power teams. The Gators SHOULD beat Tennessee... although I have to grudgingly admit that Coach Derek Dooley showed a lot of poise and leadership during the Vols' loss to Oregon. Kentucky at home in two weeks shouldn’t present any problem. The litmus test will be how does UF perform against top-ranked Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and if they lose, how will that affect their performance at home during the following game against LSU.

It is a crucial two-game stretch that will define the 2010 season for the Florida Gators.

As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

Tennessee Rant

For the third consecutive week, the University of Florida used superior depth in the second half to overcome a determined foe. The Gators upended Tennessee in Knoxville 31-17 for a solid SEC road victory.

UF is now 3-0 and has beaten Tennessee six straight times, UF’s longest streak in the series. The Gators also upped their margin all-time against the Vols to 21-19.

For Gator fans, there is some lingering frustration that UF’s offense continues to sputter and hasn’t rung up the dominating point-producing performances that UF fans have come to expect during the Gator’s current 33-3 skein. The Gators have yet to score a TD in the first quarter this year.

Although both teams finished the first half with less than 100 total yards, UF actually out-performed the Vols, sustaining some offensive momentum and erasing a brief 3-0 UT lead with a touchdown.

The two teams battled fairly evenly and were tied 10-10 in the third quarter after UT hit a long TD pass on what appeared to be busted coverage. With the Gator offense facing fourth down in its own territory and momentum swinging back to Tennessee, Gator Coach Urban Meyer dialed up a fake punt, which Omarius Hines converted for 36 yards deep into UT territory. Three plays later, the Gators scored and were never headed again.

It was the eighth successful fake punt in the Urban Meyer era.

UF finished with 318 total yards, divided almost evenly between rushing and passing. Florida’s defense performed well, holding Tennessee to 29 net yard rushing and sacking UT quarterback Matt Simms several times, including a disputed safety call that was overturned. Simms threw for 259 yards on the day, but was picked off twice by the NCAA-leading UF defense.

The Gators host undefeated Kentucky Saturday in a night game at the Swamp. During the last 30 years, the Gators have lost only once to UKy – including the last 23 in a row.UF’s last loss was a 10-6 setback in Lexington in 1986.

I am anxious to see the Swamp at night again, and am certainly looking forward to a break in the overwhelming heat that we’ve experienced during the first two tailgates. Looking forward to a tailgate where I don’t have to change shirts 2-3 times…

As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

Kentucky Rant

Amid challenges that his offense had stagnated, University of Florida Coach Urban Meyer dusted off his “old” playbook and relied on a tried and true recipe for scoring points.

He fed the football to a true freshman quarterback.

The result was a school record six-touchdown outburst from Trey Burton that led the Gators past upset-minded Kentucky 48-14 at the Swamp last Saturday night.

The ‘Cats entered the game 3-0 and scoring lots of points, earning them “Upset Alert” status from the experts at ESPN. The Gators hadn’t scored at all in the first quarter but still averaged more than 30 points per game by wearing down then overwhelming opponents in the second half.

With QB John Brantley making crisp throws, the Gators marched to scores on their first two drives to take a 14-0 first-quarter lead. That extended to 21-0 when Jeremy Brown stepped in front of a Mike Hartline pass and ran it back for a TD, the 3rd time in four games that UF has scored a defensive touchdown.

The rest of the night belonged to Burton, who tied Tim Tebow’s record by scoring five rushing TDs and was on the receiving end of a Brantly pass for a school-record sixth.

With Texas losing big at home to UCLA and Oklahoma squeaking by unranked Cincinnati, the Gators climbed to #7 in the AP and USA polls.

This week UF travels to Tuscaloosa to play top-ranked Alabama for a rematch of the last two SEC title games. The Gators handed Alabama its last loss in the 2008 title game, with Bama returning the favor in the ’09 tilt.

In its first three games, the Tide had looked unbeatable, but had to rally last week to upend Arkansas 24-20 in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks exposed some weaknesses in the reigning champs, suddenly making this a winnable game for the Gators. The emergence of Burton gives Bama another headache to prepare for defensively.

Meyer and his braintrust are smart enough to load the box and stop Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson from beating UF on the ground. The Gator secondary is as good as any in college football, as evidenced by 14 interceptions. I believe Meyer neutralizes the run and forces Alabama to have to win the game by passing.

Given UF’s offensive resurgence, its solid defense and potential superior depth, I’m going to go out on a limb here to give the Gators a shaky nod 27-23.

I pray that I am right.

As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

Alabama Rant

Short but not sweet this week.

Alabama demonstrated why it is the nation’s number one ranked college football team by demolishing the seventh-ranked Florida Gators 31-6 in Tuscaloosa Saturday night. For the Gators, it was the second consecutive lopsided loss to its SEC rival, dating back to the 32-13 defeat in the SEC title game in December.

It was all Alabama as Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide seemed to have the right play called every time, frustrating the UF defense. Florida did hold down Bama’s rushing duo of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, but timely plays by Tide QB McElroy continually frustrated UF defenders.

At least UF continued to fight long after the outcome had been decided and although was not successful in getting on the scoreboard, the Gators did move the football on the Tide. Twice UF turned the ball over at the two-yard line. And training 24-3 at the half, UF did shut-out Bama’s offense in the second half, but still gave up an interception return for a touchdown.

Regarding individualized play… Coach Urban Meyer needs to ditch the QB option handoff to the running back… you know the one where he could pull it back out to run or pitch. It isn’t fooling anybody and defenses do not fear John Brantley as a runner, and so will continue to focus on the running back. Brantley showed a lot of toughness – hey this kid comes from the same DNA strain that produced Scot Brantley, one of the most feared hitters in football history (high school college and pro). Brantley still needs to work on his presence. He does not yet exude the persona of “I am THE leader out here.” He moves too tentatively. I want to see decisiveness and sureness out of my QB. Nuff said.

The undefeated LSU Tigers come to Gainesville this week in a crucial SEC matchup. LSU scored on the first and last plays of the game to beat Tennessee 16-14 in Baton Rouge. The Tigers enter 5-0, but have serious questions at quarterback where neither Jarrett Lee or Jordan Jefferson has played with any consistency.

The Gators are currently tied with South Carolina for the SEC East lead. USC faces Alabama this week, so a Carolina loss will put UF back in control of its destiny.

As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

LSU Rant

My good buddy Rock Kousek put it into a context that I could understand… “God has a bunch of silent letters like “u”s and “x” in the spelling of His name… you know “Geauxd…

I hope that doesn’t go viral, y’all…

How else can you explain why Les Miles and his Louisiana State University Tigers seem to overcome adversity and win games that are not supposed to be won?

LSU defeated the Gators 33-29 in the Swamp Saturday night, scoring the winning points on a fade pass with just 4 seconds on the clock. The Tigers marched nearly 60 yards on the Gator defense during the winning drive…

It was a crushing loss for UF, which had trailed and struggled for the entire game, having broken through and taken a 28-26 lead on the strength of a beautiful 8-play 80 yard drive, capped by Mike Gillislee’s 3 yard run with 3:21 to play.

LSU – a team that has struggled to find offensive consistency for… oh, maybe the past two-and-a-half years -- remains undefeated, improving to 6-0. The Gators -- a team that has struggled to find offensive consistency since Tim Tebow graduated -- fall to 4-2 and absorb back-to-back losses for only the second time during the six-year Urban Meyer era.

LSU kept the game interesting, while UF’s offense stumbled to around for the better part of three quarters. The Tigers handed UF a short-porch TD off of a long interception return, then again when they muffed a punt deep in their own territory. UF reciprocated with an interception leading to a cheap field goal that padded LSU’s halftime lead to 20-14.

The Gators looked more focused in the second half, but blew a golden opportunity to take control after gaining first and goal inside the LSU five. As with Alabama last week, The Gators got no points for their effort, missing a short field goal try… twice.

I’m not going to single out players, there is plenty of blame to go around. The offense was inept and predictable… were those boo’s I heard late in the game??? I was disappointed in our defense for continually giving up the big play – usually on third down.

I want to be positive and point out that back in 1992 under Coach Steve Spurrier, UF started out 1-2 with crushing losses to Tennessee and Mississippi State, but rallied into the division title and pushed eventual national champion Alabama to the brink in the title game. 18 years later the scenario is the same (well, Spurrier’s South Carolina Gamecocks did beat #1 Alabama this week). Bottom line, Gator coaches need to rethink life as we know it. There is too much talent on this team to be performing at such a mediocre level.

As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

Mississippi State


The Florida Gators just aren’t a very good football team right now.

First a 31-6 blowout loss to top-ranked Alabama (at Alabama). That was understandable.

Then a last-second 32-29 loss to currently unbeaten and top-10 ranked LSU at the Swamp. Harder to stomach but forgivable…

Now a totally unpalatable 10-7 loss at the Swamp to unranked Mississippi State.. Seven points, at home, to Mississippi State. MSU last won in Gainesville when Steve Spurrier was a junior quarterback.

UF had gone 66 straight games scoring in the double digits. Not unsurprisingly, they won 57 of those games…

Now Gators Coach Urban Meyer is sorting out the first three-game losing skein of his career and trying to make sense of an offense that can’t score points.

Admittedly, we Gator fans are spoiled. We haven’t suffered through a three-game losing streak since 1999 and you have to go back to 1988 for three-in-a-row losses during regular season. And the last time UF posted single digit final scores twice in one season was 1989.

Incidentally, UF lost to Georgia in 1988 to complete four losses in-a-row. Florida lost those four games because they scored all of 23 points. Lack of offense didn’t cut it back then and it sure doesn’t cut it today.

Ironically, the Gator’s next opponent is Georgia.

I hope the Gators take this week to mend and find their pride. Work on some basic plays. Retool the play-calling. Maybe let Trey Burton throw some passes.

The season is not over yet. Unbelievably, The Gators are still in the hunt for the SEC Eastern Division title. That’s something to play for.

As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.


The Gators got a much-needed 34-31 overtime win over archrival Georgia in Jacksonville Saturday.

The win ended a rare 3-game losing string for the Gators, the longest since 1988. Georgia had won three games in a row after a 1-4 start. It was the first game between these two teams where both were not nationally ranked since 1979.

Gator Coach Urban Meyer borrowed a page from the Steve Spurrier handbook, rotating quarterbacks on virtually every play. All three UF QBs played very well. John Brantley (16-25, 193 yards) finally had the breakout passing game we’ve been waiting for, and Trey Burton delivered big plays time after time, both running and catching the ball, including a 51-yard TD bolt in the fourth quarter. Jordan Reed contributed 19 yards rushing.

Tailback Chris Rainey returned from a five-game suspension, rushing for 84 yards and a nifty 21-yard TD burst and piled up 241 all-purpose yards.

Jeff Demps returned to form, carrying 9 times for 38 yards and scoring on a short TD plunge and hauling in a 40-yard pass from Brantley. WR Deonte Thompson played a role with a couple of big catches, none bigger than an athletic grab of a 21-yarder from Brantley at the two yard line on 3rd and 18. Will Hill had three interceptions, but none more important than his pick of Aaron Murray’s throw which he returned 89 yards for… nothing… the interception blunted Georgia’s overtime effort and set the stage for much-maligned punter-turned-kicker Chas Henry to kick the game-winning 37 yard field goal.

It was the Gators 18th win of the last 21 games. Georgia drops to 4-5 and still must face top-ranked Auburn and rival Georgia Tech. The greater damage to the Dawgs may be the psychological knowledge that this might have been their best shot at a victory against UF for awhile, as the effect of several good-but-not-great recruiting years loom.

UF is now 5-3 (3-3) and assuming it beats lowly Vanderbilt (2-6, 1-4) in Nashville this week, appears headed for a showdown at home with South Carolina (6-2, 4-2) to determine the SEC Eastern Division champ. The Gamecocks must face 19th ranked Arkansas this week.

As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.


It’s do or die for the University of Florida this week as the Gators host South Carolina in a game that will determine the SEC’s Eastern Division champion.

About three weeks ago, it appeared that Steve Spurrier’s Carolina Gamecocks held a two-game lead on the Gators and appeared to be a lock to take the title. After all, UF was mired in a three-game losing streak, punctuated by a dismal offensive performance during a 7-10 homecoming loss to Mississippi State. Looking at the remaining schedule, some pundits expressed that it was possible for UF to lose all of its five remaining games and finish with a losing record.

But as Lee Corso says, “not so fast my friend…” In the short span of two weeks, Florida’s fortunes have experienced a complete reversal. The underdog Gators generated just enough offense to upend Georgia 34-31 in overtime. This week the Gators hit the road to Nashville and exploded for 55 points in a win against SEC foe Vanderbilt.

During the same three weeks, USC blew an 18-point lead in a loss to Kentucky, struggled to defeat Vanderbilt 21-7 and got lit up at home by Arkansas in a 41-20 loss that was not as close as the score suggests. Now Coach Steve Spurrier returns to the stadium where he won a Hesiman trophy as a player and built a powerhouse dynasty. His Gamecocks limp into the hostile Swamp for this winner-take-all game in the midst of what to Spurrier followers has become an all-to-familiar “November swoon.”

It’s going to come down to who wants it the most… the Gators or South Carolina; Spurrier or Gators Coach Urban Meyer. It should be a great game!

One the other side of the ledger, LSU upended Alabama this week, virtually guaranteeing that the Tide will not repeat as national champs. Second-ranked Auburn appears to be in control of the West Division, Having already beaten LSU, Auburn must beat either Georgia at home this week or Alabama in Tuscaloosa to earn the trip to the SEC title game.

One final bit of significance, Florida State lost its second straight game. North Carolina beat the Seminoles 37-35 in Tallahassee. The previous week, FUS lost to North Carolina State 28-24. Suddenly the annual grudge match between the Gators and FSU – a game that seemed to be a certain Seminole win -- does not appear to be so certain.

What does it all mean? I’ll just conclude with my standard reply: There’s still a whole lot of football to be played. Tee it up!

As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

South Carolina

Congratulations to the University of South Carolina Fighting Gamecocks and to Head Football Coach Steve Spurrier on winning the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division crown.

Spurrier’s Gamcecocks decisively defeated his alma mater 36-14 in Gainesville Saturday. It is South Carolina’s first SEC division title since joining the SEC in 1992 and is the team’s first win ever in Gainesville. The “Cocks will advance to the SEC title game in Atlanta where they will face currently unbeaten Auburn… unless it can be proven that Auburn has some involvement or knowledge in allegations that it’s starting quarterback Cam Newton received a six-figure payment to enroll at that school. IF that happens… then who knows whom they’ll play.

For Florida, it is the third consecutive home loss, something that hasn’t happened since 1986. The Gators drop to 6-4, with a home game against a lower-division FCS team Appalachain State this week before they conclude the regular season at Florida State.

Appalachain State is 9-1 and should provide more than the usual struggle of past FCS teams brought in to boost revenues and pad stats. UF will actually have to show up and play if it expects to avoid the fate suffered by Michigan in 2007 – the Mountaineers defeated the Wolverines in Ann Arbor, a factoid still mentioned on the ASU athletics home page.

Against USC, the Gators appeared to be in total disarray. The Gators were out-performed on offense and on defense and they were easily out-coached, eliciting boos from the frustrated home crowd – those who chose to remain -- late Saturday. There’s no point in naming names or pointing fingers, but I will say that if my wife can look on from Row 87 and diagnose UF’s plays and suggest a defensive scheme, then I hope our highly paid head coach Urban Meyer can fix it. “We’re not playing very good football right now,” has been Meyer’s mantra for a couple of weeks now and it’s wearing thin.

UF has far too much talent –probably more five-star and four-star rated athletes than any other college football program in USA -- but the lack of cohesion and lack of leadership is evident.

I know… better days are coming…

Note to UF Director of Athletics Jeremy Foley: Don’t even think of raising the prices on tickets to home football games right now.

As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

Appalachian State

OK it’s FSU week. Urban is 5-0 vs. the Noles. But this is the first games between these rivals with Jimbo Fisher as FSU coach. I don’t know who is favored. Neither team has set the world on fire this year, although the Noles are theoretically in contention for the Atlantic Coast Conference divisional title. Game is in Tallahassee.

Here’s hoping that the Gators have finally worked out their offensive bugs. Call it... What’ay know, Seven in a row.

As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

Florida State

My how quickly things can change in college football. Just a year ago, the Gators were riding high, defending national champions on a 22-game winning streak. Today, UF is a very ordinary 7-5 after last week’s devastating 31-7 loss to FSU in Tallahassee.

If it makes you feel good, let’s point the finger. Then let’s put it back in the holster and look ahead.

There really is no excuse for the way FSU beat down the Gators. This team has way too much talent to lose games they way it has lost games this year. To put it in perspective, Mississippi State’s two- and three-star players defeated UF’s four- and five-star players.

Forget about blaming Steve Addazzio and the play calling, forget about blaming all of the brand new coaches, and forget about blaming Gator junior quarterback John Brantley, whose biggest sin is that he is not Tim Tebow. Forget everything you think you know about the Gator football program. In hindsight, we all should have seen this one coming. Focus all of your blame on one man: Gator Head Football Coach Urban Meyer.

Meyer did not adequately prepare Brantley to take over an offensive set that did not match well to his physical skills. Brantley is a tough kid who wants to win more than anything. But he is lost trying to run the spread – even the Chris Leak modified spread.

Meyer did the best he could with what he had… the mid-season scheme to run a hurry-up offense with two and sometimes three quarterbacks in the line-up at one time was novel and created just enough confusion to allow UF to squeak by Georgia and paste Vanderbilt. But South Carolina and FSU – particularly FSU – figured it out and exploited the limitations of whoever was taking the snap, eschewing the pass and cheating on the run whenever Trey Burton and Jordan Reed lined up behind center. Those teams adjusted their defense to our offensive limitations and parlayed the results into blowout victories.

Meyer did not adequately stock the cupboard with good receivers. Consider that our “go to” guy is a senior who had his only 100-yard receiving day the previous week against FCS division Appalachian State. Redshirt freshman Andre Debose has contributed greatly on kickoff returns, but he is hardly the Percy Harvin slotback that was advertised. The rest of the Gators’ receiving corps is substandard by SEC standards and far below what is the expected norm for the University of Florida.

There are positives, but these are outweighed by certain immutable facts: UF played three games where it scored single digits. Consider that in the 67-game Urban Meyer era prior to the current season, that level of offensive impotence had occurred only once.

The defense must also share in the blame. Perhaps there was frustration at the failure of the offense to score. I thought the defense played well early on, but lost its focus as the season wore on. Carolina and FSU basically had their way offensively, and really, so did LSU and MSU. And but for a long TD run by Trey Burton, Georgia might’ve come all the way back to pull out a win.

The bottom line is there is a whole of work to do and perhaps some very difficult personnel decisions that need to be made to bring the UF program back to the elite level. Like I said, there is simply way too much talent on board to justify a 7-5 record. Squandering that kind of talent will eventually erode UF’s recruiting effort. One only has to look back to the 1970-78 Doug Dickey era to understand that concept.

It has been said that Gator Nation’s expectations can be unreasonable. I disagree with that. If UF had gone 9-3 by winning its home games against LSU and MSU, plus made better showings against USC and FSU, we’re not having this conversation. Coach Meyer has said that he understands the problem and has begun the process of correcting it. Time will tell.

I’m looking ahead to better days.

As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

SEC Championship

As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

National Championship

Ever more, As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

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