Florida Gators: Inconsistencies and Injuries Are Not the Program's Only Problems
Is it me, or have the Florida Gators fallen from college football grace?
Some will argue that Will Muschamp is rebuilding the program and cleaning up the mess that Urban Meyer left behind, but there seems to be a lack of enthusiasm, excitement or excellence coming out of Gainesville these days.
The post-Urban Meyer era started off like a lead balloon. After a 4-0 start, the oxygen was quickly sucked out of The Swamp when the Alabama Crimson Tide came calling and easily defeated the Gators in front of a sold-out crowd.
Yes, injuries played a big part in the Gators' downfall as well as the inconsistencies of learning a brand-new system, as Florida switched from a spread to a pro-style offensive strategy.
Muschamp tapped Charlie Weis to run the offense, and his tenure was brief, as he was offered and accepted the head coaching job at Kansas.
What else is holding back or dragging down the Gators football program? Let’s take a look.
Will Brent Pease Turn the Offense Around or Will It Remain Offensive?
When Will Muschamp hired Charlie Weis to be his offensive coordinator, Gator Nation was quite excited, since Weis is sometimes credited with developing some QB in New England named Tom Brady.
After the 2011 Gators season, some started to think that Weis was more of a product of the Patriots system than one of its architects.
The college football world was stunned and bummed by the prolific offense of the Boise State Broncos, and no one can argue against current Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease’s part in Boise State’s success.
That being said, Coach Pease can draw up the X’s and O’s all day long, but if the players do not perform on the field, then it’s all for naught.
Weis was more known for sitting on his favorite beverage cooler on the sideline than turning the Gators offense around. Frankly, the 2011 Gator offense was downright embarrassing.
How did the once-mighty Gator offense rank in 2011?
Total Yards per Game: 10th (only Ole Miss and Kentucky were worse)
Passing Yards per Game: 5th
Rushing Yards per Game: 8th
Points per Game: 8th
Coach Pease has his work cut out for him.
The Gators Cannot Afford a Quarterback Controversy
Coach Will Muschamp thought that it was unfortunate that both Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskell had to play quarterback in 2011, but he's now happy that both are ready to step up for the Florida Gators in 2012.
To quote Lee Corso: Not so fast, my friend.
The last thing the Florida Gators need is a QB controversy. Both Brissett and Driskell played well in the 2012 spring scrimmage game—the Orange and Blue game—but one will have to take the lead before the start of the season.
Competition is a good thing, but controversy is the last thing the Gators need in Muschamp’s second year.
Starting Pro-Style Running Backs Instead of Track Stars
When Florida ran the spread offense under Urban Meyer’s reign in Gainesville, clearly Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps were studs.
When Will Muschamp took over in 2011, it became clear that both Rainey and Demps were limited offensively. Defenses simply stacked the ends to prevent either one from making the turn, because everyone in the stadium knew they wouldn’t or couldn’t run between the tackles.
In 2012, it will be crucial for Mike Gillislee and Mack Brown to run downhill between the tackles if the Florida offense is to find success. Otherwise, it will be the same old situation for the Gators offense.
Andre Debose and Quinton Dunbar Must Create Separation and Become Threats
Some may blame the QB play, while others will blame Charlie Weis. But clearly, WRs Andre Debose and Quinton Dunbar must become threats rather than afterthoughts for the Gator offense to become respectable again.
Both are capable of breaking away once they have the ball, especially Debose, but consistency and effort has been lacking.
Don’t be surprised if others step up and steal the limelight if these two don’t make names for themselves quickly.
Offense Scores Points, but Defense Wins Championships—Especially in the SEC
Defense is key, and when Will Muschamp was named head coach of the Florida Gators, everyone thought that defense would be paramount.
After the 2011 season, the defense was mediocre at best.
Here are some statistics from the 2011 season regarding the Gators vs. the SEC:
Total Defense: 5th
Scoring Defense: 5th
Rushing Defense: 5th
Passing Defense: 3rd
Interceptions: 12th (i.e. dead last)
Turnover Margin: 12th (again, dead last)
Clearly, the Gators must improve both up front and in the secondary. Defensive backs are there for a reason—usually because they didn’t catch well enough to be wide receivers—but they still have to hold on to the ball when the opportunity presents itself.