SEC Football Q&A: What's Florida's Problem on Offense?
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@BarrettSallee do you think Florida's problems on offense is due to the coaching's philosophy or they don't have the right players?— David Namkoong (@thekoongman) October 17, 2013
It's a little bit of both.
Earlier on during the Will Muschamp era—particularly in his first season in 2011—the staff was trying to fit square pegs in round holes. Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps weren't exactly every-down backs in a pro-style system, and it seemed that route running wasn't exactly an emphasis of the old Urban Meyer regime.
As time has gone on, it's clear that Muschamp wants to play ground and pound, win the time of possession battle and wear the opposition out. That's fine. He has the horses to do that now, first with injured running back Matt Jones and now with Mack Brown and Kelvin Taylor.
It's certainly an old-school mentality, but Florida is certainly in good position to do that considering the recruiting foundation it enjoys.
The problem is, some of the same issues persist from Muschamp's first season due to some lingering and unresolved personnel issues. Until Solomon Patton emerged this season, there really wasn't a reliable wide receiver in Gainesville. Patton has been good, but not enough to make opposing defensive coordinators sweat.
Injured starting quarterback Jeff Driskel is a dual-threat quarterback that is better suited to run Meyer's offense, as is current starter Tyler Murphy. Both of those players can be successful in Florida's system, but as it showed in Florida's loss to Miami this season and last season's Sugar Bowl, the offense struggles to dig out of holes when the defense lets it down due to its ultraconservative nature.
If Muschamp would let his quarterbacks be the difference-makers every once in a while, maybe the offense wouldn't look so lethargic when it's asked to dig out of a hole.
@BarrettSallee do you think Ole Miss can make a New Year's Day Bowl?— Rick Muscles (@RickMuscles) October 17, 2013
If it does, it'll be the Gator Bowl—which, while it's on New Year's Day, is No. 6 on the SEC's bowl tie-ins (and possibly seventh if the SEC gets two teams in the BCS). But even that's not likely.
The losses to Alabama, Texas A&M and Auburn likely slot the Rebels fifth in the SEC West. Sure, they could beat LSU, but even if they do, it's unlikely that LSU will fall below Ole Miss in the division standings and the head-to-head losses to the Tide, Aggies and Tigers won't look good to bowl committees.
All things being equal, Ole Miss isn't getting the benefit of the doubt over any of those four teams if they are in the same bowl discussion.
To compound issues, there are four contenders in the SEC East vying for that title. Even in the unlikely event that two of those teams tank and lose all of their remaining conference games, Ole Miss would still only be in the discussion for the Gator Bowl assuming the BCS takes two SEC teams.
The program still has momentum going in the right direction, but would a bowl committee take Ole Miss over Georgia, South Carolina or Florida?
Ole Miss needs to win out and get a lot of help to make a New Year's Day bowl game.
@BarrettSallee With the ACC playing well this year, if their conference trends upward is there fear within the SEC of impacts on recruiting?— Zackary Richards (@ZackRichards13) October 17, 2013
It could, but the three ACC teams in the AP Top 10—Clemson, Florida State and Miami—are always threats to the SEC on the recruiting trail.
Those three programs have combined for 10 top-15 finishes in the 247Sports.com's final team recruiting rankings over the last four seasons. Florida State and Miami are in one of the most fertile recruiting states in the country, and if any team in the ACC has the resources to sell itself like an SEC school, it's Clemson.
There may be a few prospects who open their eyes to a resurgent ACC, but for the most part, the three programs leading the charge in the ACC are programs that SEC schools battle with on the recruiting trail anyway.
Until the SEC suffers a prolonged drought or more teams from the ACC join the big three in the national title picture, I don't see how a half-season of success will have any impact on the SEC's prospects at all.
Do you have a question for next week's Q&A? Send it to SEC lead writer Barrett Sallee via the B/R inbox, on Twitter @BarrettSallee or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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