Are Florida's Offensive Problems Talent or Scheme?
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Another week, another lethargic offensive performance by the Florida Gators.
Florida managed just 151 total yards and just 2.52 yards per play in a 36-17 loss to Missouri last weekend in a game that really wasn't even as close as the score indicated.
The Gators have been decimated by injuries this season, after running back Matt Jones, quarterback Jeff Driskel, offensive lineman Chaz Green and wide receiver Andre Debose have all been lost for the season with injuries. But the rash of injuries aren't the cause of the offensive ineptitude, they've just accentuated an ongoing problem for the Gators under third-year head coach Will Muschamp.
Florida has finished 10th or worse in the SEC in total offense in each of the two years in which Muschamp has been at the helm and currently ranks last in the SEC with 336.9 yards per game and 12th in scoring offense at 21.1 points per game.
B/R's Randy Chambers posed the question after Saturday's loss whether or not Muschamp should be on the hot seat.
It seems unreasonable at first since Muschamp was on the doorstep of playing for a BCS National Championship last season, but it's not when you consider the standard Florida holds itself to, courtesy of CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman:
This is the week #UF fired Ron Zook. His record was 20-13 and 14-7 in SEC. Will Muschamp's record: 22-11 and 13-8 in SEC.— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) October 22, 2013
That's quite shocking.
So what's the problem, is it personnel or scheme?
It's a little bit of both, but it's evolving into a scheme problem as time goes on.
In the beginning of Muschamp's tenure it was personnel, because while there's no shortage of athletes in the state of Florida, former head coach Urban Meyer essentially left Muschamp a track team to run a pro-style system.
Not the easiest transition to make, even with 5-star athletes all over the roster.
But as Muschamp has put his stamp on the program, the offense has struggled due to scheme and philosophy.
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Florida led the SEC in time of possession last season despite producing the SEC's third-worst offense, and leads the SEC in time of possession this season while posting the worst offense in the conference. While offensive coordinator Brent Pease shoulders some responsibility, this is Muschamp's philosophy.
He wants to keep his defense fresh, play at a slow pace and wear out his opposition in the second half, despite quotes to the contrary like this one from earlier this month from the Miami Herald:
Time of possession doesn’t really correlate to winning or losing football games. I mean, good from the standpoint that their offense isn’t on the field, but there’s no direct relation of winning football games on ball possession.
While he's a defensive-minded coach with a defensive background, this is his program in which he determines the philosophy.
What's Florida's problem offensively?
That's the problem now, which is exactly why a change at coordinator won't do much to help the situation unless a philosophical change goes along with it.
The question then becomes, will one occur?
With the defensive players that Florida recruits and the scheme Muschamp and defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin employ, relying on defense isn't the worst idea in the world. But it's clear that when the defense lets Florida down—like it did in the first quarter against Miami earlier this season—or gets banged up—as was the case last weekend against Missouri—the offense is thoroughly unprepared to switch to Plan B and open things up.
It's not time for a change in the coaching staff in Florida, it's time for a scheme and philosophy change. Whether the coaching staff is willing to do that is what will determine if there needs to be a coaching change if things don't turn around next season.
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