I grew up playing basketball in my hometown of Orlando, FL. One of the few things I remember from those days was a lesson that came from my father:
The more aggressive team usually wins.
That goes for football too.
On Saturday night, Florida played passive and scared, and lost because of it.
Auburn also played rather conservatively—but the Tigers took what the Gators were giving them and turned it into two touchdowns in the first half.
The "aggressive teams win" philosophy actually worked in reverse on the first four plays of the game, when Auburn opted to punt on fourth down rather than accepting a penalty for another shot at 3rd-and-long...and Florida's Jamar Hornsby promptly ran into the punter to give the Tigers the first down.
From there, though, my philosophy proved to be true.
The Florida DBs sagged off the Auburn receivers to guard against the deep ball. Little did they realize that Brandon Cox had no desire to throw long.
Auburn moved the ball with ease on their first two possessions.
The Gators played just as cautiously on offense. For whatever reason, Urban Meyer felt that the offensive line wasn't blocking well enough to hand the ball off to Kehstahn Moore.
In all of my years following football, I've never heard this reasoning before. Not blocking well enough for the running back...but blocking well enough for the QB to jog to the line and push the pile for three yards?
It didn't make sense to me during the game, and it certainly doesn't make any more sense after hearing the explanation.
In the second half, Florida decided to play to its strengths—throwing long and using defensive speed to make up for a lack of experience. Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin connected on two deep passes, and linebacker blitzes forced Cox into bad decisions.
Before you knew it, the game was tied, and the momentum belonged to the home team.
If you're scoring at home, that's 17 points for Auburn when Florida played scared and 17 points for Florida when the Gators looked to attack.
With about four minutes to play, though, the Gators reverted back to their conservative ways.
Offensive coordinator Dan Mullen called a screen to Harvin, which lost five yards. On 2nd-and-15, UF appeared to give up.
A weak option to the short side of the field and an incomplete pass later, the Gators were punting.
Then, despite stopping Auburn all half with blitzing and press coverage, Florida began dropping into their soft zone again. Before you knew it, the Tigers were lining up for the game winning field goal.
You know how this ends.
Florida can save their season (and possibly repeat last year's exact results) with a win at LSU this weekend. But they can only do it if Urban Meyer resolves to attack on every possession, both offensively and defensively.
There's no point in hoping for other teams to make a mistakes when the young Gators are themselves prone to mental lapses. Use what the young players do have at their advantage—speed and natural talent.
Urban, if you need my father to call and tell you the lesson of the aggressor, I'll set that up. Hopefully for Gator Nation, you can learn it from watching the game film on your own.