One Week Later: After the Gators' Burning in Atlanta
About this time last week, I was watching the Rutgers-West Virginia game awaiting the SEC Championship game. It was snowing here in New Jersey. The skies were gray.
And so were my spirits.
I wasn't feeling very good about what I was seeing take place in Piscataway and I was anxious about Florida's chances against Alabama.
Both feelings were warranted as Rutgers would lose to West Virginia and the Gators would lay a serious egg in Atlanta.
Now a week later, I have had time to stew over things. I've spoken to many fellow Gators and read a ton of articles trying to explain what happened to UF in that game.
Putting aside the reality that the Gators were completely outplayed by a better team in that game, I've settled upon a few "keys" to the Florida loss. Our loss.
1. The Carlos Dunlap arrest shed light on the fact that the Gator football team was not in "lock down mode" as they should have been for game week.
2. Alabama came out and clearly established that they were not going to take the same approach to this game as in other games this year. They put in place "wrinkles" for this game. Florida did not. The Gators had no "contingency plans." The coaching staff obviously believed that they could win this game if they played their game. They were as wrong in their assessment as I've ever seen. Not even close.
3. The Gators' initial drive was very telling. The inside TE draw play to Aaron Hernandez (which had worked so effectively during the year) was called immediately. And it was stuffed immediately. Not a good sign, both from a play-call standpoint (did the Florida coaches really think that Alabama wouldn't be expecting this play?) and a result standpoint.
4. The Jeff Demps dropped pass (first Gator drive) was a killer. In a game of this magnitude, momentum would be critical. Had he caught the ball, the whole tenor of the game would have changed. I'm convinced of that.
5. The amount of missed tackles by the Florida defense was something I hadn't seen all year. And I watched just about every play of every Florida game this year. What was the cause of this?
6. The corner blitz call on Bama's ensuing drive after the David Nelson touchdown pass (Ingram's 60-yard run) was telegraphed and cut our hearts out.
7. The decision not to go for it on fourth-and-short on Florida's initial third quarter drive was curious. If Meyer thought his defense could stop Alabama (the thinking that had to go into the decision to punt), why wouldn't he have been as confident in that same defense had the offense failed in that situation?
The bottom line for this Gator fan: last Saturday's game was one of the most disappointing losses I've experienced.
It wasn't a "heartbreaker," but I expected a lot more.
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