The Florida Gators came into the season ranked fourth in the country largely on the basis of all of the supposed talent they brought in over the past few seasons.
But, after losses to LSU and Alabama, it's safe to say the Gators aren't as good as we thought they would be.
There is still time for the team to turn things around, and they still control their destiny in the SEC East. But the way things stand, the Gators aren't much more than an average team at best. Certainly a far cry from a national title contender.
So what slipped between the cracks in the preseason assessment of the Gators? Why aren't they as good as we, or at least the pollsters, thought they would be?
Look at the 2009 Gators roster. Look at this year's roster. Not many similarities. Simply put, the reason Florida was ranked so high was simply for the Gator brand Urban Meyer built over the past few seasons.
A lot of people thought they would take a step back, but not many people thought the Gators would be this...average.
Reading between the lines, from Mike Pouncey's comments in the preseason about the freshmen's cockiness and taking things for granted to comments from coaches about players not practicing hard (see: Andre Debose) or not knowing the playbook (see: Chris Rainey), maybe these guys just assumed they would be good without pushing themselves like they should be.
Taking things for granted and not practicing the way they should would be one explanation for the Gators' lack of discipline.
Another theory is that Urban Meyer taking a step back and delegating a lot of the duties he maintained the past few seasons has caused a dropoff in the attention to detail usually seen from a Gators team. That would explain the dropoff in special teams play, a unit that used to be kept under the close watch of Meyer himself.
Whatever the reason, the Gators are sloppy, make a lot of mental errors, commit dumb penalties and don't execute in the fundamental aspects of the game.
It doesn't matter how talented Florida's roster is, you will lose to good teams if you play that way. The Gators are lucky they've only played two so far.
When you think of the SEC, you think of defense and toughness.
Although the Gators have a solid defensive unit, all things considered, they are sorely lacking in the toughness department. Alabama and LSU hit Florida in the mouth and the Gators did not respond, physically or mentally.
The Gators do not stop players on the first hit nearly as often as they should. They don't run people over. Most importantly, no one is scared of these guys. It's a far cry from the last few seasons when Tim Tebow would run someone over or Major Wright or Brandon Spikes would light somebody up and send a message that you are going to pay for trying to make a play on us.
A lot of Florida's problems could be corrected or at least overcome if the Gators had someone grab the leadership reins.
Last year, you couldn't find a spot on the sidelines without running into a leader who would light a fire under you and get you pumped to do what needed to be done to win.
This year, you would probably hear crickets on the sidelines.
When someone makes a mistake, no one gets in his face and makes him shape up. When Florida needs to stop the bleeding or get a score, no one steps up and makes the team believe.
A coach can't fill that role. It needs to be someone in the huddle who can look in his peer's eye and make them believe they can win. The Gators don't seem to have anyone in that role. Tim Tebow and Brandon Spikes ain't walking through that door.
If you look at the way all great teams are built, it is from the inside out. The game is won in the trenches, and right now the Gators are atrocious at the point of attack.
The offensive line is abysmal. You can lay the blame on Steve Addazio's playcalling, on John Brantley not putting up the numbers you thought he would or the lack of big plays and playmakers. But there isn't much hope for any of that actually getting a chance to work as long as the offensive line continues to be a revolving door. If you want to blame Addazio for his coaching of the offensive line, though, you may be on to something.
The defensive line isn't much better. The tackles aren't bad, but there is no pass rush or playmaking ability from the defensive ends. As long as that continues to be the case, teams will find the time to pick apart the holes in the defense.
If you want to point at one reason for the Gators' failure, then look at the foundation, because it's crumbling before your eyes.