Florida Gators Must Play the Blame Game and Make Changes

Jay HendryCorrespondent IOctober 19, 2010

GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 16:  Quarterback Trey Burton #8 of the Florida Gators looks to lateral against the Mississippi State Bulldogs  October 16, 2010 Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Losing against Alabama in Tuscaloosa is all right. 'Bama isn't the championship team that rolled through everyone in 2009, but they are still a very strong team. 

Losing against Les Miles in Gainesville is acceptable, because everyone knows that losing against Les Miles is actually losing against fate. 

Losing against Mississippi State at home on homecoming is unacceptable. It's a flat-out embarrassment and the low-point for the Urban Meyer–era Gators. 

The Bulldogs were so confident in their ability to keep the Gators out of the endzone that they moved into "run out the clock" mode in the second quarter, with a 10–0 lead. 

On Saturday, the Gators hit Sun Belt levels of offensive incompetence.

It's been only two years since the Gators were the scariest offense in SEC history. Now, Mississippi State dares the Gators to score 10 measly points in two and a half quarters, and the Gators can't compete. 

Technically, Florida still controls their own destiny, but anyone confident that the Gators can win the SEC with the offense they're trotting out onto the field right now is "Lou Holtz 'This is Notre Dame's year!'" delusional.

Barring a major change, Florida will struggle to maintain bowl eligibility. 

This isn't the time to be stubborn—the only way to salvage the season is to drastically change the offense. 

Meyer Needs to Go Back to Calling the Plays. 

The Addazio experiment has failed. Up until last year, he was a fine offensive line coach.  He's still a great recruiter.

Firing him is not a smart move—demoting him is. 

Addazio is spread too thin right now, being the offensive line coach, the offensive coordinator and the press coordinator; every aspect of Florida's offense is suffering because he's wearing too many hats. 

Addazio's offense has not reached the heights of the offense under Dan Mullen. Last year, the offense was still great, albeit less effective than it was in 2007 or 2008; most of that was thanks to Tim Tebow. 

This year, Tebow and the other play makers are gone. As a result, what was working thanks to athleticism and in spite of play calling will no longer work.

Meyer and Mullen were able to figure out a way to build the offense around Chris Leak. 

There's no reason that Meyer can't do the same for Brantley unless...

John Brantley May Not Be That Good.

I touched on this a couple of weeks ago when I mentioned that Brantley was off to the second worst start for a Florida quarterback in the 2000's. 

After seven games, you can go ahead and drop him down to the worst. Thanks to another bad performance, Brantley has dipped below Jesse Palmer's mark in 2000. 

Brantley nearly has a 1:1 TD to INT ratio and the second lowest yards per attempt in the SEC. Nearly every pass Brantley throws is a check down. 

The "square peg" excuse only accounts for so much; at some point, you have to blame Brantley for his ineffectiveness. 

There's no way that on every pass that is called there is not a single open down-field option—Brantley's just missing the mark right now.

Brantley's strength was supposed to be the passing game. So far, the Gators gain considerably fewer yards through the air than they did under Tebow or Leak. 

The rushing attack is in even more trouble: After gaining 200 yards on the ground per game for the past three years, the Gators are averaging less than 150 in 2010. 

Brantley presents a zero percent chance to run the ball.

He can't run an option. He can't keep the ball on designed runs. He can't run an option offense. 

Unfortunately for him and for the Gators, Urban Meyer's offense is an option system.

It would be one thing if Brantley were Ryan Mallett and had the ability to put up 300 yards a game through the air.

If the Gators are going to lack explosiveness through the air, it should not come at the cost of explosiveness on the ground. Right now, the way Brantley is being used, both aspects of the offense fail to move the ball. 

If Brantley can't do more through the air, then he shouldn't be starting because Florida does have a running quarterback on the roster.

Burton Needs to Take More Snaps as a Quarterback.

The rushing offense is a mess thanks to Brantley's inability to run and the offensive line's inability to create conventional rushing lanes. 

Neither of those things matter when Trey Burton is behind the center. The offense can block its more effective, zone blocking scheme that relies on misdirection and Burton can keep the ball when defensive players commit to the runningbacks.

For most of the season, Burton has been the keyed player by opposing defenses; however, he's handed the ball off on option plays in both of the last two games, proving that his sets are actual zone reads and not designed quarterback runs with a handoff fake. 

Against Mississippi State, Burton the rusher was effective, with eight carries for 43 yards.  He was also effective as a receiver, but Florida has plenty of players that can run a five yard out and only one quarterback who can run an option. 

Replace Burton the receiver and use Burton the quarterback more often.


Despite the "terrible-ness" of this season and the three losses, Florida still has the athletes to win the SEC East and controls their own destiny. 

If Florida wins out, the Gators will win the division. 

There's almost no shot at a BCS bowl unless the Gators luck into a rematch against LSU, but as long as getting to Atlanta is possible, the Gators should be willing to put forward the effort to get there.


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