Florida Football: Urban Meyer's Loyalty Might Be Holding the Gators Back

Joe MorganSenior Analyst INovember 16, 2010

Urban Meyer knows how he can fix the Gators' offense, but his loyalty to his players and staff hold him back.
Urban Meyer knows how he can fix the Gators' offense, but his loyalty to his players and staff hold him back.Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

After a 36-14 drubbing from the South Carolina Gamecocks in "The Swamp" Saturday night, the Florida Gators are desperately searching for a solution to what ails them.

Many believe the team's biggest problem is offensive coordinator Steve Addazio, whose predictable play-calling has produced the worst Gator offense of Urban Meyer's tenure in Gainesville.

Addazio's unit currently ranks tenth in the SEC in total offense with an average of 345.9 yards per game and ranks eighth in the conference with just 29.6 points per game.

The embattled offensive coordinator has been so unreliable, Meyer turned to wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni, the brains behind the hurry-up offensive strategy, to fix the offense during the Gators' bye week.

Another popular target is starting quarterback John Brantley.

Brantley came to the Gators as a hyped high school quarterback with one of the best throwing arms in the country, but since he's taken over the offense, he has failed to deliver on that promise.

The redshirt junior has only thrown for 1,746 yards and eight touchdowns through 10 games as Florida's starter and his 117.4 quarterback rating is nothing to write home about.

Granted, the spread is not suited to Brantley's strengths, but realistically, after spending three years learning from one of the best in the business in Tim Tebow, you would expect him to at least have moderate success.

Additionally, when Brantley has been given the opportunity to let it rip, he hasn't been very impressive and arguably his most athletic play as a Gator came on an odd catch that lost 10 yards.

However, while Addazio and Brantley have been inadequate and mediocre this season, you can only blame them so much before you have to question Meyer.

Granted, I have faith in Meyer and with two national championships to his credit, it's safe to say that he probably knows what he is doing.

But as my cousin Daniel put it, he looked "angry and confused" throughout the South Carolina loss and you have to wonder why he continues to let his team's problems persist.

Meyer has to know that the offense is bad.

As the head coach of an FBS college football team, he watches hours of game film each week and he undoubtedly sees Addazio's tendency to run either a halfback dive or a screen pass every other play.

During these film sessions, he also has to notice that while the three-quarterback system utilizes the talents of his three signal-callers very well, it quickly becomes predictable.

Defenses stack the box when they see Trey Burton because they anticipate a quarterback run and they blitz with Brantley in the backfield because, to put it bluntly, No. 12's pocket presence is terrible.

Meyer must also notice that Jordan Reed isn't merely just a Wildcat formation quarterback.

He has to know that Reed is not only a physical freak, but that the redshirt freshman poses a threat with both his arm and his feet and he can keep defenses on their toes and guessing, a necessity for his offense.

Meyer is certainly not a fool. He knows exactly what is wrong with his team.

The problem is his loyalty.

Granted, that quality makes Meyer one of the greatest coaches in the game today, but right now it is hurting his team.

Behind closed doors, Meyer would probably agree that Addazio, who has spent the majority of his career coaching offensive linemen, should have never been in position to become the offensive coordinator at an SEC school.

However, he's Meyer's good friend and colleague, and despite Addazio's continued struggles, the head coach sticks with his guy and defends him in the media.

The same goes for Brantley.

Meyer knows that his starting quarterback is a square peg and his offense is a round (black) hole and that's why Burton and Reed have seen time in the backfield.

But Meyer has a lot of respect for Brantley and his family and instead of benching his struggling starter, he praises his quarterback's character and leadership in the media (and deservedly so) and keeps throwing him out there.

Meyer's loyalty has worked wonders in the past.

There were plenty of fourth down plays when he trusted Tebow to plow through the pile and keep crucial touchdown drives alive.

Other times, he would put faith in Charlie Strong and the defense, leaning on them when Florida's offense was struggling and they needed a big stop to get back in the game.

And it will continue to help him succeed in the future, but Meyer must learn that sometimes he needs to make a tough call for the good of his football family.

And if that means firing Addazio and/or benching Brantley, then he should not hesitate to do one, the other, or both.

The Gators' problems can be fixed, but it all starts with Meyer.


Read the original article on GatorRaid.com.


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