Outback Bowl: Florida Gators Looking for Leadership from Players and Coaches

D. PritchardContributor IDecember 7, 2010

Urban Meyer has missed quality leadership as much as anything in 2010.
Urban Meyer has missed quality leadership as much as anything in 2010.Marc Serota/Getty Images

With the 2011 Outback Bowl looming, the Florida Gators have one last opportunity to show there is optimism for the 2011 season.  With respectful wins against Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky, all three bowl teams, the 2010 Gators have earned one more shot to make their case.

It's no secret this is the worst Urban Meyer team yet in Gainesville, but with so much young talent, and so many young coaches, the Outback Bowl will give this team one more chance to prove they can be among the great Gator teams of the past. How they perform will tell us a lot about this team going forward.

The 2007 team struggled at times and was beat up on defense all year. The defense was very young. In 2008, the same group of players came together to become one of the best defenses in the country, ultimately, shutting down the most explosive offense in college football history in Oklahoma.  There was a lot of talent on that team, and there is a lot of talent on this team.  

A lot of the members of the coaching staff from the 2007 and 2008 teams have moved on. So this game is as important for the coaches as it is for the players. The coaching was not stellar during the 2010 season, the scheme was nearly awful and the preparation was mediocre, at best. Meyer has suggested that the woeful offensive issues were realized as early as the Mississippi State game, but the season did not allow time for drastic changes.

On the other side of the ball, Teryl Austin’s defense was torched by Florida State and ran over by South Carolina to end the season, losing by a combined score of 67-21.    

Now, with the Gators having the month of December to rest and revamp, the product should be much different. After twelve games to reflect on, the staff will have had considerable time to evaluate and prepare this team.

However, it’s not just on the coaches; there is a lack of leadership on offense and defensive, which has hindered the 2010 Gators from the start. If the Gators do plan to be a great team in 2011, the leadership will need to begin now.

Maybe the arrival of Jeff Driskel and Michael Blakely can help rejuvenate the offense in 2011, and maybe Jeff Driskel is the answer to all the quarterback issues. But for those freshmen and many others to be successful, they will have to be surrounded by great leadership.

In reality, the 2011 Outback Bowl will give Gator fans a real glimpse of how things will be in 2011. Whether Steve Addazio is still the offensive coordinator next year or whether John Brantley is the starting quarterback, no one knows. What we do know is there is talent on this team and on this staff. Now they have one final opportunity to showcase that talent.