Florida paid the price for its dismal offensive performance in week 1 by dropping 4 spots in the AP poll to #8 and 3 spots in the coaches poll to #6. That seems fair enough for a Gator squad that managed to have more bad snaps than first downs against a team that nobody would probably even know about if they didn’t have the same name as “Da U”.
The “official” excuses for the poor offense coming out of Gainesville are that the O-line was playing without 3 starters and players were shifted to unfamiliar positions and this led to the ensuing chaos. Also, Mike Pouncey was not gripping the ball correctly, QB John Brantley’s first career start in front of +90K gave him the typical jitters and it was really hot in The Swamp last Saturday…Call me a tough sale, but I’m not buying that load.
I’ll concede that all but the last excuse are probably true to an extent, but that should still not have resulted in 26 yards of offense in 3 quarters. The much vaunted O-line, we were told, was meant to sustain losses to the first team and we were also told the linemen were practicing at several positions all the time throughout camp. Mike Pouncey is a 4thyear senior with over 30 career starts, why is he all of a sudden forgetting how to grip the ball? If he continues with this problem, back up center Sam Robey is more than capable of starting at center in the SEC and Mike will have to move over to Guard, where he flourished last year when his brother Maurkice manned the middle. That alternative is gaining momentum, at least in my mind. The bottom line is that if the Gators do not vastly improve on offense, this team will not be playing for any championship, be it national or Southeastern.
Needless to say these excuses are not sitting well with Gator faithful, who are once again pointing their ire towards O.C. Steve Adazzio. He is often bashed for his “conservative” play-calling and this week has been no different. In Coach A’s defense, its not an issue with play-calling when over 15 of your snaps end up on the ground as much as it is a matter of focus and execution. Urban Meyer has said this team is willing and eager to learn and be better. We are all anxious for them to prove it. It is often said that teams improve the most between games 1 and 2, if true Florida fans might be breathing a sigh of relief next week.
Practice reports indicate that the center-QB exchange has been rectified and by all accounts the week of practice has been a good one so far. Pouncey and Brantley were at it on Sunday morning making sure the shotgun issue is behind them. It better be because the Gators will host a much tougher opponent this week in the University of South Florida. Starting RG Carl Johnson will be back after serving a 1 game suspension and LT Xavier Nixon should also be back in the starting lineup if his knee permits it. Also back from suspension is Frankie Hammond who should contribute on special teams and at WR. Starting TE Jordan Reed is also feeling better (bruised knee) and his status is yet to be determined.
On the flip side the Gators did lose the services of CB Moses Jenkins for the next 6 weeks due to a hyper extended elbow. In his stead will be Jeremy Brown, an often injured but talented sophomore who registered an INT in his first game as a Gator. The coaching staff also indicated that there will be an emphasis on rotating more receivers into the game. Many remain puzzled as to why Andre Debose did not see a snap against the Red Hawks.
Two players on offense that actually did play well on Saturday were WR/TE Omarius Hines (49 yds and 1 TD on limited targets) and back up RB Mike Gillislee (55yds on 6 carries along with a 50 yard kick return). Both these players should continue to emerge as dependable weapons on an offense struggling to find its feet in the early going.
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Written by The Gator Great