Oh how the mighty have fallen.
It was only two weeks ago that Florida was undefeated, ranked in the top 10, and talking about playing for the national championship. Then came the crushing loss in Tuscaloosa to then #1 Alabama and a week later the heartbreaking loss at home to #9 LSU. Now all the talk is about playing for a piece of the SEC East championship, which the Gators can still win if they run the table and beat the Ol Ball Coach and his Gamecocks in November, and avoiding total collapse with upcoming games against Mississippi St, Georgia, and South Carolina. There is also lots of talk against the coaching staff, especially those in charge of the offense, as a result of the unprecedented putrid offensive number. The Gators rank 96th in total offense, 76th in rushing offense, and 87th in passing offense. Simply put, these results are unacceptable for a team that consistently recruits 4 and 5 star players year in and year out. Something has to change soon, or else heads will roll.
The first two rivals on the remaining SEC schedule might not appear imposing to the casual observer. But one must keep in mind that Mississippi State is now coached by former Gator offensive coordinator Dan Mullen and his team is enjoying a successful season at 4-2. Earlier in the year they took #7 Auburn to the wire when they lost 17-14 at home. More importantly Mullen is quite familiar with the Florida staff and players so he will be well prepared for this week’s game. Georgia was the laughing stock of the SEC earlier in the season, but now that All-American WR A.J. Green is back from suspension the team has new life. If Florida can get past these two teams they will play against the Gamecocks for a shot at the SEC title. As it stands, I would have to admit that it is rather unlikely that Florida will win out the rest of the way. If the offense continues to struggle, Florida can lose any and all of those games. Florida must also visit a rejuvenated Tallahassee to end the year and that could also obviously end in defeat.
A new season starts tomorrow for Florida. The Gators need to forget about the last two weeks and focus on the present; their goal of winning the SEC is still attainable despite the struggles. For this reason I expect Florida to be jacked up tomorrow for Homecoming against the Bulldogs. The season is on the line and they will give it their best shot at home against their former coach. The game will be close because the Gator offense is not in a position to blowout any defense. It will be a hard fought SEC battle between 2 tough teams. In the end, I expect the Gators to pull through by a touchdown.
The Gators might be without starting RB Jeff Demps again, he has missed the last 2 games with a sprained foot. He has been truly missed because he provides steady production out of the backfield and is a threat to break a play for a TD at any moment. His chances of playing are 50-50 according to Meyer, but then again Meyer said he was “probable” for the LSU game. One of his backups, Mike Gillislee, is also questionable for tomorrow. If they are both out, look for heralded freshman Mack Brown to finally get some significant playing time as he spells Emmanuel Moody. The O-line continues to be banged up, LT Matt Patchen is still out, Jon Halapio had an operation on his finger early in the week and is expected to give it a go, RG back up David Young is out for the year, and senior James Wilson might also give it a go. I expect WR Andre Debose to continue his maturation. He will provide the spark needed to wake up this anaemic offense. Florida will need to pass more to set up the run, because the opposite formula has failed miserably all year long. If the O-line can finally put together a complete game and give John Brantley time to dissect the defense, Florida should not have too many problems taking this one. But given the last few games, that’s a big if.
On defense Florida will need to stop a familiar offense. Mullen runs the same offense he ran in Florida with Tebow. With that said, it won’t be easy for the Gators. Last week the Bulldogs blew out Houston on the road and amassed over 400 yards rushing in the process. Mullen is confident his team can move the ball against Florida who struggled earlier this year in stopping the running QB from South Florida and again struggled last week when LSU’s QB Jefferson took off with the ball. This game will be interesting as all SEC games tend to be. Florida must win, or the floodgates will open, and Mississippi State would like nothing more than to give its head coach his signature win in The Swamp against his old boss.
Prediction: Florida wins 28-24.
About the Author
Written by The Gator Great