Panic Time in Gator Nation

There's no question the Gator football team is now in full panic mode. Florida went for it on fourth down on its own 39 yard line and used three quarterbacks in a futile effort to gets its offense going in a 10-7 loss to Mississippi State that has Florida fans wondering if they'd even bother with a bowl trip to Nashville, Memphis or Birmingham.

That's assuming of course that this team can become bowl eligible, which though likely is certainly not a guarantee.

(Memo to my media brethren: The SEC no longer has a tie-in with the bowl game in Shreveport.)

Florida has undergone a stunning transformation in the last three games from a top 10 team with BCS Title hopes (delusions it turns out) to a 4-3 squad that seemingly could not score points against air. The Gators remained their own worst enemy Saturday with two more turnovers to go with a pair of missed field goals.

For the sixth time in seven games, Florida did not score in the opening 15 minutes. The Gators took that ineptitude another level by making it a scoreless first half. One minute they are throwing the ball downfield, and the next, the Gators are direct snapping the ball to Trey Burton. There's a chance Florida might become pretty good at one of those styles of play, but meshing the two clearly is not working.

Two Plays Tell Story

There were two plays (or sequence of plays) Saturday night that pretty much served as a microcosm of what this offense has become. Suffice to say neither of them worked.

The first came early in the second quarter with Florida trailing 10-0. Facing a 4th-and-1 on his own 39-yard line, Urban Meyer elected to have his team go for it. Certainly Florida needed a boost, but going for it was clearly a panic type move. Giving the ball to Robert Clark for his first career carry was absurd. Clark didn't make it and the Gators were deflated.

The second came on the very next possession. The Gators mounted a strong drive, overcame a stupid late hit penalty, and had a first down at the Mississippi State 21. Florida's first scoring chance then took two steps backward with a Brantley sack and false start penalty that made it 2nd-and-19 at the 30, but Brantley hit Carl Moore for 14 yards setting up 3rd-and-5 at the 16. Inexplicably, the Gators called for an option play with Brantley at the controls and it lost five yards. Chas Henry missed a 38-yard field goal attempt and yet another long drive for this Gator offense came up empty.

Historically Bad Numbers

The Gators lost their first homecoming game since a 1988 setback against Auburn. They have lost three straight for the first time since 1999 and three straight regular season games for the first time since '88. That is also the last time the Gators dropped consecutive home games.

Remember the Amedee-ville horror? That's the nickname that was given to Florida's worst offense in years under the direction of Lynn Amedee. The year was 1988 and this team is challenging that one in a number of areas. Florida's total offense of 329 yards a game is the lowest since that unit managed just 316 an outing.

The Gators need this off-week something awful. They need it to get away from everything and try to clear their heads. But they also need it to narrow down the list of things they are trying to do offensively in order to get out of the funk that has the season on the verge of spiraling into an abyss.


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