Fitting End to a Fitful Season

One of the strangest Gator football seasons in memory came to an end Saturday in a most appropriate way. Florida showed its maddening inconsistency on both sides of the ball on the way to a 37-24 win Over Penn State that sent Urban Meyer out with a win in his final game on the Florida sideline.

The game had a little bit of everything that's been a storyline for this team. The Gators posted another scoreless first quarter and stumbled to a total of 86 yards of offense and two turnovers in the first half.

Despite that ineptitude Florida was only down 17-14 because Penn State did its best to keep the game from getting too one sided. The Nittany Lions turned it over on their own 15-yard line to set up a very short scoring drive and had a punt blocked by Solomon Patton that Lerentee McCray ran in for another score.

The second half was another stroll down memory lane as the Gators finally got some offense going, made a few key plays and too advantage of the endless generosity of Penn State QB Matt McGloin who ended up throwing five interceptions including the game clinching pick six to Ahmad Black.

With the win we can close the book on Urban Meyer's tenure at the helm of the Florida program. Meyer's six year stint was highlighted by two SEC and BCS Championships and a trip of 13-win seasons. It also included three years in which Florida failed to reach the SEC Title Game or win 10 games. His final tally of 65-15 is still quite remarkable in this day and age.

The Outback Bowl also ended the careers of Florida's senior class led by Mike Pouncey and Black. Pouncey had one bad snap, but was a ferocious blocker throughout the afternoon. Black picked off two passes giving him five for the year and 13 for his career. That ties him with Bruce Bennett for fourth in school history.

The game also marks the end of the worst offensive season the Gators have had in 21 years. Don't let the 37 points fool you. Florida had just one drive that covered more than 40 yards. The Gators ended up with 279 yards of total offense and averaged fewer than four yards per play. Gator QB Johnny Brantley repeatedly threw short when down and distance situations called for bigger gains. He ended up completing 6-of-13 passes for 41 yards with an interception. Jordan Reed (8-13, 60 yards) wasn't much better, but he was better. He certainly looked okay in the pocket and should be in the QB mix come spring practice. Whether or not Brantley will be remains to be seen. A new regime might not want to invest the time and effort needed to build up Brantley's game and confidence when he only has one year left.

So the 2010 Gators finish 8-5 and might (but probably won't) sneak into one of the final polls. A strange year on and off the field comes to a close with Meyer riding off into the sunset and Will Muschamp riding in as the new sheriff.

Spring practice can't come soon enough for me.


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