If this were a multiple-choice test it would read something like this:1. Why can’t these guys catch the damn football?
A. Lack of skill.
B. Lack of coaching.
C. Lack of focus.
D. Some of the above.
E. All of the above.
Why can’t Florida’s receivers catch the damn football? Simply going by what happened last week against LSU that has to be the question of the year. Balls tipped by Florida receivers gave LSU two interceptions. A dropped pass in the end zone would have given the Gators a one-touchdown lead with less than two minutes to go. Instead of a much needed win that would have given the Gators confidence and momentum heading into pivotal games against Missouri and Georgia that will most likely decide the SEC West, the Gators lost to LSU, 30-27, and it didn’t have to be that way.
Not if the receivers had caught the damn football.
It’s not like the receivers picked the LSU game to play like they dipped their gloves in slippery elm before taking the field. They’ve been doing it all year. By my count, there have been 20 dropped balls so far, which is about 19 too many. Jeff Driskel certainly hasn’t played at the level you would expect for a successful SEC quarterback, but even though he’s made some poor decisions along the way, it’s not exactly like he’s gotten a lot of help from the guys whose job it is to catch the ball. And it’s not like he’s throwing such tough passes that the receivers are fortunate just to get their hands on the ball, either. Too many of the dropped balls couldn’t have been thrown better. Then there is that teensy problem of the receivers not showing any willingness to go up and make the tough catches in traffic.
Go back to the Alabama game. Remember that touchdown catch in the end zone by Amari Cooper in the fourth quarter? Florida had him blanketed with Vernon Hargreaves III and Antonio Morrison. Cooper wanted the football more than anyone else and he made the catch.
We don’t see Florida receivers doing that very often do we?
So here the Gators are, five games into the season and with six to play. They still control their own destiny in the SEC East with four very winnable games starting Saturday night with Missouri. Florida’s defense is going to have to show up in all four games. The kicking game is going to have to be good and there has to be a decent enough running game to keep opponents from loading up the box.
And the receivers have to catch the ball.
Demarcus Robinson has 30 receptions for 476 yards and four touchdowns, but he’s also had a slew of drops. When your top receiver has trouble hanging onto the football it’s like a plague that spreads rapidly throughout the whole corps. It’s not fair to put all the blame on Robinson just as it isn’t fair to put all the blame on Driskel, but it does indeed start at the top and trickles its way down. It is time for Robinson to make the catches and get the other guys going.
It’s also time for offensive coordinator Kurt Roper to sit some guys if they aren’t going to bring the ball in and give guys like Ahmad Fulwood, Valdez Showers, Chris Thompson and C.J. Worton a chance to show if they can catch the damn football.
This season: 51-9
Florida (3-2, 2-2 SEC) over Missouri (4-2, 1-1 SEC): As bad as Florida fans think Jeff Driskel has been playing quarterback, he looks like the second coming of Joe Montana compared to Maty Mauk’s last two at Mizzou. Mauk has been dreadful and that’s actually a compliment. Driskel will get help from Freon Treon this week. Missouri has to live with Maty Mauk. That should give the Gators a win.
#3 Ole Miss (6-0, 3-0 SEC) over Tennessee (3-3, 0-2 SEC): The Vols are hoping that after two straight weeks of knocking off ranked teams the Rebels are basking a bit too much in the glow of success. Tennessee is about to learn one important lesson from Ole Miss – the SEC’s best defense never rests.
#7 Alabama (5-1, 2-1 SEC) over #21 Texas A&M (5-2, 2-2 SEC): It’s tempting to pick the Aggies in this one but Nick Saban is back to being grumpy after two straight below par performances and when Nick is grumpy Alabama usually wins.
Arkansas (3-3, 0-3 SEC) over #10 Georgia (5-1, 3-1 SEC): The Hogs were a bad call by the zebras away from beating Alabama last week. At some point the 15-game SEC losing streak has to end. This is a good week as any against a Georgia team that will play its second straight game without Todd Gurley.
LSU (5-2, 1-2 SEC) over Kentucky (5-1, 2-1 SEC): If this game were played in Lexington, it wouldn’t be hard to pick Kentucky. It’s at Tiger Stadium on a Saturday night and we’re about to see Les Miles really cut Leonard Fournette loose.
South Carolina (3-3, 2-2 SEC) over Furman (2-4): Now the Gamecocks couldn’t blow a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter a third straight game, could they? Lose to Furman and a disappointing season takes on nightmare proportions.
Larry Blakeney, Troy: He retires at the end of this year. He has a one-game winning streak going, a first for this year.
Jeff Quinn, Buffalo: This is what happens when you lose to Eastern Michigan. Buffalo went bowling last year with an 8-5 record and is 3-4 this year, but when you lose to Eastern Michigan it’s like getting hosed by powder puff football all-stars from a league made up of convents and homeless shelters.
Norm Chow, Hawaii: Hawaii is actually competitive this year in the Mountain West Conference. That tells you how bad the league is. It also doesn’t change the fact that there will be a new head coach next year. If they’re smart, they re-hire June Jones.
Brady Hoke, Michigan: Athletic director Dave Brandon’s head is on the chopping block and Bret McMurphy of ESPN is reporting three replacement candidates have already been contacted. That tells us they (a) want a new AD in place quickly so that (b) he can fire Brady Hoke and (c) bring in his own guy as the new head coach. It’s not complicated.
Tim Beckman, Illinois: The good news is that there is no game Saturday so loss #5 will have to wait a week. The bad news is that unless someone feels sorry for Beckman and the Illini and elects to forfeit, there isn’t another win on the schedule. Next loss is a week from Saturday against Minnesota.
Bill Blankenship, Tulsa: File this under the life can be so cruel category. At the top of the Tulsa wish list to replace Blankenship is Tulsa native son Jake Spavital, the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M. His high school coach at Tulsa Union? Bill Blankenship.
Paul Petrino, Idaho: At some point, you have to figure that Paul Petrino wakes up early one morning, looks in the mirror and realizes that his brain has been jammed in neutral the past two years. How else do you explain why a reasonably intelligent coach with a good pedigree winds up at Idaho coaching games in a Quonset hut? The Vandals actually have a chance to win a game this week when New Mexico State comes to town.
Bobby Hauck, UNLV: Since there is no game this week, the Rebels can continue to bask in the glow of last week’s highly improbable win over Fresno State. That win doesn’t change the fact that Hauck is about one loss away from joining the folks on the Dead Man Walking List.
Darrell Hazell, Purdue: That Pur-Don’t rallied from down 21 to a 38-31 deficit last week against Michigan State is viewed as a sign of major improvement by the Boiler faithful. At Michigan State it got a scolding from head coach Mark D’Antonio for starting a celebration too early. Pur-Don’t plays five straight teams that are going to a bowl. Next chance for a win is the last week against Indiana in what might be an elimination game – the loser’s head coach gets eliminated.
Kevin Wilson, Indiana: The only two stats that matter in college football are PF, as in points for, and PA, as in points against. The Hoosiers rank 91st nationally in PA. There will be a lot of PA this weekend and not enough PF because Michigan State comes to town, which will probably put Wilson OLN (On Life Support).
Bob Davie, New Mexico: With the exception of the loss to Arizona State, the Lobos haven’t been embarrassed this season, which is a true sign of improvement. They used to get embarrassed every week – on or off the field – by former coach Mike Locksley. The Lose with Dignity tour continues this week at Air Force.
Paul Rhoads, Iowa State: The basketball coach at Iowa State, Fred Hoiberg, is universally praised because he takes lesser-known talent and makes the Cyclones good enough to play with anybody in the nation. Rhoads takes lesser-known talent in football and struggles to beat Holy Toledo. With one winnable game among the remaining six (Kansas) it’s only a matter of time before Rhoads is on the Dead Man Walking List.
Ron Turner, Florida International: To figure out why he’s NFL – Not for Long – at FIU, all Ron Turner has to do is look out on the field Saturday at the Marshall Thundering Herd and watch Rakeem Cato throwing touchdown passes to Tommy Shuler. Those are Miami kids who chose Huntington, West Virginia and its snow, sleet and rotten weather over FIU.
Will Muschamp, Florida: As improbable as it might seem, the Gators are still in control of their own SEC East destiny given another loss by Kentucky. Beat Missouri and then Georgia in two weeks and the Gators might find it difficult to avoid the SEC Championship Game. Lose to Missouri, which lost to Indiana and got shut out by a Todd Gurley-less Georgia last week, and the buzzards will start circling on Gale Lemerand Drive.
Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia: The Mounties’ problem isn’t putting points on the board. They can do that. Stopping people is another story altogether. Baylor comes to town this week having just hung 61 on what was the #7 defense in the country (TCU). This is a saved by the buyout game for Holgorsen.
Randy Edsall, Maryland: Having Randy Edsall as your coach is like having to drink Pabst Blue Ribbon. Sure, you wish you had something better but you figure after you pound down three or four you won’t notice the taste all that that much. They’d really like something better at Maryland, but because of the buyout, Edsall is as good as it’s going to get for now so they try not to notice.
Bo Pelini, Nebraska: About the only way the Nebraska fans won’t be complaining about Bo next week is if he hoses Northwestern by four or five touchdowns. Otherwise, they’ll be whining for the good old days when Tom Osborne was the coach.
Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech: Louisiana Tech football under Skip Holtz is like kiddie soccer where the boys and girls play together, nobody loses and everybody gets a trophy or a ribbon. Lousy Tech isn’t very good and neither is the coach, but they’ll probably get to go to a bowl and everybody will get a ribbon.
What has been more disappointing for the Gators so far this season: the play at quarterback or the play of the wide receivers?
Today’s music is dedicated to Florida’s wide receivers. It’s “Catch Us if You Can” by the Dave Clark Five, which, along with The Beatles, led the British Invasion in 1963 when our radio airways were overwhelmed by music from great British bands. It’s time for Florida’s wide receivers to catch the football. That is, if they can.