Take a look at these numbers.
2012: Florida averaged 26.5 points, 4.53 yards per rush attempt, 6.6 yards per pass attempt and 5.25 yards per play. The Gators finished 11-2.
2013: Florida averaged 18.8 points, 3.63 yards per rush attempt, 6.6 yards per pass attempt and 4.79 yards per play. The Gators went 4-8, the first losing season since 1979.
2014: Florida averaged 30.3 points, 4.36 yards per rush attempt, 6.7 yards per pass attempt and 5.24 yards per play. The Gators finished 7-5 and head coach Will Muschamp was fired.
These aren’t even decent offensive numbers.
2012: In his first year on the job, taking over a team that had gone 9-27 the previous three years, Colorado State averaged 21.2 points, 3.87 yards per rush attempt, 7.2 yards per pass attempt and 5.42 yards per play. The Rams went 4-8 that season, a one-game improvement.
2013: Colorado State averaged 36.2 points, 5.04 yards per rush attempt, 7.8 yards per pass attempt and 6.29 yards per play. After a 2-4 start, the Rams went 6-2 the rest of the way.
2014: Colorado State averaged 33.9 points, 4.76 yards per rush attempt, 9.4 yards per pass attempt and 7.09 yards per play. The Rams went 10-3, their first 10-win season since 2002 and just the fifth in school history.
In each of the three years, Colorado State improved its average yards per pass attempt and yards per play while averaging more yards per rush attempt than the Gators did from 2012-14 even though Florida was built for a running game. Even in McElwain’s first year on the job – the worst of his three years at CSU – the Rams averaged more yards per pass and per play than the best year the Gators had from 2012-14. The year before McElwain took over, Colorado State’s numbers were very Florida-like – 21.4 points, 4.42 yards per rush attempt, 6.4 yards per pass attempt and 5.29 yards per pass.
What McElwain inherits at Florida isn’t that much different than what he inherited at Colorado State when he took over in 2012. He improved the offensive numbers and probably would have improved the win total by two or more games if Garrett Grayson hadn’t gone down with an injury that caused him to miss six of the last seven games. Although Colorado State and Florida are totally different situations, the numbers bode well for 2015 and beyond for the Gators. Although it’s not impossible to turn the Gators around in one year, it’s more likely there will be steady improvement over a period of time. After the last four years, Florida fans would be very happy with improvement.
Florida 59, Houston 35; September 20, 1969
Houston came to Florida Field ranked #7 nationally and predicted by at least one national publication to win the national championship. The team that came to Gainesville was virtually the same as the one that scored 77 and 100 points on consecutive weeks in 1968 with an offense that featured Elmo Wright (invented the touchdown dance). The Gators were coming off a disappointing 6-3-1 season that was marred by a quarterback controversy that divided the locker room almost down the middle. Senior dominated Houston was a big favorite to wipe the stadium floor with the sophomore dominated Gators. The third play of the game – now and forever known as “The Pass” – was one that John Reaves and Carlos Alvarez practiced so many times in the offseason that they could have run it in their sleep. Offensive coordinator Fred Pancoast had scripted Florida’s first possession in the spring – two handoffs to fullback Mike Rich and then “79 Streak,” a Reaves to Alvarez bomb on a streak pattern. To ensure there would be no safety help, Pancoast flopped tight end Bill Dowdy to the same side as Alvarez and flanked Alvarez four yards wider than usual. Alvarez ran a 9.6 100 yards in high school so he didn’t need a lot of help. On third and seven from the Florida 30, Alvarez blew by the corner the corner and was already wide open by midfield as he streaked down the West sideline toward the North end zone. Reaves took a seven-step drop and launched. The ball traveled 55 yards through the air and nestled softly into Alvarez’s hands at the Houston 25. He could have walked into the end zone. That was the first of five touchdown passes Reaves threw that day as the Gators stunned the Cougars, 59-37. The 1969 Gators became the highest scoring team in school history (343 points in 11 games) at the time en route to an 8-1-1 record. Reaves and Alvarez were All-Americans and Tommy Durrance scored 18 touchdowns. The future never looked brighter for Florida football but the week before the Gator Bowl the story broke that UF president Dr. Stephen C. O’Connell had brokered a deal with Tennessee head coach Doug Dickey even before the 1969 season began and Ray Graves was out. There was almost a player revolt but the Gators elected to play – and beat – Tennessee, 14-13 to finish with a 9-1-1 record, which was the best mark in school history until Steve Spurrier and the 1991 Gators went 10-2. To this day, Gator fans wonder what might have happened with Florida football had Graves stayed on and Doug Dickey had never been hired.
For the most part, Johnny Majors has kept his mouth shut since he was forced out as Tennessee’s football coach. It was during the 1992 season that Majors had to undergo heart surgery. During that time Phil Fulmer went 3-0 as the Vols’ interim coach. Majors returned but the Vols went 2-3. The week of the Memphis State game, Majors was forced to resign and Fulmer took over. Majors tried to revive his coaching career in Pittsburgh where he won the 1976 national championship but four losing seasons led to his retirement. Since retiring he has lived in Knoxville but has kept a fairly low profile when it comes to UT football.
On a Monday radio show, Majors elected to sound off about a variety of subjects. Here are the three best quotes:
On Lane Kiffin: “Kiffin would have won if he had stayed here and there is no doubt about it. I know a lot of Tennessee people don’t like him, but he had a good reason to go to Southern Cal.”
On the 2014 Vols: “To be frank with you, Tennessee could have been 8-4 last year. They really blew the Florida game and the Georgia game. They outplayed Georgia but fumbled the ball on the 1-yard line, and that ended up being a touchdown for Georgia. Tennessee dominated Florida defensively, and that was probably the most subpar Florida team since before Spurrier.”
On the state of the Tennessee program: “Well, to be honest with you, they wouldn’t be struggling these last eight or ten years had they not run me out the back door. We had the three winningest years of my career in ’89, ’90 and ’91. We won a Cotton Bowl, won a Sugar Bowl and went to the Fiesta Bowl and lost to Penn State.”
The US Women’s National Team advanced to the Women’s World Cup championship game with a 2-0 win over Germany Tuesday night. Although the US team has been widely criticized for uninspiring offensive play, no one can fault them for their defensive effort. While going 6-0 in the tournament, the US has allowed only a game one goal against Australia and has posted five consecutive shutouts. The US will face the winner of England and Japan in Sunday’s final in Vancouver in what will likely be the final World Cup performance for former Gator Abby Wambach (age 35), Hope Solo (age 34) and Carli Lloyd (age 34). Tuesday’s shutout was the 10th for Solo in World Cup play, tying Brianna Scurry for the most in Women’s World Cup history.
Things are getting nasty between LSU and its former defensive coordinator, John Chavis, who bolted to take the DC job at Texas A&M. Chavis filed suit against LSU in a Texas court back in February, claiming the school owed him $205,000 in unpaid vacation days and that LSU unlawfully doctored his 2012 contract. LSU countered with a lawsuit in Louisiana, claiming Chavis owes LSU $400,000 for breaking his contract.
Perhaps inspired by 53-year-old Herschel Walker, Brett Favre is the latest retired NFL star to say he could still play in the league. Favre did clarify things by saying he can still make all the throws but doubts he could still lead a team.
I’m a basketball junkie but it’s all I can do to watch more than five minutes of a WNBA game.
One of Billy Donovan’s star players with the Oklahoma City Thunder has his own cologne. Before you run to your neighborhood Macy’s or Dillard’s to buy a bottle, take out a second mortgage. Russell Westbrook’s “Westbrook” cologne will only set you back $350. I wonder if he’ll give Billy a complimentary bottle.
Joe Barrett, father of J.T. Barrett who won the Big Ten Player of the Year last year when he took over after Braxton Miller’s injury, says Miller should be Ohio State’s quarterback in 2015. That’s a charitable thought but both J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller are going to do mop-up duty for Cardale Jones. The Buckeyes were very good offensively in Miller’s three years as the starting QB and during J.T. Barrett’s 11-1 regular season, but the offense was never as good under those two as it was under Jones. During his 3-0 run as the Ohio State starter, the Buckeyes averaged 47.7 points and 543.3 yards per game while knocking off Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon on the way to a national championship.
I think 6-6 or 7-5 is do-able for UF in 2015. I think 8-4 isn’t out of the question although it will take some breaks. To go 9-3, the Gators will need to win a couple of games they have no business winning. How would you assess Florida’s chances for 2015?
I have been a Boz Scaggs fan since I saw him fronting for the Steve Miller Band back in the 1960s. He’s 71 years old now but still making music. He just released a new album (“A Fool to Care”) and his 2015 tour starts Thursday. Today’s music is a 2004 live performance of his greatest hits.