It really could have been easy with a large group like this where one side of the ball was playing so much better than the other side of the ball. The defense was constantly bailing out the offense during the year and at times it wasn’t enough as the succumbed to opposing offenses getting too many chances with the ball and the Gators falling to three of those opponents.
But, instead of turning against each other, the offensive and defensive staffs rallied around each other with the hope that things would get better. Both coordinators knowing what the other was capable of doing at any given time, despite the inadequacies of personnel.
The fight to win may have drawn the coordinators and their units even closer.
“Actually, Doug and I got to be fairly close,” Florida defensive coordinator Geoff Collins said of offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier. “We never worked together before. When he was the offensive coordinator at Alabama, I was the defensive coordinator at Mississippi State. There were some battles that we had. Unfortunately, they came out on top the times we played. But the mutual respect that you gain for competing and going against someone's schematically, you know, how they move pieces around of the puzzle to create matchups like they do with Jake, obviously.
Collins understanding the coaching acumen of Nussmeier knows the offense is in good hands, but it has helped that there has been an entire staff of good people that care about each other and the credit there goes to the head coach Jim McElwain and the kind of environment he fosters.
“So then you get to be in there day to day with (the rest of the staff), and the biggest thing and the common thread -- going back to Coach McElwain, the common thread that you'll find amongst our staff, whether it be administrative role or a coaching staff role, they're good people,” Collins said. “They care about each other. They don't have any hidden agendas. We're all on the same team.”
Nussmeier agrees with Collins.
“It's the environment he creates, the structure, the focus, and the ability to bring people from all unique different backgrounds together to focus on one common goal,” Nussmeier said. I think (McElwain) does an exceptional job of that.”
The mentality of the defense has been an understanding bunch and that when things don’t go right on offense, they just need to continue to go out and do their job.
“You know, I think you watch us… let's say there is a turnover, our offense gives us a turnover, our guys love our offensive players so much and the offensive staff so much… put the ball down and let's play. Whatever situation we're put in, it's our job to give them the ball back because we know they're going to do something special with it. And we went through spring and the summer and you start forming those bonds. I think it's special. And the season we had this year and continuing forward is because we're close in the relationships that we do have.”
This is why Florida won 10 games in a season when nobody expected that to happen. This is why they will continue to do so.