Coming off of a deflating loss is not easy. We have seen many teams in many years allow one early loss to snowball their seasons into disaster. We have also seen plenty of teams that lost early have the result galvanize the group into eventual-champions. If the latter is to be the case, the performance the offense displayed against the Commodores is one that must not be allowed to return from Nashville. Vanderbilt is program that has recently had teams with much more talent than the one the Gators played on Saturday. Despite this, Vanderbilt Head Coach Derek Mason’s defense held the Gators to a Muschamp-ian output of only 236 total yards. If the Gators are to emerge victorious against LSU, the offense will have to develop some consistency after the previous six frustrating quarters have seen them score only 20 points. Junior tight end DeAndre Goolsby believes that we should not look too deeply into it.
“Obviously we lost the week before,” said Goolsby, of Tennessee. “That obviously took a toll on us, but I feel like we came out and practiced hard all week and we just didn’t execute when we needed to. But we still got the W, so we can’t be mad about that.”
The junior from Derby, Kansas, is coming off of one of his most productive weeks as a Gator, as his 8 catches against the Commodores was a career high and one short of the single-game school record. Several of those catches were on third down and Goolsby believes that Florida Head Coach Jim McElwain and Offensive Coordinator Doug Nussmeier have done an excellent job of involving him in the offense.
“I guess the offensive staff just making schemes, making mismatches for players,” stated Goolsby, when asked what has been working for him. “I mean, not only tight ends. Receivers are doing the same thing just like the running backs. They’re in and out, so just keep everybody fresh and make mismatches with other teams.”
Graduate-transfer quarterback Austin Appleby has endured a shaky start to his career in the Orange and Blue to say the least. The signal caller has looked uncomfortable since halftime of the Tennessee game, with a few blips of success. Most of those blips have gone the way of Goolsby, who is the only Florida player with double-digit catches since Luke Del Rio went down against North Texas. While success with Appleby has been nice, the tight end believes that each quarterback has worked with everyone enough to be productive on the field.
““I’d say it’s great,” said Goolsby, when asked about his partnership with Appleby. “You know, we went through camp, spring practice just working on little things. But I mean, quarterbacks are — all the quarterbacks are out there working with the receivers and tight ends and running backs.”
With Del Rio’s return imminent, the junior was pressed on who he has the best chemistry with. While the statistics over the last two weeks speak for themselves with regards to Appleby and Goolsby, they do the same for the statistics of Appleby and Del Rio. Gators fans will be pleased to hear that the tight end believes that both quarterbacks have what it takes.
“Nah, I wouldn’t say so. I mean, I’ve got faith in both of them. They know what to do. So as long as they perform, I feel like we’ll all perform. I mean, Appleby played well. Del Rio still plays well, so I feel like as long as they take control, the offense will be out there [with them].”
The LSU defense will present the struggling offense with their most talented competition so far this season. While true, the junior believes that the reps against his teammates on the defensive side of the ball will pay dividends in this weekend’s showdown.
“I wouldn’t say it was anything different than any other week,” replied Goolsby, when asked what the offense would do differently on Saturday. “You know, it’s another great opponent but, I mean, it’s nothing our defense doesn’t do in and out. So just prepping with our defense, getting ready to play another great defense in the SEC and go out there and execute.”
The return of Del Rio is something that most Gator fans welcome with open arms. The offense has looked more confident under his command and in a program that has not been prolific on that side of the ball for some time, confidence can go a long way. Confidence allows you to be more relaxed and that allows better decision making. If the Gators can execute the plays that are called, Goolsby believes this team can get back on the right track.
“We have faith in both quarterbacks. It’s being able to trust the quarterback to get the ball where it needs to be, calling the right calls. I mean, just as long as they perform in practice, we feel like they’ll perform in the game. I feel like we can only get better from here.”