Ask Ack - 10/21: Questions answered on LSU game

In this week's "Ask Ack," I answer the following questions: Why can't Zook win close games? Why can't we stop the run? Why didn't Todd McCollough play more? Who played well? Why did the offense struggle so much after Georgia lit up LSU? Who will start in Crowder and Herring's place this week? What's the motivation for MTSU? Is it time to make a coaching change?

Q: Why can't Zook win close games? It seems that he has the NFL mentality and it backfires on him.

A: I do think winning close games is more mental than physical and it seems UF loses close games when it has the opportunity to salt it away. None of the close losses have really been UF coming back and coming up short but most have been late in the game with UF not holding on to a lead. I think the coaches and the players must develop the mentality that they must go and win games and if that means going for it on fourth down in the opponents territory or short yardage then they have to give it a try.

Q: Why can't we stop the run?

A: I thought Florida did a good job initially of taking away LSU's run game and keeping the Tigers in check. When Marcus Randall came in the game it changed everything. The Tigers were able to run the ball at the middle of the Gator defense with traps and QB draws. UF's inability to take the Tigers out of the game allowed them to stick to the run in the third and fourth quarters and it wore down the front. Ray McDonald? was injured and Channing Crowder played a bit tired in the fourth quarter. The book on playing UF is stay in the game with the run because they are an undersized front that you can wear down. Arkansas had to get out of their run game early because UF was up 38-7. Tennessee and LSU both were in the game and consequently they ran the ball well. The Gators need to get some bigger tackles to spell Ray and Marcus.

Q: Why didn't Todd McCollough? play more? Where was Chad Jackson?

A: Todd played well Saturday and, in my opinion, should start at SAM linebacker. He is a smart tough kid who broke up two passes and forced an incompletion. Todd has had a long way back but look for him to see some more action in the future. Chad had a nice grab but seemed on the wrong side of the formation at times in relation to where Leak was looking. I like Jackson and hope they continue to use him.

Q: Who did you think played well?

A: I think Jarvis Herring, Brandon Siler and McCollough? played well. Dee Webb had a good night and the secondary seems to be getting better. Ciatrick ran hard and Mike Degory were very solid on offense. Eric Wilbur was the star of special teams. I think OJ Small did some good things as well.

Q: Why did the offense struggle so much after Georgia lit up LSU?

A: Sometimes things can come too easy for some guys and you don't ever establish and identity in a game. UF did not get the big plays it got a week ago and the passing game really struggled against some different looks. I think Chris Leak had an off night -- he missed some open receivers and delivered some balls late. It looked as if Florida just kept waiting for someone to make a play and it did not happen. UF did move the ball to inside the 40 twice in the third quarter and looked off on third down. One route was a miscommunication with Leak and Baker that proved the guys just were not on the same page. I think the Gators expected more blitzing and probably did not adjust and execute as well as they would have liked. I think Leak could have bailed them out if he would have kept running on third down with two minutes to go.

Q: UF will not have Crowder and Herring this week so who will start in their place?

A: Obviously Terrence Holmes will start at safety and I think Zeph Augustine will take his spot in nickel and could play a lot vs. the Middle Tennessee spread offense. I think Brandon Siler who was scheduled to start the first time before the game was switched will go at mike linebacker. Siler is a playmaker and could have a big game against the run vs. the Blue Raiders.

Q: What is the motivation for this week?

A: To win a game. There are certain things out of UF's control right now in the SEC race but UF can still get to nine wins and they have two huge rival games left in Georgia and FSU that can wash the taste of these two SEC losses away. Florida will have a chance to win a close game this season and if they learn their lesson they could finish strong. Right now 5pts is the difference between 5-0 and 3-2, but the team needs to put that behind them and step up and try to finish the season strong. In 1990 when I was a junior we lost to Tennessee 45-3 and could not go to a bowl game because of some prior sanctions and we battled to have the best record in the SEC. We won nine games that season and it set the barometer for the next twelve years.

Q: I think Ron Zook is a nice guy and a good recruiter but I don't think he can get it done at Florida. This is year three and we are five games in and out of the SEC Race. Shouldn't we make a change this year while we have all these good young players and get someone who can win the big games?

A: I think no matter what happens, Zook and any coach deserves four years. One thing to remember about next year is that there will be some attrition if you make a change with players who came to play for Zook. It would not be a big attrition but I can promise there would be a couple of starters that go elsewhere. The NCAA is going to vote on a rule in April I believe that would allow transfers to go without penalty once in their career. If that were the case there would be more. Plus if you bring someone in it's tough to be great the first year because of the new systems and terminology. This is why Miami was so successful with Larry Coker and it can work in some places. I think Ron can lead this program and he just needs to go win a big game and take the victory. He has the experience of having been through it quite a bit and I think there is a lot of football to be played in this season. Let's wait and see how the last six games play out and evaluate Ron's resume at that point.

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