FOOTBALL: Grading the Gators vs. MSU

It is Monday Morning and the Armchair Quarterback grades the Gators on their performance vs. Mississippi State University.

Whatever slim chance the Florida Gators had of winning the SEC East division evaporated on Saturday in Starkville, Mississippi. The Mississippi State Bulldogs defeated the Gators 38 - 31 ending any hope the Gators had of winning the East and quite possibly the coaching career of Ron Zook at the University of Florida.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

IMPRESSIVE:

Channing Crowder, Ciatrick Fason, that I actually predicted the Gators would loose this game before the season started SOLID:

Offensive line, receivers, secondary NEED WORK:

Defensive line, special teams, quarterback, Coaches resumes, Jeremy Foley

THE GRADES

DEFENSIVE LINE:

Amazingly, defensive end Jeremy Mincey was credited with 9 tackles, while defensive tackle Kenny Parker was credited with 6 tackles, given that MSU controlled the line of scrimmage throughout the game. The Bulldogs rolled up 251 yards rushing. Moving Steven Harris inside to defensive tackle to help the pass rush didn't, as Florida could not get pressure on the quarterback and Harris was undersized against the run. Florida repeatedly allowed MSU quarterback Omarr Conner to break outside containment on the bootleg. GRADE D

LINEBACKERS: Channing Crowder had a tremendous game after serving his one game suspension against Middle Tennessee State. Crowder finished the day with 18 tackles, 2 for losses, and caused a fumble. In fact the whole linebacking corps had huge statistical days, Earl Everett had 12 tackles, Todd McCullough had 8 tackles and Brian Silar added another 5. Of course, the bad news is that most of these were made well past the line of scrimmage. GRADE B

DEFENSIVE BACKS: With the Gators unable to mount a consistent pass rush, the secondary did about the best they could. Florida allowed just 158 yards passing, but allowed MSU to convert several third and long situations in critical parts of the game. Florida was unable to defend the rollout/bootleg option run pass, which the Bulldogs used repeatedly. The Gators secondary tackles fairly, unfortunately they were called upon to do so repeatedly on Saturday. GRADE C+

OFFENSIVE LINE: For the most part the offensive line was solid against the Bulldogs. Florida did give up just one sack, while the rushing game produce 181 yards. A couple of false start/illegal procedure penalties didn't help matters. The offensive line didn't loose much when Anthony Guerrero replaced an injured Jonathan Colon. GRADE C+

RECEIVERS: O.J. Small led all receivers with seven catches for 74 yards and Chad Jackson caught 2 touchdown passes on 3 receptions for 65 yards. Receivers Dallas Baker and Andre Caldwell didn't add much more with 5 catches for just 50 yards between them. No other wideout caught a pass. In the first half Florida receivers had MSU defenders beat deep on several plays but the Gators were unable to make the completion. GRADE C

RUNNING BACKS: Ciatrick Fason had an outstanding game gaining 143 yards on just 16 carries, scoring on a 55-yard gallop, while adding another 25 yards on 4 pass receptions. Meanwhile backup DeShawn Wynn could not duplicate his performance from the week before, rushing 9 times for just 19 yards and lost a fumble. Wynn did set up a touchdown with a 37-yard screen pass reception. Yes, Billy Lasko caught one pass, this week it went for 10 yards. GRADE B+

QUARTERBACK: While quarterback Chris Leak played well enough to win, 20 completions on 35 attempts for 260 yards, 2 touchdowns with one interception, he missed several open receivers in the first half which could have set a different tone fore the game. Notwithstanding his interception late in the game, Leak at times still appears confused about the coverage and when to throw the ball with zip and when to throw with touch. Evidence of this may be found in the fact that Florida was able to convert just 3 of 10 on third down. GRADE C-

KICKING/SPECIALTY: Eric Wilbur averaged 45 yards a punt, Matt Leach made all his extra points and a fine 50-yard field goal into the wind and Andre Caldwell had a 30-yard kickoff return, after that everything else was pretty much ugly. Florida allowed the Bulldogs to average 25 yards a kickoff return. MSU had only one punt return; it went 73 yards for a touchdown. Chad Jackson muffed 2 punts, while returning 3 punts a total of 6-yards. By far the worst performance turned in by special teams this season. GRADE D-

COACHING: Offensive coordinator Larry Fedora has got to be scratching his head. His offense rolls up 441 yards of total offense and 31 points, but lacks consistency. The offense produces big plays, a 46-yard touchdown pass and 55-yard touchdown run, but can't convert on third down. Meanwhile, C-4 produces 171 yards of total offense but only gets 20 touches, go figure. Then again at least Fedora has some answers, defensive coordinator Charlie Strong has no answer to any questions. Questions like how do let the worst offense in the SEC roll up 401 yards of offense, 31 points, or convert 9 of 16 third down attempts. But as bad as those questions are, the worst has to be; how did we get to this level? The answer to that goes to head coach Ron Zook and based on post game interviews he has no clue. This is not good. GRADE Offense C, Defense F, Overall F

FANS: Due to the fact the game was away and I watch this debacle on television, we will have to score this one an incomplete. GRADE I

FINAL THOUGHTS

Yes, I predicted defeat, mainly because strange stuff happens when the Gators travel to Starkville. When the opposing coach calls it his most cherished victory because his team was such an underdog on every level imaginable, describing this loss as embarrassing is being gracious. Losses to Mississippi, Mississippi, and Mississippi State in three consecutive years, if this were baseball they would tell you that's three strikes and you're out. Daddy told me that it is not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog, kudos to Sylvester Crooms and Mississippi State Bulldogs. Even with victories against all of Florida's remaining opponents, I am not sure Ron Zook can save his job. Speaking of opponents, Georgia is up this coming week, I need to go find my bottle(s) of Jack Daniels, I think, I am going need them. OVERALL GRADE: F

Randy Platt
The Armchair Quarterback
Later GATORS, after while the rest!


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