VETTEL: Even With A Win, Concerns Are Plenty

By Larry Vettel Maybe I'm getting too old for this or too cynical for my own good. Maybe I've just gotten so caught up in things that my expectations for this team have gotten out of the realm of realism. Whatever it is, I find myself completely at odds with the overwhelmingly positive analysis of Saturday's win over Louisiana Tech on the part of most (if not all) media types.

Did I miss something? Didn't Florida once again make a half dozen or more mistakes in special teams? Didn't an offense that is designed to get the ball into the hands of its "playmakers" get the ball to its best playmaker (Chad Jackson) just once in the first half? Didn't Florida commit almost a hundred yards in penalties, including a dead ball personal foul that turned third and two into third and 17? Didn't a team captain (Jarvis Herring) get flagged for a conduct penalty for mouthing off/taunting? Didn't they drop a sure touchdown pass in the fourth quarter?

Perhaps I had too low an opinion of Louisiana Tech. I think they would lose to Wyoming by 20. But I saw a lot wrong with Florida's performance Saturday night and many issues heading into the Tennessee game.

Wynn Came To Play

I'm not going to spend all my time grousing. Florida did do a lot of positive things in the game, starting with 251 yards on the ground. First, I offer a tip of the hat to DeShawn Wynn who almost single-handedly gave Florida a running game. The 50-yard run set up a first and goal and then extra effort and a spin off the pile cashed in the opportunity. Wynn's power is even more important with a scheme that rarely uses a lead blocker. His adjustment on the touchdown pass shows a weapon opposing defenses will have to respect.

I thought Markus Manson made a bid for increased playing time with some excellent runs in the second half, and the blocking was better, though not great. Receiver-wise, Florida was solid but unspectacular. Several passes that could have been caught weren't. Once they remembered Chad Jackson was around he broke off a 16-yard run and added a long TD reception.

Defense Has Another Strong Performance

The defensive line did not match last week's enthusiasm but they were solid. The play at linebacker and throughout the back seven was excellent as those units did about everything right. For the second straight week, the defense did not allow any lengthy scoring drives, and if it weren't for a turnover in Florida territory, the Bulldogs would have gone home scoreless. It was good to see extended playing time for Lutrell Alford and Derrick Harvey who registered a sack.

In two games the defense has registered seven QB sacks and has created six takeaways. While Louisiana Tech was overmatched on offense, Wyoming was not. Yet, the combined numbers, 58.5/game rushing, 133.5/game passing are quite impressive. This defense will get a huge test next week that's for sure. But I think they are up to it.

What's So Hard About Special Teams?

Florida is close to turning every special teams appearance into must-see TV. Let's take a look at this week's list:

  1. two kickoffs out of bounds
  2. a kickoff return to midfield, another beyond the 30
  3. a muffed snap on a punt (albeit with a great recovery)
  4. a muffed punt return
  5. a fumble on a kickoff return
  6. another missed extra point

Did I leave anything out? These problems if not eliminated will bite this team in the rump in a big ballgame. I've heard references to these things being "correctable" and while that may be true, it also creates unpleasant flashbacks to other special teams problems in recent years.

I've said when this year is over I believe this football team will have ten wins. Seeing what other SEC teams have done to this point doesn't change that opinion. There's not a great team out there, which means everyone on the schedule, is a team that can be beaten, and in most cases should be. But like Archie Bell and the Drells, the Gators have to "Tighten Up" in a hurry.

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