Alabama is no where near as good as it looked Saturday. Every unit on the field probably had its best day ever. Alabama hit big play after big play. Brodie Croyle had the day of his life. And until he suffered a devastating and stomach-wrenching injury, Tyrone Prothro was as good or better than David Palmer ever was. The defensive line, which Arkansas pushed around more than held its own, and linebackers Freddie Roach and DeMeco Ryans were simply awesome. This is the best game they will play all year.
Florida is no where near as bad as the Gators looked. While there are legit concerns about all units after this one, this team did beat a fine Tennessee squad by nine and may be the only ones to knock off Wyoming. The Gators have the talent to beat every team they play, but it must be maximized.
Two officiating notes worth listing. I thought DeShawn Wynn was in… it was certainly reviewable. That the play was not formally looked at was absurd. Leak took a shot and was sacked due to an obvious mistake by the referee who would not own up to it. Florida snapped the ball an instant before the ref blew the whistle to start the play clock. Everyone stopped except DeMeco Ryans who flattened Florida's quarterback. Bad job.
Proposed Changes For The Gators
- Let Leak be Leak… I'm not calling for the total elimination of the option plays or quarterback keepers, but Florida is not going to win the SEC East on Chris Leak's legs. He has to be in the pocket throwing downfield to be effective. Running the option in slow motion won't beat LSU or Georgia.
- Reggie Nelson must play… He looks like he is as good or better than the hype coming out of high school and his "ceiling" is limitless. Vernell to nickel and Lewis to dime, but # 32 has got to play.
- Switch the tackles… Lance Butler and Randy Hand should go back to their more familiar spots. Maybe it won't help, but they were better last year and that should not be the case.
- Eric Wilbur only punts… Not only is he hurting the team with his kickoffs, it has to be hurting his punting as well. Fleming has been better off the tee, so let him kick. While we're at it, give Chris Hetland a scholarship a-s-a-p.
- Get Harvey and Moss into games… Florida has no pass rush without blitzing. Derrick and Jarvis offer the best chance to fix that.
- Let Markus Manson return kicks… I'm not certain he'd be good at it, but the scare when Jemalle Cornelius took a shot Saturday convinced me they need to get # 6 out of there. Losing one of the "Fab Four" receivers to a return injury is bad, losing two inexcusable.
- Send Chad Jackson downfield… Florida's top playmaker should not average 6.25 per catch under ANY circumstances.
- Cut down the penalties… Florida is an alarming minus-33 yards per game in penalties. Off-the-field discipline is obviously better. On the field discipline must follow suit.
- Quit going for every fourth down… Ok, so they don't go every time, but they go for it too often. I understand Meyer's mindset that Florida should be able to get eight inches. Well, it appears they can't. It should have been 31-9 midway through the 3rd quarter, which at least gives cause for optimism. Instead Florida had three points to show for their scoring opportunities and little reason for optimism.
- Let Portis throw when he's in… Florida's gifted backup QB comes in and runs are guaranteed. Try to let him throw a few, especially off play-action. Something is bound to open up deep.
While I thought Florida would perform infinitely better on Saturday, nothing that happened in that game has changed my expectations for this team. The pressure clearly shifts to UF for the next three games as the Gators try and win that SEC East battle. Florida needs to make changes and make them in a hurry. But I remain convinced the Gators have the right guy in charge to make those changes and that he will do so.
In his conference call Sunday morning Urban Meyer used words like shocking and devastating to describe his reaction to the offense failing to score a touchdown for six straight quarters. I would be shocked if that doesn't change in a hurry.
Keep those emails coming!
Don't forget to email me your questions and comments, but please do not include attachments! My email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org .
I look forward to you joining me on the radio, Sunday nights from 6:00-to-8:00 on Gainesville's WSKY-FM 97.3 (877/975-9825 toll free)
Have a great week.