Missing in Action: The Hurry-Up Offense

The lack of a tested and true two-minute offense exhausted any chance Florida had to become the Eastern Division champions. The Gators had possession of the ball with 9:04 remaining, trailing by eleven and demonstrated no haste getting to the line of scrimmage, allowing the clock to meltdown.

Why the lack of urgency? I have no idea. It was a two possession game. Steve Spurrier was going to get the ball back. Those are the rules.

South Carolina had taken care of the football all day. You'd have to assume that they would continue to play in that manner. And, as Gators fans know all too well, three downs to get ten yards isn't such a difficult task for Spurrier.

The Gators took 6:13 off of the clock on their drive, settling for a 43 yard field goal by Chris Hetland. With just under three minutes remaining, and Spurrier controlling the ball it was obvious that Florida was in trouble.

Florida has played four consecutive games that have gone down to the wire and the coaching staff didn't see the need for a hurry up offense? Obviously, the mental meltdowns were passed down from the coaching staff to the field.

The Gators have two weeks before they'll potentially need to correct the mental mistakes that plagued them down the stretch in this game. Having twelve men on the field, which gave the Gamecocks the ball and a fresh set of down to run out the clock was the final blow.

Regardless, Florida would have had a long way to go for a touchdown and very little time left to do so, because the offensive coaching staff didn't manage the clock. With the Gators struggling to get through the Carolina secondary, they seemingly would have assumed that additional time to mix in the effective running game was necessary.

The running game appears to be closer to what the coaches had hoped for when they opened the season. Florida has generated solid running in five of their last six quarters. DeShawn Wynn, Markus Manson, and Kestahn Moore have emerged into a good group of backs who are seemingly growing as the season rolls along.

One of the reasons for that success has been the blocking of Billy Latsko. When he is in at H-back, Latsko opens holes. He is also a receiving threat that Carolina seemingly chose to ignore for much of the game.

There isn't much of a scare with the option or the threat of Chris Leak running the football, save last weekend against Vanderbilt.

The passing game is another story. Florida did not complete a pass to running backs DeShawn Wynn, Markus Manson, and Kestahn Moore. Other than an overthrown pass to Moore, I'm not sure there was another pass thrown to Wynn, Manson, and Moore. Last week, the trio combined for 10 receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown. Wynn, Moore, and Manson rank fourth, fifth, and sixth on the squad in receptions.

Perhaps more puzzling was the downfield drought. The Gators had the running game going strong, averaging nearly six yards per carry. This should have raised a green flag to take a few shots downfield. And they did. But, were there too few? A misfire deep to Chad Jackson. A misfire deep to Dallas Baker. A drop by tight end Tate Casey as the defensive back was getting over to try and make a play. There were also times when Leak missed open receivers, like Casey and Gavin Dickey. Admittedly, it was not Chris Leak's finest day throwing the ball, especially deep. But, the opportunities were there at times.

He seemed much more comfortable rolling out and looking downfield. Leak simply doesn't react to the pressure soon enough, and often spins out into the defenders grasp.

The receivers struggled at times to separate from the coverage. There were other times they seemingly solved the problems and got a step or two away. Regardless, Florida only had three receivers catch passes in this game. They'll need more than that three against Florida State, where every play is played like it is the last. Hopefully, the staff is learning just as the players they coach.


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