Baker Knows Gators Lacking Big Plays

Through ten games, the Florida offense has a mere six plays that have traveled more than 40 yards this season. Even though the Gators have a decisive edge in the number of plays run, time of possession and turnover margin, Florida has a 7-3 record. What separates the Gators from the seven wins they have and the nine they could have had has been big plays --- or rather, the lack of them.

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It has been a total team effort, too. Florida is lacking big plays from the offense, defense and the special teams. Earlier in the week, I wrote a piece that made the point that it is time for the players that are put into position to make plays to step it up. When I interviewed Dallas Baker Tuesday, I asked what is missing from the team this year? It seems the players understand what is going on.

"Plays here and there … guys making plays are all we need," Baker said. "I dropped a ball and I can't blame it on not practicing. It's just a lack of concentration."

So, what was the emphasis at practice and in meetings when the Gators resumed on Monday and Tuesday?

"What we are working on now is making a play when your number is called," said Baker. "If you are a receiver and Chris throws you the ball, you have to make a play and get the first down or score. If you're a running back, make someone miss and get a score. On defense, make the tackles. We are just stressing fundamentals right now."

There is a big piece of the pie left to eat this season. The Gators can go undefeated at home in The Swamp for the first time since the 2000 season. They face in-state rival Florida State for state bragging rights and a chance to earn their way higher on the bowl ladder if they win next Saturday. With so much at stake, the Gators can't dwell on the loss to South Carolina. They have to get off the mat and come back fighting.

"To explain our mood it's kind of like similar as a cornerback that gives up the big play for a touchdown," Baker said. "He comes back the next play and makes the tackle we need. He doesn't focus on the last play. We can't focus on the last game. We just have to put that game behind us."

In all fairness, Baker has been one of the bright spots of the offense for the most part. He has the lone play over 40 yards (a 42-yard reception against Georgia) against ranked competition this year. He has also been battling some big injuries and has played through them. He is still hurt but plans on being there and ready to go against Florida State.

"I wasn't full contact but I went through the full practice," he said on Tuesday. "Saturday, I was rusty because of missing practice so I feel like I need to practice. I want to get back in the momentum of everything."

The Gators have the weekend off this week and it will help heal some of the bumps and bruises on a team that has gone through a wicked SEC schedule this season. Baker will appreciate the extra healing time afforded by the bye week.

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