It was 45 Minutes of Pure Hell

Nolan Richardson used to talk about his style of basketball as 40 minutes of hell when he was coaching the Arkansas Razorbacks. Richardson loved to have him teams pressure opponents throughout the game and make their lives miserable.

Well, I don't think he would appreciate the parallel I'm drawing with his best Razorback teams and the first half the Gator football team played against Miami University, but I can't help it. Florida's offense provided fans in The Swamp with three full quarters of pure hell.

I have seen more than 300 Gator football games in person and cannot recall a worse first three quarters of offense than what thousands in person and hundreds of thousands on televisions were subjected to Saturday afternoon. The closest thing would probably be the 1987 Miami game, but that was against a different Miami program, not the bunch that went 1-11 in 2009.

Florida was so inept in the first 30 minutes of play that the Gators had fewer total yards of offense than it had points (21). Florida's best play in the first half was a 10-yard pass from John Brantley to Deonte Thompson. The Gators earned an embarrassing nine yards in the first quarter and, yet somehow managed to go under that in the next 15 minutes with a total of four yards. The Gators managed to run just 12 plays and gained 13 yards in the entire half. Talk about your unlucky 13.

I gained more yards than that walking from the parking lot to the press box, and probably broke more tackles, too.

There were many culprits, as there have to be when you have this level of ineptitude. The snaps from center Michael Pouncey were awful. Florida running backs coughed the ball up. The blocking was absent much of the time.

The whole tone was set on Florida's second possession when Deonte Thompson dropped a sure TD pass. Thompson by all reports has had an excellent pre-season, but on his first opportunity of the 2010 season he reverted to the poor mechanics of letting a deep ball drop into his hands instead of going up and getting the ball. Yes, the defender did get a hand on Thompson's right arm making it a tougher catch, but if his arms are up high that doesn't happen.


The offense didn't get any better in the third quarter, managing just a dozen yards against a RedHawks defense that held opponents to 34 points a game a year ago. Through three quarters of play Florida had 25 yards on 39 plays. However thanks to the Gator defense the Orange and Blue was up 21-9. That became a 21-12 potential nightmare when the RedHawks kicked their fourth Field Goal of the afternoon. After that boot, there was a sense in The Swamp that his game just might be "lose-able".

The fiasco ended on the next possession when NCAA sprint champion Jeff Demps took the ball 72 yards for a touchdown. Florida would end up with 187 yards in the final period, but even that was less than inspiring. Mike Gillislee broke off a 41-yard run and Johnny Brantley connected with Chris Rainey on a fluky 25-yard TD pass.

The Gators ended up with 212 total yards, which is lousy, but not earth-shattering. However 138 of those yards came on three plays. Florida's other 53 offensive plays generated 74 yards (1.4 yards/play).

The bottom line is winning and that's what the Gators did, but they did it despite an offense that made fans suffer through 45 minutes of hell.

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