This has been a disappointing season by Gator standards. Even if you were realistic in August that we weren’t going to New Orleans, sitting at 6-5 with Florida State still left to go may still be a little jolting.
Before the season, we gave our predictions of how the season would unravel. Some have been dead on, others a little more optimistic. With the win over Furman, the Gators are now bowl eligible for the 21st consecutive season and I thought we should revisit our predictions and each of us can give a synopsis of what we think now.
Paul Sjoberg (9-3)
W: FAU – UAB – UT – UK – LSU – AU – UGA
L: UA – USC – FSU
No Input – Unlike someone a little farther down, Paul said he really did want to participate, but other commitments restricted his time this week. I was a little skeptical of this answer, so I checked some liquor stores in his area. Funny thing, turns out every single store was out of bourbon. I know, buddy. We all feel your pain.
W: FAU – UAB – UT – UK – AU – VU – FU
L: UA – LSU – UGA – USC – FSU
Biggest surprise: That I would be begging for the return of John Brantley at any point during the season.
Biggest let down: I guess Auburn since it is the only game I did not correctly predict so far. Also would have been nice if we had been more competitive against the upper echelon teams.
Area most need of improvement: The offense has been so disappointing. I’m scared as to see what will happen next year as we don’t seem to have any returning QBs, WRs, or RBs.
Thoughts overall: Even though the season has turned out pretty much how I predicted and we have not lost any games to teams that are outside the top 25, the season has been so disappointing. Its one thing to predict a terrible season like this, it’s another thing altogether to have to watch it play out in front of your eyes.
W: FAU – UAB – UT – UK – AU – UGA – VU – FU
L: UA – LSU – USC – FSU
No Input – This is the fella I told you about that didn’t want to participate.
Shawn Kopelakis (6-6)
W: FAU – UAB – UT – UK – VU – FU
L: AU – LSU – AU – UGA – USC – FSU
Biggest surprise: John Brantley’s value to the success of this team
Biggest let down: Offensive Line, play calling, lack of playmakers at receiver
Area most need of improvement: Offensive Line
Thoughts overall: Not to pat myself on the back, but 6-6? Nailed it. Unfortunately. Did you stock up on survival supplies like I suggested? I guess there is still hope we could go 7-5 if we can upset FSU but I wouldn’t hold my breath. I did say way back in August that wins and losses weren’t important. What was important was implementing a system, developing an attitude and becoming Muschamp’s program. So that’s where the most frustration lies now because in no way have we implemented a system. Turnovers, penalties, lack of playmakers and a general malaise cloud everything. Hopefully we can spend the bowl practices getting a lot better, have a strong effort in Nashville, Memphis or Jacksonville and carry momentum into the offseason. We really need it.
Scott Francis (9-3)
W: FAU – UAB – UT – UK – LSU – UGA – VU – USC – FU
L: UA – AU – FSU
Biggest surprise: hmmm… this is awful, but I haven’t been pleasantly surprised by anyone this season. I suppose Caleb Sturgis really. Otherwise, I’ve been surprised at how little we’ve used Mike Gillislee. I’m surprised at how dreadful we are in Goal-to-Go situations. And I’m surprised at how long Jeremy Brown has been on the shelf.
Now that I think of it though… I am surprised at how well Marcus Roberson is playing (played) in his first season. I thought HE’D be the one teams picked on not Cody Riggs/Jaylen Watkins.
Biggest let down: The entire receiving corps. Jordan Reed leads the team with 24 catches, just recently passing Chris Rainey. For comparison sake, in Week 1; USC’s Robert Woods had 19 catches. The offsides penalties in crucial spots aren’t great either.
Area most need of improvement: The line of scrimmage on passing plays. Take away Bama and LSU games and Florida’s line has run blocked pretty well. Pass blocking is a whole other story. We haven’t been great against the run, but I chalk that up to 3-4 learning curve and being on the field ALL THE TIME. Pass rushing has to get better. Perfect example… against Scar Brantley averaged about 2.4 seconds to get rid of the ball. Connor Shaw about 6.0 – 6.6 seconds.
Thoughts overall: I have actually felt like we are “a bad team” at times this year. Again, taking away the Bama and LSU games. I don’t think any teams have physically been that much better than us. However, we consistently have false starts on 3rd and less than 5. We consistently jump off sides on 3rd downs. At least twice per game for the past 6 games, a ball carrier has been tackled by a yard line and not an opposing player. Receivers consistently drop passes, unnecessarily jump for passes, or have to fall down to catch a pass. That’s “bad team” stuff that teams like Kentucky do. There is promise. We have some talent, but we need some of the so-called playmakers to actually make a play at some point. Guys like Riley Cooper, David Nelson, Torrey Davis, Major Wright, Ryan Smith and Earl Everett were not stars. But when the opportunities to make a play came their way, they took it. They found ways to win… we haven’t found the way to do that yet.
Lastly… I still can’t believe I picked Florida to win AT LSU!!! That was really dumb, but I guess I was thinking that Jordan Jefferson would be their full time QB and no Stevan Ridley would help. Guess not.
Dustin Davis (7-5)
W: FAU – UAB – UT – UK – AU – UGA – FU
L: UA – LSU – VU – USC – FSU
Biggest surprise: I’ve been staring at my screen racking my brain for a surprise from this team and the only thing I can think of is that they have kept a positive attitude through the adversity they have faced. Given all of the injuries and losses, the players seem to have stayed positive and worked the support one another. That’s the impression I get from afar. It would have been easy for them to complain and just punt the rest of the season after 4 losses. They have shown some resolve and have played with pride if nothing else.
Biggest let down: The offense has just been atrocious against solid defenses this year. I know that Brantley was hurt and hasn’t been the same since he went down in the Alabama game. When we need to move the ball and make things happen late in the game we can’t seem to get it done (see the last 5 minutes of the Georgia game). I guess I was expecting Weis to come in and make an immediate impact with the players he had available, but that clearly has not been the case.
Area most need of improvement: The offensive line needs a lot of work. They are getting pushed around like a JV squad on a regular basis. Maybe they are a little light in the ass to play against some of the D-Lines they’ve face. Whether that’s the problem or not, we have got to improve the front 5 if we are going to make any progress in the years to come.
Thoughts overall: To be frank, we are a middle of the road team this year. We’ve looked terrible on offense and mediocre on defense. So, I guess we are what I thought we would be at the beginning of the season. I had us at 7-5 to start the year. It’s looking like 6-6 is most likely (unless we can pull a miracle out of our ass on November 26). It’s the first year of the Muschamp era and I hope we can only move forward from here. Time will tell.
Dory LeBlanc (7-5)
W: FAU – UAB – UT – UK – UGA – VU – FU
L: UA – LSU – AU – USC – FSU
Biggest Disappointment: Losing to Georgia
Area most in need of improvement: The offensive line
Thoughts overall: Meyer didn’t leave Muschamp with the same talent Zook left him. Was it completely bare? No. Was there any way the Gators were winning a title this year with what was left? No. In 2005 Florida went 9-3 and although it could have been attainable this year, the youth along with changes in offense and defense prohibited it from being accomplished. Arguably the fastest RB duo college ball has ever seen, Demps and Rainey had a tough time running between the tackles and had to hit the edges nearly every time they had the ball. In the SEC, where so many of the strongest defensive players are on the outside, this made the task an act in futility at times due to an inexperienced OLine. Honestly, I feel their size kept them from being productive consistently up the middle. Next year, there should be an increase in production with Jones and Davis (fingers crossed they sign); because of their size, speed, and power, these two are more of your typical pro-style backs. Lack of an actual number one go-to type WR didn’t make things any easier for Brantley.
Chris Weathers (8-4)
W: FAU – UAB – UK – LSU – AU – VU – FU – FSU
L: UT – UA – UGA – USC
Biggest surprise: The win against Vandy is the biggest win of the season thus far.
Biggest let down: The Dawgs. Nothing hurts more than losing to Georgia.
Area most need of improvement: Run stopping – gotta get bigger and stronger
Thoughts overall: This the most disappointing season I’ve ever experienced, though Gators of old (yes, even older than me) have endured much worse. We have to keep perspective, though. It wasn’t that long ago that other traditional SEC powers (Bama, Auburn, LSU) were going through terribly mediocre seasons. And at least we aren’t Tennessee! There is one last chance at redemption, too… Beat the Noles and we salvage some dignity and some renewed optimism going into recruiting, spring practice, and 2012.
The Unsportsmanlike Gent (14-0)
Yup, he said Florida beats everyone, wins the National Championship and goes on to win the Super Bowl. After an hour of trying to figure it out, that’s what I’ve determined anyway.
Biggest Surprise: That they’re not undefeated.
Biggest Disappointment: That they’re not undefeated.
Area most in need of improvement: The whole winning games part.
Thoughts overall: OK, so maybe I was a little optimistic before the season. That’s just me. I fart rainbows and pixie dust (I should probably see a doctor about that). I just love muh Gators so damn much. The closer it gets to the beginning of the season, the more jacked up I get and I start making wild predictions. I was also off my meds when I made that prediction back in September and thought I had psychic abilities. What I’m trying to say is, I have problems and I’m not the most reliable person to listen to when it comes to making predictions. Sorry to anyone who gambled away their life savings based on my predictions.
Aside from Weathers and TUG, we all picked a loss to FSU. If that happens, it looks like Kopelakis’ 6-6 will hold true. If the Gators can defeat the Seminoles, they’ll be at 7-5 and not much would probably change bowl-wise. According to the boys over at Gatorsfirst.com, Florida is probably looking at the Gator Bowl against Nebraska.
So now what? Well, for starters, step back from the ledge. Things happen. For years when the season started the ultimate goal was the BCS title, and worst case scenario, we’d play in the SEC Championship. As Florida fans/alumn it’s hard to accept that seasons like the Zookie era actually existed. Some may have flashbacks to those seasons and that’s understandable. Do I think seasons of 7-5/6-6 will continue for Muschamp’s entire tenure? No, I honestly don’t. Zook is/was a great recruiter and an awful, horrible coach. That’s just facts. He’s probably going to be fired from Illinois after the season. Then what? I can’t imagine any FBS school hiring him as a water boy let alone a head coach. We know he has a thing for fraternities, but he is getting a little older these days; maybe he considers joining the Freemasons, Elks, Eagles, Lions Club,s etc. (That really has nothing to do with this discussion, sorry. Watching a classic Zook Meltdown in person yesterday was really exciting. I can’t contain myself. It was glorious.)
Well, let’s take a look-see at Rivals, shall we? So far the commitment class of 2012 is definitely strong. There are 17 commits: 1 Five-Star, 11 Four-Star, 4 Three-Star, and 1 Two-Star. Let’s just say they all sign their LOIs. Two of the Four-Stars, I believe, will have an immediate impact: Matt Jones – RB (6’2” 200 Lbs) and Mike Davis – RB (5’10” 200 Lbs). And then of course there’s DJ Humphries, the best OL in the country and the third ranked player overall (according to Rivals). Rarely does a frosh O-Linemen make a huge impact, but every once in a while an amazing talent comes along that’s more productive than a junior or senior. Humphries may be that guy. I asked Michael Felder of Inthebleachers.net about Humphries, since he’s a Charlotte kid and I knew Felder has seen him play. When I asked if he thought Humphries was “good enough” (I hate that wording, btw) to start next season, he simply answered “Yes, he’s good enough to start.” I then looked up some game tape on Humphries. If you are one of the many concerned with the OLine this year, I strongly urge you to do the same. STRONGLY.
Here are some more positives to look forward to:
Debose picked his game up later in the season, but I attribute that to Brantley’s injury for those few games. When JB came back, and had time to find him, Debose seemed to become his favorite target. With Brissett/Driskel getting the starting job next season, they will be working more with Debose and Dunbar in the spring and some familiarity and comfort will develop.
I was most concerned about the secondary, and I have to admit, they got better as the season progressed, especially Roberson and Elam.
Jenkins has at least one season left.
Regardless of your feelings for Muschamp as a head coach (which is still a little early to tell IMO), he is a great defensive coach. The front seven looked good in the beginning, then struggled against the run mid-season, then veered slightly back on track later on. I have no doubt they’ll only get better.
Now, one final thought:
Our friend ParadigmShift35 addressed something after the AU loss a few weeks back, and I felt it should also be revisited, since it continues to happen.
They’re just kids. Knock it off. A lot of you tweet encouraging messages. I’m not a fan of tweeting any of these kids about anything – good or bad. They don’t really want to be tweeted about anything from a 40 year old person. It’s really weird. I know some of you are showing support. I get that. These kids need all the support they can get right now.
But some of you? Geezus Rollerblading Christ. They don’t want to know what you had for lunch. When they tweet “Hit me up on Xbox to play COD” THEY ARE NOT TALKING TO YOU. They are talking, most likely, to OTHER COLLEGE KIDS. YA KNOW, THEIR OWN AGE. Not you. Stop that. Don’t play online video games with these football players if you are a grown ass man with children. It’s creepy. There is no purpose for you playing online video games with 18 and 19 year olds other than you can go to work and brag to your co-workers at the office that you got beat by a Florida Gator football player in Call of Duty. Stop. It. Now. If you are online and a random person starts shooting at you (Or however the hell it works) that’s one thing. Do NOT actively seek these kids out. Do you want grown ups seeking out your kid online? Didn’t think so.
So, that’s the long and the short of it. We’ll be fine. And even if it takes another year, remember – in all kinds of weather…