Stop me if you’ve heard this before…
“Long story short… Bama is a better team than us right now. They retained most of their offense and lost a lot of defense. We lost a lot of both, but retain alot of defensive talent. What has been often missed in this transition this year is the 4 new coaches/coordinators that we have this year. There’s no way a Charlie Strong defense let’s what happened in Atlanta last year happen again… although, I believe Charlie Strong was the DC when Bama hung 31 on us in our last visit to Tuscaloosa. Different Jimmie’s and Joe’s back then though.”
If that sounds familiar, it was the beginning of my prediction for last year’s early October tilt of 4-0 Florida as they visited 4-0 Alabama. Soooo… What’s different: We still have a busload of new coaches. Bama still has Saddam HuSaban and Trent Richardson. We have pretty much the same set of dudes we trotted out there last year in T-Town. Bama still has an NFL defense. Also, when I wrote that, I had no idea they’d hang 31 on the Gators again. So what’s different? What are we even talking about here…?
A Florida team full of question marks last year went into Tuscaloosa for a night game sporting the following stats through the first 4 games: 151 point scored, 57 points allowed. For a plus 94 differential. Florida had rushed for 676 yards and 12 TDs (5 of those courtesy of Trey Burton vs. Kentucky). John Brantley was a 64% passer, throwing for 700 yards and 6 TDs at a 6.4 yards per attempt pop.
Defensively, Florida had allowed 1182 yards of total offense and was intercepting everything under the sun… (Remember last year… NOBODY would throw it toward Janoris Jenkins, and when they did he would pick it.) They held 3 of the first 4 opponents under 100 yards rushing, and two of those under 30 yards (Tennessee and Miami (OH)). Everything looked great.
Conversely, Bama had outscored opponents: 158-39. For a robust plus 119 differential. Bama’s defense had allowed… get this, 1181 yards of offense. It all seemed like a pretty even match up… then, the ball was kicked off.
Florida’s season turned on one play that night. I highlight this play in a post from October 3rd of 2010 called, “That makes your ass look fat…” The title was appropriate as describing us trying to run an offense and plays that worked when we were a very different team. It was the night we realized that Trey Burton, while a great person and great athlete, was not Tim Tebow. We learned that Alabama has coaches and watches film too. And the offense never looked the same the rest of the season.
If you remember, Bama drove the field easily on their first possession, got first down and the Florida 12 yd line and the Gators were able to make a stop and Bama had to kick a field goal. Florida responded with a 12 play, 7:07 – 74 yard drive where on play 10 it appeared Trey Burton had scored, but I suppose the replay showed otherwise. On play 12, Trey Burton attempted the “jump pass” which Tim Tebow made famous and was intercepted in the end zone by Nico Johnson for a touchback.
That play was “Patient Zero” in Florida’s offensive plague last season.
From that point forward, we were disjointed, nervous, out of sync, and began rotating quarterbacks like Steve Spurrier taking shots of 5 hour energy with a Four Loko chaser.
Here was the game log: Bama responded: 80 yards, 9 plays, Touchdown, Mark Ingram. Gators 3 and out- punt. Bama: 8 plays, 42 yards, Touchdown, Mark Ingram. Gators: 3 and out- INT. Bama: 2 plays, Touchdown, Marquis Maze to Michael Williams. Gators: 3 and out- punt.
The Gators finally recovered and made a stop and in turn kicked a field goal to make it 24-3, but their offense was infection from that point on.
So, why any optimism now that I’ve brought up that turd sandwich of a game?
The key is to NOT compare Florida’s first 4 games of last year to their first 4 games of this year, but to compare the 2011 first 4 to the LAST 4 games of last year. Big difference right?
This year Florida and Alabama’s stats are eerily similar to 2010. Florida has scored 161 points and allowed 36 for a plus 125 differential (+31 better that 2010). Brantley is a 63% passer, throwing for 752 yards and 4 TDs, but at an 8.85 per attempt clip. The biggest difference is that the Gators have rushed for 1039 yards (+363 from last year… and that couldn’t ALL be put on the array of ground ball snaps in weeks 1, 2, and first half of Tennessee is 2010).
Bama has scored 154 points and allowed 32 for a plus 122 differential (+3 from previous year) in their first 4 games of 2011.
It is clear and obvious that we are a better team than we were the last 4 games of 2010… and the last 9 games for that matter. I’m sure you’ve heard the old Mike Tyson saying, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face”. The first half against Bama last year was when the Gators were “punched in the face” and they did not respond. Perhaps that opened the door for the array of chemistry and attitude issues that were rumored to be rampant last year, maybe they were already there and this made them worse. Either way, this team appears to be tougher and more close knit.
Charlie Weis is certainly a better OC and QB coach than Steve Addazio was an OC and O-line coach (No Daz bashing from me… he’s doing a HELL of a job at Temple… but alas, he’s only doing one job).
I won’t make a prediction although I have one based on a mathematical formula based on team’s point differentials that I devised out of no real math skills or knowledge… Bama’s point differential vs. Florida when we played last year was +25 for them… they then beat us by 28.
However, I will say that our defense is for real. We’ll need some breaks in the game. We will need to get in the end zone when we get in the red zone (at least twice), and we will need every single one in the Swamp wearing Orange and Blue to be loud. We need some production out of you Gator Nation. You too up there in row 77! Yeah, on the West Stands… yes you Dave, Class of ’67. I need you to get your rear end off your padded seat and yell, clap, and scream.
This Bama team has played in HUGE games… much bigger than this one. Every SEC stadium likely has at least 60 rows of seating all the way around, and every team in the SEC is used to that. It’s row 61-90 that makes Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, THE SWAMP. That “upper 30” as I call us (yes, my seat is in Row 89 baby!) changes a loud and hot stadium, into a living nightmare for the likes of Quarterbacks like AJ McCarron.
This goes for you too Student section. Now listen up here, cause this is important. Drink LOTS OF WATER on Thursday and Friday. You won’t remember to on Saturday. Take your happy ass home at a reasonable hour on Friday night. Grog, Swamp and Cantina are wonderful establishments, I recommend 2 out of 3 of them highly, but they’ll be there all year. Here’s where we need some discipline from you. You’re all smart kids, your incoming GPAs are higher than Jeff Demps’ 40 yard dash times (4.3) and you average like 7,560,000 on your SATs so I’m sure you can get this…
DRINK IN MODERATION. Believe me, I’ve been there and I’ve seen alot. For the love of Mr. 2-bits… You are NOT helping this team by being so drunk that you’re vomiting either in the stands or having to leave to do so somewhere else, or fighting with someone, even a Bama fan, or so drunk and disoriented that your friends are spending all their time watching you and tending to your drunken pulp of a corpse that they’re not paying attention to the game. Yeah, I’m talking to you Jay in row 8. Get it together. We all know you wanna get nice and lubed up for this one, but for goodness sakes, keep yourself IN THE GAME. I know you won’t listen. Nobody’s reading this anyway, but if I can get one of you to mix in a water with your Bourbon Meyer’s on Saturday so you can make it through the game, that’s one more rowdy who’s voice will be heard. (Jumps off soapbox)
Stand all game. Never leave early?
Sure for some of us. But if that’s not your style… at the very least, on third down, get off your ass for the 4-6 seconds (pays Urban Meyer $1) it takes to finish a play and help get our defense off the field.
This team feels different. I like this team. And I like that they like each other. They are giving their all and I’m sick and tired of hearing about how good Alabama is.
It is NOT their god given right to be a Top 5 team and we are not a speed bump on their way to the Pseudo SEC/BCS Championship game vs. LSU on Nov. 5th.
We are the Florida Effing Gators and you are in our Effing House!!!!!!!!
Welcome to Gainesville. Spend some money here and be on your way. Take all your Houndstooth crap with you.
I’m going to go refresh my Four Loko chaser now. See ya’ll Saturday. Go Gators!