Of all the Halloween costumes in Jacksonville on Saturday, the scariest was by far the one in white on the field. That certainly bore little resemblance to the team we’d watched in awe the first seven games of the season. So props to Will Muschamp and the boys for getting into the holiday spirit a little early. We thought we’d follow suit with a special Halloween version of this week’s poll post and a look back at the tricks and treats of 2012 so far.
Trick – Florida’s performance in its first seven games
As much as we wanted to believe it, the Gators were nowhere near ready to compete for the SEC and BCS titles. The defense and special teams are championship caliber but no matter how good they are, you can’t win without getting something from the third phase of the game. Despite the early season success running the ball, against LSU, South Carolina and Georgia, the Gators averaged 113 yards rushing, 2.3 yards per rush and 229 total yards.
Treat – Florida’s performance in its first seven games
Entering November, Florida is 7-1. There isn’t a Gator alive who thought Florida would be 7-1 at this point in the season. It doesn’t matter how or why, the fact remains we’ve already surpassed our win total from the regular season last year and look like good bets to get to at least 10 wins. And that 3-1 October was just slightly better than the 1-7 in the past two years combined.
Trick – Brent Pease as Offensive Coordinator
I cannot stomach typing out those offensive numbers from the last three big games again. But I will add a few more. Pease said this week that he wants to run less on first down (runs on 78.1% on first down) but what about every other down? Did you realize that of Florida’s 522 offensive snaps, 64% have been runs (that’s removing the 26 sacks that technically count as runs). Pease has definitely brought a new look to the offense and early on, POWER and the read-option were more than enough to get the Gators a W. But opposing defenses have caught up and the lack of a credible passing attack has left the Gators predictable and impotent.
Treat – Brent Pease as Offensive Coordinator
After years of Charlie Weis and Steve Addazio, it wasn’t going to take much for Gators fans to be happy. The pretty drives in big moments against Texas A&M, Tennessee and LSU and the ruthless efficiency in the red zone against South Carolina are far cries from Mississippi State in 2010 and Florida State in 2011.
Trick – Florida’s SEC East hopes
Everyone knew the SEC East title was at stake on Saturday. Florida could have clinched the division with a win, and instead Georgia moved close to locking it up. Georgia’s two remaining SEC games are against Ole Miss and Auburn, a combined 6-10 and 2-8 in conference.
Treat – Florida’s SEC East hopes
Yes it is unlikely but Georgia faces an improving Rebels bunch this week and will have to deal with the emotional hangover from Jacksonville. Stranger things have happened.
Trick – Sam McCorkle’s Posts
Claiming Jeff Driskel was going to take the next step and move toward joining some of the all-time greats at Florida? Without exaggeration, that goes down as one of the stupidest things I have ever thought or written. When Driskel made the fatal mistake of throwing late across the field into the endzone at the end of the first half, a small part of my soul died. You could see the play coming, you could see him looking for a way to turn it over for a fourth time in the half and then boom, there it was. Chilling.
Treat – Sam McCorkle’s Posts
As the only regular writer for the site, without my posts, we’d be nothing more than a twitter feed with lame jokes and re-tweets. You’re welcome.
Trick – Florida’s Defense
Penalties. Plain and simple. If Florida could line up onside, make plays and head back to the huddle or sidelines without taunting, keep their hits clean, they might be the best defense in the country.
Treat – Florida’s Defense
The Gators are 4th in scoring defense and 6th in total defense in the country. They will undoubtedly place one on most All-American teams (Matt Elam) for the first time since 2009. And although they are likely to lose as many as six starters from this squad, the depth is impressive and big-time playmakers await in Dante Fowler, Antonio Morrison and Michael Taylor.
Enjoy your Halloween, hope to see lots of Will Muschamp Stares and Jeff Driskel/Tarin Moses couples costume pics on Twitter. Here’s this week’s rankings:
2. Kansas State
3. Notre Dame
8. Florida State
9. South Carolina
10. Ohio State
12. Oregon State
14. Texas A&M
17. Mississippi State
19. Southern Cal
20. Texas Tech
21. West Virginia
22. Louisiana Tech
24. Boise State