It didn’t take a rocket scientist (sorry @ParadigmShift35) to see that October was going to be the make or break month for the 2012 Gators. October is here and by the time Halloween rolls around, we’ll know if Florida’s 4-0 start was a treat or if we were tricked into believing John Brantley could play. Beginning this week when Alabama rolls into the Swamp, the Gators will play four games this month and no honest Gator fan has any clue how it will play out. The Tide and LSU deserve their place atop the polls. Auburn has always played the Gators tough, regardless of how talented a team they’ve had. And Georgia will be playing for Mark Richt’s job.
If you told me the Gators will be 4-4 after the gauntlet, I’d believe you. 7-1? OK. 6-2? Sure. The only record that isn’t believable is 8-0. It is hard to see how any team could play this schedule and survive unscathed. It is just a brutal run.
I love how Florida has played to start the season. Charlie Weis has done a remarkable job reconstructing the offense and getting the ball into Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps’ hands. Florida’s two playmakers, perhaps the only two on offense, are dangerous. But Alabama (and LSU after them, Auburn, etc) know this. There is no doubt they will force Weis to expand the playbook. And that means John Brantley will have to play well enough to open things back up. After four games of decent football, intelligent swing passes, quick dump offs, limited downfield throws, passes behind receivers and general uninspired passing, is John Brantley capable of helping the Gators in these games? I love Brantley as a person, the ultimate Gator, paying his dues, waiting for his turn, sticking by the school he has loved his whole life. But Brantley the quarterback? He is limited and we should be honest about expectations. He is not adept at reading coverages. He often has trouble finding his second and third options. He is not very accurate. He is not going to be enough to win any of these games. If the Gators can’t break a few long runs, the offense will struggle to score for most of the month.
The defense has been a revelation, when they aren’t holding receivers, and Muschamp and Quinn’s scheme will keep the Gators in all of these games. Special teams has also been incredible. Frankly, Florida may have the best special teams/defense combo in the SEC. But will it be enough to survive Halloween? Alabama doesn’t have Michael Myers anymore (if you can’t remember, they really did have a guy named Michael Myers), but they can still straight up murder dudes on the field. We’ll know just what we have with these Gators by the end of this hellacious month.
A couple other thoughts about things you are reading about on Twitter or soon will be. As always, let me hear your thoughts in the comments below or on twitter (@shawn_kopelakis).
1 – Props to Steve Addazio for a couple of reasons. First, his Temple Owls are balling. They absolutely crushed Maryland and almost pulled out a happy ending in Happy Valley. Second and more importantly, Addazio is responsible for a lot of Florida’s early success so far. In the chaos after Meyer’s first resignation/leave, he kept that #1 class together. That class is now paying dividends with guys like Matt Elam, Shariff Floyd, Ronald Powell and Dominque Easley becoming anchors.
2 – All these years, we’ve tossed around Darth Saban jokes to illustrate the evil inside Nick Saban. Today, Will Muschamp was asked about being Saban’s Padawan. Vader tried to make Luke his Padawan. Anybody seen Muschamp in Tosche Station picking up power converters?
3 – If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend checking out Real Sports latest episode. The expose on the bowls left me feeling as dirty as the outside of the Millenium Falcon with mynocks sucking on the power cables.
4 – Obviously, my kids and I will be dressing up as Star Wars characters again this year. Geeks.
4. Boise State
7. Oklahoma State
8. South Carolina
9. Virginia Tech
11. South Florida
19. Georgia Tech
20. Texas A&M
21. West Virginia
25. Florida State