Sunday, September 8, 2013

Shocker in Miami

Wow... That's all I could say after I watched the Gators lose 21-16 to the University of Miami.  I've seen a lot of brutal losses in my years watching sports, but this one hit home. Before I became a Florida Gator, I spent five years rooting for the Miami Hurricanes.  In that timespan, they gave me one nine win season, beat maybe three good teams, and won ZERO bowl games.  So of course, fate would have it that the second I switch and start cheering for the Gators, the U would win one of its biggest games in years.

I give the Miami Hurricanes credit though.  They came out ready to play and probably played their best game of the entire season.  What helped them the most were the five turnovers committed by the Gators.  Even with all the turnovers, the Gators still had a chance to win the game at the very end!  After the final seconds ticked off and the Gators lost, I stormed out of the room furious at UF quarterback Jeff Driskel.  I blamed him for the loss.  After a couple hours of reflection, I began to dissect what had happened and I reanalyzed the game.  Driskel did throw the ball well, but he has to be more careful with the ball!  He's a big guy and can run.  He needs to utilize his legs more because at this point he cannot rely 100% on his arm.  That being said, his offensive line did not help him out at all with all the false start penalties.  It was fitting that the game ended on a false start penalty.  I don't know if it was the UM crowd or the humidity, but something was not right with the Gators' O-Line on Saturday.  I had blamed Driskel for all the fumbles that UF had when in reality he only fumbled the ball once and it happened to be near the goal line.  Matt Jones's fumble set up Miami's first touchdown and it was Trey Burton who had fumbled in the red zone after a catch for what looked like a first down.  The offense could not move the ball at all.  They only threw downfield once and Solomon Patton had to make a sensational catch to come down with the ball.  UF could not establish a running game against Miami at all.  Matt Jones and Mack Brown combined for 76 yards and no rushing touchdowns.  UF's only rushing touchdown came from Jeff Driskel on a read option, a play that the Gators should have utilized just a bit more.  

I believe that Miami Head Coach Al Golden out coached Florida Head Coach Will Muschamp.  Muschamp had some play calls that left me puzzled.  At the beginning of the game when Florida scored and went for two, what was the reason for that?  Does it make a difference if they are up by one?  That's something I would expect in NCAA Football 14 or from the Oregon Ducks.  It didn't kill them in the end, but it's still a questionable call.  Another play I look at and just ask why is the 3rd down and 3 play in the fourth quarter.  After calling timeout and TALKING the play over, the Gators still failed to convert for the first down.  Even worse, the ball was intercepted because Jeff Driskel and Trey Burton were not on the same page.  Now I understand that lack of execution happens, but something must have been misunderstood.  This one is on Muschamp for not making the play explicitly clear to his players.  Muschamp is a great coach don't get me wrong, he just got out coached this game.

This loss is devastating to the Gators, but there is one bright spot.  The defense came ready to play.  Time and time again, the UF defense held its own and gave the offense multiple opportunities.  I was very impressed with how hard the defense played throughout the entire game.  Vernon Hargreaves III got his second collegiate interception and nearly took it the house if he had not accidentally stepped out of bounds during the return.  The defensive line led by defensive tackle Dominique Easley came ready to go as they shutdown the explosive Duke Johnson of the Miami Hurricanes.  If they can keep playing consistently week in and week out and the offense gets just a little better, then UF will be just fine.  I am not throwing everything out the window because of one bad game against an instate rival.  It was a non conference game and UF can still win out and have a shot at the SEC title and maybe even the National Championship with some help.  UF has a bye this upcoming week and will be ready to do battle in the swamp with rival Tennessee in its first SEC game of the year.

*Stats accredited to

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