I hate to keep beating a dead Gator.

It’s just that I’m starting to hear some of the same “why Florida will be good this year” talk that I questioned before the start of last season.  It’s not that I don’t think the Gators won’t be improved; a better health situation will take care of that.  But that offense, with its third coordinator in four years, a quarterback who missed most of last season and has no experienced depth behind him, a lackluster receiving corps and an offensive line with its own depth issues, looks like it’s as big a hot mess as it was a year ago.  So, while a certain amount of optimism may be warranted, it seems to me that there’s an element of wishful thinking in play, as well.

Take, for instance, this piece, entitled “Five Reasons Florida Will Win the East”.  Here are two of the five:

2. Jeff Driskel – Though Driskel has yet to live up to the lofty expectations with which he entered college, he is still an athletic signal caller with tons of potential. The schematic changes on offense will benefit no individual player more than Driskel, who appears to be an ideal fit for Roper’s style of play-calling. Lining up in the shotgun and having more opportunities to use his legs as a weapon, Driskel should be able to increase his production of explosive plays exponentially. Bouncing back from a season-injury leg suffered in just the third game of the 2013 season, Driskel will be helped along by his clean bill of health, in addition to the fact that this is fourth season at the collegiate level.

3. Team Health – While injuries were a major issue for numerous SEC teams last fall, there is no question that the Gators were bit worst by the injury bug. According to Phil Steele, Florida lost by far the most starts due to injury in the conference in 2013 (51). That equates to nearly 20 percent of the Gators’ starts being lost due to health problems, the third-highest percentage in the country. The overall lack of depth and experience made life difficult for the Gators in 2013, but the team has the vast majority of its players at 100 percent health heading into fall camp. The likelihood of Florida experiencing a rash of injuries similar to last season is exceptionally rare, meaning that it should expect to take serious strides forward in 2014.

Maybe it’s just me, but putting your hopes on Driskel using his legs more while brushing off the chances of serious injuries seems like a weird juxtaposition.

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78 Comments

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78 responses to “I hate to keep beating a dead Gator.

  1. D.N. Nation

    “Roper experienced tremendous success in helping to turn around Duke’s offense”

    You misspelled “David Cutcliffe.”

  2. Cojones

    Jeez, Bluto. Can’t we just have some fun set’n’em up to be knocked down?

    Yep, the Driskel bloviating is making vinegar out of piss, but the injury rarity extends to us as well. I think that FU will fight uphill for a few of their victories, but the cupcakes will pull them through the darker hours they will experience in J’ville.

    Damn! Isn’t anyone going to volunteer to roller-paint a forest green stripe over the end of the “n” in Everbank sign in that stadium and make it read Everbark Field?

  3. hassan

    UT is more of a surprise team than UF this year in my opinion. I don’t think either one will win the east, but UT will probably have the biggest improvement over last year and will ruin somebody’s day at some point.

    • Ben

      You mean like how they ruined our day last year? And to the point of “Florida being bit worst”, I’d disagree because no one pegged UF to do anything huge last year. Our team (boo hoo, poor us UGA fans) was bit worst because after the Carolina and LSU games, I’d have put our guys up against any team in the country.

      If we have a huge year this year, it will take some of the sting out of 2013, but that’s the biggest “What If” season I can come up with, including the close calls of 2002 and 2005.

    • With as many questions as UT has on both lines of scrimmage, it will have to be late in the season for them to surprise someone. Here’s where I see UTK:
      3 wins – vs. Arkansas St, vs. Chattanooga, vs. UK
      1 likely win – vs. Utah St.
      4 losses – @ OU, @ UGA, vs. Bama, @ USCe
      3 likely losses – vs. UF, @ Ole Miss, vs. Mizzou
      1 toss-up – @ Vandy
      If everything falls perfectly for UT, the ceiling is 8 wins (Jones would be COTY if that happens). I can see them getting to 6 but not really beyond that.

      • Cojones

        I’ll bet there are a bunch of us who think exactly as you have written. The blindspot we have are their excess of good Fr players and how that translates to the field. Their rebuilding is a horrendous job, but many think Butch is up for it. These unknowns put a question mark behind your statements, but right now I’ll bet quite a few of us agree word-for-word.

        • If UT is lining up a bunch of young guys against SEC-quality defensive linemen, it’s going to be a long year in Knoxville. I think they are going to take their lumps and point to the next couple of years to keep the Vol Nation from becoming apathetic. Butch also has to find a QB that is functional.

        • AthensHomerDawg

          Butch Please is on his own here. Coach Kelly has not coached at uT. He will get his $$$$$$ and return to the mid majors where he belongs. But they did come out and smack us in the mouth last game. Crippled us up some too. No cheap shots mind you. They had a hard on for our Dawgs. We just need to take the lead outta those pencil dicks and move on.
          Just sayin’

      • Chris L

        I would not be surprised to see Chuckie Keeton post an absurd stat line against UT. That dude is really underrated

        • That’s exactly why I have USU in the likely win category rather than as a “cupcake.” Who knows what’s going to happen with an early start in Knoxville against a pretty darn good mid-major?

          • Chris L

            Yeah, especially after they barely beat South Alabama last year at Neyland and that close game in 2010 against UAB. I think they’ll be better this year but their QB situation is pretty vexing

  4. I have to assume a healthy Driskel is a plus over the QB mess they had last year, but he still hasn’t been very impressive even when he has played even when he had gift-wrapped field position in 1st half of the ’12 WLOCP. Spurrier’s or Corch’s Gators would have blown us off the field with the field position we gave them. Here’s where I see the Gators this year:
    4 wins – 3 cupcakes, vs. Kentucky
    1 likely win – @ UT
    3 losses – @ Bama, vs. USCe, @ FSU
    2 likely losses – vs. LSU, UGA (Jax)
    2 toss-ups – vs. Mizzou, @ Vandy
    That means UF likely has to work hard just to get to bowl eligibility much less an Atlanta appearance. I see 8-4 as the absolute ceiling on where UF ends up in December.

    • This seems totally reasonable. And if luck holds, they don’t release agent Muschamp.

    • Cojones

      I think they will win the two “toss-ups” plus beat two teams in your “3 losses” and “2 likely losses” categories (USCe and LSU). The reason for this comes from the team psyche strengthening they can produce after a few easy ones. And I think the subbed players got enough experience last year to be able to factor them in as stronger players this year.

      Don’t get me wrong. I will howl with laughter at another Golden Eagles-type victory, but they were down so badly psychologically last year that the missed bowl trip was a godsend.

  5. I think the point is, that for most people with rose colored glasses, they are just a healthy team, offensive coordinator and a couple of miracle plays away from a national title run like Auburn.

  6. PTC DAWG

    Does anyone have the numbers on the UGA injuries last year…I would be curious as how they stack up vs the UF numbers above…

    On to UF and their season, I hope they lose every game.

    • Cojones

      I’ll take a stab:
      In the injuries-that-count category, I’d guess 12-13 although they touted 19 at a single time as the critical-players-lost number last year. We were in the 9-10 category of quality starters whereas other good players lost brought our number to 18 that I thought I saw at the apogee of the injury curve.

      Unless they are talking about injuries before the season started plus sub injuries during the season, the 51 number is a mystery to me. Some of those players returned so I was only looking at the ones that were out at any one time because that’s more germane to what we are discussing.

      • Macallanlover

        +1 to both you and PTC. Don’t just count the number of injuries, look at who they were to, the severity of each, and when they occurred. I think we win that dubious award, and that is without factoring in how those 2 injuries to Gurley impacted his total year’s performance.

  7. Spike

    None of this explains the loss to the GSU Eagles.

  8. I Wanna Red Cup

    The more Driskel runs, the more blows he will take, and the more likely he gets injured. He hasn’t shown extreme toughness in the past. FU will be improved but will not win more than 8.

  9. joe

    PTC hits it. We had just as many key injuries. The difference between a good team and a bad one with these type injuries is 8-5 vs. 4-8. A good team will win games in spite of them (I might add we lost 4 of those games by a close margin and was in all of them at the end). A bad team will not and end up blocking each other en route to losing to a team that had NEVER beaten a D1 or whatever we call it now power.
    It is quite a joy to live in the state of Florida and watch them squirm. This year we beat them again and it won’t even be close.

  10. joe

    Oh Senator…please feel free to keep kicking this horse!

  11. Chris L

    I’m a UF fan and I’m tending to agree with you on this. Even if the team stays relatively injury free, depth is an extreme concern at QB, OL and now even parts of the DL. Only the secondary, WRs and LBs seem to have much depth (well and TEs with the addition of McGee). If Driskel goes down (he will), then UF has to turn to Will Grier or Treon Harris and I have little faith that it will be any different than Tyler Murphy’s stint last year. The play calling has been atrocious since Mullen left and even the year with Weis was not that good. Most of the skill players have never lived up to their expectations (ANDRE DEBOSE.) and at times it seems like the offense is entirely dependent on a workhorse RB and a quick-footed QB. I have faith that the offense will be better this year, but 7-5 would not surprise me. I kind of expect Driskel to regress.

    • Chris, well stated. It’s shocking how shallow the offensive talent is in Gainesville right now. I still say UF is at its best with a pro-style QB who can throw it around to NFL talent at receiver from sideline to sideline. I shudder to think what UF could have been with Aaron Murray at QB.

      • Chris L

        As good as Murray is (I was a big big fan of him), I felt like UGA had far better receivers during that period and even the WR coaching seemed better. WR coach at UF has been a second or third tier job for a long time.

        Here’s the 2012 Roster for UF, so take a look at the studs that Murray would’ve thrown to:
        Omarius (THE OMARIUS) Hines (Has never had more than 100 yds receiving in a game or more than 1 TD)
        Quinton Dunbar (Has never had more than 100 yds receiving in a game or more than 1 TD)
        Jordan Reed (His first full year without a position switch. Ended up leading the team in receptions in 2012)
        Trey Burton (Spent all of 2012 shifting between RB, TE, FB, WR and some QB)
        Frankie Hammond Jr. (His best year was 2012 with 22 catches for 295 YDs and 3 TDs)
        Stephen Alli (He had 3 catches for 17 YDs in 2010 and did nothing)
        Solomon Patton (Spent 2012 at HB due to a lack of depth. Exploded in 2013 w 44/556yds/6tds)

        Now, I will give you Trey Burton and Reed as decent options, they were just badly misused over their time at UF. By comparison, UGA had Orson Charles (in NFL), Arthur Lynch (NFL), Michael Bennett (current starter), Chris Conley (Star Wars), Malcolm Mitchell (current starter), Marlon Brown (NFL), and Rantavious Wooten (NFL). I know that’s not everyone from both teams, but UF only managed 1 NFL player out of that bunch to get drafted and IIRC, Solomon Patton is the only one who really caught on with a team at all as an UDFA.

        • WR coach at UF has been a second or third tier job for a long time.

          Another good point I forgot to reference. This season will mark the second time Boom has turned to a Gator GA (Chris Leak) to coach the receivers.

        • Chris, you’re right about talent and coaching. Tony Ball may be the best position coach on the UGA staff and proved it last year with all of the shuffling of the last couple of years. My only point is that the opportunity to play with Murray attracted a lot of those guys to Athens: Charles (HS teammate), Lynch (probably doesn’t consider UGA if Murray isn’t there), Bennett, Conley, Mitchell, Scott-Wesley (all in-state and came to Athens after Murray), Brown and Wooten (out-of-state both same class as Murray). I would imagine he would have had a similar effect on recruiting skill talent to UF.

          • Chris L

            You can only hope so. I keep falling into the same trap every year with UF: the writers latch on to some of these new recruits and its the same trope every year (“he could be UF’s next 1,000 yard rusher, like the elite Ciatrick Fason or Mike Gillislee”/”he could be UF’s next 1,000 yard receiver, like the elite Taylor Jacobs in 2002″). Debose was supposed to be that great vertical threat (at one point they were labeling him at the next Percy Harvin before he settled in as just an X receiver), Valdez Showers, Demarcus Robinson, Ahmad Fulwood, etc. There’s always this overflowing optimism for the skill position players, but the OL and QB play make it impossible. Here is an example of the frustrating endless optimism that comes out about UF WRs: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/sports/college-football/florida-gators-hope-freshmen-demarcus-robinson-ahm/nZk3x/

            I like Will Grier as the future at QB for UF and Treon Harris as his backup, but those dudes are going to get destroyed by this patchwork OL and they’re going to be throwing to guys who have more expectations than actual skill

            • Since 1990 the prophecy has told of this. Over the last few years I have heard rumblings of the existence of The One. “He will walk amongst us. He will be…a Reasonable Florida fan.” The prophecy has been fulfilled.

            • Cosmic Dawg

              I’m with Lamont – you (and BD from AL) are interfering with my ability to hate your schools.

              • Chris L

                I feel like outside of the context of Jacksonville, FL (my hometown), UGA fans and UF fans get along much better than FSU/UF fans or UM/FSU or UM/UF fans. I know that a lot of UF fans secretly wish they had someone like Mark Richt (WHO HAS LOST CONTROL OF THE UF FOOTBALL TEAM) masterminding the Gators. I’m sure that begrudging respect and the importance of the World’s Largest Cocktail Party are what initially drew me to this blog, but I definitely keep reading to try to stay up on conference opponents. Haven’t found many other fan centered blogs that are this well run though.

                In short, Jeff Driskel can go suck an egg.

                • Cosmic Dawg

                  The Senator is an awfully good read, and most times we are civil to each other…it’s hard to beat GTP, I’m sure he appreciates your sentiments.

                  • Dog in Fla

                    And on the extremely rare occasions when we’re not, even the wars are civil. Virtually no one has taken on a hit that has kept them out of action for any extended period of time,

                • Cojones

                  Much appreciated Chris. You have given truthful insight that cuts through the media pomme d’ rue that is confusing.

                  Question: What about those top10 classes of recruits we see trotted above us for several years? Didn’t they bear fruit or were they some of the “Rats leaving a sinking ship” that one grad puts it to me.

                  You may not notice, but your classy football reply here leaves me unable to use your school’s initials reversed.

                  • Chris L

                    I’ll start with an honest answer: the talent development is not there on offense. There’s a lot of emphasis on the defensive assistants and on bringing in hands-on position coaches for the defense, but every position coach on offense (except OL) has pretty much gotten their job because of some kind of weird nepotism where friends hire friends, not because of qualifications. Joker Phillips was a decent coach for UK, but to think he would just suddenly know the finer details of being a top WR coach seemed suspicious and I get the same feeling with Leak. UF likes to trot out the idea that these are all top people in their field and they have experience and that Leak has experience playing WR (at the middle and HS level), so it translates, but who believes that?

                    RE: Recruiting classes, I’ll start with a couple of classes to highlight:

                    2008: Here’s a handy review done in 2011 of how many flameouts were in the 2008 class. http://espn.go.com/colleges/florida/story/_/id/7271139/few-players-remain-florida-gators-2008-recruiting-class

                    Meyer did a great job with Zook’s talent, but he had trouble bringing in top recruits to UF.

                    2010: http://recruiting.blogs.gatorsports.com/10704/re-evaluating-the-2010-uf-class/
                    On the surface, it looks like this is a gangbusters class (top players at basically every position), but on closer inspection, you got a bunch of players who ended up transferring or getting kicked off the team (Dunkley, Coxson, Clark, Murphy, Dowling, and Shaw), and then quite a few players who just never did much (Patton, Green, Silberman, Christian, Brown). On the defensive side of the ball, Florida really had a lot of hits and I feel like Charlie Strong is the reason for this. The talent evaluation and development on the defensive side of the ball was much better: Powell, Floyd and Easley anchored a stout line and all of them ended up in the NFL; the secondary featured Watkins, Elam and Riggs, who were all multi-year starters; linebackers also had a good hit rate despite Ball losing a season to neurological issues and Ajagbe switching to FB.

                    2012: This is Muschamp’s second recruiting class and should have been the big impact class, but let’s see what we got:
                    Name Pos
                    Willie Bailey DB (Transferred)
                    Jessamen Dunker OL (Part time starter)
                    D.J. Humphries OL (Starter)
                    Damien Jacobs DL (Backup)
                    Antonio Morrison LB (Starter/Impact Player)
                    Latroy Pittman WR 6-0 (Starter)
                    Raphael Andrades WR (Starter/Special Teams)
                    Jonathan Bullard DL (Starter/Impact Player)
                    Bryan Cox Jr. DL (Backup)
                    Dante Fowler Jr. OLB (Starter/Impact Player)
                    Austin Hardin K (Starter)
                    Matt Jones RB (Starter/Impact Player)
                    Rhaheim Ledbetter DB (Transferred)
                    Jafar Mann DL (Transferred)
                    Marcus Maye DB (Starter)
                    Alex McCalister OLB (Backup)
                    Skyler Mornhinweg QB (Backup)
                    Dante Phillips DL (DNQ)
                    Brian Poole CB (Starter)
                    Jeremi Powell LB (Starter)
                    Kent Taylor TE (Transferred)
                    Colin Thompson TE (Transferred)
                    Quinteze Williams DL (Backup)

                    So, out of that class, you got 5 players that either transferred or failed to qualify academically, you got 5 starters or primary backups on offense, and 7 starters or impact backup players on defense. Florida’s insistence on focusing on the defense is turning us into the Virginia Tech of the SEC.

                    • uglydawg

                      Good report, agent Musch….er..I mean Chris.
                      Acutally, it IS refreshing to see unemotional objectivity from any college football fan…refreshing and rare.

                    • Dog in Fla

                      What combination of W-L record and teams you have to beat will in your opinion keep Boom from being r-u-n-n-o-f-t and what’s your prediction? btw it’s been a pleasure having Chris Leake here this afternoon

                    • Chris L

                      Muschamp needs 7 wins minimum but the only way he keeps a job with a 7 win season is a win over UGA or FSU. Muschamp has never beaten UGA and that kind of win can be job saving that late in the year. USCe game can also insulate him some, but I think ultimately Foley is going to judge based on if the O improves. Injuries last year gave Muschamp a rain check

                    • Dog in Fla

                      I’m pulling for the win to be over FSU

  12. TEXAS DAWG

    “I hate to keep beating a dead Gator”. Why? It softens the big lizard up so that the hides make better boots and luggage.

  13. Dog in Fla

    Am still not buying this pushing Mr. Roper thing although I expect The Driskeling to be a Heisman contender notwithstanding Mr. Roper’s efforts to hold him back

    “I stay up all night, I go to sleep watching Dragnet
    Never sleep alone because Jimmy is the magnet
    I’m so rope, they call me Mr. Roper”

    http://pushingrope.blogspot.com/2014/07/write-caption-nest-gingrich-edition.html

    • Chris L

      I think the switch to Roper will help open up the offense a lot, but I think the quality of the assistants and position coaches on offense is a huge impediment to any real progress. Chris Leak is my favorite Gators QB of the last 15 years, but I do not expect anything out of him. The only reason I expect any improvement from Driskel is that Roper is moving them to a shotgun heavy system and Driskel had something like +2 YPA and a better completion percentage out of the Shotgun, and the running game was also more successful.

      From SEC Media days:
      “We needed to make some changes on offense. I felt like our kids had lost confidence in some things we were doing offensively. I went back and looked at our numbers from 2012 when we were in the shotgun as opposed to being under center. When Jeff (Driskell) was in the shotgun our yards were better, our explosive plays were better in both the run and pass game. He was recruited to Florida to be a gun quarterback,” Muschamp said.

      • Dog in Fla

        “He was recruited to Florida to be a gun quarterback,” Muschamp said.

        I always wondered (a.) what made Boom think that Jeff was going to run a pro-style offense under Pease and (b.) why Boom felt the need to make a change after an 11-2 season other than it being very good for us

        http://www.alligatorarmy.com/2012/1/11/2700395/brent-pease-florida-offense-expectations-boise-state-fans

        • Chris L

          I don’t think there has been a consistent identity for this team since Spurrier. During the Zook years you had a pro-style power run game with a lot of screens and it looked vaguely like an NFL offense, but it still wasn’t particularly successful. I feel like 2004 was Zook was really handcuffing Larry Fedora and the offense could have been more dominant, but Zook was a D coach and left the O to the coordinator and ended up getting his ass pushed out in 2004 (leaving Strong as the interim coach).
          I had to look up Florida’s 2003 Offensive Coordinator (Ed Zaunbrecher, who I’ve never heard of), but that offense was terrible, too. Huge numbers against shit competition, but outside of UGA and LSU that year, they shit the bed against big teams, particularly that ugly loss to a not very good FSU team.

          Ed Zaunbrecher -> Larry Fedora -> Dan Mullen -> Steve Addazio -> Charlie Weis -> Brent Pease -> Kurt Roper

          So, 7 coordinators in 14 years (8 if you count Spurrier, he was his own OC and left after the 01 season.

          One of those coordinators (Fedora) is shaping up to be a good coach for another team, another was the best coordinator UF has had in the last decade (and is showing he is a good coach elsewhere), but Addazio, Weis, and Pease did not seem like they were able to install any new offense and it all felt like the offense was struggling to understand and implement the new concepts. Also John Brantley sucked.

          • Dog in Fla

            “So, 7 coordinators in 14 years (8 if you count Spurrier, he was his own OC and left after the 01 season.)”

            I’m glad Jeremy wanted a resume!

            • Chris L

              “You want a resume?”
              Spurrier gestures a half empty can of MGD in his hand and motions towards his shirtless physique

              • Dog in Fla

                That’s good! I bet even HBC would think that’s funny except for the fact that he’s been stuck in Columbia forever with the Hogtown blues again

              • ScoutDawg

                Damn, that is Spurrieresque gold Jerry.

          • Dog in Fla

            Of course, I’m also glad Irwin didn’t get a chance to have Cam Newton as Tebow 2.0

            • Chris L

              As nasty as Cam was at Auburn, he supposedly wasn’t doing too well throughout practices and so when the time came to part ways (RIP TO THAT LAPTOP), UF didn’t have too many second thoughts about letting him walk. The staff had already gotten super endeared to Brantley and the idea that he was some Florida prep-star. The fan base really wanted Brantley to be the next Grossman or any of those other 90s QBs

              • Dog in Fla

                Good God, I was glad to see him leave Florida. I shudder to think what Irwin could have done with him. Plus the fact that Irwin may not have left

    • DugLite

      25th anniversary of Paul’s Boutique was last week. The best Beastie Boys album imo.

  14. Reservoir Dawg

    This:

    followed by a cold shot of this:

  15. ScoutDawg

    Damn Chris. Welcome. I bet you have never even owned a pair of jorts.