You know something I didn’t get for the past few seasons? All those predictions of greatness for Arkansas. Sure, Petrino is one of college football’s great offensive minds and the Hogs had prolific offenses. But those defenses weren’t national title caliber – they weren’t even SEC West caliber – and given the neighborhood they were playing in, it was hard to see how they could ever step past Alabama and LSU, or merely play even with them on a consistent basis year in and year out.
So, you know something I don’t get for 2013? All those predictions of greatness for Florida. (It’s not just CFN, by the way. Bruce Feldman liked the Gators’ chances a lot, at least until the Sugar Bowl. And there are plenty of other pundits out there who think as highly of Florida.)
Don’t get me wrong. There is a lot to like about the team. The 2012 defense was excellent, as were the special teams. But the offense was somewhere between subpar and awful.
The Gators finished with the twelfth-ranked offense in the conference, mainly because they finished dead last in passing. I’m having a hard time seeing why there are grounds for optimism going into 2013, other than of the “it can’t get any worse” variety. And even that seems a little misplaced when you consider that last season marked the third straight for Florida in which it finished two spots from the bottom of the conference in total offense. Bad production with three different offensive coordinators at the helm isn’t the kind of consistency that you want.
As much fun as it’s been to mock Addazio and Weis, the problem would seem to lie elsewhere. Jeff Driskel was the tenth-rated quarterback in the SEC last season, with a passer rating of 132.18.
Jeff John Brantley finished fifth in 2011, at 140.83, which was a huge step up from his 2010 performance. The quarterback position hasn’t been getting it done. How bad is it? Well, check out the low bar set by this Gator blogger:
Earlier this week, I wrote an article about Driskel needing to step up and show Gator fans that he has what it takes to become that elite quarterback to take this program back to the promise land. After his performance in the Gators 37-26 victory over the Florida State Seminoles, I am now convinced that he will soon join the company with some of this program’s greats.
Driskel only threw 23 passes in the victory, but he was able to complete over 65 percent of those throws for 147 yards and one touchdown.
That translates into a passer rating of 133.25, barely above his season average. Hardly the stuff of legends.
That may not have been all Driskel’s doing, of course. The Florida offensive line was inconsistent last season and the Gators only had one receiver who finished in the top twenty in the conference (and he’s left early for the NFL draft). If anything, though, that would seem to make the Gators’ task on offense this season even more daunting.
Muschamp turned in a good coaching job last season. Eleven wins masked the reality that his team had a serious structural flaw that left him with a thin margin for error. How thin? Consider this: Florida only had two games last season in which it lost the turnover margin battle. It lost both games. If his offense doesn’t show some improvement this season, regression to the mean may come back to bite him in the ass.