Nick Saban has his twenty four hour rule. Celebrate a win or mourn a loss for twenty four hours then forget about it and get back to work. The Monday Morning Quarterback has his own twenty four hour rule: wait at least twenty four hours before opining about the good, the bad, and the ugly of a Gator football game.
On that note, as the Bud Light commercial says, HERE WE GO!
Chris Rainey did a lot of great things during his time in Gainesville, but probably his biggest contribution was on special teams, particularly on the kick block teams. The Monday Morning Quarterback fretted when Rainey graduated fearing the Gator’s would lose that special teams edge that was so great for so long.
Never fear Loucheiz Purifoy is here. After spending last year shadowing Rainey on special teams Purifoy has really taken over that role. He has great speed ,clocked at under 4.4 in the forty yard dash. He also has desire and intensity. The coaching staff since the Ohio State game last year has repeatedly lauded Purifoy for his effort, desire, and intensity. He works hard, takes to coaching well, and truly wants to get better. Gator fans are seeing the results of that hard work that makes Loucheiz so special. They saw it again yesterday as Loucheiz blocked the Louisiana punt with two seconds left in regulation into the arms of Jelani Jenkins as he raced untouched into the end zone for the winning score.
It’s not just blocking kicks, though, that makes Loucheiz special. He’s one of the best on the team at making “violators” pay by stripping the football when they aren’t protecting it properly. He’s a hard working member of a three player rotation at the starting cornerback spot providing strong press coverage and making great tackles in space. Loucheiz made his name known last year and this with his punt coverage where he’s one of the outside gunners. Big hits on punt returners are what has endeared him to Gator fans. Perhaps his biggest asset on this team is the energy and desire that he bring’s every play. As many big plays as he has contributed this year, remember he’s only a sophomore and has two more years to improve and make special plays.
The Florida Gator Offense
I know they did some good things on Saturday. For starters they showed more balance in the play calling with 26 passes to 34 runs. Jeff Driskel looked more comfortable running the offense and ran well in the zone read. Jordan Reed looked good with 5 catches for 85 yards. They actually threw 2 td passes and a third was dropped by Clay Burton. Backup Jacoby Brissett came off the bench to lead a tying touchdown drive with under two minutes to go in the game after Driskel went out with an ankle injury.
However, the excitement has to be tempered by the fact that Louisiana-Lafayette had the 114th ranked pass defense coming in to the Swamp and Florida still needed a late drive and a punt block to avoid the biggest upset in the Swamp in memory. There’s no way that defense should have been on the same field with the Gators. The fact that they not only competed but were highly effective at stopping the inside run game for three quarters and held the Gators to only 60 plays and 4-14 on 3rd down tells volumes that this offense is no where close to being where it needs to be.
Say what you want about conservative play calling, relying on defense and special teams, that argument only works in tough SEC games, and however else you’d like to spin it. The fact remains that this offense continues to shoot itself in the foot with penalties, missed blocking assignments, slow or missed reads, dropped passes, and poor receiver ball skills.
There has been little to no growth in any phase of this offense. They looked no better against Louisiana-Lafayette than they did against Bowling Green in the first game of the season. The offensive line does not move people in the run game and can’t keep guys in front of them on the pass rush without holding, the quarterbacks are good for one or two read progressions at best, receivers cannot catch anything unless they are wide open and even then it’s a crap shoot at best.
The only consistent positives they’ve shown is Gillislee continues to run hard rarely being stopped behind the line and always making more than one guy take him down and Driskel’s skills making guys miss on the zone read. Outside of that there is no consistency in execution or results. The Monday Morning Quarterback thinks the only answer here is an upgrade in talent on the line and at receiver.
If there is anything about this Florida Gator team this season that is more maddening to The Monday Morning Quarterback than penalties, good luck finding it. Trust me there’s a lot things that make me scream at the tv when these guys are playing. They have more blemishes than even Pro Activ could handle.
However, nothing makes the blood boil quite like penalties. This team has majored and minored in penalties. They’ve got a Bachelor’s, a Master’s, and a Doctorate in penalties. They’ve been flagged for things I’ve never even heard of like “roughing the long snapper” and defensive holding on a screen behind the line of scrimmage.
Penalties are like your dates pesky little brother. They ALWAYS rear their head at the absolute worst times. Just when you think you got something going, oops flag. Right when you think you’re going in for the score, you guessed it, a flag on the play. These guys have seen more laundry than a full service dry cleaner.
It’s not like they’ve been little five or ten yard penalties that irritate you. It seems like EVERY penalty has either stopped a promising drive, extended a drive for a score when they had it stopped, or straight out taken points off the board for the Gators. And then there’s the old standby, offsetting calls, when the opponent actually gets a penalty called on them.
To make matters worse, you can’t simply pinpoint one area or one group of people who are offenders it’s the entire offense. One thing about it is you can’t always help talent or ability, you are who you are, but you can absolutely help penalties. This offense has no ability to overcome penalties or anything else that puts them behind in the down and distance. The defense would have probably lost at least 4 or 5 scores if not for penalties. This team has amazingly gotten to 9-1 in spite of itself. But if it wants to finish out the season strong with a big win over rival FSU they are going to have to get the penalties cleaned up. They won’t be able to overcome a multitude of flags in that one.
I’m The Monday Morning Quarterback and I’m out!