Some ghosts from 2023 still lingered around Florida Football during spring game

Counting to 11 on special teams is still a work in progress for the Gators
Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun / USA

As a whole, most people would say that the Orange and Blue game was a positive outing for Florida Football. Tackling seemed fine, the offensive line wasn't a turnstile, there was actual downfield passing, and QBs Graham Mertz and DJ Lagway drew plenty of positive headlines.

However, not every weakness from 2023 was eradicated on Saturday, as some prominent ghosts from last season are still lingering around The Swamp.

Florida Football: Counting Is Key

Counting to 11 was a challenge for the Gators in 2023. Repeatedly, on special teams, the Gators would only send ten guys out to return a punt or to block a field goal. The lack of a full complement of players never directly cost Florida last year, but that lack of attention to detail became emblematic of moments that did rear their heads and cost the Gators.

It started with sending out two players wearing the same number against Utah, then a leaping penalty against Kentucky extended a drive and resulted in a touchdown, and we all remember the debacle sending the field goal unit out against Arkansas, which directly cost Florida the game.

So, in a vacuum, sending out ten players to block an extra point during a spring game doesn't even register on the radar for 95% of fan bases across college football.

Given the flashbacks from last season, counting is a mandatory fan activity now in Gainesville.

It harbors back to a concern we have expressed with the 2024 coaching staff for Florida. Chris Couch was in charge of special teams last season in an analyst role, which limits his ability to coach on the field. Recognizing special teams were a train wreck last year, Napier hired Joe Houston, a well-respected special teams coach from the New England Patriots, to also be an analyst this year, with Couch also staying on staff.

But the core question is if Couch was the problem, why is he still on the staff? And if the problem was the fact that he has been limited because he is an analyst, hiring another analyst doesn't solve the problem either.

On a day with so many positives, it is admittedly unfair to pretend that a single extra point is even worthy of a topic of discussion.

But it also isn't unfair to state that until Florida proves their special teams are fixed across the board that one should keep a skeptical eye on this unit in 2024.