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I got together with the editor of the fine SBN Gators blog Alligator Army to discuss this weekend’s game. I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading his answers to my questions. Many thanks to him for participating.
1. It’s life after Tebow for the Gators–discuss.
The problem is that Florida fans can’t move past Tebow when the coaching staff can’t move past Tebow either. As has been demonstrated with John Brantley, Urban Meyer and Steve Addazio are unable or refused to design an offense around a pocket passer. Mercifully, they no longer make Brantley run the option, instead using Jordan Reed and Trey Burton to do that. Plus, Brantley is blitzed on nearly every down, since Addazio cannot come up with a blitz pick-up package. Florida is finally moving the ball in exchange for giving up on Brantley being a long-term solution at quarterback. You will see three quarterbacks on Saturday and for the remainder of Florida’s season.
Gators be able to take advantage after having struggled to throw the ball for most of the season?
Probably not. Everyone has passed against Alabama, but not Florida. Against Georgia, UF stuck with the running game, despite that being UGA’s strength. UF’s biggest problems on offense are that Brantley is not accurate, the line cannot protect him, and UF cannot figure out a way to feature a receiver. In a better system, Carl Moore and Omarius Hines would be All-SEC. Under Florida’s 2010 offense, they are edge blockers who have to catch a pass on 3rd and 7. The Gators could hit some big plays, but don’t expect a consistent passing attack, no matter who the Gators’ quarterback is.
3. A lot of folks believed that the Gators defense would suffer due to the loss of Charlie Strong, but it’s generally been OK this year. How do you feel that Strong’s departure has affected Florida?
It has had zero impact. Florida’s problems with youth and a smaller front seven were expected. Teryl Austin is similar to Strong in using multiple looks and locking up the opponent’s best receiver. I really don’t think Strong could have done better because the greatest coach in the world can’t fix youth and undersized players. Florida will keep taking two steps forward and one step back on defense, no matter who was coordinator this season.
Marcus Lattimore is the closest my generation will get to Bo Jackson or Herschel Walker, but Alshon Jeffrey is my pick. To have an All-American receiver, who almost never gets locked up, is a huge advantage. You can stack the box and stop a back. But a receiver can hide in the formation and get open on every play. Plus, he is a deep threat because of his speed and size. Guys who are 6-foot-4 should not run like he does.