Gator Bait!!

I don’t have much to say because there isn’t much to say. We own the ‘Noles. We beat ’em at Ron Zook field last year and, if not for some egregious officiating, we would’ve beat ’em at home two years ago. In fact, there are a lot of parallels to our 2003 matchup, but the glaring difference is that the refs didn’t blow call after call this year.

At any rate, by blowing out FSU, Urban Meyer has redeemed himself and our season (not that Urban really needed much redeeming). Granted, a win at South Carolina a couple weeks ago would’ve been wonderful, but beating all our big rivals–UGA, UT and FSU–in a season for the first time since 1996 is plenty reason to celebrate. Pile on our first season since 2000 without a home loss and things just seem that much sweeter.

So, the pros of our season just might outweigh the cons. With the whooping we put on FSU, we might get a decent bowl bid. Also, we played a very difficult SEC schedule this year and Urban still had a decent season while installing a new system and working around several key injuries. It’s obvious that a healthy Gator squad with a full year of Meyer’s offense under its belt will be a force in the SEC next year. Also, it seems we may have finally taken back the Swamp.

All in all, it’s been a good season. I’m glad I got to go to both the Tennessee and FSU football games. Next up, the Alabama State vs. Florida basketball game on Monday night.


Florida football falters

Well, we made a good run, but Spurrier bumped us off just when our SEC Championship hopes were peaking. Notice I said “Spurrier” and not “South Carolina.” That’s because their football team didn’t beat us, we were just flat out-coached. They played well, but they were coached better. Also, we just didn’t show up to play. Again, our offense sputtered and our defense decided to take it easy and give up some big plays at the worst times.

That about sums it up.


Close as could be

Well, I sure didn’t expect Vandy to hang 42 points on us tonight, but it doesn’t surprise me all that much either. Everyone knows they’re a team that’s just waiting to break out and they almost did that in Gainesville tonight.

Ironically, I originally wrote the previous post to say something like, “I expect this one to be pretty close”, but then I remembered the game was in G-ville, so I changed it to “I think we can cover the spread.” I should’ve gone with my gut. Vandy is rarely an easy win and they’re better this year than they’ve been in many years.

We were lucky to escape with a win tonight and Spurrier’s team won’t be a pushover in South Carolina next week.

War Eagle.


Big game tonight

I’m not even being sarcastic. The Gators need this game pretty badly, but not in the typical sense. Meyer has begun to retool the offense, but we’re far from polished. We squeaked by Georgia using a stripped down offense that mostly went north-south. But that’s not Meyer’s vision and I’m sure he hasn’t forgotten his beloved Spread.

This game will be a chance for the Gators to add some Spread plays and work on blocking in the more complicated schemes. We have to remember that we still have to beat South Carolina on their field, then we have FSU at home and a bowl game. But, if Auburn prevails in Athens, we’ll be playing in Atlanta for the SEC Championship, a likely rematch against the Tide. We already saw what happened in Tuscolusa and if we’re going to beat them the offense has to be clicking on all cylinders. Now is the time to start tuning up the engine.

I expect to see a good mix of old school play calling and some new school Spread plays. I also expect our defense to give Vandy fits. I’m not necessarily predicting a blowout, but I expect us to cover the spread (looks like about 19 points).


I can’t believe it

For the first time since 1986, the Gators won at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee. This after we fired our coach in October. After last year at Gainesville, I couldn’t be happier that we knocked up the 8th ranked ‘Noles. Looks like the refs weren’t there to bail them out this year.

Of course, I’m becoming more and more unsure of my support for the school’s decision to fire Zook. At first, I was really supportive (I just felt like we weren’t going forward, even in our third year since we hired him), but now I’m realizing he may have his best year yet… and with a young team that is a dead ringer for SEC Eastern Division Champs next year.

I guess now we’ll have to wait and see what happens. Since Spurrier seems to be headed for South Carolina, it seems likely we’ll get Urban Meyer from Utah. Or at least we’ll pursue him. The guy seems to know what he’s doing and his offense will fit very well at UF. It’s so Spurrier-esque it’s scary.


The Gators win two in a row

I only heard the last 15 minutes of the South Carolina vs. Florida game, but the last 5 minutes was all I needed to hear. When I tuned in, the score was something like 32-28, South Carolina. For the next 10 minutes, the differential stayed about the same and the Gators seemed to have trouble getting anything going in their halfcourt offense. Also, we couldn’t get a rebound at either end of the floor. I think Roberson was our only player in double figures with Lee and Walsh knockin’ on the door. Then, with about 4 minutes left in the game, those three completely took over. Lee had some nice plays inside for easy 2-pointers, Walsh made some clutch shots including a contested 3-pointer on an assist from Lee and Roberson continued selecting good shots and even made a difficult runner in the paint. On the other end of the floor, Lee, Walsh and Roberson all pulled down some boards to limit South Carolina to one shot on offense. Roberson finished with about 24 points on something like 6-of-11 shooting from 3-point land. Walsh and Lee both came on late, hitting clutch free-throws (I think both of those guys are Top 10 in the SEC in free-throw percentage) and basically owning Carolina by scoring at will, rebounding effectively, knocking down free-throws and stealing the ball a few times.

Those are the highlights. From what I heard, we played with very little energy for most of the game. I think we finished with only 69 points, which is more than 10 points below our average, but this was a home game, so we should’ve been around 85 points. We didn’t seem to respond too well to Carolina’s pressure defense (they were running a full-court, three-quarter-court and half-court press, if I remember right) and, although we didn’t turn the ball over too many times, we certainly weren’t making anything happen on offense for most of the game. We couldn’t pull down many boards, which is unacceptable with Richard, Moss and Lee as our big guys and I don’t think we were playing with much energy throughout the game. The good news is that all things things can definitely be corrected by the Tourney (SEC or NCAA) as they’re mostly stemming from either inexperience or just a lackluster effort.

One thing that troubles me, as it has all season, is our half-court defense. Our zone is ineffective and we tend to give up points to slashers–guys who attack off the dribble either from the wings or the free-thrown line. I think this is a result of our low intensity in some of our games. The main problem is that our help is slow getting to the right spot and we seem to bail ourselves out with weak fouls that show that we’re allowing them to drive by us and then trying to slow them down by grabbing or hooking. Again, this can be partially corrected with more energy (gained by good coaching and maybe some rest and a little motivation before Tourney season), but I’m afraid the inexperience factor might be pretty severe. We have a lot of young guys and I think some of them just aren’t completely comfortable playing at the college level yet. It seems like there’s quite a bit of miscommunication–especially on the defensive end of the floor–and that’s going to hurt us against well-organized offensive teams. I hope that our older “veteran” players (although we only have one senior) can help the younger guys adapt to the game’s speed and intensity before the season’s over.

I think if we pick it up a little by scrapping for loose balls, playing more aggressive defense and crashing harder on the boards, we will have a reasonable shot at winning the SEC Tourney (I think the past few years have made it obvious that it’s anybody’s Tournament to win) and hopefully making it out of the first weekend for the NCAA Tourney. Only a few more regular-season games left and then the Madness begins.