Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Gators vow to clean it up on 'O'
By Chris Low
Urban Meyer saw what we all saw this past Saturday.
Florida stunk on offense. There’s no other way to say it.
But that’s not really the issue. The issue is whether or not that stench is going to linger.
In other words, was it merely a case of first-game jitters made worse by a bunch of new faces on the offensive line and some fluky fumbles?
Or is this an offense that’s missing some of the key parts required to drive the football consistently, pick up the tough yards and finish drives with touchdowns?
Quarterback John Brantley is confident the Florida offense will be better than it was last week against Miami (Ohio).
“Offense is rhythm. Offense is momentum, and what it really is is execution. I saw what you saw,” Meyer said of the Gators’ 212-yard, eight-fumble fiasco last week in the 34-12 win over Miami (Ohio).
It’s a good thing the Gators were playing Miami (Ohio), which won just one game a year ago.
Otherwise, the urgency Meyer has talked about this week on the practice field might be more in line with misery.
Not being able to get the shotgun snap is one thing, but Florida struggled to sustain drives. Had it not been for the defense, who knows?
Janoris Jenkins scored on a 67-yard interception return. Ahmad Black returned another interception to the 3, setting up a touchdown. The Gators scored a third touchdown after Miami (Ohio) tried a fake punt and failed on its own 21.
Jeff Demps ripped off a 72-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, and the Gators’ only other touchdown came at the end of the game when Chris Rainey had the ball bounce into his hands on a fourth-down heave into the end zone.
“Once you get out of rhythm as many times as we did in that first half, that’s tough,” said Meyer, whose Gators had just 13 yards of total offense at the half. “It was second down and forever.”
With South Florida coming to the Swamp this Saturday, Meyer says flatly that the Gators will have to play much better or they won’t win.
And you get the feeling that he means it, too.
“They have one of the best quarterbacks we’ll face all year and are very athletic on defense, so we better get our game right,” Meyer said.
In particular, they better find their game on offense.
The jury is out on what the Gators are going to be offensively this season. Throwing the football is clearly John Brantley's forte.
But do the Gators have the playmakers at receiver to keep defenses from stacking the line? We know they have the speed with Demps and Rainey, but Demps can’t do it by himself and Rainey is still adjusting to his new role.
More pressing, who’s going to pick up the tough yards – on third-and-short and around the goal line?
There’s enough speed and enough athleticism on this offense that the Gators are going to break their share of big plays. One- and two-play drives are the great equalizer in football.
It still remains to be seen, though, if this offense can grind it out when it needs to and put together sustained drives. To win an SEC championship, those are prerequisites.
Meyer said the Gators should get back starting tackle Xavier Nixon (injury) and starting guard Carl Johnson (suspension) for Saturday’s game. They had to move guys around on the offensive line last week, and it didn’t help matters when guard James Wilson went down with an injury.
“It’s tough to get things going when you’re having turnovers, but we know what we did wrong,” said Brantley, who was 17-of-25 for 113 yards in his debut as a starter. “We all know as a team what we did wrong, and we’re going to fix it this week.”