This offseason we will count down various topics from Monday through Friday, bringing you the top five of the important and definitely some not so important issues in college football. It's the Doc Five, every week until we will thankfully have actual games to discuss.
FIVE FOOTBALL TEAMS THAT COULD LEARN FROM THEIR SWEET 16 COUNTERPARTS
NO. 5 FLORIDA
Football coaches try to be team players.
They want to root for other sports and see them do well. But during this time of year, when basketball takes center stage, it’s hard for some football coaches not to look back on their dismal football seasons and wonder what might have been.
Well, we’re doing that, too. That’s why this week’s Doc Five looks at college football teams that could learn a lot from their Sweet 16 counterparts.
Not every Sweet 16 was destined to get to that round. Some had to play extra games, some had to pull off major upsets and some had to deal with the pressure of being one of the top seeds.
One of those teams is Florida.
Florida football and basketball are no stranger to being on the top of the heap. They’ve won national championships in the same year and are historically considered two of the top programs in their respective sports. But Florida basketball, which was the No. 1 overall seed in this NCAA tournament, went through some lean years before rising back to the top. After winning back-to-back national championships in 2006 and 2007, the Gators didn’t make the tournament in the next two years. In 2010, it lost in the first round to BYU.
But since then, it’s rallied and made the Elite Eight each of the last three years.
So what’s the secret? Consistency and finding an unlikely star player.
Florida has had great consistency in recruiting, retaining and molding players. The players buy in and they work together. They’re mentally tough and that has turned that into a perfect SEC record this past season and a 28-game winning streak.
It also found a gem in Scottie Wilbekin, a player who was almost asked to leave the Florida program before the season began because of two violations of undisclosed teams rules. Coach Billy Donovan asked Wilbekin to transfer and Wilbekin begged to stay. Since then, he has blossomed into the SEC Offensive Player of the Year and the team’s scoring and emotional leader.
Of course, this could have easily been a player like quarterback Tyler Murphy (maybe a stretch) or one of the many others who have transferred from Florida football this offseason. Seven offensive players left the program, which created a huge void in the team’s depth and doesn’t bode well for building up the consistency that has aided the basketball team.
Florida football also was riddled with injuries last season, which made it almost impossible to field a consistent 22 starters from week-to-week.
Still, recruiting hasn’t slipped and Florida has brought in eight early enrollees from its No. 8-ranked recruiting class to help immediately.
But the main issue with Florida football and it’s offense. The Gators ranked 113th nationally with 316.7 yards per game and scored just 18.8 points per game, which was tied for 112th nationally. A lot of the struggles on offense can be overcome with good defense – as the basketball team, which averaged just over 70 points per game, showed – but when there is so little offense generated that it puts the entire game on the defense's shoulders, well, that’s where it becomes a problem.
The Gators brought in new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, who was responsible for the offensive turnaround at Duke. If Florida can field a healthy quarterback in Jeff Driskel, a healthy running back in Matt Jones and develop a young receiving corps around Andre Dubose, then Florida coach take advantage of an SEC East that is rebuilding across the board.
What the Florida football team can learn from the basketball team is perseverance. Lean years do not have to define a program, sometimes they can be building blocks for something greater.
The only debate here is whether Will Muschamp is a good enough coach to pull it off.
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