All I could think about was FSU 2003. Not FSU this season, but 20 years ago.
That is often referred to as the Swindle in the Swamp because of ACC officials getting in the way of a great game.
But the similarities were still there.
Back then, FSU was faced with a fourth-and-14 with a little more than a minute to play and Florida leading by three. One play by the defense and they win the game.
Alas, it was a similar result two decades ago. Rix hitting an open receiver for 24 yards and a first down, then throwing one up for grabs that P.K. Sam hauled in for a 52-yard touchdown.
Gator fans still haven’t gotten over that one. This one stung pretty deeply, too.
Dooley’s Sunday Hash takes a look at Florida’s 33-31 loss at Missouri Saturday night.
Was that it for Graham Mertz?
Billy Napier said after the game that his quarterback has a fractured collarbone. Since Florida is unlikely to make a bowl game, we may have seen the last play of his career. He could come back for another year, but that has yet to be decided.
The sad thing was that Mertz was injured being Graham Mertz, taking a big hit while willing himself to a first down.
Napier loves that guy
Sometimes we sit around and think about the long drought Florida went through with quarterbacks. This was not part of that. Mertz has had a great year and was the biggest reason Florida was picked to finish so poorly in the SEC.
“If Gator Nation doesn’t respect Graham Mertz, OK, after watching him compete this year, then we’ve got a problem, “ Napier said. “That play in particular was a pretty special play. Did you see our sideline when that happened? I’m having to get them off the field.”
And so, the short era of Max Brown begins
You would not think it will be a long one, but it will last at least one game as a starter. Brown did allow Florida to use the read option the way it is supposed to be used with the threat of the quarterback running the ball and finishing with 42 rushing yards.
“My dad is always texting me before the game, ‘You’re one play away,’ “ Brown said. “It’s one thing to know it but it’s another to actually be ready for it.”
Florida has some special offensive talent
We all know what the problem is with this team. It’s not special teams or play calls the way everyone has screamed about. It’s a defense that can’t play at anything approaching a consistent level.
But on offense, the Trevor Etiennes and Tre Wilsons bode well for the future. Wilson’s last four games: 32 catches for 251 yards and five touchdowns.
The mystery of the running backs
Etienne showed the burst that he is so well known for in the second half, but only had two touches in the first half. Still, it’s not like Montrell Johnson needed to be pulled.
The two combined for 216 total yards in the game and a pair of scores. And they aren’t exactly running behind the Great Wall of Florida.
So why is this defense so bad?
Even the few juniors they have on this team are on their third coordinator. But the biggest problem is consistency. Third-and-long has become the friend of the opposing offenses. Florida is playing so many freshmen it’s easy to lose count.
Those are some of the reasons, but the No. 1 reason is that it is a bad combination of youth and talent. And coaching?
And that’s how you put up these numbers
They are not good. Throw out games against McNeese, Charlotte and Vanderbilt and Florida has 34.9 points a game. In all games, Florida has allowed 396.6 yards per game.
That probably won’t get to last year’s historically bad defense that gave up 411 yards per game, but it could be close. And that’s how you lose four in a row even when you have averaged more than 30 points a game in those losses.
And here’s another thing about the defense
It’s not just about the stats, although technically this is one. Florida has created all of seven turnovers in 11 games. Injuries have been a factor, but you would think someone would shake a ball loose. Then again, when you have only 19 sacks…
Said Napier, “We know what the issues are. We just ultimately got a bunch of guys out there that are playing college football, it’s the first time they’ve done it.”
At times, it really shows.
And somebody could miss a field goal
Is there such a thing as field goal defense? Florida’s opponents have missed only three field goals all season. If Harrison Mevis could have missed just one of the four he made, Florida might have had a happy trip home.
Which leads to this defensive stat – Florida is allowing opponents to score on 89% of their red zone trips. OK, that’s enough.
Which leaves us in a bad place
We get a lot of calls on the radio that start out, “I really like Billy Napier, but…”
We get it, however, he needs to get this thing rolling sooner than later.
He is one game away from the end of his second season and if Florida loses that game Saturday he will have lost twice as many games to Power Five opponents as he has won (seven wins, 14 losses).
That said, this team hasn’t caved in
The season may be in the dumper, but at least they are playing hard. I’ve seen Florida teams quit. This isn’t one of them. They were 11.5-point underdogs on the road in front of a sellout crowd in the cold and should have won the game with their backup quarterback.
“They battled. I know what’s inside those kids in there,” Napier said. “I’m proud of that.”
He’s fully aware of where he is
Napier isn’t enjoying this any more than the fans are. They want to give him time, but even the most patient ones are tired of losing. So, we will leave you with this from Napier Saturday night:
“I know the scoreboard; our record is not what we all know Florida football should be. But I know what’s in there and I think they’ve shown that pretty consistently. Gotta believe there’s some good that comes from it.”
Well, we will see.