A three-year starter for the Florida Gators who played under head coaches Steve Spurrier and Ron Zook, former guard Shannon Snell has joined OGGOA as a football columnist to provide his unique perspective on the team throughout the 2012 season. Snell, who played in 46 games over four seasons and started 36 contests, was named a First Team All-American by Sporting News in 2003 and spent two seasons in the NFL.
No matter how you feel about yesterday’s game, I am glad that football is back. I honestly do not think I could have dealt with watching golf and NASCAR for another day.
Even though head coach Will Muschamp did not say that a final decision has been made at quarterback, he was right to go with Jeff Driskel over Jacoby Brissett for the majority of the game. While I don’t think either one had good command over the offense yesterday, it has always been my opinion that the job is Driskel’s to lose.
He seems to be much more accurate and has to ability to take off and run at any point. It was painful to watch the passing game because the only plays really shown by offensive coordinator Brent Pease were five-yard hitches, screens and swing passes. That’s not going to cut it in the SEC. Heck, it almost didn’t cut it against a MAC opponent. In fact, the only big shot taken was overthrown a mile by Brissett.
Muschamp has preached all offseason that both guys have gotten a lot better since last year and either could start for the Gators, but I don’t think Driskel or Brissett proved Saturday that they have made that much of an improvement.
On the other hand, Mike Gillislee looked as good as advertised in the backfield. Florida ran a combination of zone and power plays in the run game yesterday, and Gillislee looked very fluid in both schemes. He was hitting the holes strong in the power game and made great cuts off the blocks in the zone.
His explosion through the hole is incredible and is definitely what is separating him from the rest of the running backs. To me, Omarius Hines does not look like he should be toting the rock though Matt Jones and Mack Brown did well for the few carries they were given. Don’t get it twisted though, this is Gillislee’s show.
As an offensive lineman that is obviously the position I looked at closest over the course of the game, and I was indeed impressed…to a certain degree.
Read the rest of this edition of Snell Speaks…after the break!
The Gators ran the ball well, sure, but don’t forget who they played. A solid chunk of the rushing plays were stopped for minimal or no gain against a defensive line that was supposed to be inferior to Florida’s offensive line. Short yardage was horrible; no matter how many men were in the box, holes have to be created. Relying on converting a 4th down after getting stuffed on third will not win you many games in SEC play.
The protection was decent overall but if you noticed, the pocket was moved quite a bit, just like it did last year. Moving the pocket, whether by design or necessity, generally means that the offensive line has issues with protecting the quarterback. If they cannot protect Driskel or Brissett in the pocket than Pease did a great job of hiding that fact. Some questions will have to be answered sooner than later. Have these guys legitimately gotten tougher and stronger? They certainly look that way physically but did not dominate like they should have after their difficult offseason program.
Defensively, I was incredibly impressed with two guys in particular – Sharrif Floyd and Jon Bostic.
Floyd looked like an absolute animal on the interior of the defensive line. His play reminded me of Gerard Warren, who if you do not remember was a First Team All-SEC member and Second Team All-American. If Floyd keeps going on this path, he is really going to be something special.
Bostic seems to have gotten quicker despite adding some bulk. He made a few plays he might have missed a year ago and always around the ball even when he wasn’t making the tackle, which is exactly what you want from the Mike linebacker.
Tackling overall though was a major issue. Everyone was missing them, but it was especially bad in the secondary. If I’m a coach on this team I’m making that secondary sit and watch that film two or three times so they can see how many opportunities they missed and how it might have affected the team going forward.
Of course you cannot talk about this game without referencing the penalties. Disciplined teams do not rack up 10 in a game let alone one half. A false start or offsides will happen every now and again, but I was of the impression that this team worked on that all offseason and made some strides in that area. Apparently not.