Snell’s Slant: Not going to cut it in the SEC

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.

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13 Responses to “Snell’s Slant: Not going to cut it in the SEC”

  1. Sjkoepp says:

    Great article! It’s always useful to get insight into the line play from a player and something really important in this line dominated league. Looking forward to your other articles in the future.

  2. Jrbishop31 says:

    Let’s be real. The gators have improved. It may be only by a small margin, but can we agree that last year’s team would have lost yesterday. There were plenty of moments when the Gators looked dominant and new and then there were moments of last year. I will say that the new moments outweighed last years moments. We just have to be more consistent. As far as the penalties, why isn’t more of the blame on the guys who are actually committing the penalties than saying the entire team isn’t disciplined. Just my opinion

  3. alex says:

    Bostic did not have a good game not sure what you were impressed with his play. He is constantly out of position and he does not drive ball carriers backwards. He looked foolish on the 2nd TD as well.

  4. Spike says:

    Thanks for the insight.

  5. joe says:

    How refreshing to have insight from someone who actually played the game and not a bunch of press box posers. Thank you Shannon. Great get Adam

  6. KB says:

    In the two years in watching UF under Muschamp I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt as a head coach but there are serious concerns I have and I hope things change quick. I am concerned that Muschamp, although being a Saban disciple from the Saban coaching tree, does not get the attention to detail and inspires the kids the way I believe we should be seeing on the field. I see him ranting and raving at times and it is not getting a different result on the field. I am not sure if the players are fully buying into the plan. In Sabans regard he goes into a tangent and it inspires players to do better there is an effect to his demeanor on the sideline. I am not sure whether the players are not buying in and at times or maybe tuning his rant out with no attention to detail because they either don’t believe in him as an HC or the plan he is implementing. We had a whole off season to get a different brand from what we saw last year. The talent is there but I do not see the product getting better or any cohesiveness and adjustments to put players in better positions to make plays. The passing game has not gotten better and there is no excuse why these WRs we have cannot run precise routes to get open and the recruits we have at QB cannot get them the ball. I understand we want a power running game as our bread & butter but our focus needs to be balance. UF cannot get better in the passing game if we don’t give the players a chance to throw it and the WRs to get in the game early and often. Muschamp needs to let the OC do what he is hired to do… something is holding UF back and I am starting to think it is Champ and his on the job training. It seems as if he still has the mentality of a DC instead of the director of a program. I hope to God I am wrong and we see improvement in week #2 or this is going to be a long and painful season for which I cannot take another one like last year. This is an important year for UF Football and they need to show the tide is turning and Champ needs to show he can develop the players he has and get the football team better week to week. If we cannot get the push up front from the OL on first downs then change the approach once in a while with some cut blocks to try and create a hole or or lane on key first downs to keep a drive going. There is more than one way to get the job done Will so lets start figuring out ways to get the kids to execute and making plays instead of being a one minded one trick pony. LETS GO UF! Lets roll the Aggies this weekend and send a statement to the rest of the SEC.

  7. g8ter27 says:

    I agree with what you are saying KB but should we expect something different? WM does have the D-coordinator mentality because that is what he is and has been. He HAS to let BP call the shots on offense and trust in what he does…the guy knows what he is doing on offense. I also do not want to see the same Zook like expression he had on the sideline last year when things were going bad like “someone do something!”. This game sucked, we have some good talent, the right coaches and an bit easier schedule so if we go 6-6this year then I think we can all agree there is a problem.

  8. Gatorgrad79 says:

    6-6??! Exactly which 5 teams do you see us beating if we play like Saturday?!

  9. Aligator says:

    If we play like that, I say we lose to Tennesee, SC, FSU, Georgia, LSU and Texas A&M!

  10. Shannon Snell says:

    No need to fly off the handle yet guys. The most improvement for a team is from game 1 to game 2. Let’s see what happens.

  11. gtagator says:

    Shannon I have been wanting to share this viewpoint with someone who has benn successful down in thr trenches. I do not know if you respond to any of these posts but would appreciate your take. When I re-watched the game it seemed that BG was able to keep blocks longer than our OL. Watching closer it was clear the for the first 1.5 seconds the BG OL would actually hold our DL. At 1.5 seconds it is too short of time for holding penalty but still enough time to get good position or for RB to make move. There are instances where the shoulders of our DL are perpendicular to BG OL and our DL still cant shed ths block. I have seen this a lot from Bama as well as others. I understand not wanting holding penalties but is there an artform, as an OL, behind keeping your hands inside the shoulders of the DL and holding for just long enough to make a difference but not long enough to get a penalty called. Teams must be teaching this and UF must not be taking advantage. What is your take? Thanks

  12. Shannon Snell says:

    GtaGator,

    Good observation. Let me explain. Holding is a VERY subjective call for a ref to make. Their are no specific guidelines for making a call for holding. As an offensive lineman, your coach teaches you to keep your hands inside, that way you’re less likely to get called for holding. The refs can not see hands grabbing jersey or shoulder pads if the hands are inside. They aren’t looking that closely. But that’s in a perfect world that you’d be able to earn that position with hands inside on a defensive lineman all the time. The hands slip outside, you could miss your target, or the defensive lineman could knock them down. They are taught the exact same thing; get your hands inside and control the offensive lineman from controlling you or running untouched to block a linebacker or safety.

    As for BG, they knew their running backs did not possess the same natural speed that Florida has on defense. So, most of their runs we’re between the tackles where you are less likely to get called for holding because of the line of sight for a referee between big 300lb bodies. Most holding calls on an offensive lineman occurs on outside running plays such as tosses, sweeps, and screens. Those plays require offensive lineman to run and block in space rather than straight ahead. It’s a known fact that defensive lineman are supposed to be much more athletic then offensive linemen. The referees also know this. So anytime one of these plays happen or if an offensive lineman happens to be a habitual holder, the ref will be on high alert.

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