Snell’s Slant: Enough is enough, time for changes

By Adam Silverstein
September 23, 2014

By Shannon Snell – OnlyGators.com Featured Columnist

Why does this feel like we’ve been here before? Reflecting on Saturday’s game brings me back to the 2013 season finale against Florida State when Florida of course wanted to win but might have settled for a moral victory, a hard-fought close game.

Yes, the Gators did fight hard on Saturday. Yes, the game was close (21-21) early in the second half. But Florida lost by 21 and neither an actual win nor a moral victory was in the cards. Plus, when did the concept of the University of Florida playing for a moral victory ever even become acceptable? When did it become OK to play to keep the score close?

The empty feeling in the pit of my stomach is the unquestionable fact that the Gators have become irrelevant on the national stage. Maybe I was just drinking Will Muschamp’s Kool-Aid when he said this was the best and most talented team he’s had in his time at Florida. Perhaps I just wanted to believe Florida was on its way. The fact of the matter is, I was wrong, and the Crimson Tide had absolutely no problem proving that they remain in a completely different league than the once-mighty Gators.


There is no reason not to give credit where credit is due. Alabama is one hell of a football team. Amari Cooper in undoubtedly the best wide receiver in college football. The position that I thought was a weakness for them, quarterback, looks like it is on its way to developing into a strength with Blake Simms shredding Florida’s defense for the most yards given up in a single game in school history.

That’s exceedingly embarrassing, especially for a Gators team coached by a former defensive coordinator with defense serving as its calling card for the last three seasons. It’s another record that Muschamp can add to his growing list of embarrassments.

Let’s stick with this for a moment and put that performance into perspective. Anyone remember the 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers? That team, arguably one of the best ever, was led by Tommie Frazier, who tuned Florida up for 629 total yards (previously the most in school history) in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl. Simms may be on the rise, but he’s no Frazier.
Football is a team game – always has been, always will be. An equally true fact is that there is no more important player on the field than the quarterback, a position that benefits by getting most of the credit when things go well and subsequently most of the blame when things fall apart.

Jeff Driskel is lost, and it really showed on Saturday. And that’s a mystery to me. This was supposed to be an offense that would allow Driskel to finally thrive, yet he looked like a freshman out there trying to figure out what the hell was going on.

I really don’t think there is any excuse for his play, either. The offensive line, of which I always cast a critical eye, actually played very well. The pass protection was excellent most of the day and there were quite a few running lanes for the backs. Many expected Florida’s front to be dominated by a more physical Alabama defensive line, yet they stepped up and played like a bunch of studs. I was great to see Mike Summers’s guys perform so well against talent of that caliber.

Back to Driskel. I have a very hard time believing this team will actually take a step forward and win important games unless there is a significant change at the quarterback position. Muschamp likes to point out that Florida is still in control of its own destiny and that Saturday’s game was just one early-season loss, but this game was much more damaging for the Gators than being a road loss to a ranked opponent.

Not only did Alabama (and, let’s be honest, Kentucky before it) give each of Florida’s remaining opponents a blueprint to follow, it was also one of the Tide’s biggest recruiting weekends of the season. I can guarantee you that the ass kicking the Gators took didn’t sit too well for many of those prospects.

While questions about Muschamp intensify, Florida fans got to see first-hand how and why Nick Saban continues to produce dominant teams at Alabama. He wins. Recruits like winning. Winning gets players television exposure, championship ring, postseason awards and a better shot at being drafted early by an NFL team rather than trying to make your mark as a late-round pick or undrafted free agent.

Back in 1999, when I was coming out of high school, I narrowed my list down to Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Notre Dame and USC. The common denominator? All were winning programs. A lot of times you will hear recruits say they care about academics first. Bullshit. Getting a good education is very important, and it weighs heavily into your (and your family’s) decision, but if football is your chosen career path than you want to commit to a program that will develop you as a player and provide you with not only an opportunity to get on the field but a platform to win football games at the highest level.

Muschamp is on the hot seat and that seat is on its way to becoming white-hot. Things are not getting easier for the Gators after their off week as Florida will play Tennessee at Neyland Stadium, where it has not lost since 2004.

This is no longer about getting things “corrected;” it is about winning. Time is up. The Gators must win football games – big one – and become relevant again. Otherwise, Jeremy Foley will need to intensify his search for finding an answer to Florida’s ills.

A three-year starter for the Florida Gators who played under Steve Spurrier and Ron Zook, former guard Shannon Snell joined OnlyGators.com in 2012 as a football columnist to provide his unique perspective on the team. He is now in his third year sharing his musings and will do so through the 2014 season. Snell, who played in 46 games over four seasons and started 36 of those contests, was named a First Team All-American by Sporting News in 2003 and spent two seasons in the NFL.

39 Comments

  1. g8ter27 says:

    Can’t agree more.

  2. SW FL Joe says:

    Thank you for adding your expertise to what many of us have been saying for some time now.

  3. Fernzpat says:

    Snell for HBC!!!!

  4. lou says:

    Hallelujah, brother.

  5. gatorboi352 says:

    I just don’t see change coming as long as Muschamp remains in charge. IT will very much take him being fired to bring on any real change.

    Even during the 2012 season I never felt really good about the program, or even the wins themselves. I always felt we were on the brink of disaster. 2 years later, truth be told.

  6. Steven says:

    If Muschamp is going to keep Jeff at QB which it appears he will.
    He needs to let him do what he does best and not worry about injuries.
    Set Jeff free. Let him run and run and run some more.

  7. Michael J. says:

    I don’t know if there is a solution to what ails the Gators right now on this roster. It’s very rare for a true freshman quarterback, no matter how good he turns out to be later, to come in and play well. It is possible, and what does Florida have to lose by benching Driskel? I did see a true freshman quarterback come in and play well this weekend, Deshaun Watson who plays for Clemson. So why not take a chance with Harris? But back to my pessimism about the solution to the problem of winning, it’s not the offense that is the main obstacle to winning. It’s the defense. In the last two games the Gators have given up almost 1100 yards. It’s not just the secondary. The linebackers are terrible. The defensive line was o.k. against the run, but when Alabama decided it wanted to just run the ball after throwing an interception, they did so with ease. The lack of a strong pass rush is a glaring weakness, and we now know the guys can’t hold up on the backside, someone has to get to the quarterback. Something is very wrong with this defense, and it was exemplified on the third and 23 screen play by Alabama. I don’t know what you call it, but it was about the best example of how not to tackle I can remember. Maybe I’m wrong and The Gators will play well in Knoxville and win. But if not, it’s time to do what is happening at Texas right now. Charlie Strong is instilling a new culture and jettisoning any of the flotsam. It’s all about winning, and Muschamp doesn’t do a good job at winning games.

    • Michael Jones says:

      You make more and more sense with every post.

      I too thought that Charlie Strong would’ve been a great get this past year. He did a tremendous job at Louisville and he’ll do a tremendous job at Texas once he changes the culture there and Muschamp’s recruits have graduated or otherwise moved on.

      As for Driskel, his situation will always be a head scratcher for me. He is so physically gifted and, yet, his play is really strong evidence that maybe more than any position in sports the mental aspect of playing QB is HUGE, so HUGE that a less physically gifted player with the mental acumen can dramatically outperform a more physically gifted player without the mental acumen.

  8. jimmyjohns says:

    Preach!

  9. gatorboi352 says:

    Really looking forward to this week’s “Silver Lining” opinion piece from Adam.

  10. UFGATORFAN100 says:

    MUSCHUMP!!!! And I call Him CHUMP!!!! cause he” Won Nothing…. I never Trusted a Leg Humper,Tick Rider, a MUTT ie Bulldog run our once great GATOR PROGRAM to the ground. Driskel a 4th Year Junior Plays like a Freshman. Let the Freshman they may play like Seniors.

    Driskel known Commodity SUCKS
    Harris Unknown commoditySUCKSthrows 2 Passes for Touchdowns.

  11. Shannon Snell Shannon Snell says:

    Well.. We’ve found someone that hates Georgia as much as I do…

    • Ken (CA) says:

      haha, I think he only posts the same thing on every post. about the 5th time he has made that same post or very close to it, is nothing if not redundant.

      Shannon – what signs would you look for in the players to see if WM is losing the team again this year? What kind of mentality would you have had as a player if after the bye week you were to get off to a rough/slow start against UT after the first 3 games?

  12. Shannon Snell Shannon Snell says:

    The fact of the matter is Muschamp will probably be coaching for his Gator career for the rest of the season. It’s kinda like “win or go home.”

  13. Bill From Gainesville says:

    Damn Snell, hell, even I agree with what you wrote. Now, how many games out of first are the Red Sox?

  14. Shannon Snell Shannon Snell says:

    Orioles have that crap locked up. I’m just hoping Sox win 70 games. (Talking to a fan here bud.)

  15. Kevin K says:

    Muschamp mortgaged his future by sticking with Driskel. Now we are stuck with a below average QB and look what Tyler Murphy and Jacoby Brisset are doing with less talented teams. Killing it!

    I don’t know if getting knocked around by Bama as a true freshman ruined him but he’s all hype and no production. Anyone else feels muschamp is just stubborn?

  16. W2 says:

    I’ll keep saying it like I said it when it happened they let the wrong QB leave when Brissett left. It don’t matter who the OC is Driskel is not the answer. Win or lose with the freshmen. I know I’ve said this every post but of coarse the D going to look bad if they can’t get off the field. The Kentucky game and the Alabama game Driskel has over thrown what could’ve been touchdowns or huge first downs. And even though he change the tweet Robinson only said what I bet most of the locker room is saying. Bench Driskel…

    • Ken (CA) says:

      They got off the field quite quickly the first play of the game…that was pretty bad….

    • Michael Jones says:

      They didn’t “let him go.” Brissett left on his own after Driskel beat him out. What are they supposed to do? Make every guy who threatens to transfer 1st string?

      Furthermore, the highest ranked team that N.C. State has played this year so far is Georgia Southern (I know. . a powerhouse by current Gator standards). It remains to be seen how good of a QB he will be against tougher competition, starting this week against FSU.

  17. Miami Gator says:

    I dont think the defense played THAT bad. They were on the field the entire game because the offense couldnt put a decent drive together. If the offense wouldve been able to hold onto the ball a bit, our defense wouldve been rested and able to compete at a high level throughout the game.

    Heck our defense had 5 or so takeaways.

  18. Aligator says:

    Shannon, Why do you feel like Foley has stuck by Mushchump? This program is not a training ground for coordinators to be a HC? What was and is he thinking? Do you feel he will be able to admit his mistake? This is going to get uglier than when Zook was here! ALIGATOR

  19. Rob says:

    Probably a CHUMP here! But I may be the only Gator to still have a “little” faith. Not confident the offense has been opened up. Let Driskel go and live/die by the results. Get the young running (have to be in the game) and having fun. I don’t want to hear we ran 3 times up the middle to give the D some rest. Open it up and let’s go!

  20. Shannon Snell Shannon Snell says:

    Ali,

    I think the whole Zook era was the problem leading into now. He hired and fired Zook, having to openly admit he “got it wrong”. It left egg on his face a a bad taste in the mouths of Gator Nation. History is repeating itself. Though I think he is in strong denial. But the good news is if history is indeed repeating, Foley’s next hire should blow us away. (In the good sense this time.)

    • Michael Jones says:

      That’s the best take I’ve read yet on the dynamics of this situation where Foley is concerned. I do think that, overall, Foley has obviously done a good job with the university’s athletic department. But the result of that “good job” and the acclaim and success that has come with it is an ego that has gotten a little out of control.

      He’s going to have to admit that he failed again if he lets Muschamp go. If he does, then hopefully this time he won’t go coach-hunting like his a-s is on fire as he so often has in the past. It’s okay to actually take a few days to pick out the next coach, Jeremy.

  21. JLGator says:

    I think maybe we need to consider that Foley’s run is over as well. His judgement here has been terrible

  22. AJ says:

    If I hear “we’ll get it corrected” one more time from anyone in the program I might just lose it.

  23. UFGATORFAN100 says:

    Shannon is correct I just hate the leg jumpers,tick magnet,mutts more if not similar to Shannon. I’ve been to Jacksonville on side of Mutts unfortunately, due to error on Stub Hub I was.in Full Gator Gear and Face Paint while in Enemy Territory.

    Why I Hate the Leg Humpers,Tick Magnets, Mutts let me count the ways:

    1) We have A MUTT running our once proud program to the ground while people in ATHENS watch in Joy. As well as Horse Face Foley does NOTHING….

    2) THE MUTTS have a Head Coach who Played at SCUM ie UM, Coached as OC at Free Shoes University and Now Leg Jumper Coach

    PS living in Miami I got the privilege and joy of seeing Harris play in person against Top Notch Talent. BOTH Harris and Grier can’t be Worse than Known Commodity Driskel who SUCKS!!! Is a 4th Year Junior but,Playa like a Freshman. Before Season started many people Assumed because UF was bringing back experienced WB they would do better… But, let”a be Honest what QB in the SEC is Driskel better than?
    ANSWER=NO ONE You bring Back Dung the Next Year you get Dung.

    Would welcome Comments from Shannon and others about Post and Backup WB issue? GO GATORS

  24. UFGATORFAN100 says:

    Obviously above Mentioned Post in place of WB I Meant QB situation and Term

  25. 5wideU says:

    I’ve always backed Foley and think as an overall athletic director (all sports) he’s been top notch. It’s no easy feat to win the SEC All Sports trophy 24 out of 25 years or whatever the streak is even though Gator fans have grown accustomed to it. I do believe that maybe he’s gotten a little full of himself. If the story is true that he didn’t even speak to anyone or interview anyone else before he offered the job to Muschamp, there’s clearly something wrong there. It’s not like this guy had any track record as a head coach or that he even knew him personally. As a manager, if I’m hiring for an extremely important position, I’m interviewing at least five people regardless of if I may have a leading candidate going in or not. Sort of management 101. I know he hit a home run with Donovan as a young, first time coach but he’s proven that formula doesn’t work with the football program where the expectations and complexities are not even close to being on the same level. He clearly needs to hit a home run the next time around and hope he has a well thought out list and hiring process in place right now. Recruiting is going to take a big hit either way this year so make sure you get the right guy and not reach for someone like he did with Zook just to save a recruiting class.

    • Steven says:

      So far he is 1 for 3 in football head coaching hires and while Foley did hire Meyer.
      Machen had a huge part in getting him here.

      • Michael Jones says:

        Their biggest blunder was the one who got away: the Ol’ Ball Coach. I will never forgive Foley and Machen for not hiring Spurrier. . plus the disrespect he was shown in the way he was snubbed.

        On Meyer’s BEST day, he can’t hold Spurrier’s clipboard. Let’s not forget that the Zooker could recruit, and Meyer walked in to a pretty well-stocked cupboard.

        • gatorboi352 says:

          “On Meyer’s BEST day, he can’t hold Spurrier’s clipboard. Let’s not forget that the Zooker could recruit, and Meyer walked in to a pretty well-stocked cupboard.”

          Sorry man, totally disagree here. While I LOVE Spurrier, Meyer won more in less amount of time. I’d go so far as to say they are on equal ground for what they were able to accomplish with this program.

          As for Meyer’s first title, remember he won it again 2 years later with his own players too.

          • Michael Jones says:

            I understand where you’re coming from, Gatorboi, but statistics alone can be a little misleading. Spurrier changed a whole culture. He started from scratch. Meyer didn’t have to. Meyer won the 1st one with Zook’s recruits and then had the incredible good fortune of having Tim Tebow–arguably the greatest Gator footballer ever–for the rest of his career. So far, without Tim Tebow, Meyer has yet to win any championships.

            Not saying that Meyer sucks, just saying that for my money he’s not in the same room with Spurrier.

            Meyer is an above average recruiter, for sure, but there are also alleged issues about his methods.

            I don’t think that Meyer sucks as a coach, just really LOVE Spurrier over any active coach, including Saban. One place Adam and I agree is regarding Sumlin. I too think that Sumlin is a superstar. But I’ll take Spurrier over any of them.

            I have a much higher opinion of Franklin than others do and I also think that Pinkel and the guy at Duke are tremendous coaches as well. Franklin, Pinkel, or Mullen, at UF, with UF recruiting, facilities, tradition, alumni, etc., would kill it.

    • SW FL Joe says:

      Billy was head coach at Marshall for 2 years before Foley hired him.

  26. Michael Jones says:

    What has happened to Driskel, such a physically gifted athlete, will be forever one of the mysteries of Gator football. I really believed in him. Thought he was a sure-fire 1st round NFL draft choice. It looks like I’ve never been more wrong about a player.

    Too bad. Seems like a decent kid too and he’s a Gator (I always support Gator athletes). Tough luck for everybody.

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