Grading the Florida Gators at Alabama game

By Adam Silverstein
October 6, 2010

Each week following a Florida Gators game, ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive grades the team position-by-position based on each unit’s performance. This week, we decided to change things up a bit when looking at how the Gators fared against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the fifth game of the 2010-11 season, which took place at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL.

OFFENSE: D
Florida scored six points on Saturday via the kicking game with the offense failing to post a single touchdown for only the second time under head coach Urban Meyer. In fact, the Gators’ output was the team’s lowest total since Meyer’s first game in Tuscaloosa five years ago. After Florida came out of the gates hot with four first downs, 74 yards gained and an opportunity score from the goal line on their first offensive possession, the offense stalled only posting a total of 27 yards the remainder of the first half. Just like they started the game, the Gators began the second half with gusto, posting a 69-yard drive that resulted in a field goal. Truth be told, the second half as a whole showed better execution with Florida running 38 offensive plays for 222 total yards (vs. 28 for 101 yards in the first half). But worse than the unit’s first half production was its propensity for turnovers with redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley throwing two interceptions (one returned for a TD), freshman QB Trey Burton tossing one on a jump pass and redshirt senior running back Emmanuel Moody fumbling a hand-off in the red zone.

DEFENSE: C
The defense got off to a rough start on Saturday, allowing Alabama to score three touchdowns and a field goal on its first four offensive possessions. After holding the Crimson Tide to an opening drive field goal after they drove 68 yards in 10 plays, the Gators let them put together back-to-back touchdown drives and allowed a third after Brantley’s first interception. Once that barrage ended, Florida only allowed Alabama 31 total yards on their next four possessions (including a kneel down to end the first half). In fact, the Gators only gave up three first downs in the second half, two of which came on the Crimson Tide’s final possession. QB Greg McElroy was held to 84 yards passing, Heisman Trophy winning RB Mark Ingram only gained 47 yards on 12 carries and RB Tony Richardson ran 10 times for 63 yards because of one 30-yard burst.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C+
Meyer loves special teams and we here at OGGOA love special teams. So when a guy like senior punter/kicker Chas Henry puts on a performance like he did last Saturday, it is our desire to give the unit an “A+” and go “on to the next one.” Unfortunately his career-long 75-yard punt, 62.3 yards per punt average and two made field goals were simply bright spots on a unit that showed a major flaw. Alabama WR Julio Jones‘ 41-yard punt return put a black eye on Florida’s special teams, a unit that had not allowed a single punt return yard in 20 of 22 previous games before giving some up in each of its last four contests.

COACHING: D+
Unlike last season, one thing that has stands out this year in regards to the Gators’ coaching staff is its ability to make halftime adjustments. On both offense and defense Florida drastically improved after the half though offensive coordinator Steve Addazio’s unit was still unable to cross the goal line. The first half was filled with errors on both sides of the ball; the offense started strong but was deflated after Burton’s interception and the defense just did not seem able to stop a motivated Alabama offense. Though execution is primarily at fault for the team’s misfortunes, coaching and preparedness was obviously not at the level it needed to be going into the game.

PLAY CALLING / EXECUTION / TURNOVERS

Though turnovers, poor execution and red zone inefficiency were what troubled the Gators most on Saturday, the primary criticism coming out of the team’s atrocious outing was the offensive play calling. And while we agree with many of our readers that some of the decisions he made during the contest were ludicrous and in some instances dumbfounding, the vitriol being flung Addazio’s way is quite disturbing and distasteful.

The main point of contention in regard to Addazio is the offense’s continued use of the dive and option plays, both of which failed miserably against the Crimson Tide. As a whole the play calling appeared predictable, the goal line packages were formulaic and the end results were failed drives and an inability to put points on the board.

Is it time that Florida concentrate on moving the ball vertically, especially with the type of talent on the roster? Certainly. But as both Meyer and Addazio mentioned early this week, the dive and option are part of the offense. The key going forward is using those plays correctly and in moderation, something Addazio seems to be struggling with though he flat-out claims otherwise.

Now to the goal line jump pass on 4th down: Unacceptable. Meyer and Addazio each said separately that the play was scripted as part of the game plan, but considering it was obvious to everyone including the opposition’s coaches coupled with the fact that a freshman was executing it rather than a patient veteran like Tim Tebow, that play should not have even been a consideration at that point. The decision to go for the touchdown will not be debated here as that was Meyer’s call and would have looked genius if it worked. But using that particular play in that situation? Just plain stupid.

Play calling is important and there has been an obvious drop-off since Dan Mullen left to coach Mississippi State, but the most important factor when utilizing these plays is making sure they are executed correctly and result in positive offensive production. Considering the entire starting offensive line was banged up and practiced only a handful of plays as a unit going into the game, perhaps staying away from some of the more complicated blocking schemes would have been a smart adjustment to make.

Above all else, execution is to blame for the Gators’ poor showing on Saturday. Discuss the blandness of the dive and option plays all you want; they have worked and do work when executed correctly. Florida lost by 25 but either missed out on or gave up a total of 21 points due strictly to execution and turnovers, not play calling. The Gators turned the ball over inside the five twice on Burton’s interception and Moody’s fumble; Brantley’s pick-six on the other end accounted for the other major miscue.

25 Comments

  1. Mr2Bits says:

    Well put together. Can;t agree more.

  2. Adoozio says:

    Coaching F

  3. Evan says:

    Well said

  4. Adoozio says:

    the vitriol being flung Addazio’s way is quite disturbing and distasteful.
    ……Adam, I think the distasteful vitriol stems more from Addazio’s clueless comments. I agree the play calling is questionable, and while people don’t like it, they do not become infuriated nearly as much as when the play calling is bad and the O line play is bad and then Addazio seems taken aback when someone questions the obvious problems and he denies them as though they don’t exist and the reporter is creating them…like Mr 2 bits said so eloquently “don’t piss down my leg and tell me it’s raining” that in my opinion is the cause of the vitriol and distasteful name calling. Although, as much money as some boosters donate, they feel they deserve the right to vent.

  5. Basshole says:

    Mr2Bits, you agree with him? But he didn’t even threaten to punch the OC in the face? 🙂

    I’m sorry, but that line still has me cracking up. I thought I was mad about the game, but it’s Wednesday and somebody is still so mad about the game they throw that line out there.

  6. John S says:

    I agree with most of your ratings but the last comment about turnovers I would disagree on. The two picks (and near pick) occurred because the defense sat on routes especially the pick six where moody couldn’t even complete his route because the linebacker was sitting there. Also, from where I sit Pouncey gets the blame for the fumble, not Moody.

    Unfortunately the rest of the ratings are dead on. I feel decent about the defense though (C+/B-?), they were going against arguably the most complete offense in the game and only gave up 24 points on the road. The offense on the other hand scored -1 against a defense more green than they are. Why we left the secondary alone is beyond me.

    I hope the rumors of Brantley being hurt are exaggerated, but from what I hear he may only last a half. He’s going to get hit. Hopefully we’ll go mass protect, and leave that stupid five wide crap in Gainesville. If not and he gets obliterated in the first quarter on an option play, Addazio needs the headset ripped off.

    • John- Not sure how defining the interceptions and explaining how they occurred makes you disagree with me? No matter what the defense does the offense has to (a) execute and (b) avoid mistakes. Throwing interceptions = making mistakes.

      As far as your comments about Brantley…you can’t “hear” he is only going to last a half because how often and/or how hard he may or may not get hit are not known quantities. But I do agree…can’t let him take unnecessary shots in the option against LSU. Leave those plays for Burton at least this week.

  7. Mr2Bits says:

    Basshole : I like it. Funny thing is I’m not infuriated by the game. I never expected to win and did feel as though we humiliated ourselves. I was completely content with the loss as I took it and moved on.

    What sent me over the top was Adazzio’s presser yesterday. The fact that he is stubborn to the point to even recognize his weakness in play selection and execution, refused to entertain the idea of adapting and changing our game plan and then tries to defend himself and our players by lying to everyone in Gator nation.

    I read a good analogy in that what if a president of a company would allow one of his employees to negatively affect half his company’s production due to inexperience and/or incompetence. He would be fired or demoted.

    Sure I would love Adazzio to take a hike but he is a nice guy that Urbes loves. What I want the most is for him to admit things need to be shaken up and make some changes. If he can do that, then I will be all good. If I see more of the same(which I’m expecting until our D stops winning games for us), then I’ll challenge him to a boxing match for charity 🙂

  8. Ted says:

    Thanks for being honest. Love this web site.

  9. Gatorbuc15 says:

    F

  10. Aligator says:

    If you all remember, we had a ton of red zone issues last year as well.

  11. Aligator says:

    does anyone else feel like we are back in the times of chris leak?

  12. Gatorgrad79 says:

    “There is nothing wrong and we are not going to change anything” from Addazio has LSU lickin’ their chops. If that is true, we will lose Sat.

  13. John S says:

    I was commenting on “Florida lost by 25 but either missed out on or gave up a total of 21 points due strictly to execution and turnovers, not play calling.” I believe predictable play calling resulted in Bama sitting on routes, which led to 2 turnovers. You’re right, execution of the OL is the other culprit, which explains why we can’t gain a single yard when we need to.

    What I heard is that Brantley is barely hanging in there in practice, and Burton is getting far more snaps at QB than the other 4 or 5 positions he’s in, and Vegas has pulled the game because of it.

    • John- Oh OK, now I understand where you were coming from. Even so, the play calling is not to blame for the turnovers, the players are. The argument can be made, “Well they weren’t put in the best possible position” based on those play calls, but they still turned the ball over.

      To your Brantley comments…they are half correct. Burton is getting more QB snaps this week but that is because they want to get him some more time on the field as QB for option plays now that he has a better handle on those other positions he has been playing. Vegas may have pulled the line temporarily (as I wrote about in another post), but it is back and the Gators are favored by 6.5 points. Brantley is not “barely hanging in there.” That is a fallacy.

  14. arstillious says:

    I’am disapoint you blame Moody!!! Pouncey and Branley gets the blame for the fumble not Moody! Meyer’s coaching problem.

  15. Jesse C says:

    Adam – I really enjoy reading your message boards… most of the participants appear to be true gators and have actual football knowledge when expressing their opinions which is more than I can say for most of the national sites. I also appreciate your articles, interviews and other posts, they are refreshing and informative.

    I have been wanting to post some comments for a while but this is my first official post…. so it may be a bit of a long one…

    With regards to the Bama game, I admit that I did not expect to come out of Tuscaloosa with a win. I thought it would be a close game and that without Sturgis, we were in trouble. Needless to say, the freshman Phillips and Chaz more than made up for that void and I think we are in great shape for the rest of the season in the kicking game.

    The play-calling is a sore subject with me (everyone) and it has been suspect from game 1 since Addazio became OC. I am as frustrated as anyone with the lack of consistent production and the questionable calls throughout games… Coach A kinda reminds me of that other “deer-in-headlights” that used to roam the sidelines (the Zooker). That being said, I was encouraged by the play-calling in the UK game and the first drive of the first and second halves of the Bama game but then in the redzone…. total stupidity. I agree with Adam that its the players that make the TO’s… Trey and John didn’t have to throw the ball on their INT’s… if no one is open then tuck it and run or throw it away. Ultimately, TO’s is what killed us in the Bama game. It was also the first game that the defense failed to get an INT. McElroy really pissed me off when he was smiling after dodging the pass rush time after time for first down gains although he did get smacked a few times. 🙂 If we see them in Atlanta, we will be better prepared and I think we will have a good chance to bring home the hardware.

    Looking ahead… the LSU game. This is going to be like last year, two great defenses against suspect offenses which means another low scoring affair. We will utilize the heavy package (5-2), stop the run and make their weak QB’s throw it in the waiting arms of our secondary. The LB’s are the key to victory unless we can produce a pash rush (hahahaha). We will use Reed and Burton more out of the Wildcat to give more flexibility from the QB position. Our OL will need to play their best game of the season against the #1 defense in the SEC. As usual, whoever rushes the most and wins the TO battle, will win the game. I think we will hit them in the mouth in the third quarter and pull out the W…. 23-10.

  16. John S says:

    Glad to hear that Brantley’s condition isn’t as bad as I feared. Hope he holds up this weekend. The interceptions were earned by Bama’s coaching staff (jump pass especially), not due to poor throws or bad routes, they came from watching tape. To beat Saban you have to throw something different at him. My one compliment to Addazio is that he has more on his shoulders than any other OC, but that may be the problem.

    • Didn’t see the coaches on the field, must’ve missed them. Coaches can tell the players what to do, the players still have to do it. Example: Alabama’s jumped the routes and made the interceptions. Florida’s did not avoid turnovers and mistakes. Both teams are told to do both things. One succeeded and one failed – on the field.

  17. John S says:

    I guess I have a completely different perspective on this. In my book Addazio and Meyer are responsible for everything on the field. When 2 good teams play its more a chess game than a role of the dice. If the score were 24-31, I’d agree that the players were responsible, but we got beat down on National TV, that’s on the coaches who didn’t prepare their team, and I think Meyer would agree.

  18. Mr2Bits says:

    I know this hasn’t been brought up at all but does anyone see our offensive woes and lack of execution to be the fault of Meyer at all? Haven’t really been able to pin Urbes to anything this year as he just looks emotionless and ghostlike on the when he walks the sidelines. I worry that his fire may be burnt out and its translating to him not really caring what goes on with the offense and other aspects of our team.

    Just a thought an would like to know if anyone else feels or sees the same!

  19. Mr2Bits says:

    On a side note, you know you have problems when on Thursday night football, the Nebraska center has a bad snap and the announcer says “I thought only Florida and Pouncey had snap issues like this”………oh Steve!

  20. Jesse C says:

    Mr2Bits – Your comment reminds me of the movie Kingpin where if something bad happened, you could get Munson’d. Unfortunately, Pouncey seems to be getting the same recognition and may have his name synonymous with bad snaps. Let’s try it in a sentence… “Oh no, the center just Pounce’d the ball past the QB.” Kinda works actually.

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