Snell’s Slant: Gator Nation deserves better

By Adam Silverstein
October 14, 2014

By Shannon Snell – OnlyGators.com Featured Columnist

You do not need me to tell you that losing sucks. Watching uninspired football? That sucks, too. There is a problem in Gainesville, Florida, and the most frustrating thing in my life right now is the realization that the Gators, a top-tier program in the nation, are currently a bottom-tier team in the Southeastern Conference.

It may be tough to realize sometimes when reading this column, but I am a positive person and try to look on the bright side of things when writing about Florida. Part of that is from being a former player, caring so much about the program and wanting to give the Gators the benefit of the doubt for as long as possible.

I would love to tell you about the progress Jeff Driskel is making at quarterback, but he’s not. This is as matter-of-fact as I can make this statement: he is not the answer behind center. He may have a strong arm, but he cannot consistently connect down the field. He may be athletic, but he does not get the opportunity to showcase that often enough. He may be a leader in the locker room, but turning the ball over three times in a single game – like he did on Saturday – is not an example to set for your teammates.

When I played for Steve Spurrier, he made it perfectly clear that if you didn’t play well in games, your ass would be benched. And one of the things that I respect most about him – to this day – is that he never played favorites.


In 2000, with Jesse Palmer and Rex Grossman fighting for the starting quarterback job, Spurrier had a tough decision to make. Palmer played like such, well, shit against Mississippi State (7-for-20, 106 yards, interception), that he inserted both Grossman and Brock Berlin. Those two combined to complete 16-of-35 passes for 379 yards and four touchdowns. Guess who did not start the next game?

There were no second chances. There was no proclaiming to the media that Palmer gave us the best chance to win because of his experience. That would have been complete and utter crap, and the fans knew it, especially after Grossman, a redshirt freshman, completed 81 percent of his passes and threw for two touchdowns in the game.

Will Muschamp planned to play Treon Harris on Saturday and was unable to do so due to extenuating circumstances, but he gave no indication that he was going to start Harris. And now this week, despite Driskel’s lackluster overall performance (yes, he played better at times but the turnovers simply negated his progress), he is still in line to start the game even though the coaching staff plans to use Harris.

Gator Nation deserves something to get excited about. It’s been way too long. After four years, this team has yet to put together anything that resembles a functioning, balanced offense. Even in 2012, when Florida was winning, it was so run-heavy that even someone that appreciates great offensive line play – myself – wanted to see something more exciting. Trust me, offensive coordinator Kurt Roper is not the one to blame despite supposedly being in charge of that side of the ball. Muschamp is the captain of this ship.

Some have questioned the talent on the Gators’ roster. Trust me, it’s there. Muschamp has recruited some quality players, and many of the guys struggling to produce are still young. But it is obvious to me that some of these guys are not being properly developed.

A week removed from a masterful performance against Tennessee, Florida’s defense was back to being mediocre; this time it got gashed by a true freshman runner rather than consistently down the field by a thrower (save for the one blown assignment that everyone just knew was coming despite LSU being faced with a 3rd and 25). It was bound to happen. One week prior, Auburn held LSU to seven points. Auburn. Seven.

Yet, the defense still played well enough to win the football game. Following the terribly-blown coverage, the Gators got a stop and gave the ball back to their offense. The offense not only failed to convert a touchdown from two yards out on its previous series, it was unable to gain 10 additional yards to try a potential game-winning field goal on the potential last series of the game. Instead, its quarterback threw over the middle for his second interception of the game.

This team is two plays away from being 0-4 in its league (yes, also one play away from being 3-1) and margins that razor thin should not make a single fan feel comfortable.

Something has to change. As a former player, I will always support this team – “Once a Gator, always a Gator” – but it is getting tough to sit idly by and watch what is happening to this team. We all deserve better.

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.

55 Comments

  1. Matt says:

    i agree with most every point on here, but at this point does it even matter? if harris comes in and plays well like he has shown that would only keep muschamp around longer. after losing to GA southern at home, he should have been canned. you cannot go 4-8 at Florida and keep your job. i dont care the circumstances. the change needs to be a new director of the program and the sooner the better. Muschamp has had plenty of time, and his changes and way of doing things has proven that it will not get the job done, in the weakest SEC east in a while over the past few years, and the University of Florida football program deserves better than imo the 12th or 13th best HC in the SEC. Hopefully most of the roster stays intact, i also believe there is plenty of talent on this team, but a different coach needs to be in place to best develop it and showcase it on the field. Go Gators.

    • Shannon Snell Shannon Snell says:

      Yea, I think it matters. Hell, I’d like to say it doesn’t, but I personally can’t get use to losing after winning for so long.

      • Matt says:

        me and my buddies argue this, youre right the feeling of losing is so sickening i cannot root for the Gators lose, even if that means better things for the future. but in the end things will probably take care of themselves, leaving the Gators to search for a HC that will turn things around quickly.

  2. G8trATL says:

    Shannon
    Thanks very much for you perceptive as a player and a true Gator. My concern is that with Harris we may have to take a few steps back (reading defenses, speed of the game etc) short-term, before the potential of taking giant leaps forward (if he “has it”) long term which we don’t really know right now but yet we still have the SEC East to play for. Starting Harris now and staying with him through good and bad will be sacrificing this year for next. At this point is there a next year?
    I think for me at least the frustration is no easy answers as JD has at times has made some great plays but yet enough bad plays to cost us games, and the fact Mushchamp has run a “Clean Program”, has recruited very well, and has quite a few guys (on defense) playing in the NFL. But that all said to your point the program still looks broken and at the end of the day he is the HC. I also agree to your points about 2012 and maybe that was an indication looking back to what was to come.
    Lastly I will say Muschamp has been given allot of “lemons” to many to list but on the flip side he has not made hardly any “lemonade” and a god leader makes “lemonade” from lemons whether they are not self-inflected or not. Sorry for the puns..

  3. EXITJIM@GOG8RS says:

    Bring home Steve Spurrier. He’s good for probably 6-8 years and has said as much.

    • Shannon Snell Shannon Snell says:

      Foley won’t let that happen. EVER.

      • Michael Jones says:

        Which in and of itself is pretty frigging sad.

        • mjGator says:

          I agree. Wouldn’t it be a great story for Spurrier to end his career where it all began? It would energize the coach and the program. Unfortunately, there are too many egos and too much water under this bridge for it to actually happen.
          Foley is a great AD for UF athletics, but I don’t think he’s a great AD for the football program. His hiring record speaks for itself.

  4. UFGATORFAN100 says:

    Shannon I loved your Slant and Tweets during game. I Agree 100% with you. GATOR NATION deserves better. I believe Spurrier,Meyer, Pell, Graves, and any past or Future coach would have Driskel riding pine.

    PS Anger,Frustration,Disbelief,and other emotions go through me and GATOR NATION cause of this game and the Catastrophe that is The MUSCHUMP era. I can assure you that ATHENS loves the way a UGA Grad has done to our program.

    PS Shannon I”d like to hear your thoughts. First and Goal at the 3 yard line? I don’t”t understand why NOT put in Kelvin Taylor,Adam Lane,Mack Brown who are more physical backs? What”s the point of Recruiting them and having RB Depth IF you only have them on Sideline….

    PS I agree Shannon GATOR NATION deserves better…. Please provide thoughts on goal line and Offensive Hindered by Muschamp?

    • Shannon Snell Shannon Snell says:

      As far as the 1st and 3 go, I thought Kelvin should have had the opportunity. I think Brown has pretty much fell out of the rotation, due to being outplayed by both Jones and Taylor. I just don’t think Adam Lane is in the game plans right now. Taylor situation bothers me. He’s talented, yet he’s not being used. Something is up there, don’t know what however.

  5. Gator John says:

    I’m sure that barring some miraculous turn around, Muchamp will be gone after this season, regardless of whether we squeak Into a bowl or not. I don’t put the blame squarely on Muschamp, but as is the case, it starts at the top with accountability. I am sure Foley, as with some others, thought last years fiasco was a fluke, that is why 4-8 didn’t run CWM off. There were a lot of factors that played into that record. Bit still, the loss to Ga southern showed the players had already given up.

    So now the question is..and it has been asked many times…who does Foley get to replace Muschamp? I’ve heard cries for Mullen, but I don’t personally think he would leave MSU..especially if they make the playoff. Meyer left Utah because he knew he would never get a chance to ply for a title there. MSU is a different situation. I may be wrong, but I dont see Mullen as an option.
    Spurrier? Perhaps, if he wants to end his career at his alma mater. But will he be the same old SOS as he was? He has done some good at USC, but there just doesn’t seem to be that fire anymore.
    I have even heard someone mention Jim Harbaugh..I think that’s almost as far fetched as Jon Gruden.
    So who do we get? What big name with a good track record and head coaching experience (because everyone seems to want that).

    • Ken (CA) says:

      Spurrier and Foley parted on very bad terms. I doubt either would ever want to work with the other again

  6. Michael Jones says:

    “But it is obvious to me that some of these guys are not being properly developed.” Among Muschamp’s failings, this one in my mind gets the least attention but is a BIGGIE. Glad Shannon, a guy with the experience and an eye trained to detect such things, pointed it out.

    We probably need to calm down in our expectations from Harris. I like the kid, a lot, but he’s still just a true freshman who was a butter-fingered-DB away from throwing a pick-6 against UT that would have sealed our fate. He was amazing against East Mich and he led us on a 30 yard scoring drive against UT and looked good doing it, but let’s not put too much pressure or too high of expectations on him.

    USC beat UGA with Gurley. Mizzou then beats USC at USC. Then UGA goes to Mizzou and absolutely demolishes them without Gurley. Crazy year in the SEC.

    • Shannon Snell Shannon Snell says:

      Thanks. I think that point gets overlooked when we’re looking a the big picture. It means a lot in the college football landscape now-a-days especially for those teams not able to always land the “5 star” recruits

  7. Cameron says:

    Great article Shannon. One of the things that has bothered me the most about the Will Muschamp tenure is that, at least from my perspective, there does not seem to be much tinkering with the game plan based on the opponent, especially on the offensive side of the ball. It has just always seems to me that we have our basic playset on offense, and we’re going to run what we do every week, and if we win, great, but if we lose, well we can blame it on lack of execution.

    I was always taught that the goal in football really is to find the other team’s weakness and exploit it. LSU came in to this game with the SEC’s worst rush defense. What did that equate to? 10 rushes by our running backs. 10. Not one running back had more than 5 carries against the worst rush defense in the league.

    Prior to 2011, I had never in my life as a Gator (I’m 27) seen a University of Florida team lose a game because of it’s offense. Since Muschamp took over, that has been the norm. Our super-conservative style of play offensively has continued to hurt us and cause us to lose games. Did the defense play perfect Saturday? No. Did they do enough for us to win? Absolutely. We’ve changed offensive coordinator 3 times under Muschamp but our offensive philosophy has not been altered at all. We run the same offense this year as we did last year, it’s just out of the shotgun now.

    I really like Will Muschamp as a person, but I want to win more, and we have to put personal feelings aside. Muschamp has shown no ability to change and no ability to lead this program to anything but mediocrity. It’s time for a change. It was time for a change when we couldn’t beat Georgia freaking Southern for crying out loud. Why give him the rest of the season? If we get rid of him now, it would at least give us fans some hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

  8. Ken (CA) says:

    Great article again this week Shannon. Straight to the point. However, I would have liked a couple of more paragraphs. “A change is needed” OK, we all agree on that, what kind of a change would you recommend? Clearly you don’t think Roper is to blame, and I can understand that, we saw in previous Roper comments that WM was still calling some of the “critical” plays.

    change in head coach? Change in who plays? I think finally putting Tabor in following injury shows your example about putting best players in rather than playing favorites perfectly. He has been a beast last 2 games.

    I don’t disagree with you on having lots of talent to work with as well at many positions, I just don’t get the WM mentality and how he can’t seem to see what he is doing is not only not working, but completely turning the fan base either apathetic or virulently against the direction of the program.

    After putting up with this for 4 years, I begin to wonder if we are even an elite program anymore or if allowing this to continue is continually diminishing our luster.

  9. Seth says:

    I continue to enjoy Shannon’s take on things, but the stat in this article that the Gators have had “just one touchdown-scoring drive of 40+ yards on the season” is not correct. Gators had a bunch against Eastern Michigan (obviously) but also two against KY, two againt UT, and another against LSU (as mentioned). Still, only two per game in conference play is clearly not enough, and supports Shannon’s point that this offense is horrible with Driskell under center.

    • I’ll be sure to correct this once I get on a computer.

      • Shannon Snell Shannon Snell says:

        You’re right and wrong. Leave Eastern Mich out of it. They were horrible by the William and Mary school of the Deaf and Blind standards. So minus them, they had 2 against Kentucky, (one of those being 44 yds, close enough I guess), Zero against Tennessee, and one against LSU. Still bad you can count offensive ineptness on one hand.

        • Seth says:

          inept to say the least, for sure. Obviously couldn’t have had two td drives against UT since only scored 10 total. Its certainly ridiculous when you look at the numbers.

  10. W2 says:

    Great read. And Ken (CA) I’ve always said it is Coach who is holding the OC back. Treon maybe great he may not but if we going lose games on the kind of mistakes Driskel makes then hey change. I feel Coach is a good guy and have the kids best interest in mind but every week every year it’s fix fix fix. And talent, its talent all over this team. Besides the drop balls I can remember a minimum of 4 over thrown balls. Les Miles said 4 and 1 go. We say fourth and goal wait. It’s got to get better.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      I haven’t always said that but I certainly saw it sometimes with Pease and definitely a few times this year that were alluded to during press conferences, but I have noticed it as well, I was merely throwing that out as a “necessary change”, as I think Roper left to his own could be an excellent OC here, and hoping that Shannon would expound more on what changes he thought would be most helpful/most needed.

      It sounds mostly along the lines of bench Driskel, even more than Fire WM. It was more of an urging of WM to change it up than to actually change up the staff, so I would have liked to have had him share what he thought were the biggest solutions to the problem. Also if he does follow the “Dump WM” train of thought, how long do you keep him before “interim” head coach Roper or do you give him the whole season no matter what as Foley said previously.

      Foley said we always do that or we wouldn’t have coaching respect, blah blah, but dumped Zook midseason, finished with interim and snapped up Meyer before ND. Maybe he just isn’t seeing any clear candidate to replace him out there either that he thinks he could convince to leave wherever he is and come to Florida, which kind of leads to my earlier question “Are we really still considered an elite program anymore after what we have allowed over the past 5-6 years? Since Spurrier, this was one of the top 5 schools in the country to be head coach of. I am not so sure we are considered in such high esteem anymore.

  11. gatorboi352 says:

    Treon will cure all our ailes, starting Saturday. Enjoy a new beginning of Gator football, folks!

    Don’t put too much stock into Driskel getting the supposed “nod” at starting; it won’t last long.

    • Michael J. says:

      I disagree. The meaning was very clear when Roper said that Driskel would start and get the majority of first team reps, with Harris being squeezed in occasionally. Then there was the diatribe of Harris being a true freshman, not understanding how to read defense, not having a grasp on the playbook, etc. etc. It means only one thing. Nothing has changed. Muschamp STILL believes that Driskel is a great quarterback. It’s his story and he’s sticking to it. Harris will only play when the “driskelling” on the field has caused the stadium to become filled with boos. By then it may be too late or Harris may not be up to the task. I am confident that Muschamp is going to let Driskel continue to drive until the season is hopeless, and it will be hopeless if UF loses to Missouri. I see a parrellel to the ending of “Thelma and Louise”, only it’s Driskel and Muschamp in the front seat laughing hysterically as the Gator program goes off the cliff.

      • Michael Jones says:

        That’s hilarious. You are such a funny and talented guy. I see the same kind of “Thelma and Louise” ending for your beloved Jimbo and Winston . . but Jimbo isn’t laughing hysterically as they crash and burn, he’s hysterically proclaiming Winston’s innocence.

        You like that, “Michael J.?” Have some, brother. Pretty soon you’ll be too depressed to be trolling our sites. Go Irish! lol

        • Michael J. says:

          Who brought up FSU? I think it’s pretty clear that Will Muschamp has not changed his thinking in the slightest manner. As for FSU, I suggest you not flip over to watch the game they are playing, you might get too depressed. I only say what I see. I’m wrong sometimes, but I think I’ve been much more accurate than you this season. Wishing and hoping that UF is a good team or FSU will get beat by Notre Dame is not a substitute for facts. FSU wins because they are the best team and have the game’s best player. UF loses because they are mediocre and have one of college football’s worst player leading them. I wish I could say that the roles were reversed, but, like Sgt. Friday, I only deal in facts, not daydreams.

      • G2 says:

        How can he discount the fact that Treon can in and won the Tenn game? I don’t care how many plays he knows, the guy can move the team and throws catch-able balls!

  12. G2 says:

    I hear Muschamps a$$ is on the line this week. A loss to Missouri and he gets canned now, like the Zooker did in the middle of the season. maybe he coaches out maybe Roper takes over, who knows.

    You know Foley doesn’t want that to happen but he’ll have no choice, the booing will be deafening.

  13. Steven says:

    As a college football head coach in year 3 and 4 there is no one to blame for a loss but yourself.

    These are your players. If they aren’t good enough then you haven’t recruited well enough. Then you haven’t developed well enough.

    If we are constantly having blown converages and confusion then you haven’t coached well enough.

    If you have lost 9 out of your last 12 games at FLORIDA. F’n FLO-RI-DA. Then you are what you are.
    And what Muschamp is is absolute garbage.

    Please supporters tell me what is different. What is he going to fix next year? What reason has he given us that prove he is a capable coach. I could make a much stronger case for Zook being retained than I can for Muschamp.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      Well said, and as is often said by the prognosticators and “experts, “You are what your record says you are, no more, no less” and I would add on, no excuses…

  14. Mike the Red says:

    Shannon, you really write well. Simple, clear, and to the point.

  15. Fatback says:

    Interesting article…but I disagree. We don’t deserve more than anyone else. We’ve had it better than most for many years and we take it for granted. Talking as if you are entitled because of your name and your proud history and pointing the finger at your own gives the fan base a bad rap, makes you sound like spoiled children….makes you sound like Notre Dame or USC. I certainly hope we do better, but we don’t necessarily “deserve” it.

    • Shannon Snell Shannon Snell says:

      Excuse me for being blunt, but I think I’ve earned the right to express my opinion. Maybe you’re cool with being mediocre, but I sir am not. Maybe you should cheer for Vanderbilt if you feel that strongly about things. I don’t feel that I am entitled to anything, I am, however, proud of the rich history of Gator football and everything it stands for. I refuse to not voice my opinion of something I sweat and bled for daily, sir. Those programs you mention: ND and USC, those are winning programs. The nothing wrong with expecting excellence.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      I disagree with our disagreement. Coaches don’t jump from USC or ND to go to another college. They don’t jump from OSU, Texas, Alabama, or Florida. They are end-game jobs for college coaches. The best of the best in college, or at least Florida has been for 20 years or so, now, I don’t know. Florida is one of the few schools that can pretty much take its pick of coaches. That isn’t “entitled” , it is just a fact of the landscape and the quality of the job. That is why “Florida deserves better”, etc.

      Even when ND was down they still could choose pretty much any coach they wanted that wasn’t at some other elite school, it just took them 20 years to find the right fit after Holtz.

      It shouldn’t take UF that long because imo it is a much better and easier job than ND..getting someone to ND based on 50 year old tradition fro all around the country is a lot harder than pulling in state talent to a school that has accomplished a lot in their actual lifetime in multiple major sports.

  16. swamplife says:

    Michael j your not a true fan if you root for your team to lose no matter how you fill about wm

    • Michael Jones says:

      Don’t worry, Swamplife, he’s not a Gator. He likes to come on our site and stir things up. He tries to throw in just enough to try to give himself some credibility, but he’s as transparent as water. Can you imagine having that little of a life? lol

  17. Ks Gator says:

    (Insert negative comment about Driskel here). (Insert negative comment about Muschamp here). And of course, Go Gators!

  18. W2 says:

    Well the proof is in the pudding or in the swamp and it’s not good.

  19. DJ Chemist says:

    Shannon well done. A much more calm and constructive approach I’ve been very put off by the emotional moaning and groaning by these other fan site pieces this week. The blessing in all this is that we should have a much better coaching staff next year with a boat load of talent that is ready to become explosive.

  20. Fatback says:

    Shannon, I guess I didn’t explain myself very well. You have most certainly earned the right to express your opinion. I am not questioning your motivation, just the choice of the word “deserve”. Deserve meaning something that is owed. I am UF alumni, I want us to win as much as anybody and I agree Muschamp and Driskel are not getting it done and there probably needs to be a change. But most comments you see on the Internet are to the effect… Our coach sucks, our quarterback sucks, and our A.D. sucks. Bashing your own may feel good temporarily but ultimately it does no good. Because we are UF and because we have had success in the past does not mean we are currently owed anything. We still have to earn it like everyone else. We want it, and thanks to the efforts oh folks like yourself in the past we as fans have come to expect it… but we don’t necessarily “deserve” it. And those that would have us fail simply to affect change at coach are no fans at all. This Saturday I am going to route like hell for whomever is standing on our side line and whoever is lined up under center. Go Gators!

    • Ken (CA) says:

      We may not be entitled or “deserve” it, however we have EARNED it. try putting together a conference winning program, let alone a national championship competitor or even potentially a .500 team on a regular basis at many/most schools. Even in the SEC, UK/Vandy can’t do it, try a Northwestern, an Indiana, Washington State, etc., etc. and that is just in power conferences, and only a subset.

      UF is an elite program and has been for many years, and part of the perqs of that is that we have the ability to select (not interview and hope, but select) virtually any head coach we want. We may not get any or even most of them, but 50-75% of the top 100 recruits will always have UF on their list at some point in their recruiting process. Even now, as poor as we are doing, 3 of the top 5 ESPN 300 recruits are leaning Florida while 7 of the top 50 have them in their top 3 or top 5.

      We have incredible advantages over most other schools due to our success, and on top of that we have the ability to take advantage of that as the UAA is one of the most profitable in college sports (2nd only to Texas, I believe, maybe 3rd to Texas and OSU).

      With the money, the tradition that has been built over the last 25 years of winning, the location, the climate and so many other factors, UF is a choice destination for coaches and players, I bet if you asked every coach in FBS what is easier: to recruit a player to UF or to recruit a player to Notre Dame, virtually everyone one of them would say UF, if not every one, especially if it is one of the unbelievable amount of in-state talents that Florida possesses. Indiana? Not so much.

  21. Gators til the end says:

    If there is any question of our lack of player decelopement check a Boston College or NCST game out. Murphy is a solid threat now, and Brisset looked poised even with few weapons against Florida St.

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