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 has returned to continue sharing his musings through the 2013 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.
I’m not known for beating around the bush. That’s never been me and is something that’s unlikely to change. A lot of times in the past I have said some things that were enraging and other times (though more rarely) plain stupid, but I’ve always tried to tell the truth and speak my mind. In the end, no matter who likes you or who doesn’t, people will respect you for doing so.
“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn’t.” – Mark Twain
Here’s some truth: this Florida Gators football team is not good. Sure, that’s a statement straight out of Captain Obvious’s journal, but I have not seen anything like this dating back to the good ol’ days of Ron Zook.
The Gators are failing in every aspect of the game and there appears to be little hope in sight. There was a possibility that Florida could have or perhaps even should have beaten a decent Missouri team, but with so many injuries and an overall lack of identity, that thought became more and more fictitious as the clock counted down to zero.
I’m not going to beat a dead horse when it pertains to analyzing the Missouri game. That has already been done here on OnlyGators.com and elsewhere. You’ve read about the offensive line being atrocious, the defense playing uninspired, and the coaches making a number of mistakes throughout the game, starting with failing to give freshman running back Kelvin Taylor more carries.
Looking at things from my perspective, the biggest concern I have at this point is the relationship between the coaches and the players and whether division has already been created internally. Simply put, no one enjoys losing. Speaking as a former player, it can create a lack of trust towards the coaching staff from the players, especially when losses begin to pile up and adjustments are not made.
I was in this position before, folks. I played under Ron Zook for two years, and they were – without a doubt – the two toughest years I ever had to endure as a football player.
I came into Florida from Hillsborough High School, and we were not used to losing. When I signed to play for the Gators in February 2000, I did it because I wanted to play for a winning program under a proven coach in Steve Spurrier.
Unfortunately, he left for the NFL, and Zook came along. Those last two years were quite frustrating because we were losing games that we should have won and winning games that otherwise should have been blowouts by slim margins.
At one point, quite a few of us questioned whether the coaching staff knew what it was doing. It was far from a mutiny, trust me, but division began to slowly form and we were nowhere near on the same page at times.
Zook may have lacked in some areas as a coach but he made up for his deficiencies in two major ways. One, he was an amazing recruiter. Two, he knew how to rally the players together when times got tough. Unfortunately, he had to do the second a bit too often. But he realized that while those outside the program doubted him and some internally began to question his ability, he had the capability to motivate and inspire.
May I remind you that in 2003, with Florida sporting a 3-3 record, the Gators responded to Zook by running off three consecutive victories against ranked opponents.
As it turns out, head coach Will Muschamp is currently in a similar dubious position and has a schedule that features two more ranked opponents and Florida’s biggest rival in Georgia. The true character of a coach is not how he reacts after a win but how he responds after a loss. Muschamp has the opportunity to prove that he can not only motivate the team to get back on the same page but coach them up enough to save what could otherwise be a disastrous season.
It is his job to fix the leaks. It is why he is being paid the big money. He has to improve the product on the field and ensure the locker room does not turn sour.
Muschamp has openly admitted that this is not a good football team right now. He has to keep the belief of his players, because if he does not, the losses will begin to pile up and an over-.500 season will be in serious doubt.
No matter how safe Jeremy Foley said Muschamp’s job is after his team was beaten down by Missouri, more losses compounded by increasing fan discontent (and subsequent waning attendance) could force his hand otherwise.