Snell’s Slant: Gators silenced many on Saturday

By Adam Silverstein
November 4, 2014

By Shannon Snell – OnlyGators.com Featured Columnist

No one expected the outcome we got Saturday…besides Florida’s players and coaches. I can tell you that a former Gators player myself, one who just two weeks ago said the program was on a path to nowhere under Will Muschamp, I was absolutely shocked to see Florida pull out a victory in one of the team’s most important games – for a variety of reasons – over the last few years.

After weeks of uninspired, mistake-filled football, these Gators looked like they were on a mission. Not a mission to make the College Football Playoff (that’s long gone) or even go win the SEC Championship (still a long shot) but rather a mission to save Muschamp’s coaching career (at least as far as Florida is concerned).

You do not need me to tell you that another loss to Georgia would’ve been a proverbial death sentence for Muschamp. Most already had his fate sealed heading into the contest and were already speculating on who would be replacing him at the helm of the Gators. Well, Muschamp’s boys did not just run down Georgia’s throats on Saturday, they shut up a lot of Florida fans (and this columnist), too.


Most of the game stories you’ve read here on OnlyGators.com and elsewhere have led with the play of the quarterback – for better or worse. Not this time. Freshman Treon Harris, for all intents and purposes, was a non-factor in this game as it pertained to moving the ball offensively. That’s not to say Harris did not contribute. He had a couple nice runs and made a good throw to junior Latroy Pittman – his presence also helped the Gators’ confidence – but it was the running backs that absolutely dominated.

The coaching staff was smart enough to realize that putting the game in the hands of a true freshman making his first-ever start in a rivalry game would not have given Florida its best chance to win. Instead, the Gators – the same program once helmed by pass-happy Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer – ran the ball 60 times on the evening. Who would have thought we would see a day where that would happen at Florida?

To quote my favorite WWE superstar, Triple H, Muschamp on Saturday did what was “best for business.” And that was motivating an offensive line and running the hell out of junior Matt Jones and sophomore Kelvin Taylor. I blocked for a ton of great running backs in my day, and I do not ever remember one rushing for 190 yards, let alone two on the same team in the same game.

As an offensive lineman by trade, I always keep a close eye on the unit, which most of you likely know from reading these columns each week. On Saturday – and still today – I am a proud papa. The Gators shredded the Bulldogs’ defensive line to the point that UGA’s players barely appeared to be on the field. The best thing about all of it is that even though it became quite apparent that UF was going to run the ball and do nothing else the rest of the game, its rivals were unable to do anything at all to stop it.

Not having already mentioned the wide receivers to this point is doing the unit a disservice. A lot of the time, when a running back has a big run, it’s due to great blocking by both the offensive line and the wide receivers, especially when a run is broken to the outside. Demarcus Robinson has been criticized for inconsistent hands this season, but he the primary reason Jones scored his 44-yard touchdown. Robinson blocked not one but two defensive backs on that play, the second one nearly 35 yards down the field after the first. That is pure effort. Robinson and the rest of Florida’s receivers deserve just as much credit as the offensive line for fueling Jones’s and Taylor’s big day.

Here’s the plain, simple fact: the Gators stuck it to everyone that didn’t give them a chance to win…which was almost everyone. Florida accomplished this with an unexpected game plan that worked to perfection. The coaching staff gets tons of credit, and the players kudos for the execution. It was a truly great win for the program.

Now we ask: how does this affect Muschamp’s future at Florida?

Before Saturday, no one could have believed that the Gators had a chance to run the table and help him keep his job. But after a win like this and three-straight dates against Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Eastern Kentucky, it does not seem far-fetched to think that Florida could be 7-3 when it faces Florida State.

Would that be enough to save Muschamp’s job despite his 1-6 record against top 25 opponents over the last two seasons and all of the negativity surrounding the program? Would athletic director Jeremy Foley keep him around even if he doesn’t register an upset win over FSU?

If the Gators continue to play like they did Saturday and keep putting wins on the board, anything is possible.

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.

27 Comments

  1. gatorboi352 says:

    “but rather a mission to save Muschamp’s coaching career (at least as far as Florida is concerned).”

    I think more folks need to start asking (and theorizing) the _why_ behind this sudden change from the team.

    My take? Because Driskel was no longer a part of this offense. People have been saying Driskel (or anybody, really) could have went out there and did what Treon was asked to do Saturday. But I disagree. I believe Jeff was akin to an anchor of sorts to this team, both with his play and from a mental aspect.

    How else do you explain such a drastic turn around in a 2 week span?

    • Aligator says:

      Many of us celebrated Driskel going out last year as we saw signs of his demise. I hated he went out due to injury though. Then half of the team got hurt, including QB 2 and 3. Now we are in a better place. I see us playing with more passion going forward and doing better. I still think Muschamp is an idiot and will find a way to screw up the rest of the season. Why change what works?, said Muschump? Because we are not Alabama and can run down everyone’s throats all day.

  2. Rakkasan says:

    Fluke wins do happen and the fact this win, the way it happened, was so improbable, I think that’s what this was.

    I expect the Gators to struggle but win against Vandy, and then get shredded by Spurrier and the Gamecocks.

    • Dave Massey says:

      I guess not all Florida fans were shut up by this win, or do we possibly have a troll here?

      I’m going to have to side with gatorboi on this one and say that Driskell was an albatross around this teams’s neck. You saw it in the Tennessee game as soon as Harris came in. He was like an elephant in a china shop. You didn’t know when the crash was going to happen but you did know it would. Not a leader is the only way to describe him. I like the guy personally, it’s not like he acts like Winston, but he is no quarterback, he should take the baseball money and run.

      Every player on the field knew we were going to run the ball on both sides. The coaches knew it, the benches knew it, the fans in the stadium and at home knew it, the announcers knew it, hell my cat knew it. They couldn’t do a damn thing to stop it. That is not a fluke when you do something like that all game long. We stuck it to our biggest rival, a team ranked eleventh late in the year. Now, the South Carolina win over Georgia was a fluke game, but not this one. If anything the Missouri game against us was a fluke, it was like a keystone cops episode with Driskell the head flunky. Spurrier and the cocks can’t even shred cheese, they are not going to walk over Florida now.

      Florida is one thunderstorm, one sexual assault allegation, and one more made play away against LSU from possible going into the half ass u game at 9-2. Who knows what would have happened had Harris played after the Tennessee game. And half ass u is nowhere near the team they were last year. Their defense is very suspect and Winston will throw the ball into covereage when pressured. They were very lucky to win the Clemson game, the Notre Dame game, and the Louisville game. They were lucky they weren’t down 31-0 at the half to the Cards. They fumble inside the five and get a touchdown out of it. Then in the second half Winston throws into triple coverage and two DB’s take each other out and what should have been an interception turns into a touchdown. If Miami doesn’t take them out first I am finally looking forward to that game. Let’s take the war to them, we won’t be laying down for anybody.

  3. Frank says:

    Shannon, thanks for manning up and giving credit to Coach, staff and players for what may very well turn out to be the turnaround game of the season. I know there are still Muschamp-haters out there, but I believe he can turn this thing around. For his sake and the benefit of Gator Nation, I hope he does. Go Gators!!! Beat vandy…Payback Time!!!

    • Michael Jones says:

      Everybody wants the Gators to do well. Just because some of us see the obvious about Mushcamp doesn’t mean that we hate him. I hope you guys that have taken one win and plunged head first into la la land are right. We’ll know soon enough.

      • Frank says:

        Michael- You have to know I’m using “haters” here as a term of endearment…I’m actually thankful that so many disgruntled (How’s that?) fans made their desire known for Coach to be fired that the players woke up and smelled the coffee and finally began to play with a red-hot passion in order to try and keep their beloved coach in place. And I honestly think the passion factor was the big difference between winning and losing this game. I had become really frustrated watching the few uga wins (’07, ’11-’13) because it seemed the dawgs always were more fired up and emotional. For once, the Gators outdid them in that department on Saturday. I just hope it continues. Confidence can be a fragile thing. Maybe this will prove to be the turnaround , not just for this season, but for Coach and the program as a whole. But please, you and the rest of your fellow disgruntled Gators, keep the heat turned up. It seems to be having a surprisingly positive effect. As the players mantra says:” We All We Got…We All We Need”
        Go Gators!!! Beat vandy…Payback Time!!!

        • Michael Jones says:

          You saw what I saw Saturday, Frank. We actually out-toughed and out-hearted UGA. As much as I hate to say it, that’s been kind of rare in the past. We often out-talent UGA, but they always seem to have heart, toughness and fight that I admire. On Saturday, we had more of those things than they did and I LOVED it.

          Make no mistake, Frank, my hope is that YOU are right and we “disgruntled” (lol) fans are wrong. I would be thrilled for Muschamp to be the answer and for the UGA game to be the beginning of an historical turnaround of epic proportions.

          Like I said, we’ll all know soon enough.

          GO GATORS!!!

  4. uf_84 says:

    I made the statement before the game that we have about as much of a chance of beating UGA as the Jaguars have of winning the super bowl. Insold my tickets to the game, and Inswore I wasn’t going to watch a single second of it. Such was my intention but I just couldn’t stand it and I watched in stunned disbelief. Where in the hell have these Gators been all year?

    Well needless to say I’m one of the fans they shut up and I had to eat my share of crow over the weekend. I’m very happy to be wrong in this case, and crow aint all that bad when you wash it down with several Crown and Cokes. It was one hell of a party here in Jacksonville over the weekend.

    If we finish the year 7 and 4 (Should be 8 and 4) Muschamp will not be fired nor should he be.

    • Dave Massey says:

      Recruiting might be his downfall. He’s already lost two commitments. If that doesn’t pick up and real fast he is in trouble.

      • Ken (CA) says:

        If he is retained or even replaced quickly, the demcommits can always recommit and there are still lots of uncommitted players out there that were leaning Florida. Either way, recruiting isn’t doomed at this point, no one has signed anywhere yet.

        • Dave Massey says:

          There are a whole lot of if’s there. If a new coach is brought in it completely changes the recruiting picture. Right now we have 9 commits. Got no new or recommits after beating our biggest rival convincingly. If we win all but the half ass u game and the commit list stands at a dozen or less I don’t know how much patience the AD is going to have to wait and see if that improves. Recruits are the future of the program. A dozen recruits is no future for the program and no future for Muschamp. I just think if he doesn’t improve in this area, remaining success on the field won’t be enough. That number needs to double and pretty quick. There are always late commits and a lot of guys like to commit at the all-star game with all the cameras going. So for now it is wait and see. How much see and how much wait will it take?

          • Ken (CA) says:

            You are right, there are a lot of if, however that isn’t a definite no at this point. As far as no suddenly deluge of commits or recommits after beating biggest rival, did you suddenly expect the flood gates to open and everyone suddenly decide in the last 2 days to be a Gator? Just like has been said everywhere else, one win doesn’t a coach’s job make. There is a lot of wait and see and I am sure a lot of nervousness both in recruits and staff.

            My point is there is a lot of time left and nothing is set in stone. Yes, it is a worry as to what is going on with recruiting, but the book hasn’t closed on it yet and lots can happen and will in the coming 3 months.

            • Dave Massey says:

              I didn’t expect a sudden deluge of recruits to commit or the flood gates to open after beating our biggest rival. The fact is we have 9 commits and got none after the Georgia beatdown. There were a lot of recruits at that game and not even a single one felt inspired to become a Gator. That to me is not good. When was the last time we did have someone commit?

              The truth is that a lot of players commit late and just like every year there are recruits that change their mind on signing day. Dante Fowler was a half ass u commit right up until he signed with us on NSD. These are usually the top recruits because they know that no matter what any program in the country will take them even if they have to pull a scholarship offer from someone that they promised one to for a long time (hence the term greyshirt). College football is a business and most programs run the scholarship awards like cutthroats. Three and four star recruits can’t necessarily play that wait and see game so they will continue to commit elsewhere to a known quantity. These guys really are the backbone of top programs. So we could get a late rush of commits but that is not going to happen until Foley makes an announcement one way or the other.

              Right now Foley is stepping on Muschamp’s neck. There may be time left but if he doesn’t make a decision to keep Muschamp in the next couple weeks max the guy is doomed. Not in the next three months. The sooner he makes the decision the better it is for the program, one way or the other. If he decides he is going to keep him then he needs to announce that ASAP. If he is not going to keep him it won’t matter. New coach comes in and it is a free for all until NSD.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      Where indeed? I don’t by the Driskel issue. He was fine against Eastern Michigan. Offensive line play and running the ball isn’t his fault. This team has played poorly for 2 years and putting it all on Driskel is ridiculous. Contrary to what people are saying, they haven’t been that stellar on defense either. At various times they have been chewed up by both the pass and the run.

      If it takes the coaches job being on the line for these guys to decide it is time to take the game seriously and put in the effort, that is a real issue. The team has been ugly and painful to watch since he got here. Even a grind it out running game isn’t particularly interesting to watch, however it wasn’t nearly as painful against UGA as a large majority of the 2012 games were. Hopefully they will keep giving Treon reps, open it up a bit so that when he *has* to pass he has a comfort level in-game situations, and the team decides that winning is more fun than losing so they keep up the effort we saw on Saturday for the first time in a long time.

  5. UFGATORFAN100 says:

    I have a feeling the Gators are going to go on a three-game winning streak with the momentum and.concentration NOT seen while Driskel was QB. The facts are clear those blocks by the receivers and Offensive Line effort would not have been taking place if Frisked is starting the game

    PS Harris gives us both a comfort, spark, and poise that Frisked never did. With every passing game our passing game can be developed in an effort to have.our Coaches trust Harris with passing down the Field. I believe with Harrison the as quarterback we could go on at 3 game winning streak and possibly win or play close against the Seminolrd. It”a a rivaryl game anything’s possible….

    PS To essentially Eliminate and Destroy any Playoff or NC Dreams of THE MUTTS, TICK MAGNETS, LEG HUMPERS!!! Go Gators!!!

    PS I wanted to get Shannon”a thoughts on 2 Points 1) I DON’T consider “FANS” true GATORS who wanted WM to Lose to be True Gators? A True Gator would Never want to lose vs THE MUTTS 2) IMO as Driskel starting WB in this game that effort blocking by OK and WEd does NOT happen?

    • Michael Jones says:

      If you’re right–that our scholarship players wouldn’t play as hard for Driskel as they did for Harris–then we need to dump those players and get some new ones.

      • Dave Massey says:

        Michael,
        You really don’t know a lot about all the dynamics that make up a football team. There are a lot of players involved. The team chemistry just wasn’t right with JD at QB. You don’t throw everybody off the team when they don’t have confidence in their QB for such obviously justifiable reasons. It’s hard for anybody to play well under the circumstances that they think your QB is good for 21 points every game…….for the other team.

  6. Ks Gator says:

    Nice piece.

    Ill be at the Vandy game. Go Gators!

  7. MojaveGator says:

    The Gators got away with running a one-dimensional offense. Let us not be fooled into believing that this can possibly work every week. As satisfying as this win was, it is still one win over Georgia in four years. Come November 29 we will have the same record against FSU.

    Let’s not lose sight of the fact that a change at the top is still needed. We are four years in with Muschamp and we are struggling to equal the record of his first year. We were three games below it a year ago – not exactly progress. According to Rivals.com we have the #71 class in the country coming in (tied with Vanderbilt, and worse than FAU). CBS reported during the Georgia telecast that the only reason it isn’t worse is that several players tried to decommit and found that their other offers were gone. Muschamp has turned UF from a destination into a place that recruits are stuck with.

    • Razzlegator says:

      Look on the bright side Bob. If this winning thingy continues, your guys’ hate fest will be good to go for another year.

    • G2 says:

      So true. If we don’t get on a roll and win out and create a buzz in recruiting we are screwed. The conundrum would be keeping Muschamp or not. May salvage a way better class that way but these problems will continue.

    • Dave Massey says:

      There is a long held theory in football. If you have success at something, keep doing it until the other team stops it. Georgia never stopped the run so Florida didn’t “need” to throw the ball. I agree it won’t always work that way but Muschamp has always had a run first mentality. Let’s see what happens if teams start putting 9, 10, or 11 in the box to stop the run. I have no problem with winning with running football or throwing the ball all over the place as long as we win. Running the ball down teams throats though is very demoralizing to them, it uses up clock, and therefore keeps their offense off the field more (defense is rested when it comes in).

  8. G8R_ALUM says:

    I was one of the 2% that thought the Gators would win this game and told that to anyone that would listen. That said, I did not foretell the route that it ended up being.
    I do believe the quarterback change was crucial to this win. The game just never really slowed down for Jeff and Treon came on, as evidenced in the TN game, with a level of poise and call demeanor this team seems to respond to.

  9. 305Gator says:

    I keep thinking how ironic that the player Muschamp so stubbornly refused to give more PT could save his job in the end.
    I agree 100% with all those who have said that Driskel is the problem with this team and that Treon gives us the best chance to win.
    Could it be that the QB change was made in part because Driskel is injured? Can it be that Muschamp is so pig headed that he would still prefer to start Driskel? Why all the continuing effort to find a role for Driskel? Treon Harris is the one who can lead us to winning out the rest of the games including FSU. There is hope for the future now where there wasn’t any 2 weeks ago. Most of it has to do with who our starting QB is.

    • Dave Massey says:

      I think most coaches would prefer to play a fourth year junior over a true freshman. But fourth year juniors don’t usually make freshman mistakes, jut JD does.

Top