Florida football embarrasses itself on and off the field as program bottoms out

By Adam Silverstein
November 5, 2017
Florida football embarrasses itself on and off the field as program bottoms out
Football

Image Credit: ESPNI

Florida Gators football could — and probably will — lose the rest of its games this season, but it would be hard to believe the program reaching a lower moment than it did Saturday in Columbia, Missouri.

One week after being flattened 42-7 by rival Georgia, which is trending in the complete opposite direction of a Florida team that has truly bottomed out, the Gators were throttled by a Missouri team that is often routed itself by Power Five opponents and was winless against such teams this season.

On the field, Florida was soundly defeated 42-16. The defense gave up 42+ in consecutive games for the first time since 1917, and the Gators are now allowing more yards per game than in any season since 1971 — and more points per game than in any season since 1946. Some of that is a coaching deficiency, but most of it has to do with talent and depth, which have respectively been hampered by poor recruiting and extensive injuries this season.

The offense is rudderless without a reliable starting quarterback leading the way. The offensive line was overrated to start the season and is now missing starters due to injury. The playmakers actually are there but with no one to get them the ball, protect the quarterback or open consistent lanes, there’s only so much they can do. Special teams — as it has been all season — is atrocious and led by an assistant whom the team should have moved on from last season (and never should have been hired in the first place).

All of that is terrible for Florida. It is now clear that the Gators are in a worse spot than they were following the departures of Urban Meyer and Will Muschamp. This is a true low point for Florida football, and while that presents a tremendous opportunity for coaches and players that join the program in 2018, it does not make things better in the present day.

Compounding that is some inane decision making off the field. The Gators’ official Twitter account on Saturday thought it would be a good idea to play up the fact that the team is a shell of its former self by sending out a self-depreciating GIF labeled “nothing to see here” with an explosion in the background.

Websites instantly jumped on this, many crediting Florida for finding humor in its predicament, while others wondered why the team would send such a tweet. Surely, UF was attempting to send a relatively light-hearted message as many other teams have in similar situations. The difference is that while the San Antonio Spurs account may release a similar tweet while being blown out in a regular season game, the Gators are doing it while losing to what their fans portend to be a far inferior opponent one week after UF parted ways with its head coach.

Bad timing. Bad decision. Bad look.

Redshirt senior punter Johnny Townsend, Florida’s best player and a potential Ray Guy Award winner this season, took notice to the tweet when he returned to the locker room after the game. Townsend, who has given maximum effort all season, admonished the Gators in a since-deleted tweet for bashing themselves and the players who were sweating and trying to play hard on Saturday.

He was 100 percent right, of course.

Townsend quickly deleted his tweet, and Florida wound up doing the same shortly after the fact. The Gators did not admit a mistake, apologize to their fans or anything of the kind. They just pretended it didn’t happen.

As if that was not enough, sophomore linebacker David Reese — in a rare moment of leadership for this Florida team — rightfully called out his teammates after the game in a pointed statement.

“I just want to say one thing,” he began. “We loved every single one of our coaches that’s been through here. It’s unfortunate what’s happened to them. I hate the way we represented our coaches like that today with this game.

“Those guys really care for us and gave us a real good gameplan to do what we had to do. It’s sometimes disappointing when everybody doesn’t want to come together and just play for each other. That’s sad to see. We’ve still got a lot to play for. Me personally and our defense, we want to play for those guys. We can’t have appearances like we did today. That’s just unacceptable.”

He continued: “[As] far as this game, we didn’t come out as one. We didn’t have the energy we needed. We didn’t play together. We didn’t play as a unit. It just wasn’t as personal to us as it should have been. There’s only so much you can do. It’s just sometimes the character of an individual … sometimes it’s a little bit overwhelming, but you have to focus on the task at hand, the game at hand. We’re going to hit it hard at practice and try to get everybody that wants to be on board, on board. That’s something we didn’t have [today].

“If you want to be a Gator, let’s be Gators.”

Florida can throw out its “championship experience with integrity” tag line all it wants, but until the football team begins to even come close to living up to it once again, it rings completely hollow.

The Gators are in a bad place right now. There is obviously going to be a coaching change. Along with that will come attrition both on the current roster and within the recruiting class — perhaps to a minor degree that can be mitigated with the right hire.

The truth as it stands now is that Florida absolutely must calmly and confidently make some calculated decisions over the next 4-6 weeks. The Gators football program must head in a completely new direction. If the administration makes the right move, everything can legitimately be salvaged in a year or two. One more massive mistake along the lines of Jim McElwain and Florida might be headed the way of … well, let’s just remember how long it took Miami to get “back.”

7 Comments

  1. Michael L. Jones says:

    Compliments to Mr. Reese for his stand-up comments. He is right. There wasn’t a lack of athleticism out there. There was an absence of heart, character and pride. But I noticed that from Mac’s team all the way back to quit in the Citrus Bowl blowout loss to Michigan . . he doesn’t inspire the kind of pride and “never quit” attitude that we’d like to think our school represents.

    This is going to be a BIG rebuilding project. Mac was perfectly content with recruiting 3 star OL. Therefore, just like Adam says, we have playmakers but nobody to block for them. We need Mullen (my first choice) or Frost (who I am afraid will leave quickly for Nebraska). And whoever we get needs 5 years of patience from Gator Nation.

    We also need to start recruiting character just as much as the number of stars next to their names. More kids like David Reese.

    Go Gators!!!

  2. Alex says:

    Can we be the 2017 Champions of Life? Or did UTooth claim that this year too?

  3. G2 says:

    Bottomed out for sure, the dumpster fire is back!
    I don’t know when I’ve seen such a half ass effort, maybe in the 80’s? We have the ability to make a bad defense look great with our 3 field goals and garbage time TD.

    Was looking forward to beating fsu this year (if not now than when?). but that’s not happening). Not sure I can even watch the rest of the games, can’t bear to see SC whip the Gators with champ going crazy on the sidelines.

    Given the current state of affairs I wonder if we have a hard time filling the HC position…lack of talent with the extreme pressure of a total rebuild. May have to dip into Gator bloodlines to get a coach this time (Tebow, K Bell, C Strong lol). Be lucky to get Scott Frost.

    • Mike Bruscell Sr says:

      Gator football needs a total re-build and it desperately needs to rely on UF greats to do so – Steve Spurrier, Tim Tebow, Danny Wuerffel, Emmitt Smith, Percy Harvin, Joe Haden, Brandon Spikes, Rex Grossman, Chris Doering, to name but a few, should be actively involved as being the faces of great UF football. They should be asked to be active in promoting Gator football, in recruiting, and anything else that shows UF in a positive light. If today’s young recruits are not given reasons why they should come to Gainesville to play, all the positive thoughts won’t help anything, and we will become another Miami, taking years to climb back out of the cellar…..

  4. GATOR-6 says:

    Part of me thinks we’ll come out on top c a proven, nationally recognized winner for a head coach by the end of the year. Yet part of me also thinks that we’ll hire some barely-heard-of flash in the pan, one trick pony nobody really knows anything about other than he has won some games in a row or something, in a lesser conference. If you go back and take a look at the sequential, stair step resume of Urban Myer when he came aboard, how many can compare to that? Dunno. I just have this nagging feeling……

  5. SW Fl Joe says:

    This ain’t the bottom. Gators have 3 more weeks of digging

  6. Herb says:

    It is rumored that the NCAA has decided that it is no longer
    necessary to test the Gators for performance enhancing drugs.

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