Snell’s Slant: Florida has two weeks to find a cure

A three-year starter for the Florida Gators who played under Steve Spurrier and Ron Zook, former guard Shannon Snell has joined OGGOA as a football columnist to provide his unique perspective on the team throughout the 2012 season. Snell, who played in 46 games over four seasons and started 36 contests, was named a First Team All-American by Sporting News in 2003 and spent two seasons in the NFL.

I truly don’t know where to begin with this team. The “a win is a win” mantra can only take you so far. Like a lot of the victories by the Gators this season, Saturday’s was quite ugly. There was nothing in sync with the offense and the defense looked vulnerable. It was a game that, should the Ragin’ Cajuns have managed it correctly, probably would have been a loss for Florida.

From the first snap of the ball, it looked as if the Gators were taking this team lightly, perhaps preparing and looking ahead to their showdown with Florida State in two weeks. That is not how you approach a game, no matter the opponent.

What happened to the identity of this offense? Who exactly are they? When the season started, head coach Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator Brent Pease led spectators to believe that the offensive line had gotten tougher, the receivers had become more precise, and the quarterback position trending upward. For the most part, up through the South Carolina game, Florida had proven all these things to be true. From that point forward, something strange happened. Very strange, actually.

The Gators’ offense, one which had had shown promise and the potential to develop big plays and touchdowns, has become very much like vanilla ice cream – ordinary. Don’t get me wrong, I love vanilla ice cream on occasion, but just like Florida’s offense, ordinary is just not good enough most of the time. It is no secret to anyone that this Gators team depends on defense and special teams to win games.

What is frustrating is that the offense is playing so poorly that UF is beating teams it should blow out by surprisingly small margins. Beyond popular opinion, I do not believe Florida fans are spoiled. I do, however, think they would like to see a high-scoring game for once or maybe a game where, at least, the defense and special teams did not have to bail out the offense.

All the problems cannot be blamed on the offense line. I know I’ve questioned these guys over the last few weeks, but it is very hard to overcome all the injuries they’ve had across the board. While he may be making it look relatively easy, an offensive lineman playing with a hyper-extended elbow is no easy task and that’s what center Jonotthan Harrison is doing. It’s not easy for these reserves, playing for a unit that depends on cohesiveness and experience playing together, to be put in that position and expected to play flawless. It just does not happen.

Read the rest of this edition of Snell’s Slant…after the break!

Unfortunately, the quarterbacks know first-hand how much the lack of depth along the offensive line hurts, both physically and in the game plan. The Gators certainly hope these ailments can be cured by the Florida State game in two weeks.

Quarterbacks Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett were both effective on Saturday despite the lack of protection, though Driskel obviously was able to do more with his legs. With that being said, some extra praise needs to go Brissett’s way. Coach Muschamp has been saying all season that he was one snap away from being the starter. Coming in cold off the bench only to toss a game-tying touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter is what a quarterback’s dreams are made of. I was impressed by Brissett’s composure and poise, especially coming into that situation.

This might have been the first game that Florida’s defense did not impress me. For much of the contest, especially the two long scoring drives for Louisiana-Lafayette, it seemed like they were asleep at the wheel. This was UF’s defense playing down to the talent of ULL’s offense. The Ragin’ Cajuns had a game plan to control possession and keep the Gators’ offense off the field with long drives. They succeeded and nearly split the time of possession in the game, a category that Florida has dominated this season.

The defense did not have the best day but still limited Louisiana-Lafayette to 13 points. It is nice to know that, even on a day where they did not play their best, the defense can still come though in the end.

Kicking is often overlooked but hopefully Gators saw the difference in confidence that the coaching staff had with Caleb Sturgis back health. I cannot stress how important he is to this team, especially with the offense struggling with putting points on the board.

Without anymore unforeseen hiccups, Florida should walk into FSU with a 10 -1 record. No matter how the Gators win these games, that record is impressive for a team that is in the middle of rebuilding and still has tons of question marks. Florida fans should be proud of this team and what it has accomplished already this season.

Tags: , , , ,

19 Responses to “Snell’s Slant: Florida has two weeks to find a cure”

  1. Tractorr says:

    Harrison is banged up with the elbow, on the third sting LT (playing a freshman at the position), and second string LG and people wonder why we have no pass protection and no push up front?!

    Unless some of those guys get healthy things aren’t going to change.

    • Shannon Snell says:

      Yup. I think a lot of people underestimate the importance of injuries on the offensive line. They can be an instant killer.

  2. gatorboi352 says:

    “Quarterbacks Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett were both effective on Saturday despite the lack of protection”

    I have to argue the part about Jeff being effective, outside of the drive right before the half. This was the nations 114th pass defense, and Jeff totaled 98 yards passing through almost 3 quarters. Brisset had 64 yds on 6 completions, playing from behind and cold off the bench. I mean the last 3 games for Jeff have been really sub par, to the point where he looks worse each outing.

    Sure our O-line can’t pass protect. 3 are out with injuries and every team stacks 12 men in the box. Watch Jacoby’s read progressions this weekend in surveying the field. Also watch how he is able to scramble and extend plays for PASS completions when the protect breaks down, like he did on the TD throw to Dunbar Saturday.

    • Jeff has legs, too.

      Both had one long completion to Reed and not much else through the air.

      • cline says:

        #12’s legs looked good rolling out of the pocket buying time for #1 to come open on his TD throw. Legs are legs, it is just if you rely on them to get the first down or rely on then to buy time while scanning down field.

        Either way GO GATORS

        • gatorboi352 says:

          “Legs are legs, it is just if you rely on them to get the first down or rely on then to buy time while scanning down field.”

          Exactly. Jeff too often this year scrambles to _run_ for a first down. When he scrambles to throw… well, he does things like throws an end zone interception against Georgia. The kid is talented, but I think he is better suited for the spread or triple option.

          • You obviously have been leaning one way either all year or recently (I don’t read every single comment), so I’m not going to go over it again and again as to why people blaming Driskel and calling for Brissett is putting blame in the wrong place. Florida’s offensive issues have to do with the offensive line and receivers.

            • cline says:

              No leaning on either side for me, but both QB’s could take a little from each others game to help round their own game out.

              Team Loss and Team Wins.

              GO GATORS

    • Shannon Snell says:

      Yea, but does it matter if Brissett is throwing for first downs or if Driskel is running for them??

      • cline says:

        I think that the mentality of the QB matters more than the method of gaining the yardage. Either way make a play

  3. Foo says:

    I would say the offense is more like stale crackers instead of “vanilla ice cream”…I would take “vanilla ice cream” over the former. Don’t think fans realize we don’t have the ingredients for chocolate mint ice cream yet alone vanilla. Regardless, I’m very proud of what this team has accomplished.

    • Shannon Snell says:

      Stale Crackers? I don’t think it’s that bad bro. With all the injuries, the offense hasn’t had ample enough time to gel with the new guys that are filling in. The new guys are relatively young. How bout we just call them Greek Yogurt for now? Thats as plain as it gets.

  4. gatorboi352 says:

    You could actually argue the biggest difference between this years team and the last 2 years are breaks. This year, the breaks have gone our way outside of GA. The last 2 years? Not so much. (Thinks back to LSU game 2010)

  5. Drew says:

    We have the nations #1 toughest schedule and we’re 9-1. Now I don’t know about you guys, but I’m happy, despite what appears to be a regressing offense. I like Pease’s play calling, and I like where this program is headed. Sure, I would love to see us hang 50+ a game, but this team isn’t built for that. I think sometimes people forget that this is the the teams THIRD OC in THREE YEARS. I know everyone has seen the improvement on the defensive side of the ball, they didn’t look like that last year in it’s first year in that system, and the O won’t look this sluggish in year #2 either. We have some good WR’s coming in next year, and some of the ones we have now should be better next year after learning the O, and understanding what it takes to play in the SEC (Pittman, Andrades, Allie). So while I’m on board with the mantra of “Christ, our O looks bad” I know that better days ahead, and at 9-1 our current days aren’t to shabby either.

  6. fanan says:

    9-1 a year after the last two seasons,no complaints here I think both q.bs can win.But Jeff has one loss this season,that speaks volumes.Take your pick Manager or Playmaker,Tebow or Leak,but both work.

    • gatorboi352 says:

      Correct me if I’m wrong here, did you just refer to Driskel as Tim Tebow, and Brissett as Chris Leak? If so, yikes.

    • chigator says:

      You nailed it, after the past couple of years 9-1 feels pretty great. However, I think what people are expressing is a feeling that our offense is under-performing. Whatever you want to blame it on, I think everyone is right to some degree. The coaches are obviously aware of some major flaws because they (a) refuse to blame or even put pressure on individual players (b) start Driskel, a QB who has some ability to run and make plays on the ground when protection breaks down or WRs aren’t open.

      Shannon: I want your opinion as a O-line guy… It looks like there is little adjustment on the line before the snap. Since UGA, time and time again teams bring a 4 or 5 man rush and our line fails to slide to adjust. Even in the last game it seemed unfair to our QBs, they aren’t getting the time necessary for plays to develop. Who is to blame for this? With Adazzio, those adjustments came from the linemen; where does the responsibility lie this year?

  7. Spencer says:

    I wanna see trick plays like I saw Pease use at Boise State, they had the fifth best offense with Kellen Moore. We shouldn’t be very last in offense Im also recognizing the same plays and the same formations from all year. I’m glad we have one of the top defenses, but some times it’s offense that wins games. I think we need a recievers coach cause none of our recievers can nearly catch the damn ball, at this point Texas A&M looks better than us just looking back at it I don’t even know how we beat them.

    • Alex says:

      We beat A&M the same way we beat everyone else – stifling defense. As for seeing the same stuff as last year, Muschamp has Pease on a pretty short leash as far as tempo and playcalling are concerned. You’ll also notice the much-ballyhooed shifts we heard so much about pre-season are dwindling. I think ‘champ needs to stick to being a leader and guiding the defense, and allowing Pease to operate within the team’s philosophy while still running an effective offense.

      Also, the O-line has fallen apart and that hasn’t helped.