Falling flat on their faces with an embarrassing 31-7 loss to the No. 22 Florida State Seminoles (9-3) on Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, FL, the Florida Gators (7-5) completed their worst season under head coach Urban Meyer in lackluster fashion. OGGOA presents some important notes and quotes.
COMPLETE REBUILDING EFFORT PROMISED
Meyer got right to it after the loss Saturday, going on a mini-rant about what he needs to do in order to turn the Gators around immediately.
“I can assure you we are going to rebuild this thing and build it up the right way and do it right. Obviously we are down a little bit. I didn’t believe we would be that far down – but we are,” he said. How do you build up a program? I’ve done it a few times. You build it up with tough players, tough coaches, and you got to play better. You have to have a plan to win.
“Obviously this is the first time…2010 is the first time in 10 years we did not follow a plan to win. You can’t turn the ball over. I didn’t think our guys did not play hard…we [just] did not play smart. We did not coach smart and we didn’t take care of the ball. Four turnovers – I know at least three led to direct touchdowns. And I didn’t manage the game right on that fake punt. With that said, we’re going to be rebuild it right though, not wrong. We’re going to rebuild it right.”
He added that his immediate plan is to prepare the team to honor the seniors with a bowl win and recruit at a high level to infuse the program with some new players. “Recruit our butt off is what we’re going to do – and that starts tonight,” Meyer said. “Coaches are all on the road tomorrow, so we’re going to recruit our butt off and build this thing back up. Obviously we’re down. We got to build this thing back up. […] How do you rebuild it? Tough-ass players and tough-ass coaches.”
THE QUARTERBACKS AND JOHN BRANTLEY
Though the three-quarterback system was cute and effective coming out of the bye week against Georgia and the following week against Vanderbilt, it has blown up in Florida’s faces over the last few games. Whether that is because of how the coaching staff has handled the transition of signal callers during drives (mostly) or simply the concept all together (somewhat), Meyer said it will certainly be looked at soon and could be completely revamped before the bowl game.
“There’s a chance, sure. I have no idea [right now]. I know one thing – we went up and down the field before our quarterback-slash-tight end got hurt. Had some decent drives. I think we ran the ball for 200-something yards. We were just really ineffective in certain areas. Really, really ineffective,” he said. “If that’s because of three quarterbacks, we’ll blow that thing completely out of the water. We’re in immediacy and then we’re in the future; right now we’re in immediacy, we’re going to do everything we can to win the bowl game and work our tail off.”
It should be noted that Meyer has referred to redshirt freshman Jordan Reed as someone who will play tight end for this team in the future, mentioning that is the position he believed he would succeed at. This is the first occasion recently that Meyer has referred to him as a quarterback, though that is probably a minor point.
One of the major issues with the system on Saturday was the fact that the coaching staff seemed to only bring redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley in on third-and-longs – obvious passing downs. Though Brantley’s performance was no doubt lackluster, he was not necessarily given a fair shake or allowed to possibly build any type of momentum throughout the contest. “Some of those are early first and 10s, it wasn’t all third and medium. But yeah, it probably is [unfair],” Meyer said. “We’re just trying to do the best we can to move the ball right now. Trying to find that mix.”
FAILED FAKE PUNT AND PENALTIES
In addition to the Gators’ three fumbles and interception, one of the most catastrophic mistakes made during the game was Meyer’s call of a fake punt on a 4th and 5 from inside Florida territory. Claiming he “just wanted to make something happen” for the team early with that call, Meyer realizes he made a game-changing mistake with the call. “It didn’t happen. It killed us,” he said.
Also of issue were the numerous drive-stalling penalties that landed the Gators in vulnerable spots throughout the game. “Awful. Real huge concern. That’s a huge concern,” he said of the miscues.
QUOTES (After the break…)
On Brantley throwing the ball at the end of the second half: “We were just out of timeouts. We knew we had to start throwing the ball in the end zone and take a shot. A field goal was really not going to help us so we needed to go score.”
On immediate coaching changes: “I’m not going to get into that right now.”
On if this game was the biggest eye-opener for him about having to rebuild: “No. I’ve felt this way for a while.”
On coaching changes and staff adjustments: “I’m not ready to comment on that because I have not had the reflective moment. Usually I wait until after the recruiting season to do all that. I’m going to get real busy obviously.”
On if the passing game has regressed throughout the season: “Awful.”
On where to go from here: “The University of Florida, we expect to be an elite program. Right now we dipped a little bit. I also want to take care of our seniors. We’re going to go do the best we can to win this bowl game. Obviously we’re not good in some spots, but at times we looked real good. If you take care of the ball, at halftime, it’s a much different ball game.”
On if he is shocked to have lost five of the last eight games: “No. Five of the last eight?! It’s been a battle.”
On problems in the secondary: “They got us on a few of them. I think we played against a very good quarterback, but we did not play well on the back end. They got us on a couple double cuts because guys were being aggressive back there.”
On how to get things going for the bowl game: “Bowl practice is tremendous for young players to develop and get guys healthy. We had a vision of being the fastest team in America; you’re not looking at the fastest team in America right now.”
On why he is most vocal about the problems now: “The season’s over. That’s because it’s our last game. The most key thing is we’re going to go out recruiting and guys are going to have an opportunity to come in and play.”