That felt great.
The Florida Gators’ problems were getting worse. The team was falling deeper into a ditch of its own making. The Gators were never as good as they were against LSU – not truly; that day was an aberration – but they also had no business losing in blowouts to Missouri and South Carolina at home.
By Matt Zemek
Florida got pasted in The Swamp by 21 when it faced Mizzou. It trailed South Carolina 31-14 midway through the second half. At that moment, the accumulated frustrations of both Feleipe Franks himself and a fan base which has found it hard to embrace him were spilling into ugliness and misery. It was hard to see how the Gators could pull themselves off the deck and merely make the game competitive, let alone win.
From the rubble of that 17-point deficit – and the prospect of a three-game losing streak to undo the good work this team achieved in October – the Gators turned their world upside-down. They had overcome a 21-3 deficit to win earlier in the season, but that was Vanderbilt. South Carolina was viewed by many before the season as the second-best team in the SEC East. Kentucky has obviously claimed that position (albeit unconvincingly), but South Carolina still has the high-end talent of a team which could have risen much higher in 2018. Coming back against the Gamecocks was not the equivalent of engineering a turnaround against Vanderbilt.
The Gators persisted.
Being down 17 points in the second half often means a tidal wave of forward passes and an insistence on using as little clock as possible. Florida didn’t panic. It kept the ball on the ground and was able to thump South Carolina’s defensive front. It didn’t throw for the sake of throwing. It didn’t get sucked into a “chuck it downfield and pray” mentality, which some teams would do in that situation. The Gators resolutely reared back and punched the Gamecocks in the mouth. Three touchdown drives delivered a lead, and the defense swallowed up South Carolina’s offensive line in the final 20 minutes to facilitate a comeback and then lock down a victory.
Florida needs to carry this mentality into the Florida State game. The purpose of the Idaho game is to not interrupt (too much) what the Gators want to do.
1 – CRUSH IT
The Gators can run the ball really well. They should be able to line up and smack Idaho all game long. Mullen has to know that Feleipe Franks won’t figure out how to throw the ball at this point. Insisting on trying to make Franks a downfield thrower sees counterproductive this late in the season. Florida should use a lot of run looks and not do anything fancy in those looks. It can use the variations against Florida State.
2 – BODIES ON DEFENSE
The young defense which did so well in October has hit a wall. Mullen needs to rotate players liberally in this game to gain mental as well as physical freshness for the Seminoles. No one should be overworked in this game.
3 – THE WILDCAT
This formation should get some work against Idaho. I say that not as a prediction but as a recommendation. Why? Have the ball in Franks’ hands less often.