The Florida Gators really blew it against the LSU Tigers this past week, and there are lessons to be learned from that game, but the Gators can’t dwell on that embarrassment. They have to focus on Alabama and play the best game they can possibly play in the SEC Championship Game.
By Matt Zemek
Florida’s very best effort might not even be enough to win, but the Gators can’t expect to win the conference championship for the first time since 2008 if they don’t perform at an elite level… and take chances. That very last part is the first of our three keys for UF.
1 – All-in, all-out war
The Gators have to not only spill their guts on the Mercedes-Benz Stadium field; they have to empty their chamber of bullets and shoot every shot they can possibly take. No restraint, no caution, no fear. The Gators are not the better team, they don’t have the deeper roster, they don’t have the superior offensive line, they don’t have the better running game, they don’t have a strong defense. When a team is inferior but still potent, it has to take every possible chance. Any fourth and short situation should mean going for it. Even fourth and one on the Florida 15 in the first quarter should be a “go for it” instance for Dan Mullen and Kyle Trask. This is less about keeping the ball away from Alabama’s offense (though that’s certainly part of the equation) and more about scoring as many points as possible. Florida will need every last score to have any chance of keeping pace with the Mac Jones-DeVonta Smith-Najee Harris juggernaut.
30 points won’t be nearly enough for Florida.
40 points still probably won’t be enough for Florida… though it could be.
50 points? Now we’re talking. That MIGHT be enough.
60 points? That should be enough even for Todd Grantham.
Florida’s coaches need to be all-in on taking chances. Florida’s offense needs an all-out assault on Bama’s secondary. This is war. Florida can’t win by silencing Alabama’s guns; it has to outgun the Crimson Tide in Atlanta.
2 – Kyle Pitts
Pitts missed the LSU game due to injury. It seemed that Florida could handle LSU without Pitts, but Kyle Trask picked the worst possible time to have one of his less precise and polished performances of 2020. Trask has been very good at spreading the ball to various backs and receivers when Pitts hasn’t been able to play, especially Kadarius Toney, but in this game, Pitts has to have a big game. It’s not a game in which Pitts can play decoy all the time – some of the time, YES, but not all the time. It has to be a game in which Pitts and Toney AND at least one other Gator ALL have huge games as receivers. Florida can’t waste downs with running plays except for obvious situations such as 2nd and 1 or 3rd and inches. The Gators need to – as Steve Spurrier might say – “pitch it around the ballpark” and score at least seven touchdowns against a Bama defense which got lit up by Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss earlier this year. It’s possible for Florida to score a very big number, but only if Pitts goes crazy.
3 – Third And Grantham
With the coaching carousel spinning and defensive coordinators entering the market, it’s hard to think Dan Mullen will keep Todd Grantham for 2021. This is Grantham’s last chance to possibly save his job (though I think he’s going to leave and look for another landing spot). Whether he leaves or not, Grantham has to find a way to contain Alabama on third-down passing downs (four or more yards). If Florida can’t at least get three or four defensive stops in this game, even the best Kyle Trask performance probably won’t be enough.