Semi-hysteria currently prevails in college football and knee-jerk journalism fosters Internet click-bait, which can create false media narratives. So I thought it best to withhold my commentary about the curious state of Florida football until now.
I am not a “let’s-fire-the-coach.com” guy. But in the short analysis, storm clouds are gathering over Gainesville and there is trouble in Hogtown. If you listen to the fans, this is a house divided: Jim McElwain must go or Jim McElwain should stay. But they agree on one thing: This isn’t working right now and not many people are persuaded that answers are forthcoming anytime soon.
The open date before Georgia comes at the perfect time for McElwain to set up a badly needed triage. The fate of some of his assistants may well be hanging in the balance at the end of the season.
Florida is in danger of missing out on a bowl game. Meanwhile, at some point, home-turf recruiting could be impacted: The AP poll has Miami eighth, USF tied for 16th and UCF 20th.
I don’t see any scenario that would cost McElwain his job right now — and anybody who says they can offer up a candidate to change things for the better by next year needs a reality check. But McElwain must fix the offense, develop his quarterback more rapidly, teach him how to pitch the ball out of bounds vs. taking a 4-yard loss and do something about poor clock management. And that’s just for openers.
McElwain and coordinator Doug Nussmeier need to answer some simple questions about the passing game because the Gators actually have regressed. Florida has thrown just four touchdown passes this season; the last time Florida’s offense produced single-digit numbers in touchdown passes was 1988, with three. Galen Hall’s team was 7-5 that year. Right now the Gators will be hard-pressed to top that record and need to beat four of these five to get to seven wins: Georgia, Missouri, South Carolina, UAB and Florida State. Florida has been under .500 just once since a winless 1979 campaign (4-8 in 2013).
There is plenty of blame to be placed on coaches, including special teams. From Saturday’s loss to Texas A&M lone, there were mistakes like an out-of-bounds kickoff, trying to return a kickoff from deep in the end zone in the final few minutes and punting the ball to the speedy Christian Kirk.
McElwain gets a little bit of a pass for his misfortune, losing nine players on suspension, plus a host of injuries that have cut into the offensive depth. There were 19 scholarship players missing Saturday night. On the flip side, luck played a big role in wins against Kentucky and Tennessee. So he’s had it both ways.
It’s easy to pin all the problems on the redshirt freshman quarterback and the tepid offense, which ranks 106th nationally. One-dimensional, uninspired play-calling, a lack of consistency and the failure of receivers to get separation from defenders are all of deep concern.
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