Offensive coordinator Steve Addazio converses with quarterback Trey Burton #8 of the Florida Gators during pregame warmups before facing the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 2 2010 in Tuscaloosa Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
People do not quit their jobs when they fail on a big project. But that is what we are asking Steve Addazio to do. For the sake of the Florida Gators, Addazio needs to resign now. That way, the Gators can prepare for the rest of the season with an offensive coordinator who can use the team's talent. This will also set up a much better chance for future success this season and in 2011.
You might think this decision is based on the irrational thinking that one loss should end a guy's job. However, remember that I was the guy who was almost ejected from last year's Tennessee-Florida game for cursing at Addazio like a mad man. As it was eloquently put by Rocky Top Talk this season, Monte Kiffin ran mental circles around Addazio's offense in 2009. Kiffin The Elder is one of the finest defensive minds we will see, and he gave a blueprint to suffocate the Gators. The long view of it is that when UF is equal to another team talent wise, which could be each week in the SEC, the other team has an advantage in that they know how to stop Florida. The Gators offense does have a scheme in response.
Such was the case Saturday night in Tuscaloosa. The Gators rolled down the field with a 12 play, 74 yard drive. Jeff Demps, Mike Gillislee, Emmanuel Moody and Omarius Hines all had carries. When UF got to Bama's two-yard line, the Tide got a break. The Gators put Trey Burton in the wildcat and plunged him into the line. No gain. Ok, do it again. Same thing. The Tide knew that Burton doesn't hand it off. Even though there is a back with him, Burton will keep the ball. Either Addazio thought Burton was enough to get through the line despite Bama's knowledge that Burton always keeps, or Addazio never thought of that. On the 4th down jump pass call, maybe UF should have called a time out. Especially when Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart was seen on CBS jumping in the air before the play and pretending to throw a pass. The game was only 13 minutes old, but nearly every Gator fan thought that we were screwed. (The most incredible part of this was UF never used an I-formation in those three plays. Later, on their own goal line, the Gators ran out of an I-formation.)
The reason why Addazio has to resign now is exactly for that three play stretch from the Alabama two-yard line. Against the rest of the SEC, especially in an down year, Addazio will make the Gators look like the New Orleans Saints. But against Alabama, or next week against LSU, UF will barely function on offense. As we saw last season at LSU, the Gators can score on an early drive against a good defense. Once the opponent adjusts, UF won't score. For bad teams, if UF struggles early, their talent will eventually win out as in the USF and Tennessee games.
The difference between 2009 and 2010 is talent. Tim Tebow and Aaron Hernandez could hide Addazio's ineptness. John Brantley and Demps cannot. But one similarity between 2009 and 2010 is Florida's inability to finish drives. Through five games, UF has scored touchdowns on 16 of 23 red zone drives, which is 70%. In 2009, UF scored touchdowns on only 50% (34/68) of red zone drives. The overall scoring is almost no change; 78% in 2010, 75% in 2009. That looks pretty bad when you realize UF's red zone touchdown scoring was about 75% in 2008 and 2007 under Dan Mullen.
The biggest problem with Addazio, at least from our perspective, is that he is a made man. That Urban Meyer made him the offensive coordinator in 2009 and caretaker during his sabbatical is a sign Meyer holds him in high regard. Addazio is also a very good recruiter and line coach. That is another part of the problem. As Addazio earned another title, the line play suffered. From Tebow almost getting killed against Kentucky to Mike Pouncey's snaps, there has been a collection of problems in an area of supposed strength. It seems to me that Addazio cannot handle being Meyer's right hand man, offensive coordinator and line coach.
The defense of Addazio is that UF is breaking in new players. Last season, UF was 6th in total offense, which has to demonstrate that Addazio is capable of being the coordinator. But this is ignoring the greater issue; the struggles against good defenses. Florida cannot win SEC Championships or National Championships when their offense is being out-coached. If you want Florida to go 10-2 or 9-3 every season, Addazio is your man. He can beat up on the weak sisters, just not the teams who are competing with you.
On Saturday, Florida plays LSU, who is 6th in total defense and 5th in scoring defense. The week after is the 22nd best scoring defense, Mississippi State. Even Georgia, poor, poor Georgia, is top-50 in scoring and total defense. I don't want to see what new and creative ways Addazio has for getting outsmarted by an opponent.
Since Meyer won't demote a loyal soldier, Addazio has to resign his position as offensive coordinator. Scot Loeffler, with his prized pupil Brantley, should be the coordinator. Loeffler can tailor the offense for Brantley, rather than calling the same plays as last season. The sooner this happens the better it is. As someone who witnessed the progression from Ed Zaunbrecher to Larry Fedora slow the growth of Chris Leak, I'm sensitive to switching coordinators. But this is necessary not just for 2010, but 2011. Alabama, LSU and South Carolina are not going away. Georgia, Tennessee and FSU will get better. As of now, it is hard to have confidence in Addazio's ability to put the players in a position to be successful. He needs to resign.