In sports, you can only hide your weakness for so long. Eventually, it will be exposed, blown up and you will have a big mess on your hands.
That is what we have after Florida's 36-14 loss Saturday night to South Carolina. Not only does the loss put the Gamecocks (7-3, 5-3) in the SEC Championship over the Gators (6-4, 4-4), it raises significant questions about the Gators going forward. Against the league's 9th ranked defense and worst passing defense, UF could not score for 53 minutes. They could not throw the ball down field, or stay on the field long enough to give a drained defense time to regroup. The scoreboard wasn't the best indicator of how much South Carolina dominated, it was time of possession; the Cocks had the ball for 40 minutes, including 22 in the first half.
Before we get into the offense, we need to consider the Gators' defensive effort Saturday night. First, Ahmad Black is the best player for Florida. All season, he has played like a linebacker, filling spaces that UF's undersized and young front seven can't handle. Of course, not even Black could have stopped Marcus Lattimore once he got rolling downhill. The freshman's 243 yards of offense and three touchdowns was a sign that Lattimore is as good as we think. Before you rip on the defense, realize that of SC's scoring drives, three were under 30 yards (for 17 points) and 6 of 7 scoring drives were under 50 yards.
The defense was killed by the offense's inability to move the ball, so much so that I thought Teryl Austin might fight Steve Addazio on the sideline like he was Buddy Ryan. The Gators ran 18 plays in the first half, going 3-and-out on three of five drives. Florida had the ball for only eight minutes in the first half, as they couldn't run and were unable to go downfield against a poor pass defense. Once again, the Gators were unable to throw against a team everyone throws on because they were blitzed without mercy. John Brantley never got time on passing downs, but when he did, he continued to sail balls or look short. Late in the game, when UF could have scored to make it one possession, Florida ran on 3rd-and-4, Jeff Demps fumbled, and SC scored on the next possession.
When fans talk about the need to replace Addazio, Brantley and to get Urban Meyer's ass in gear, they can point to this game as Exhibit A. Meyer talked a good game this week when discussing the need to be "intense" and that this was a "Championship Week." But he didn't make that same message to his offense. I would never say my school embarrassed me, especially when there are guys like Black, Andre Debose, Janoris Jenkins, Sharrif Floyd and Ronald Powell working hard on each play. Instead, this was and has been professional malpractice. Meyer cannot see that his best friend in not qualified to be a college coach and they have ruined Brantley to the point that he cannot be a long term solution at quarterback. In addition, this has stunted the growth of the offense, since Florida will have to do something completely different for next season, if not next week.
Ultimately, all of this falls on Meyer. As a coach, you are judged by more than wins and losses, but on who you have placed around you. Meyer has been correct so far in picking Austin as his defensive coordinator. But Addazio as offensive coordinator and Brantley at quarterback could not have been more wrong. What is worse is that it took Steve Spurrier to expose it. But maybe the OBC was doing his alma mater a favor.