Theater of Operations, Florida Vs. Florida State: Reviewing Florida's Offensive Performance

GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 26: Running back Trey Burton #8 of the Florida Gators falls short of a first down on a fake punt against the Florida State Seminoles November 26, 2011 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Yeah, that wasn't pretty at all. The Gators, against a Seminoles defense that we profiled before the game, managed to gain just 184-yards of offense. The Gators also lost a plethora of players to injury (both offense and defensive players), but that's another issue entirely (read: luck).

The highlights on offense, were a 23-yard run up the middle by fullback Hunter Joyer and a 24-yard catch by tight end A.C. Leonard. Yeah, when those are your best (and longest) plays on offense, it's not a good thing. Actually, I guess you could say the touchdown catch by Quinton Dunbar was the best play, but still, that's only three plays.

Remember though, it was clear before the start of the game, that Florida State's defense was at least the 3rd best defense the Gators have played (and will play) this season. Sure the Gators were a few inches here and there from breaking a few plays, but the Gators by and large, beat themselves. Especially when referring to the offensive side of the ball.

Quarterbacks John Brantley and Jacoby Brissett, threw a combined four interceptions and literally all four of them were the result of some sort of a terrible read, horrible decision and pathetic execution. The really discerning part, was only one of them, the last one, came from a true freshman.

Play No. 1: John Brantley's first interception to Greg Reid:

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Quinton Dunbar (bottom yellow circle) is going to be in single coverage and will be running a simple out-route. Greg Reid (bottom green circle), who is an above-average cover cornerback, jumps the route and will make the interception.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Before the throw by John Brantley (yellow circle), take a look at the outstanding pocket the offensive line (yellow square) creates for him. That's pretty impressive considering the talent Florida State has on their defensive line.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

As Brantley (yellow circle) releases the ball (red circle), the offensive line is still doing a great job individually. But, Brantley breaks one of the cardinal rules of being a quarterback. Do not, under any circumstances, late in the play, throw it across the field. The only way this throw could have been even worse, is if he had thrown it across his body.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Because the throw was across the field, Reid (green circle) has plenty of time to jump the route run by Dunbar (yellow circle). Reid, who is also one of the better playmakers on the Seminole roster, will make this catch any day of the week and twice (literally) on Saturdays.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Reid (green square), makes the catch and will end up returning the ball to the 20-yardline.

Play No. 2: John Brantley's pass is intercepted by Mike Harris:

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

On this play, there is absolutely no way, that John Brantley can defend himself from the criticism he deserves. Chris Rainey (yellow circle) is going to run a deep route out of a play-action. Yeah, it doesn't work. 

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

At this moment, Brantley (single yellow circle) is just finishing up the play-action aspect of the play. Rainey (double yellow circle) will now take advantage of a crease in the offensive line and head out down the field.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

However, there is a problem. As soon as Rainey (yellow circle) gets passed the offensive line, he is already going to be blanketed by two Florida State defenders (green circles).

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Does anybody else see the problem here? Yes, I promise you, Rainey (no circle) is somewhere in the mass of Florida State defenders (green circles). He's hidden behind to the left-most defenders. Brantley yet again throws the ball across the field. Only this time, he throws it even deeper.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Mike Harris (green circle) is the Seminole defender who ends up making the catch and returns the ball nearly 90-yards to the Gators 4-yardline.

After getting a few e-mails about this play, I want to make a couple of quick comments: No, I don't think there was any pass interference by the Seminole defenders on the play, and there was absolutely no late-hit on quarterback John Brantley after he released the ball.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Brantley (yellow square) releases the ball at this moment. There are twenty-two seconds remaining in the quarter, and if you look at both of the Seminole defenders, they are both in the process of attempting to hit and/or knock the ball out of Brantley's hands.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Those defenders clearly make contact with Brantley (yellow square) at this moment. As you glance over at the time remaining, you'll see that there is still twenty-two seconds left in the quarter. Had this been say, 1996, I'm sure the Seminoles would have waited that second to hit Brantley, but they didn't here. No penalty.

Play No. 3: Hunter Joyer's 23-yard run:

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Yes, I know that a 23-yard run isn't necessarily a highlight play that is worthy of a breakdown, but two things worked in Joyer's (yellow circle) favor. One, I had no interest in breaking down Brantley's 3rd interception of the day, and two, how many times in the last twenty years has a Gator fullback broken a run up the middle for more than twenty yards? Exactly.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

As Joyer (yellow square) gets the ball, there is a seam on the right side of the offensive line. But, there is a Seminole defensive back there, so Joyer decides to just hit the middle of the line and see if he can bust through.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Yeah, Joyer (yellow circle) does in fact bust through the line, then bounces off a defender (green circle) and continues to run downfield for a 23-yard gain.

Play No. 4: Jacoby Brissett throws an interception which is returned for a touchdown:

A quick note to make before I begin this Brissett play: Remember, as I've stated on here many times, I'm more of a Jeff Driskel fan than a Jacoby Brissett fan. So if this play breakdown appears to be a little harsh, I ask that you just keep that aspect in mind.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

You'd have thought that after the Auburn game, Brissett (yellow circle) would be familiar with this situation and would know what to do with the football. I guess I'll give him the benefit of doubt, again, and chalk this one up to lack of playing time and the fact that he is a freshman.

Cornellius Carradine (green circle) is going to be coming off of a delayed rush, and things couldn't have worked out for the Seminoles any better as a result.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Just after finishing the play-action aspect of this play, it is clear by the pass-rush, that Brissett (double yellow circle) needs to get rid of the ball right now. Unfortunately for the Gators, both of the receivers on the play (single yellow circle), are both still in the middle of their respective routes, and aren't looking for the ball yet. 

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

By the time that Quinton Dunbar (single yellow circle) is ready to receive the ball, it's too late. Brissett (double yellow circle) is under serious pressure from Carradine (green circle).

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

After fending of Carradine for a second or two, Brissett is finally caught (yellow square) and makes the worst decision possible. Instead of just throwing the ball away, he throws the ball in the field of play.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Because of the decision to throw the ball in-bounds and in the field of play, the ball is caught by Seminole defender Terrance Parks and returned for a touchdown.

Play No. 5: Quinton Dunbar's 6-yard touchdown reception:

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

The play that kept the Gators' streak of not being shut-out at home since 1988, alive. Dunbar (yellow circle), is just going to run a crossing route deep in the endzone, and will be covered by defensive backs (green circles).

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

The Gators run a quick play-action here, which draws three Seminole defenders in (green circles), and allowed Dunbar (yellow circle) to sneak behind them and gain the inside advantage on his top defender.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

The ball (red circle) is perfectly thrown by Brissett on this play. Dunbar (yellow circle) is behind every defender (green circles) who have a shot at knocking the ball down. But again, the throw is excellent.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Dunbar makes the catch (yellow square) but hasn't yet gotten his feet down.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Dunbar manages to get one foot down, in-bounds (yellow square), and was it ever close. But, other angles confirmed that the foot was indeed in-bounds and the touchdown was preserved.

After watching this game a second time, it's pretty clear, that the Gators beat themselves (read: turnovers) more than the Seminoles beat the Gators. Sure the Seminole defense played a physical, lights out ballgame, but they got a serious assist from the Gators in that every single turnover by the Gators, was more the result of a mental error by the Gators, than a great play from the Seminoles.

Think about that:

  • John Brantley's first interception (reviewed above): Brantley's fault.
  • John Brantley's second interception (reviewed above): Brantley's fault.
  • John Brantley's third interception (not reviewed above): Brantley's fault.
  • Jacoby Brissett's interception (reviewed above): Brissett's fault.

Not a single one was one where you would say to yourself: "Wow, what a great play by the defense!" But, sometimes, that's the way it is.

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