Alligator Army Summer Reading Series: Zook Allows a Meltdown in Miami

As promised during the "Swindle in The Swamp" part of the Summer Reading Series.

During his time as head football coach of the Florida Gators, Ron Zook was known for only a couple of things. Fast talking that made absolutely no sense, breaking up Fraternity parties, losing games at The Swamp, and running a prevent defense any time he was given a lead at any point during a football game.

But this edition of the Summer Reading Series isn't about any of that. Well, okay, it has to do with the prevent defense Zook liked to employ every single time the Gators got a lead at any point of the game.

It also has to do with Brock Berlin.

Heading into the 2001 season, Spurrier wasn't set on whether sophomore Rex Grossman or fellow sophomore Brock Berlin would be the team's starting quarterback. Spurrier eventually settled on Rex Grossman, who would finish runner-up in the Heisman Trophy voting to Eric Crouch (which was a Peyton Manning type screw job), so it is safe to say that Spurrier made the right decision.

Spurrier as we all know ended up leaving after that 2001 season and Ron "If you sleep 4 hours fast, it is just like sleeping 8 hours" Zook came to town. Brock Berlin, realizing that Rex Grossman would return for his redshirt-junior year, transferred to the Miami Hurricanes. After sitting out the 2002 season due to NCAA rules, Brock Berlin became the starting quarterback for the Hurricanes.

On September 6, 2003, the Gators marched into Miami to face the Hurricanes led by Brock Berlin. After Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, the Gators dominated the rest of the way. Well, they dominated until 6:10 remaining in the 3rd quarter.

The Gators were leading 33-10 at that point. Everything was clicking. And I mean everything. The running backs were running. The wide receivers were receiving.

Enter the prevent defense and as a result:

Miami TOUCHDOWN: 9 plays, 85 yards - 2 minutes 35 seconds

Miami TOUCHDOWN: 3 plays, 69 yards - 58 seconds

Miami TOUCHDOWN: 9 plays, 70 yards - 2 minutes 57 seconds

Miami TOUCHDOWN: 11 plays, 79 yards - 3 minutes 59 seconds

Ball-freaking-game. Now, I'm horrible at math. And I mean horrible. But it looks to me, that the Gators defense gave up 4 touchdowns, over 300 yards in roughly 10 minutes. Are you freaking kidding me?

In case you were wondering what the Florida offense was doing during this time:

Florida PUNT: 3 plays, 5 yards - 2 minutes 4 seconds

Florida PUNT: 3 plays, 3 yards - 1 minute 28 seconds

Florida PUNT: 8 plays 34 yards - 5 minutes 25 seconds

Florida INTERCEPTION: 6 plays 49 yards - 1 minute 38 seconds

That looks like roughly just less than 100 yards in about 10 minutes or so.

When you have an offense that is doing that, and you are running a prevent defense that has cost you game after game, you aren't going to win football games. I don't care if you're Florida or Central Michigan.


For those interested, SI.com published an article about the "Rise of Berlin" following the game. Check it out if you so inclined.

The memory of Ron Zook telling his defense to calm down during that final Miami drive, is seared into my brain. Oh how I have such hatred for that man. Recruiting the core of the 2006 BCS National Championship team or not, I never liked him from day 1.

This game is clearly on the shoulders of Ron Zook. Just look at the defensive formations in the video. The defense is lining up 15 yards from the wide receivers at some points. It is just flat out ridiculous. Even more ridiculous than his coaching career at Florida.

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