My apologies first. There will be no Theater of Operations this week until Friday for a number of reasons. Some of those reasons are personal and others are well, looking at things like that after a loss sooner or later fells like beating a dead horse. Or you know, trying to play a broken record for the 1,000th time.
How many injuries does it take to ruin a promising season?
We'll actually get to the answer in a few minutes, but I'll tell you it's not many. I guess the more proper question I should be asking would involve not a specific number but just exactly who is injured.
I'm not trying to say that as a person Tyler Moore and Jeff Driskel's season ending injuries are any less noteworthy, but does it make a difference if one's the starting quarterback and the other is an under-performing offensive lineman whose spent the season playing out of position?
Absolutely it does.
With the news that Antonio Morrison is out for the year with a meniscus tear in his knee, the Gators are now out at least one starter in every unit on the team except for defensive back. As Andy mentioned in the original article, Morrison is the seventh starter on offense or defense to suffer a season ending injury and the tenth overall.
It's become so common that Andy has compiled a list that is updated weekly. It's one of those lists that is born out of necessity than anything else. It's the first injury list I've seen updated so regularly on Alligator Army since I've been here and I've been here since 2007.
How do you plan for something like that?
The simple and probably correct answer is that you don't. It's impossible to prepare for injuries and once they start to mount, it's over. And things could get ugly in a hurry.
This year they have.
Think about it for a second. Just real quick.
Gone for the season is the No. 1 quarterback, the No. 1 running back, the No. 1 wide receiver, the No. 1 defensive tackle and best player on the team and the No. 1 linebacker. That's not even including the No. 2 or No. 3 players at some of those positions who are out for the year with various injuries.
Remember that before the season started and with all of those players healthy, most of us who did our win shares had the Gators around nine wins. So with all those players missing is that far fetched to see how getting to seven or eight wins is possible?
I don't think so either. But that's also something you can't blame the coaching staff for and hold it against them. That's unfair to them and the players. If the air conditioning at your office breaks you don't get mad at the president of the company do you?
If you want to blame offensive coordinator Brent Pease for the Gators' 112th-ranked total offense, be my guest. I'm not going to stop you. If you want to blame offensive line coach Tim Davis for the offensive line play, again, I'm not going to stop you. I'll probably even be more inclined to join you in that complaint. But you've got to be careful and at the same time you've got to remember that if they were operating at full capacity would things be different?
And yes, I do think that changes will be made once the season is over but I think it would be a mistake to totally flip the script. It's not easy to change the mindset of a program. Especially if that program has the type of fan base that the Gators have.
Just remember that the offense wasn't that highly regarded to begin with, so what did you really expect? A top-20 offense? Top 50? Maybe, without all the key injuries, that still would've happened. Keep in mind that before the season started Chris Low of ESPN reported that Driskel was the pick of many coaches to be the SEC's most improved player.
Injuries change things. Always have and they always will. You can only overcome so many injuries, especially key ones, before things begin to fall apart.
"Man down, man up" has been the rallying cry for the Gators this season. But the sheer amount of injuries have caught up to them as eventually, due to depth numbers still continuing from the Urban Meyer era, the depth just isn't there as it normally would.
Could changes be on the way to help prevent this scenario from happening again the future? That's a strong possibility, I would imagine. But is it the fault of Muschamp and strength coach Jeff Dillman (who, don't forget, was praised highly alongside Muschamp during last year's success) that players have suffered meniscus and ligament tears? What about a broken leg?
Or a fractured elbow suffered after falling off a scooter?
Or a virus?
In our society, we like to place blame, as it's natural to do so. But placing blame in the wrong areas or at the wrong people is wrong.