Urban Meyer and Steve Addazio would do well to listen to the words of Donald Rumsfeld this week.
"As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time."
Rumsfeld's line is remembered for being incredibly insensitive. But the line works for the Gators. It has become apparent through five games that the Gators are unaware that John Brantley is a passing quarterback, Trey Burton is not a young Tebow, Mike Pouncey still isn't getting it, and there is an entire receiver corps wasting away.
Even worse for this claim? Teryl Austin seems to be doing a great job with a similarly inexperienced defense. You can complain about Will Hill lacking game fitness (getting blown up trying to make a form tackle) and the desire to play more freshmen, but we knew ahead of time the defense would be a work in progress. If Austin can mold a young and inexperienced defense into something, there is no excuse for the crap show Addazio and Meyer have engineered on offense.
Meyer isn't immune to criticism because he recruited Brantley, told him to stick around, then asked him to run the option. He still has not realized Brantley does not have the body type for those plays. Worse, Addazio leaned on Burton too much against a weak opponent and showed his hand. As one of our commentators said, trying to fit Brantley and Burton into these roles is like fitting a square peg in a round hole. Burton is a good kid, but just because he is average at running and throwing, does not mean he is a go-to-man. As for Brantley, pulling him between running options and being a dropback quarterback only serves to slow his growth as a player. It doesn't matter that Brantley was running the system in practice for two years when he lacks the 25 extra pounds of muscle Tebow had.
As for Pouncey, while I want to have his back, the snaps still are not where they should be. Too many snaps are to the left shoulder or low. If he is not getting it, he needs to go to guard and not worry about his NFL stock. NFL teams need guards, too.
The player most impacted by Addazio and Meyer's inability to tailor the offense is Brantley. My perspective with this season was that it was in preparation for 2011. I don't care if we lose games, as long as there is growth by the team. In five games, I can't make that assessment and I don't think you can either. We have not seen Brantley go down field regularly and we have not seen the receiver corps used fully. Aside from a few long balls to Deonte Thompson, and going to Thompson and Carl Moore to convert 3rd downs, Brantley hasn't been given a chance to be a success or a failure. How do we know what he is made of when UF won't expand their passing game? Having zero picks is not a sign of an accurate QB, just one who won't force the ball. As for the receivers, why isn't Omarius Hines a bigger part of the offense? Why are Andre Debose and Frankie Hammond kept on the sidelines an entire series? And why the hell is Jordan Reed the target on the jump pass when you have Hines?
Rebuilding teams (which is what the Gators are) deserve the benefit of the doubt. But not when there is a clear issue with how one side of the ball is being handled. Players have to execute, but coaches have to put them in positions where they can be successful. Against Alabama, and too often this season, Florida has not done that. As I wrote yesterday, the same was true of 2009. This season, it is the mistake of forcing players into a system they are not physically able to handle. Either Meyer adjusts his offense for the players he has, or he finds someone to do it. If we want to be successful in the short and long term, changes must be made.
(I would like this to be the last time we talk about this, because we have to worry about LSU. At least we can enjoy Bruce Pearl finally getting the attention he has always wanted.)