Walt Kelly ran a cartoon for a number of years that featured a possum named Pogo. Interestingly, it was set in a swamp. One of the most remembered images came to mind after watching the debacle at the Cotton Bowl...
At first glance, you might think that the Sooners were our biggest foe. A 55-20 whipping in which we surrendered over 400 yards rushing might make you feel that way. So will a bunch of our players “opting out” or being unavailable, including our top four receivers that accounted for 34 touchdowns on the season. So will continued defensive ineptitude that spotlighted just how poorly coached we were from a basic fundamentals standpoint. So will your record-setting QB whose carriage suddenly turned into a pumpkin with three picks and no TD passes, the first time that’s happened since he became a starter. So will a basket full of head-scratching play calls (back to back QB runs that got nothing and turned a touchdown opportunity into a field goal; really Dan?) and more drops than catches by your remaining receivers, or so it seemed.
There’s really no easy way to put it, but our enemy comes from within. And it’s not the secondary that still looks like a garden of statues much of the time, nor is it the other defenders that have so often been swallowed up by the blocking or left clutching at air as the ball carriers ran past them. It’s not the OL that can’t get any movement to muster a running game and it’s not Kyle Trask, who had a terrible night throwing the ball in a game many thought he never should have played. It’s Grantham and the D staff. It’s Hevesy and Gonzalez, and Jones and others coaching the O. And ultimately, it’s Mullen. They coached every play of every game this year and this last one, maybe a defining moment, was the most damning. It sure erased any memories of 8-1 and the high hopes we had in this peculiar year.
*I remarked in the box during the game that I haven’t seen a team this poor fundamentally, especially defensively, at this level of college football...ever. In game 12 we were still missing tackles, blowing coverages, and not lining up or getting set consistently. Hell, we had twelve on the field and gave up a TD! Talent, which will get a lot of the blame, has less to do with these poor fundamentals than coaching, or the obvious lack of it. When you’re still making the same basic mistakes at the end of the season, it isn’t the kids.
*Trask was bad tonight. A part of me wishes that he would have opted out, but there was some question about whether he was going pro or coming back. If he needed a sign, he probably got it. I can’t pin all his woes tonight just on him. We had some drops and asking him to run it in against Oklahoma’s run D, twice, was pretty absurd. Mullen seemed to give him the sign when he went all Emery. Just a crappy way for a great Gator to maybe finish his career.
*Certainly there had to be someone upstairs letting Mullen know that we had backs open in the flats and up the sideline early? There were a few times we forced the ball between the hashes when we might have checked down, but it was not to be. When we finally did, it was too late. And who decided it was a good idea to run option and pass to the back in the flats to the short side? That pass was to Rick Wells, the same guy who got driven ten yards into a bubble screen as a blocker. Who the hell thought he would be able to bull his way into the end zone?
*There were a lot of kids that played that nobody knew. In truth, some of the fresh defenders didn’t look much worse than the starters. A bunch of our kids looked lost, timid, or both. Patrick Moorer, #37 who ran right into the pick on one score when he was chasing, looked like he had never practiced. Maybe he hadn’t or at least got few if any reps. I know that some of the opt outs hurt us, but we didn’t look any less prepared defensively than we have all season.
*I’ve complained about how meaningless the bowls have become that aren’t hosting playoff games. Even though Oklahoma didn’t appear to be struck that way, our opt outs would seem to bear that out. I don’t know what the answer is, but it hurts me to see Gators give up on a game even if it is to protect their pro prospects. That kind of pride has more value among the old guard I suppose.
Dan Mullen, prior to tonight, had done enough with his offense, as one dimensional as it was, to engender the confidence that we could outscore anybody. Turns out it was a false hope. That offense couldn’t hold up in three previous games when it had to have a lock down defense to salve some self-inflicted wounds. Tonight, nothing worked. Most definitely not the D, whose high water mark in the second quarter looked to come after a tongue lashing by Grantham, long overdue I might add. They eventually rolled over and took the 55-20 thrashing.
I started off with a shot at Mullen and his culpability for this sorry end to a once promising season. His body language during the game was pretty lousy. It looked like he wanted to be anywhere but on that sideline. He’s got some questions to answer. Most of them he should be asking himself and not waiting for a few softballs from the press. The biggest ones should be, in my opinion, do you work your ass off, and that of your staff (whatever it is after some needed changes) to fix this wreck, do you put your agent to work and find a landing spot after you cut and run, or do you keep doing the same thing, expecting different results? All are possibilities, but if it ain’t question #1, you ain’t Gator and it’s time for a change, regardless of the possibility of setbacks.
What a way for 2020 to end, but good riddance and here’s to better days. God bless, Gators! Don’t let the rock roll back on top of you!
Best Posts in Thread: Bits & Pieces: *Cotton Bowl* Florida vs. Oklahoma
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I was never a fan of the hire, but through the UGA game this year I thought he had outperformed what I expected and I'll admit that as I watched Trask piling up numbers, I was starting to drink the Mullen Kool-Aid. The Mizz-who game was where the wheels started coming off for me, his halftime behavior, bizarre postgame antics with the Darth Vader get-up, it all just struck me as really childish, immature, and something no coach of a championship team is going to be out doing. The LSU game is where I knew that this experiment was over. Oh yes, unfortunately it will drag on for at least another year (or more), but the Mullen era peaked on 11/7. My takeaway last night was just being utterly shocked seeing how awful "his guys" look, and I thought Hee Haw was a bad recruiter. Man oh man, next year is going to be rough.
Just more wandering in the wilderness.
Best comment of the night in the box came on that 12 men on the filed, "Yeah, but Stiner was in, so he shouldn't count against that number"
As for "tackling," what's the over/under on how many times our technique for "tackling" this season consisted of "dive for an ankle"?
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Trask could have opted out too, but he didn't. Kyle Trask is a warrior, and a great Gator.
I must admit, even with all the warning signs that have been accumulating since long before this season, that I allowed the UGA win to revive a level of hope and confidence in DM that simply wasn't justified. I held out hope, until the LSU debacle at least, that DM could still possibly be the guy. Mea culpa. I was the victim of my own "magical thinking" and it is my own damn fault that I chose to buy into that bullschytt in the first place. I was frankly relieved a bit that we seemed to be at least marginally competitive in the SECCG - which serves to demonstrate just how far we have fallen as a program and just how low my current expectations truly are. But facts are facts and there is no ignoring the reality that DM is not up to the task of leading UF to greatness - and almost certainly never will be.
He can fire Grantham, English, Hevesy, etc., etc., and he will still be the same arrogant, over-matched, clearly incompetent excuse-maker that he has shown himself to be on numerous occasions. His recruiting will still be second-rate at best and he will continue to rely on a gimmick offense that will be virtually unwatchable next year with EJ at the helm. I didn't like the hire in the first place and said so in no uncertain terms. But I decided to give the guy a chance and to support my Gators, for better or worse. I still love the Gators. They've been my team since I was a kid and I'm too old and too loyal to switch horses now. But the probationary period is over and Dan Mullen has failed. We can't move on soon enough to suit me. End of rant.
I give credit to Mullen for turning around McElwain's mess...program rebuilding...three NYD 6 bowls....showing signs of maybe getting closer to top 5 classes (but not yet).....but this crap show he gave us after beating UGA has put him back at square one.... and his weird calls and comments lately.....i dont know what to expect but if he keeps Grantham it:s easy...he just cant possibly be the guy if he's just that D* arrogant and stubborn....cant outgrow and progress as a major program HC with that kind of stupid.
They basically did the same thing A&M did with the power run game. I lost count how many
times they ran counter. Jaydon Hill made a nice deflection on a deep ball. Both Rogers and Helm
looked pretty good. Outside of Bogle the rest of the guys looked lost out there. Even Diabate didn't
play well. I'm not sure if he or Bogle was credited with the fumble by their back. It's not like Riley
went deep into a bag of tricks. It was counter, A couple crossing routes and the vertical game all
night. Not exactly things our guys haven't seen all season. What a dreadful end it was. Unfortunately
Fat todd will be back another year due to the contract. The fat bastard can't be run out of Gainesville
Meh, if we are going to call bowl games meaningless and genuinely believe that, then one should not infer too much from the performance of this game. So I am not going to get too upset or use this game to draw conclusions on the whole season. A season that I think anyone can agree has been quite different. However, I do think there are big-picture type things that you can take from the game. The defense just continues to show a lack of preparation. On top of that, the whole team just looked flat and disinterested. Even Trask seemed to be somewhere else, his throws just seemed to lack any type of purpose. As I have said before, I do still believe that Mullen can produce IF he shows me that he is willing to make the hard decisions with himself and his staff (including making staff changes **cough**grantham**cough**). The clock starts ticking now.
This game reminded me of Mac’s 1st bowl game against Michigan, where we got absolutely smoked.
Actually, this whole year reminds me of that year: full of fresh optimism, only to lose to Bama in Atlanta. Then get our you-know-what pushed in during a bowl due to a lack of want-to and poor coaching.
Mullen, be better than Mac: the lowest possible hurdle to cross.
It's been a rollercoaster for me with Mullen. After watching him choke against Bama his last year at MSU, I didn't want him. But he was hired and I liked his enthusiasm, his mantra of relentless effort, etc. But after watching him for 3 years my conclusion is that while I believe that he is one of the best offensive guys in the business, he is a terrible head coach. He is unwilling to make personnel changes, fails to manage the entire game, doesn't hold people accountable including himself, and can't recruit. His job is to run the organization and he is failing to do that. And probably his worst failing is that I see no evidence that he self-evaluates. Good leaders not only evaluate the performance of those that report to them, but also themselves. He needs to be an OC somewhere calling plays with a head coach to handle recruiting, accountability, and game management. And someone to yell into his ear, "Stop running our Heisman QB up the gut on 2nd and 3rd and long."
So I say Go Gators with a furrowed brow because, I can infer a lot from this game.
There shouldn't be an issue with losing this meaningless game, but I do find it funny that the people who were saying how important the Citrus bowl win against a depleted Michigan squad in 2018, but the game doesn't matter because we were depleted. Neither matter. The only thing that matters is how ridiculous the head coach sounded after the game with excuse after excuse. It's an embarrassment.
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