Welcome to another year of Gator football! Expectations are high after a good (not great, mind you) start of the Mullen era that featured a strong finish after a couple of disappointing conference losses. My own expectations are high, but tempered considering positional question marks (OL, LB, Secondary, etc.). While I'm glad we are playing an old rival in the season's first real game, I'm not real wild about playing so early, yet it should be an opportunity to be embraced. The audition for deserving top ten and conference contender...do we nail it, or forget our lines? The answer in the first half was that we weren't ready for Broadway. Hell, we weren't ready for summer stock in the Pocanos! The only consistency was our inconsistency. OL got no push. Ground gains were mostly due to athleticism, speed (Toney), and second effort. Ball security cost us a couple of scores. Defensively, we tackled like dog sh!t, couldn't get off of blocks, and gave up several big plays that gave the Hurricanes life when they were seemingly ready to croak. We lacked a lot of things, but poise was not to be found when needed. Second half has featured more of the same and looked more like an AAU basketball game...or an adolescent male trying to "score" for the first time. Holy Sh!t and praise the DL! We dodged a bullet but got our pants pulled down in the proces. Let's look at a few specifics: *Tommy Townsend stood out. Converting the fake punt early was a gutsy call, but the kid obviously has the stones that make it an easy decision for the coaches. Like his brother before him, he can boom it with hang time. *Zuniga and Greenard stood out on the DL. Campbell made some plays, too. They made good plays against the run and applied pressure (with sacks) in passing situations. Zuniga, if he can stay healthy, can have a special year and maybe as important, draw enough attention that it will take some of the pressure off of the developing defenders. This whole group saved our @ss. *Despite a couple of security issues (fumble, pitch in a bad relationship), he didn't hurt us with his decision-making early on. I think he still has problems making his mind up before the snap despite what a proper read would suggest. He did have a couple of good check downs, but I also think he gave up in the pocket prematurely on several plays. *We cannot continue to give up big plays to opposing offenses on third down. Leadership can be overused to explain these type of gaffs, but I think it's clear that we are looking for some players to provide that component and it needs to be from the back seven. My kingdom for a Peterson, Spikes, etc. *We look like we're back to square one with the OL. As stated earlier, we got little to no push for most of the running plays. Pass Pro was 50/50 at best. Hevesy will have to do his best work...and quickly. This unit resembled a scout team for much of the game. *We break coverage almost every time a play is extended. Occasionally you can understand, but as often as seen tonight speaks toward a lack of experience and communication/cohesion among the coverage players. Hard, thorough coaching provided rapidly and consistently can help. Keeping contain up front is a factor as well. *Im going to share a pet peave. In my opinion, a lot of football nowadays on the defensive side relies way too much on speed and not enough on proper technique (esp. tackling, pursuit, and body position/control). I know the rules (penalties and coach/player contact time) makes it difficult, but a lot of what I see today is just hot garbage, especially our tackling. Though all position groups were guilty, our secondary looked a lot more like Matador U than DBU tonight. Combined with a distinct lack of "want to," you get what we all saw. We played like the Fightin' Camel C0cks in terms of pad level when tackling. *To quote Lombardi on the pass play/INT late..."What the hell's going on out here?!" That call was beyond dumb. Same could be said for the late interference penalties. I thought we upgraded the coaching position with this group? *Can't say the officiating crew was at peak form, but we were the beneficiary of a couple of their goofs. Unsportsmanlike call hurt, however. Our lack of disciple was a contributing factor to the quality of the officiating. We've got problems' but at least they weren't compounded by a loss. The adage that a team improves the most between the first and second games could be severely tested. I hate sloppy, inconsistent play punctuated with moments of poor effort. Show us some players that want to be the guy who makes the plays and I'll be happy. Until then, I'll just have to be content that the Hurricanes are 0-1! **wink** Go Gators!