By Pete Fiutak
Urban Meyer and the Florida coaching staff might say all the right things about how Miami was a tough opponent and how it was still a double-digit win, but to have 25 yards of offense after three quarters until a huge mid-second half run from Jeff Demps is a disaster. Welcome to the preseason, Florida. Now don't do this again.
Tim Tebow himself couldn't have prevented all the drops and the total and complete lack of concentration on the Gators to put the ball on the turf time after time after time, not to mention all the misfires on the snaps from Maurkice Pouncey. The pure speed and athleticism of the Florida defense proved to be the difference, and Florida did win in a blowout, but this looked like an attack that couldn't quite decide what it wanted to do.
Meyer has made no secret that he wants to run the spread, but he has a quarterback in John Brantley who's more NFL passer than college spread runner. Florida is so used to relying on Tebow to run the ball and carry the offense against inferior teams that it's going to take some time to get used to having a passer like Brantley. That's why you have games against Miami University; this was the game to work out the kinks.
On the plus side, the running backs looked fast and effective when they weren't dropping the ball, and Brantley showed off his arm on two fourth down throws connecting with a dart on one fourth and 15 and another on a bit of a Hail Mary for a ricocheted score.
Call it a question of time and sync, and call it a case of everyone getting the first game bugs out of the system, but there needs to be a lot of work on the timing, the snaps, and the execution. South Florida will be able take of the opportunities that Miami University couldn't.
Take a deep breath, everyone. It's not even Labor Day yet.
When it comes to Week 1, you never want to get too high or too low, especially if you've survived and avoided the upset. Of course, Florida was historically awful versus a bad Miami (OH) team, playing as if it was the spring game rather than the opener. And the offensive line, namely C Mike Pouncey, is going to be put under the microscope, from the media and the Gator staff, between now and next week's visit from South Florida. The good news is that the program is still loaded with talent, including the beleaguered No. 55, and most of the problems that hamstrung the offense on Saturday can be addressed with more reps in practice. A lot more reps.
Florida isn't fine, but it's also way too early to start signaling the warning sirens. As wake-up calls go, this could have gone far worse for the Gators. There was no Appalachian State-like upset and everyone appears to have left the Swamp healthy. However, they better get those snaps addressed quickly because the schedule is about to get tougher in a hurry. In one of the big surprises of the first weekend, Florida has already used its 2010 mulligan.
Clearly, Florida should have done a lot more against Miami of Ohio. Clearly, the utter inability to generate any sustained offense after a quarter and a half - and especially after halftime, when all the adrenaline should have worn off - should be concerning to the Gator Nation. Clearly, Florida doesn't deserve a spot in the top 15 if we're truly trying to inject some integrity into an integrity-free entity known as the college football weekly rankings poll.
Yet, with all that having been said, this is what happens when a program has purred for three years with Tim Tebow at quarterback. This is what happens when an icon so fully handles the psychology and tactics of football and allows everyone else on a roster to exude confidence.
One would do well to recall that the last time an iconic Gator quarterback left the scene and handed the reins to someone else, a period of Florida dominance in the SEC was interrupted. Doug Johnson did not catch the baton Danny Wuerffel extended to him, and Florida went three years without an SEC crown until Jesse Palmer and Rex Grossman teamed up.
Tossing aside comparisons with 1997, this was the first game of the season. Michigan lost to Appalachian State but became a good team (good enough to beat Florida) at the end of the 2007 campaign. Oregon was awful against Boise State but matured enough to wrest the Pac-10 from USC. Downgrade Florida by all means in the polls, but don't say the sky is falling. Besides, no one in their right mind should trust South Carolina to win the SEC East. Maybe those who were high on Georgia are about to head to the top of the class among college football pundits this year.