What can you say about this loss? The Gators destroyed us in all facets of the game. The final score was 56-6. They had 519 yards to our 173. They did everything right, and we did everything wrong.
The one good thing you can say about our performance is that the defense did its part in the first half. The final score may show a 28-3 halftime margin, but we giftwrapped 21 of those points and the other seven came on a long passing play when a Florida receiver got away with pushing off of Carlos Thomas. (I would complain about this and other instances of biased officiating, but what's the point--we were never in the game.) The defense slowed down the Gators' powerful offense and even caused a couple of turnovers. They wore out in the second half, but that happens when your offense goes three-and-out everytime they get the ball. This defense was good enough to help us win this game and is good enough to help us win our remaining two.
However, our offense is not good enough to beat the Gators and gives us reason to worry against Clemson and in whatever bowl we end up in. Our quarterbacks both have problems. Garcia is a great athlete but likes to take off running every time he's under pressure. That might work against UAB but it won't work against a defense like Florida's. Smelley understands the offense better and knows how to spread the ball around a bit but doesn't throw the ball accurately and is prone to bizarre brain farts. His first interception, when he basically threw the ball straight to Brandon Spikes, was beyond inexplicable. Our line can't block. Our receivers, other than Kenny McKinley and Jared Cook, either drop the ball or just look confused. On one forgetable play, Smelley threw a nice pass to Moe Brown. Brown was in position to make the catch but didn't turn around to see that the ball was coming to him. Again, inexplicable.
Spurrier's rotating system compounded the problems. Spurrier claims that sending plays in with his quarterbacks helps solve some of the confusion problems that have hurt us and maybe he's right theoretically. However, in practice the system seems to do nothing but cause more confusion. Smelley has performed a little better over the last two games, so I think he should start against Clemson. However, the rotating has to stop. Start Smelley and if he plays well let him go the distance. If he comes out and throws a couple of interceptions early, let Garcia give it a try. I'll have to admit that my confidence in Garcia is not very high right now, though. He's a very gifted player, but when you look back on the last few games, he's only played well in spots. Spurrier is obviously right about him not being prepared mentally. He needs a year to better learn the offense.
I don't even want to talk about the lateral on the kickoff return. The call was foolish, especially on a wet field. Moreover, it reeked of desparation. Not much else to say about it, other than that Gary Danielson and Verne Lundquist's response to the official review of whether the guy who recovered the fumble scored or not proves yet again that these two are among the most biased, unprofessional pricks in broadcasting. As I said after the Georgia game, I really can't stand these guys. Lundquist also several times referred to our first series as a three-and-out even though we gained a first down on the first play. At least Danielson noticed that the refs missed an obvious call when Tebow horsecollared Eric Norwood during Norwood's fumble return.
While it's depressing to lose this way, we should remember that what happened yesterday was no different than what happened to LSU, Kentucky, Georgia, and Vandy. The Gators are peaking right now, and while we've proven that we're a decent team over the past few weeks, we're clearly not on their level this year. We can still top off a successful season by beating Clemson. We should be favored in that game, but not by much: the Tigers are down this year, but they still have a number of talented offensive playmakers and they will play for pride when we come to town. Our goal over the next two weeks is to find some sort of answer on offense. We need to get back to basics, figure out which quarterback to go with, and go to the Upstate with a plan to limit turnovers and put 30 points or so on the board. That should be enough to win if our defense holds up its end of the bargain.
Check out more info about Saturday's games at the SB Nation Race to the BCS page: