It's been a rough couple of weeks for Gator fans as the beloved boys from Ole' Florida have been embarrassed by two top ten teams.
Truth be told, the Gators were longshots to win either game - even if John Brantley hadn't gotten injured. Without him it would have taken just terrible performances by those two opponents for Florida to have a chance. Neither Alabama or LSU beat themselves and the outcome could be expected.
What was a bit more disturbing about these losses isn't how Jeff Driskell or Jacoby Brissett ran the Gators offense but the way the pieces of the team we thought the Gators could count on failed them.
The Gators run defense was odious these past two weeks. Florida's gasconaded rushing attack failed to generate any big plays against top quality competition.
What we failed to learn about the Gators playing the likes of UAB we learned pretty quickly against Bama and LSU.
Here are five of those things:
1. The Gators are weak on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
Florida's offensive line has surrendered 15 tackles for losses and 4 sacks in the past two ball games. While some of that certainly is scheme related and missed checks by the freshmen QBs, the Gators offensive line hasn't dominated as they did with lesser competition. Neither Rainey or Demps are large, powerful backs but all they need is a crease to kill - that crease simply not been there.
On the defensive line, the Gators have been blown off the line of scrimmage in the running game, surrendering 464 yards and 7 touchdowns on the ground after being one of top run defenses in the nation. They've also only had only one sack in the past two games.
2. Florida's running game lacks physicality
If the Gators are going to run I-formation and expect to succeed, they need backs that not only can take a pounding but deliver it as well. That running back may not be on the Gators roster right now. Look, all Gator fans love the big play potential of Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps. Both can strike a defense like lightning but you have to wonder if they can take the constant pounding of a run first mentality.
Both Mike Gillislee and Trey Burton have shown the ability to deliver a shot to defenders. Gillislee in particular has shown the ability to consistently run between the tackles and do some damage. We haven't seen enough of him to know if he can provide the big play.
We're not saying we want to take Rainey and Demps off the field but if the Gators are going to run from the I as much as they did against LSU, if they're going to attempt wildcat with Burton, then it may be a better option to have Gillislee be the back.
Perhaps Florida could incorporate both Demps and Rainey spread out at wide out while keeping Burton and Gillislee in the backfield - spreading out the defense and creating natural running lanes.
If anyone can get it figured out, it's Charlie Weis.
3. Florida's linebackers must become more active.
The strength of the Florida defense is in their linebacking core. Due to the Gators struggles on the defensive line, offensive linemen have been getting to the second level and taking out the Florida backers, creating huge running lanes for opposing backs.
Bostic, Jenkins and company must do a better job at anticipating the run, shedding those blocks and filling the gaps.
4. Brissett shows a big time arm.
After getting the job with the Gators, one of the first guys Will Muschamp recruited was Jacoby Brissett, who came to Florida as the number 3 ranked prep quarterback available despite number one, Jeff Driskell, already committing to the orange and blue.
That shows a lot of confidence in himself and it also displays a desire to compete. Brissett displayed a lot of tools on Saturday. The Freshman took some shots down the field and it helped open up some running lanes for Rainey and Gillislee in the second half. It also showed that he can be a threat in the passing game.
We think we haven't seen that yet with Driskell. Watching this competition going forward should be very interesting.
5. Schedule is still pretty tough
If the Gators hope they can exhale heading to Auburn they're sadly mistaken. While Cam Newton may be off opening eyes in the NFL, the Tigers still provides formidable opposition. Auburn is also 4-2 but has notched some quality wins over #10 South Carolina and #16 Mississippi State. Florida has yet to beat a ranked team.
The Gators also have to go on the road to face the Ole Ball Coach's #18 ranked team and will host #23 Florida State. Both Georgia and Vandy could be pesky as well.
The good news for the Gators is they do control their own destiny. If they can right the ship, the opportunity is there to win the SEC East and play for the conference championship