Here in Gainesville, we are known for many things. The alligators at Lake Alice, the sinkhole at Millhopper, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, one big prairie, midtown and downtown and uptown flunkies.
We have traffic like a big city at 5 p.m. and avoid I-75 on holidays like it was littered with landmines.
I was born here, brought home as a baby to a house on NW 39th Ave. and celebrated my 30th year at the Gainesville Sun this month. (Shouldn’t I get a gold watch or a free subscription or something?)
But what I didn’t know until the last few years is that Gainesville has more offensive coordinators per capita than any city in America.
They may argue that point in Knoxville and Auburn, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
It seems that almost everyone with a pulse and a cellphone or a computer has an answer to what has been infecting the Florida football offense for almost a decade.
(They also had answers for the baseball team’s offensive struggles last year but that kind of worked out).
It’s useless to even try the argument that perhaps the coaches know more about their personnel and actually study opposing defenses frame by frame. Pshaw. We know better.
Everyone else knows how to fix things. Well, everyone else has an opinion on how to fix things.
On Sunday I went into a restaurant to pick up some to-go food and there was a waitress there talking to her boss about the Florida-Tennessee game.
“I don’t know what those coaches were doing but, man, everybody was madder than heck on Facebook.”
That’s a part of being a fan, whether you are a big-money booster or a couch critic. You have suggestions and in this day of multiple social media weapons, you can get them out there.
Some of the answers:
• Make Steve Spurrier the offensive coordinator.
• Make Kerwin Bell the offensive coordinator.
• Make my next-door neighbor the offensive coordinator.
• Start Luke Del Rio.
• Start Malik Zaire.
• Start Kerwin Bell.
• Use a fullback.
• Run more reverses.
• Run fake reverses.
• Run double reverses.
• Get the ball to Kadarius Toney more often.
• Give the ball to Malik Davis more than four times in a game.
• Go back to the Fun ‘N’ Gun.
• Does anyone know where we put it?
• Fire Doug Nussmeier.
• Fire Jim McElwain.
• Fire everyone.
• Get a new strength coach.
• Throw it deep more often.
• Drink more Gatorade.
• Or just drink more.
I could go on. And on. Believe me. And the suggestions are not all without merit. Florida has played two games and ranks at the bottom of the conference in almost every offensive category.
(Somehow, McElwain and his staff even get blamed for four years of Will Muschamp’s offense, but I digress).
The resolution to the malaise that is Florida’s offense is not as simple as any one answer. But if it was, it would be this — Florida has a young quarterback who has to get better if this offense is ever going to get out of the 100s.
I’m not laying the blame on Feleipe Franks. His struggles as a young man in a high-profile position with only six-plus quarters of football under his belt are understandable.
And he didn’t have the luxury of a couple of cupcakes to ease into it.
Franks has to see the field better. As McElwain pointed out Monday, Franks missed six big plays. (If McElwain truly is a quarterback whisperer, perhaps he needs to talk a little louder).
If Franks (and it’s not all on him but let’s start there) had seen the field better, maybe some of the disgruntled Gator fans would be enjoying the latest win over a rival instead of sucking all of the joy out of an amazing victory.
If Davis doesn’t fumble at the goal line and Franks sees Dre Massey wide open behind the defense and Mark Thompson’s TD against Michigan isn’t called back and Eddy Pineiro didn’t miss a field goal in the opener, we might be talking about a Gator offense that was finally fun to watch.
Or maybe not.
There is no doubt that expectations for a much-improved offense this season have been hamstrung by the suspensions of two of the team’s best offensive players, one of them just days before the opener with the game plan already in place.
But nobody can be surprised at the cantankerous mood of Gator fans who truly believe they are entitled to happier times.
Many of them don’t remember what it was like in the days before Spurrier when Florida offenses were often three-runs-and-a-punt. Sure, they have been spoiled, but who doesn’t want to be spoiled? What’s wrong with being spoiled anyway?
I saw a quote this week from a coach who said this:
“Everyone wants to panic because it doesn’t look pretty all the time. Winning is all that matters.”
It wasn’t Jim McElwain, although it could have been. It was Kentucky coach Mark Stoops last Saturday night.
But that’s the thing. Winning matters, but winning while you are cursing your TV isn’t as enjoyable.
Florida has won almost every close game it has played under McElwain, who is eight out of nine during his UF career in one-score games.
But that’s too stressful.
And I get that. In a perfect world, the offense is humming and you’re making dinner plans at halftime. You have a thick file of highlight plays to choose from every week instead of the one that decided the game.
So this team might not be for you. It’s going to struggle on offense. Maybe it gets better. Maybe it doesn’t.
I know this — it will never be perfect.
And if winning the way Florida won on Saturday made you cranky, consider this — the alternative.
You know, I don’t remember the Gator Nation being angry after James Jones’ catch or Chris Doering’s got a touchdown or Jacquez Green is behind the defense or Kerwin Bell limping into the end zone or Spurrier’s field goal or even Chris Chiozza’s shot in Madison Square Garden.
I guess it comes down to this. You have a flawed team that has more warts than a Disney witch. But if you don’t like the way the last game ended, it may be time to move on.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.