Meyer's critics are coming home to roost

Published: Tuesday, October 4, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, October 4, 2005 at 12:00 a.m.
So who laced the Kool-aid with curdled milk?
Everything has changed now. Suddenly - after one game - blind faith has taken a back seat to jaded reality. And the so-called experts are sticking out their chests in huffy pride.
They told you this offense wouldn't work in the SEC. Hah, spread option. More like dead option, especially when you have a quarterback who looks like he's running in syrup.
They told you that all you have to do is hit Chris Leak to make him ineffective. (And there should be no more questions about whether he can take a hit, only about why he has to be hit so often).
They told you the gimmicks that worked in the Mountain West Conference wouldn't work in the mighty SEC.
They told you it was all just an Urban myth.
They were right. We don't know yet if they're wrong.
Because all the first five games have shown us is this - this hybrid offense that Florida is running won't work with this offensive line and this quarterback against really good defenses.
We know this because of the basic fact that Florida has scored one touchdown in two games against Tennessee and Alabama. The option has been no factor and we're still waiting to see the razzle and dazzle of the offense against somebody not named Kentucky.
After Saturday's humiliation in Tuscaloosa, Urban Meyer is at a crossroads. Because his quarterback isn't going anywhere. Chris Leak will be here for the next year-and-a-half.
So, whatcha gonna do, coach? "I don't know," he said Monday. "We're in evaluation. How's that for a clear answer?"
This is why he makes the big bucks. This is why UF athletic director Jeremy Foley flew to Utah more than the Osmond family. The Florida football coach gets paid to win games and solve problems.
Right now, there is no bigger problem for Meyer than an offense stuck in park. He's the guy who brought it here, so it's his job to fix it.
Need a wrench? Or just some more players? Part of the problem for the Gator offense is personnel related. The line is not playing well, but Meyer has made it clear that wholesale changes won't be made. It's not like John Hannah and Willie Roaf are sitting on the bench.
The quarterback is still trying to figure it all out and the coaches are, too. They're trying to fit a drop-back peg in an option hole, and the forced fit isn't working.
"It's not a spread offense right now," Meyer said. "We're trying to utilize some of the things we do well. We're throwing the ball much more downfield than we ever have because that's how we're making plays.
"There are elements of the spread and we are more committed than ever now that we are going to do more and more of what we know how to do. We have not done a great job of utilizing 53 yards - the width of the field. What we've done is kind of squeezed it down because that's how we beat Tennessee."
So I guess we'll see the true Meyer offense from here on out. It's not going to make Leak any faster or the offensive line block anybody or the running backs hit the hole quicker. Players are still accountable.
So are the coaches. It's up to them to figure this thing out.
Just don't tell me that the Meyer plan of offense won't work five games into his first season.
At least give him six. In this world of overreaction, Penn State is back and FSU is in the national title game and USC is unbeatable and Texas will kill Oklahoma. And the spread option won't work in the SEC.
They told you so. Now it's up to Meyer, his coaches and players to shut them - and some of you - up. (No offense, but too many of you are falling into the stereotypical behavior of the obsessive-compulsive fan).
It's not time for Josh Portis. It's not time for Gavin Dickey. It's not time for Cornelius Ingram. It's time to get better plays into the game for Chris Leak.
And it's time for what Meyer said Monday.
"There's a group of people who have to play better - they're called the Gators."
You can reach sports columnist Pat Dooley by e-mail at or by calling 374-5053. You can hear The Pat Dooley Hour each weekday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on The Star 99.5-FM.

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