Gator Nation grumbling, but it could be worse


Published: Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 12:16 a.m.

The noise in the system comes in waves.

Angry waves.

Some of it is shouted from the rooftops, the ones where Gator fans stand just before they step out onto the ledge.

Some of it is whispered, quietly enough so that nobody can be sure if it was really said aloud.

Some of it is done with cowardice, hidden behind a fake name on an Internet message board.

None of it is pleasant.

Florida has lost two games in two years, three in three. But the last two losses have been taken almost personally by a lot of people in the Gator Nation. Forget that a quarterback starting in his fifth game in front of an incredibly loud crowd played like a quarterback playing in front of a loud crowd in his fifth start.

That’s where you hear the whispers.

Does John Brantley have it?

Why did we let Cam Newton leave?

This isn’t working.

Hey, in this world, five games is a lot. BYU fired a defensive coordinator after five games. The Miami Dolphins fired a special teams coordinator after four. The benches of America are filled with quarterbacks who were yanked less than five games into a season.

The whispers ask the question that nobody asked in the preseason — was it a mistake for Florida to recruit Brantley? And was it a mistake for Brantley to choose Florida?

Certainly, those are legitimate questions. If Brantley knew Florida would be trying to squeeze him into a hole only an option quarterback could fit through, maybe he would have ended up somewhere else.

But let’s go back to the preseason. We all admired Brantley for hanging in there when most college quarterbacks sulk and pout and leave schools if they’re not the starter. That hasn’t changed.

Let’s also go back to two seasons ago. Brantley had beaten out Newton. Newton left for junior college. With a full year of games to prepare himself, Newton is off to a much faster start at the major college level than Brantley. Brantley didn’t have that luxury.

Besides, you can pine all you want for Newton or for Denard Robinson, the Michigan quarterback who Florida recruited as a wide receiver. Those two may end up 1-2 in the Heisman Trophy balloting, but that doesn’t change who your quarterback is. Or the fact that he deserves a chance.

That’s where the noise gets louder, doesn’t it?

The chance.

Why don’t they give him a chance?

Let Brantley wing it around. Quit making him run the option when everyone in the building knows he’s going to pitch it.

But all of that noise you’re making isn’t going to matter according to Urban Meyer.

“To say it’s going to be eliminated, that’s not going to happen,” he said Monday.

Don’t ask me. I don’t get it either.

What I do get is that you are frustrated and that many of you fashion yourselves offensive coordinators in waiting. You want Mike Pouncey moved from center. You don’t care whether that means Florida will go against one of the best defensive lines in college football without its best five linemen on the field. The bad snaps are hurting your eyes.

You want to throw deep against two-deep coverage. You want to ditch the option and the runs up the middle by your diminutive running back. You want to score on every play. Some of you (according to your e-mails) want coaches fired and new coaches hired in the middle of the season. A lot of you think Steve Addazio has too much on his plate and you’re not talking about chicken wings.

You want the truth.

You can’t handle the truth.

The truth is that Alabama is better than Florida and everybody else in the country. Especially at home in front of 101,000 people. The truth is that Alabama lost a lot of players last year but the ones they had coming back (a Heisman winner, a quarterback who last lost a game when Wham! was big, etc.) are better than the ones Florida had coming back. (And Alabama will be going through similar issues next year).

The truth is that every win with this Florida team should be embraced instead of being treated like that cousin who shows up at Christmas with a stripper and a bottle of Bourbon Deluxe. The truth is that Florida is not entitled to anything.

The truth is that Dan Mullen is not leaving his job as head coach at Mississippi State to return to coach your offense. And, seriously, you need help if you think that could happen.

The truth is that I don’t understand how Meyer can say there is no offense, that the offense is structured around the personnel and then contradict himself by saying he doesn’t want to give up elements of the offense.

The truth is that it’s not in the DNA of this coaching staff to abandon everything it believes in and come up with an offense that more closely remembers the Fun ‘n’ Gun than the Spread ‘n’ Shred.

The truth is your coach has not lost any of the passion or intensity some of you swear has seeped out of him. Just ask anyone who has been to a practice.

The truth is that this season is five games old and there’s a lot of football left. And your head coach is 61-11 at Florida and usually figures things out.

The truth is that it could be worse. A lot worse.

You could be a Georgia fan.

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