Florida had no business winning this one


Published: Saturday, October 9, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, October 10, 2010 at 12:02 a.m.

The crowd waited, patiently hoping almost as if everyone was hiding a flask they hoped to sneak out of the stadium. If the call went their way the celebration would be wild and sighs would create a gust of wind that would have blown down anyone walking on University Avenue.

But it wasn't to be.

Minutes later, they hoped again, this crowd that had alternated between cheers and boos on the drive they thought would win a game they had no business winning.

Again, no luck.

Today, you may be grousing about the replay calls but both were too close to overturn. You may be pouting about how LSU is the worst 6-0 team in the country and Les Miles is the luckiest coach in the world.

In truth, here's the reality the Gator Nation needs to face.

Your football team is pretty average.

Like out-of-the-top-25 average.

Florida went to orange jerseys Saturday night against LSU and returned an era of mediocre football to The Swamp. Remember how Steve Spurrier changed from the orange to the blue jerseys because "they look like Clemson?"

On Saturday night, they played like Clemson.

Somehow, the Gators still had a chance. An interception to set up a score, a fumbled punt to set up another, a kickoff return for a touchdown.

The team that refuses to show up in the first half nearly pulled it off despite an offense that was booed five times on the drive that nearly won the game. (For the record it went boos, boos, cheers, boos, cheers, boos, boos, cheers, cheers, cheers.)

That's Florida football these days.

There's a major lack of leadership on this team when you see so many of the veteran players making stupid mistakes. When the offensive line unit that is supposed to be one of the strengths of the team continues to be a weakness. When players who have made no secrets that they will be leaving early seem to be trying to make sure they will be undrafted free agents.

"Right now, we should be better than we are," Urban Meyer said. "We have to identify the guys who are not making plays."

Certainly, the injuries didn't help. But that doesn't explain how the defense could be shredded by an offense that came in to the game ranked 11th in the SEC. The Tigers were 11th only because there is a Vanderbilt.

And yet, LSU had little trouble moving the ball against Florida. When they needed it at the end they went 62 yards for the winning score. They went to their playmaker — Terrence Toliver — time and time again, and he kept making plays time and time again. On the final drive he had three catches for 49 yards including the game-winner.

Florida doesn't have a Terrence Toliver.

Still, in the end, this came down to the inexplicable. While everyone in the stands and the press box watched LSU line up for a 53-yard field goal to tie it, I'll bet there was more than one of you who was thinking about the possibility of a fake.

In fact, it seemed too obvious.

And yet, it happened.

And despite the bounce pass, it worked.

So everything changed on Saturday.

Suddenly, it's South Carolina's Eastern Division.

Florida slides into position to be hosting guys in loud jackets from bowl games it doesn't really want to be a part of this holiday season.

It really doesn't matter if it's the fault of play-calling or players, whether the issues are personnel or personalities, whether there is a lack of chemistry or karma.

Florida is a 4-2 football team.

And it's not a great 4-2.

Meyer talked about working hard to get better. I'm not sure hard work is going to do it with this team.

Players need to step up, not verbally but with actions. You can't keep missing tackles and missing blocks and then say you are a leader.

Leaders get the job done.

Leaders back up their talk.

It takes more than changing the color of your jersey to make you a different football team. Leaders put on their blue jerseys and go out and win a game in front of the home crowd.

The orange jerseys were the act of a team desperate for a change.

But in the end we saw the same old thing.

A whole lot of average.

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