Dooley: More of same?


Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel is sacked against Louisiana during the second half earlier this season.

Doug Finger/Staff Photographer
Published: Friday, November 23, 2012 at 7:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 23, 2012 at 7:26 p.m.

Boy, I can't wait for this afternoon.

Thanksgiving is over, which means Christmas is up next, and, apparently we are getting an early gift today.

Because I have talked to so many Gator fans who strongly believe Florida has been “saving something” for Florida State and it will be unveiled today.

Oh, goody.

Can't wait.

What do you think it will be?

The wishbone?

A triple-reverse pass?

Tim Tebow gets another year of eligibility?

I can understand why Florida fans would want to believe the Gators have been holding back. Over the last four games, they have scored five offensive touchdowns and that might be acceptable against LSU and Alabama, but not Louisiana-Lafayette and Jacksonville State.

So they must be sandbagging, right?

Wishful thinking. While there is no question they shut it down after Jon Bostic's pick-six last week, Florida's offense is what it is because it is what it is. You can't tell me they were saving something two weeks ago when they were on the verge of losing on Homecoming Day to Louisiana-Lafayette or when Missouri was threatening to send a low-scoring game to overtime.

Or even last week when the Gators played the whole first half knowing that a blocked punt for a score or some fluke play could pull Jax State within a field goal.

No, Florida isn't saving anything for FSU. The Gators will play with more emotion than they did the last two weeks, but no more than they did against Georgia. There may be a trick play in the game plan, but there are always one or two there. It's just a matter of whether or not they choose to run them.

If Florida is to win today in Tallahassee, there will be no magical offensive potion. It will win the same way it has all year — by playing great defense, winning the special teams and doing just enough on offense to score more points than the other team.

That has been the formula all season. Will Muschamp has said all along he recognized what this team was in the spring.

You might not have seen 10-1 and a chance to play for the national title with that formula, but aren't coaches always optimistic?

This offense is just short of pedestrian for a number of reasons.

For one thing, they have missed badly at wide receiver when it comes to recruiting. Look at the last three years. Three four-star receivers were signed who never played a down. Ja'Juan Story is at TCU, Chris Dunkley has been suspended at South Florida and Adrian Coxson is at his third school.

Mistakes were made. The players who are here — guys like Quinton Dunbar and the injured Solomon Patton — have been solid but not spectacular. And there's nobody on this team who overwhelms you with his ability to go up and get the football when it's in the air.

The offensive line looked so good early in the season when it pushed around LSU. But that line has struggled to stay together because of injuries, and the backups have been less-than-stellar.

There have been some pretty good offensive coaches at UF over the last three years. You see what Urban Meyer is doing at Ohio State, Steve Addazio has done well at Temple, Charlie Weis may be struggling but he still has an excellent offensive mind, and Brent Pease did great work at Boise State before coming here.

With those coaches, Florida has ranked 83rd, 89th and now 106th in offense the last three years.

So you have to point to the players (Florida already has four wide receivers and two running backs committed for next year).

But there is also a lack of creativity on the part of the coaches.

Florida, this season, has not aspired to be great on offense. And as defenses figured out during the season what Florida wants to do, they have taken it away from them. Muschamp has been stubborn about sticking with the plan, a plan that has produced 10 wins.

(I think Florida's offense was also hurt by an early bye week. Teams with later bye weeks use the chance to self-scout. But that's just a theory.)

For Steve Spurrier-era Gators, this season has been hard to watch. They have to go home after games and put on tapes of the destruction of Tennessee in 1995 or 52-20 to clean their palates. Urban Meyer-era Gators find this a little easier to watch because of his last year at UF, but they still long for the days of the blowouts.

But isn't winning good enough? Isn't being in this position at this point of the season a testament to this coaching staff, that they are fourth in the BCS and in need of just one break and one big win to play for a national title with this offense?

Florida will be back offensively. Muschamp has talked about how his team needs more explosiveness and is not where it needs to be. It's not that he enjoys winning the way Florida has, but he believes it's the only way for this team to win.

We'll see if it can do it one more time. It will try to win the same way it has been winning, and it may be hard on the eyes.

But saving something for the Seminoles?

I don't think so.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

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