Dooley: Mercifully, season is over


Florida Gators quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg (17) talks in the huddle against the Florida State Seminoles during the first half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday Nov. 30 2013 in Gainesville, Fla. Florida State defeated Florida 37-7. (Matt Stamey/Staff photographer)

The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, November 30, 2013 at 6:48 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, November 30, 2013 at 7:39 p.m.

No surprises here.

Florida's miserable football season, one of the worst in school history, came to a predictable end Saturday with a loss that was a microcosm of its season.

It started right away with a missed field goal. On the Gators' biggest offensive play of the game, they lost the player who made it happen to injury. The defense played well at times but eventually ran out of gas and, of course, caved in right after a Florida touchdown gave Gator fans a sliver of hope.

This is your 2013 Florida football team, bitten by everything from snakes to karma. Thankfully, these Gators cannot lose any more games as a team and you won't have to watch them any longer.

“(Trey Burton's injury) kind of sums up what has happened this year,” coach Will Muschamp said.

The whole game did. The Gators actually dominated the first quarter defensively and pressured Jameis Winston. But eventually, you knew that this defense would run out of bodies.

And, unfortunately for Florida, defensive stops meant the worst-case scenario — Florida had to go on offense. Each possession was deflating and numbing and futile.

Even the presence of Tim Tebow, who owned Florida State, couldn't help this offense. Hey, Timmy, if the NFL can't use you do you mind suiting up?

The only Promise delivered on this day was that things will be better next year because they have to be.

“I know where this thing is and I know where it's heading,” Muschamp said.

Where is it?

“Rock bottom,” said offensive tackle Max Garcia.

Where it's going is a harder question to answer. Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley held a hallway pregame news conference to say what he has been saying since after the loss to Missouri. You know, back when a bowl game and a winning season still seemed possible — that Muschamp's job is safe and he'll figure this thing out.

I asked Muschamp after the game if it was a relief to have the season over and he said it was not. But he wasn't speaking for the fans. So disgusted are they with the state of affairs at UF right now that thousands sold tickets to FSU fans, judging by the garnet shirts in The Swamp and enormous roars every time the Seminoles had a big play.

I thought the Gator Nation was everywhere, but I know where it was not on a perfect Saturday. To those fans who chose not to attend, that's your prerogative. To those of you who sold tickets to FSU fans, the only statement you made to recruits was, “Go to FSU.”

Now that it's over, we will wait to see the carnage. Offensive coordinator Brent Pease is a good man and he may be a good coach, but this marriage is irrevocably broken. I know about the injuries and I know about the philosophy, but there is no way Florida can sell season tickets next year without changes being made.

That's up to Muschamp. I just know that if I have to watch an offense throw another four-yard pass on third-and-10, I'm coming out of the press box and stealing the football.

If there is any consolation for Florida fans, you are the only team to hold FSU under 40 points. Hey, I tried. The Gators didn't cover what had to be the biggest spread in UF history. You gained less than 200 yards. You were 1-of-11 on third down and allowed 9-of-15 to the opponent.

You may have set a record by allowing the opposition this season to make 22-of-23 field goals.

And the player who you could not cover dropped three passes or he might have gone for more than 300 yards receiving.

In other words, this team stunk up another Saturday. And it will be a long time before Muschamp and his next team will have a chance to spit out the taste of seven straight defeats.

“It's a great lesson to be humbled in life,” Muschamp said. “Nothing wrong with that.”

Yeah, but did it all have to happen in one bamboo-shoots-under-the-fingernails season?

Perhaps one day we'll look back at this and laugh. Remember that just three years ago, the Seminoles stomped Urban Meyer's team 31-7 in his last regular-season game at Florida and it only took the Gators two seasons to be the team pushing FSU around on the same Bobby Bowden Field.

Seems like years ago.

So does two months ago when Florida was 4-1 and everyone was raving about Tyler Murphy and the defense.

What we didn't know about this team then was that it had a fatal flaw — a mental fragility that didn't take much to bring out.

We saw it again Saturday.

Thankfully, we don't have to see it anymore this year.

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

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