Dooley: Being passive no way to play football

Florida coach Jim McElwain said he will share details on threats "when it becomes unmanageable" during Wednesday's SEC coaches conference call. [Alan Youngblood/Gainesville Sun]

It seems like a long time ago. What was it, July? Kevin Sumlin’s team lost a game by one point at UCLA and everyone from a trustee to the team’s doggie mascot wanted him gone.

Tonight, he brings his somewhat-revitalized Texas A&M team into The Swamp against a coach who just lost a game by one point that he should have won, and Jim McElwain is facing the similar kind of blowback that a loss brings.

Sumlin has been able to turn a freshman quarterback in Kellen Mond into a weapon. Put it this way, there are only two SEC quarterbacks ranked in the top 10 in passing and top 21 in rushing in the league stats.

Mond is one. Jalen Hurts of Alabama is the other.

Meanwhile, here in a place where the only thing louder than last week’s tribute to Tom Petty is sports talk radio, Florida has struggled to make its redshirt freshman quarterback anything special.

Hence, the angst.

And the blame.

Because the Blame Game is in full force.

I’ll take “Teams Ranked in the 100s in Offense” for 400, Alex.

Forget buying a vowel, I want to buy a first down.

Name something that makes you want to throw a cat against a wall. She said, “Doug Nussmeier.” Survey says …

Let’s see what prizes we have for everyone who is playing the Blame Game. Oh, it’s Texas A&M at night in The Swamp.

Florida’s offense (or lack of it) is the common theme of the frustrated. This has been a problem, as everyone knows, since the Tim Tebow years. Three coaches, five offensive coordinators and a whole lot of nothing.

It was ugly when they have won, impossible to stomach when they have lost.

The Knucklehead Nine, the injuries, the quarterback who locks onto receivers, the inability of receivers to get open, the lack of creativity, the tight ends joining the Witness Protection Program … I could go on.

But it hasn’t been just an offensive offense.

Florida has not produced a turnover in three games. In the first two, the Gators had three pick-sixes, which accounted for three of their five touchdowns. Since then, we have seen dropped interceptions and an eerie failure to get one fumble recovery. Only three other teams in FBS have zero fumble recoveries this season.

So while holding a team to 17 points should have been enough to win last week, the defense hasn’t been helping the offense get short fields or easy scores. And third down conversions are limiting the number of plays the offense gets a chance to run.

Then there are special teams. Remember when Florida made things happen on special teams? Maybe what Florida needs is another Urban Meyer. Not the head coach, but the guy who took special teams as seriously as the other two phases of the game and made starters want to be on the field to block punts and block for kickoff returns.

There is a common theme to the failures at all three phases and that is a lack of aggressiveness.

Deep passes, blitzes, rushing the punter, they are all missing right now.

And, look, I get some of it. When you are down in numbers because of suspensions and injuries, you are going to be less likely to take chances.

There is no question McElwain and his staff have been hamstrung personnel-wise and it’s not going to be any better tonight. It has forced them to tighten up and try to win games in the fourth quarter.

That has worked three times, didn’t work twice.

But here’s the thing — Florida can’t play LSU again this season. That game is over, a bitter memory that feels like it is still hanging over the Gator Nation.

It needs to be flushed by the fans and coaches and especially the players.

Florida needs to have fun again and the best way to do that isn’t wearing new uniforms.

It’s by being aggressive in all three phases.

Go block a punt. I checked with the NCAA and it is legal. Run a reverse on a kickoff return. The traditional way isn’t working. Send a corner blitz. Throw deep on the first play of the game even if all it does is loosen things up.

Florida’s passivity is one of the reasons Gator fans are grumbling like they were all Nick Saban in a news conference.

Being stubborn has gotten Florida to this point. Cut it loose. I know that it’s more difficult when you are missing so many players, but you know that teams with personnel disadvantages search for ways to make things uncomfortable for their opponents all around college football.

It feels like the season is on the line tonight.

If you’re going to go down, at least go down swinging.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow at


  1. All of those things together- lack of solid QB play, receivers unable to get open, poor special teams, defensive issues, lack of aggressiveness, all point to overall poor coaching, especially on offense. When all the actors in a movie a performing poorly, look at the director.

    Regarding the defense, I don’t think they are playing badly considering we lost a lot of the defensive starters last year. Sure, they are far from perfect and they have a lot of room for improvement, but it is understandable that you are going to have down years. They still held LSU to 17 points, and produced more points in the game against Michigan than the offense did. On the offensive side of the ball, there just simply isn’t any excuse anymore. It’s the job of the coaches to get the player playing up to their potential, and also to develop game plans around their strengths and weaknesses.

    • I think our biggest loss on defense was the loss of an aggressive defensive coordinator!! This 4 man rush is doing nothing but giving opposing QB’s plenty of time to find a receiver. Take the gloves off randy!! And I swear if coach Nuss calls another predictable offensive performance , he needs to be fired!! Seriously, if I can tell what the offense is going to do at Home, I’m sure the other team knows it too. And you wonder why Florida can’t move the ball. Coach Mac needs to pull his head out of his ass and start running the program not allowing other to walk all over him!!

      • Little Starr the biggest loss was the 8 nfl roster ttyoe players. The defense is too young and too thin t rely on as much blitzing as Collins, but I do agree if yu can’t get there with 4 you have to bring more. Nuss and Nord may grade out as pitiful and anybody who watches knows it including opposing coaches. Tell your bro I still remember the Enterprise out on Farmsworth RD. Peace Brother

      • He needs to be fired regardless but unfortunately, I have absolutely no faith he can get out of his own way to get it fixed and I am not convinced Mac has the guts to do what’s necessary with Nuss or Nord because he would’ve done it by now. Nuss is an awful OC and there’s not any shred of data anywhere that would say otherwise. His hiring was a complete mystery but not as big of a mystery as why in the hell he’s still employed or at least why he’s still calling plays. I like what Ray says below, the Syracuse OC would be a nice get but so would Scott Frost as our HC but I am not quite there on firing Mac but he needs to insert himself more. I like what he’s done on the assistants because he’s gone all in on recruiting based on who he’s hired (minus Nord). We need our coordinators to be great Xs and Os guys…Nuss is not, never has been and never will be…I am not a fan of Coach Shannon as a coordinator (great LB Coach and recruiter) because his “play fast” means play vanilla and not be aggressive and that is not our style of D.

        Bottom line, we need a new direction on O and Mac needs to stop burying his head in the sand and get with the times on his offensive philosophy because it’s outdated…with that, he needs to get rid of Nuss and he needs to instruct Coach Shannon to attack…force the action.

  2. Pat, you hit it dead in the head exactly. Why don’t the coaches get it, they don’t and I think they want because it’s been over 2 and a half years, why would they change now, why and how can they be so stubborn? I could take and handle losing so much better if they would at least let it go like you said. Make it fun for us in the stands also, the last I checked this college football was and is considered a form of entertainment.
    Hey hire the Syracuse offensive coach, I really liked them last night, throwing the ball downfield, how novel,

  3. ”…they’re probably going to have 900 yards of offense.” ~Coach Mac (in your sidekick), Robbie’s article.
    There is a thing that some of us believe in, it’s called ”power in our words”, both negatively and positively.
    Coach Jim Mac should look it up! He’s just as ”negative”, albeit sarcastically, and he’s still not believing in his own ‘D’, either. There’s a Bible verse about it, too: ”Our tongues have the power (of life and of death). And that’s on the serous tip! Go Gators! Wake up… and BE SOMEBODY!

  4. The fans know it, when is the administration going to accept it: the coaching sucks and we need to fire coach Mac.

    We will never return to dominance with coach Mac and Cheese. Time to face reality and pull the plug. Go out and find a “real” coach this time, not some wannabe who has proven nothing, brings nothing, and does nothing to improve the program.

    We as fans are tired of ineptitude and mediocrity.

    • You want ineptitude and mediocrity? Keep firing coaches. It’s insane, ignorant, downright stupid, yet so much like Gator fans to be calling for Macs head. He took a program that was a dumpster fire and won 2 straight East championships and is still alive for another. So fire him??? He would go down as a coach with one of the highest winning percentages ever to be fired this early in a job. Keep firing coaches………. and we will become Tennessee. Wow. Some of you people really need to get a grip on reality. Seriously. And, exacly who are you going to hire if you fire Mac? Another unproven coach who comes in for theee years and gets run out of town like Mac and Muschamp? Who really wants to deal with Florida fans??? Spurrier didn’t and went as far as mentioning the unrealistic expectations of the fans in his resignation speech. I think Urban Meyer and his family has made their feelings toward Florida fans clear also, and it’s isnt pretty. So, basically Florida fans will run off a coach regardless of whether he wins or not. It’s such an embarrassment to be a Gator fan anymore.

      • yep…they ran off SOS, Urban and let’s make it a 3 peat. WOW…this season may not turn out so well…yet if the team regroups, gets to a nice bowl and wins it, then momentum kicks in with full strength in 2018 plus a strong line up to come of new recruits ! GG

      • LT – embarrassed to be a Gator? Then don’t be. And I suspect you are not and never have been. A true Gator does not accept mediocrity after 3 years. This team is terrible because the coaching is terrible and it will not change until Mac and Nuss are GONE. Look at UGA. They had a decent coach, Richt, who took over Miami just beat the noles in Tally. Kirby Smart may be the next Saban. And it didn’t take long. OBTW: We have zero chance against the Dawgs this year and we have beaten them 2 in a row. That is what great coaching can do. Quit your whining blaming the fans. The fans in Gator Nation are great, nearly 90,000 spend plenty of money to get in the stadium.

      • Let’s be real here. He didn’t win 2 SEC East championships (by the way, is that really something people care about?) Anyway, I digress. He fell @ss backwards into being the best of the worst teams volunteering to visit the slaughter house. If you’re honest, you know deep down that those visits to the SEC championship weren’t really earned. The predicted and actual outcomes said it all.

    • I agree, great analysis by dooley. its time for the gators to go phi slamma jamma on everyone! if one guy does it but then gets tired, then the next guy will want to do the same thing. we still have like 60 guys, that should be enough.

  5. Duke had the interception and the receiver took the ball away, WR was covered. I’m tired of the receivers aren’t open crap. These other teams have players too. If you see something wide open it was a miss communication or a defensive break down. QBs throw in tight windows all the time, if wide receivers were as open as a lot of people on here especially you Pat say they should be, Evvvvvre one, would be scoring 50 points a game. Need I say more?

  6. Dooley, for crying out loud, which is it?? You and Andreu are forever deriding fans as know-nothing complainers and whiners when we demand more aggressiveness, more chances, more entertainment, and more fun. You’ve both done it for years, right up into your latest Swampcast.

    Now as yet another Gator football season is almost in the tank, here you are saying exactly what fans have said since October 2010 during Coach “Family Time-Chest Pain’s” Zoloft offense. So we mere fans are dumb whiners but now that you experts have given your approved verdict, it really IS time to demand more aggressiveness? So we were wrong then, but right now? Or you were right then and now? Pretty condescending to your readers.

    • Well said, Pat! And I agree that Pat Dooley often speaks out of ”both sides of his mouth”. I do enjoy his articles most times, and even his radio show, (even though he called me part of the ”wack-pack” on his radio show yesterday). But the ”truth-tellers” here on this cool and interactive ”” website are often criticized by other Gator fans, who live by their motto: ”it’s just a game, so support the Gators no matter what!” But fans (like us) that truly care, only ”criticize” when it’s absolutely necessary.
      I am not asking for Coach Mac’s job, nor am I asking for Coach ‘Nuss’ (O.C.) job, we’re just asking them to DO THEIR JOBS BETTER! Some of the Florida Football fans -here- that really care, who aren’t ”trolls”, point out the painfully obvious about Florida Football’s weaknesses. And then, like you said, we are labeled as ”know-nothing complainers and whiners”. Well, sue us for caring! As I am literally looking at apathy (not interested) as a viable alternative to this mess that Gator football has suffered on offense for nearly ‘7’ years now. And to think that I was a middle school kid at Howard Bishop back when U.F. went 0-10-1… and I -still- cared way back then! Sorry for the rant, but what can I say? I guess some of us are just ”know-nothing complainers and whiners”. But thank you for speaking ”truth to Pat. Maybe ”Pat” (Dooley) will speak some truth -too- about ”the state of the offense” for this 2017 Gator Football team.

  7. Re tge above comment on meyers take on gator fans. I call bs on urban. He was rhe toast of the fown until his chest pains. But the dazzler year got rightful criticism. And then the way he left and tkok osu and a milkion bonua and after ge keft the disfunctional lockerroom came out. THAT is when he got criticism. So boo hoo urban

  8. Loving what LT said – quit focusing on what we have failed to do and start focusing on what we are going to do. It’s that simple – if you are a Gator fan (and not a Gator critic), stop whining, stop complaining, and start supporting and start believing – it is as simple as that. I hope Coach Mac reads this before the game – not time to mope, no time to wonder “what if”, let’s just get’r done.

  9. I have never gone back on my Gators, but today I like the rest of Gator nation I am frustrated. The players deserve better, the coaching is just plain awful, when you play not to lose, you usually do, and that’s what happening to my Gators. Either Mac fires Nuss, or they both should be fired. There is no other answer.