NaBloPoMo 2010 Day 13 — Season Review
I know the season isn’t over, but for all intents and purposes, it is. I watched tonight as my Gators had a chance to redeem this season with a win over South Carolina and UF’s former coach, Steve Spurrier. The game was at home in the Swamp, but it didn’t matter. Tonight was a microcosm of the season, and tonight ended with a loss.
In no particular order, here are my thoughts about the season (well, I guess there is an “order” because the thoughts are numbered):
1) Urban Meyer made a mistake by not revamping the offense for the skill set of John Brantley. In 2005, when Meyer came to UF, he attempted to run his Utah offense with Chris Leak, a traditional drop-back passer. It didn’t work. During the bye week before the game against Georgia, Meyer and his offensive coordinator, Dan Mullen (now the head coach at Mississippi State), retooled the offense to take advantage of Leak’s skills. And the remainder of that season was saved, and it paved the way for the national title the following season. I expected Meyer to follow that template with Brantley this season. For whatever reason, he did not. The team has suffered because of it. Perhaps Meyer’s health issues last off-season affected his memory.
2) The play-calling for the last two years has been questionable at best. After winning the national title game again at the end of the 2008 season, Dan Mullen was hired away by Mississippi State. Meyer had two options in selecting a new offensive coordinator: Steve Addazio, the offensive line coach with a couple decades of coaching experience, or Billy Gonzales, the younger wide receivers coach. Meyer went with Addazio. And Gonzales was not a happy camper. He stayed for last season, but he took a job with LSU at the end of the year. Last season, Addazio had Tim Tebow to bail him out of a lot of bad calls, but the offense did not run as smoothly as the year before when Mullen was calling plays and Addazio was just coaching the offensive line. This year, without Tebow, the offense has looked anemic. Meyer and UF are in a tough spot with Addazio, because he stepped in to run the program when Meyer resigned and then returned but took considerable time off last spring. He was a great O-line coach, so I don’t necessarily want to lose him, but he needs to yield the play-calling responsibilities.
3) Meyer and co. need to decide what kind of team this is going to be … and what kind of program he is going to run. It’s OK if this is going to be a spread program. That means UF will never get a pro-style drop-back QB prospect, but so what?!?! If that type of QB can’t run your offense, why recruit them at all? It’s worse to recruit a pro-style QB and say that you can adjust to his talents, when in fact, you don’t really want to. The Chris Leak situation tells me that Meyer can adjust his offense to the talents of his QB, but this season with Brantley tells me that he doesn’t really want to. Fine. Tom Osborne ran his running offense through the ’90s for multiple national titles because that was his offense. He still got players who could run it and run it successfully. Meyer just needs to own that the spread, read-option offense is what he prefers.
4) This three-headed QB system can’t work long-term (or against teams not named “Vanderbilt”). Because Meyer won’t commit to one offensive approach, he has now gone to 3 QBs — none of whom can get enough reps in practice to do more than one thing. That means that defenses know exactly how to play against each of them. Brantley gets blitzed snap after snap because they know he’s the passer. Trey Burton gets 8 in the box because they know he’s not going to throw. Jordan Reed can throw the ball, but he doesn’t get enough reps to run more than a minor portion of the playbook to be effective yet. This goes back to #3 above, but Meyer has to commit to one way of doing things and pick the best guy to run that offense and give him the most reps.
5) The offensive line has struggled throughout the year, and I think it’s directly related to Addazio’s offensive play-calling responsibilities. There is a reason for position coaches. There is a reason that some guys are great position coaches and not good coordinators. I think Addazio is one of those guys. He could be a good head coach, but he’s not a coordinator. And those responsibilities are making him a poor position coach this year as well.
6) Meyer’s top priority in the off-season needs to be to find Addazio a new job somewhere else. The program probably owes Addazio at least that given his willingness to step in for Meyer when he was away from the team. Once he handles that, he can then find a new play-caller. I would not be opposed to Meyer bringing Gonzales back if that relationship can be patched.
7) There is a considerable amount of youth on the team this season. But after the 10th game, I would expect to see more maturity and/or development.
8) Hopefully, this down year follows Meyer’s pattern at UF. Each down year has been followed by a solid and/or championship year. I wouldn’t mind that pattern repeating itself.