As the final seconds ticked off at AT & T Stadium in Arlington, TX, Saturday night, Michigan celebrated a decisive win, but bigger for Gator fans everywhere, they lamented another game with poor QB play and little passing offense.
Thus, leaving the question: when will they finally get it solved?
There was nothing on the field at “Jerry’s World” in North Texas that indicated that it will be anytime soon.
The Gators started a redshirt freshman (Feleipe Franks) in the opening game for the first time in 33 years. So, that allegedly indicated he was the most talented, competent of the three choices coach Jim McElwain had for starting this season. After all, 2016 part time starter Luke Del Rio had recovered enough from off season shoulder surgery to be working with the first team in practice leading up to the Michigan Game. Yet, he was on the bench for the entire game.
Then, throw in Malik Zaire, the Notre Dame transfer, who brought some experience from the Irish and also a different speed dimension to run the read option if they wanted. Zaire had all summer to learn the playbook, and according to McElwain, has been taking some reps with the first team, too.
After Franks showed little to nothing in the first half, and the only reason the Gators were in the game was back to back INT returns for TDs, McElwain decided to try Zaire. And that was a bigger mess.
His total lack of urgency and presence in the pocket while trying to read the Wolverine defenses was striking and painful to watch. Again, the Gators went no where on offense in the second half, and Michigan battered Zaire repeatedly. Eventually, they put the game away with this sack fumble in the end zone for a TD.
— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) September 3, 2017
Checkout the final numbers for another sobering reminder that Florida had virtually no pass offense: Franks 5-9 74 yards, and Zaire 9-17 106 yards.
Spurrier, Spurrier, “Where for art thou, my Spurrier?!?”
Remember the 90’s when it was Shane Mathews, Terry Dean, Danny Wuerffel, Doug Johnson, etc., you could count on 300 yards and 3-5 TDs every week?
It seems like a long, long, time ago.
Here’s the other thing that has Florida fans spooked. Offense and specifically, QB play, was supposed to be McElwain’s forte’. As offensive coordinator at Alabama or his previous head coaching stop at Colorado State, he was supposed to be a guy that could identify and then, quickly develop an all everything star.
Hasn’t happened. Not close.
And it’s not just McElwain recently, former Gators boss Will Muschamp was a disaster, when it came to their offense and QB’s, too. From John Brantley to Jeff Driskell to Treon Harris, etc. It was a roll call of misery trying to throw the ball.
Check this awful reminder of what they used to have and what the Gators don’t have now:
Since Tebow left, Florida has failed to reach 250 yds of offense TWENTY TWO times, 2nd most in P5. Compare UF talent to similarly bad Os… pic.twitter.com/WhU9FKy6BS
— #DaHale (@DavidHaleESPN) September 3, 2017
Look, we understand that Florida had virtually half of their firepower missing Saturday with Antonio Callaway and Jordan Scarlett both suspended with nine others.
But, for three years of Will Grier, Del Rio, Austin Appleby, and now this, the QB/pass offense has looked the same and shown almost nothing.
The Gators will now host Northern Colorado before playing Tennessee in two weeks.
It’s got to get better with someone throwing the ball, and creating excitement, again.