Florida should not have lost that game, plain and simple. LSU was a chicken with its head cut off. They lost by 30 to Mississippi State, struggled against Syracuse, and lost to Troy as their homecoming game. They were a complete disaster, and Florida could still not take advantage.
The coaching across the board was awful today. The defense got beat by a bunch of jet sweeps and allowed Danny Etling to become a dual threat quarterback. Florida only gave up 17 points, but it was the worst 17 points I have ever seen. Those were Pop Warner plays that they scored on. They forced zero turnovers and no matter who you are facing, it is unacceptable to force zero turnovers when you are known as a defensive powerhouse. The defense played much better in the second half but have been wildly inconsistent the entire season.
So far, Randy Shannon has had a very rough start to his tenure as the Florida Defensive Coordinator. Tackling in the secondary has been an issue all year. They had five turnovers in the first two games, but zero in the last three games. The Gator defense is allowing 24.4 points per game through five games this far. Something needs to change as this defense has been extremely hard to watch.
Let me start with the coaching with this one; It is time for Doug Nussmeier to go. The play calling, game-planning, and overall execution has been abysmal. It all falls on both Nussmeier and McElwain. With 3:49 left in the game, Florida had to go at least 60 yards to be even close to field goal range. When they turned over the ball on downs with 1:39 left, they were only on their 25 yard line. Awful. The have zero confidence in Franks which is bad no matter how you look at it. Either they can’t develop a quarterback–which is why they keep relying on transfers–or they are just that dumb to not trust their quarterback who can actually help this team.
Nussmeier has to go. Florida has the talent. They have one of the best receiving corps in the nation, good depth at tailback, and have found several freshman stars such as Malik Davis and Kadarius Toney. The offensive line isn’t as good as they thought, but certainly not a liability like past teams. The issue is the coaching and there is no other argument.
Despite the negativity of this article, I still believe McElwain should be coaching this team. If Butch Jones can get a fifth season with a losing SEC record and zero division titles, then McElwain should get a fourth. However, he needs to man up and start making the changes that this team clearly needs.
First, fire Nussmeier. If he wants any chance of coaching this team in 2018, this needs to happen as soon as possible. The awful play calling is both stunting Franks’ development and destroying his confidence. Florida has the talent, they need to start opening the playbook and stretching the field.
Special teams needs a good, hard look as well. Not the kicker or punter, but everything else. Florida has allowed a lot of big plays on punt returns and only have 15 yards on punt returns for the season. Yes, that’s for the entire season. It is pretty simple: put your fastest and most athletic player back there. No disrespect to Brandon Powell, but that is not his skill set. They have plenty of options, time to explore them.
Speaking of exploring new options, it is time to change at least one of the safeties. Nick Washington has been a liability since day one and Chauncey Gardner–excluding today–has struggled as well. It is time to switch it up as they have played five games and it is still their biggest weakness. Even if it were a true freshman they put back there, I think fans, boosters, or even a stupid person would rather go through the growing pains of true freshman who have high ceilings than watch a struggling senior playing safety.
This loss was the worst one to have. It was Florida’s homecoming, they had a bunch of potential Gators in the stands, and it was against a struggling LSU team. This loss kills almost all confidence that Florida could go back to Atlanta for the third straight year. If they want any chance to salvage their season, it is time to make some changes. No other way around it.