Urban Meyer didn’t think his team would be this far down during the 2010 season. The struggles of the offense continued Saturday, this time with the Gators adding turnovers to their laundry list of issues, as they were pounded by Florida State, 31-7. The loss found Meyer understanding his team needs to be rebuilt.
“I can assure you we’re going to rebuild this thing and build it up the right way,” Urban Meyer said. “We’re down a little bit. I didn’t believe we’d be that far down, but we are. How do you rebuild it? Tough-ass players and tough-ass coaches.”
It wasn’t the first time Meyer felt that way, though. He shared it since the regular season is over. In fact, Meyer said he has felt that his team needed to be rebuilt “for a while.”
The plan Meyer has preached since taking the job at Florida in 2005 wasn’t executed. They didn’t use much of a plan to begin with.
“You have to have a plan to win,” Meyer said. “This is the first time in 10 years we did not follow a plan to win. You can’t turn the ball over. We didn’t play smart, we didn’t coach smart, and we didn’t take care of that ball.”
FAKE PUNT FAILURE: The fake punt Florida tried in the second quarter didn’t work. It was the first fake punt that wasn’t executed since Meyer has been at Florida, previously 8-for-8.
Meyer said it “killed us,” as it gave Florida State the ball at Florida’s 40-yard line. The Seminoles scored on their first play on a 39-yard touchdown reception by Rodney Smith, pushing the Florida State lead to 17-7.
“I didn’t manage the game right on that fake punt,” Meyer said. “It was for shorter yardage. We just wanted to make something happen, and it didn’t happen.”
LATE FIRST HALF MISTAKE: If the fake punt took away Florida’s momentum, John Brantley’s interception with 55 seconds left in the first half ended any chance of a comeback. Jordan Reed marched the team 60 yards in six plays, setting the Gators up with a chance to cut the lead to 10 points from the Florida State 20-yard line.
Instead of riding the hot hand, the Gators put Brantley back in the game for his first play of the series, and he threw into triple coverage, as Mike Harris intercepted it.
“We knew we had to start taking shots at the end zone,” Meyer said. “A field goal was not going to help. We needed to go score.”
PASSING GAME STRUGGLES: The passing game has been horrendous all season, and there was no difference Saturday. The Gators threw for only 64 yards. Chris Rainey had four receptions for 25 yards, all coming from out of the backfield. No other Florida receiver had more than one catch.
“Awful,” Meyer said of the passing game. “I can’t give you one (reason).”
The three-quarterback system allowed the running game to be effective, but the passing game doesn’t allow any quarterback to get in a rhythm throwing the ball. Meyer did say there is “a chance” that they could blow it up and not use it anymore.
“I know one thing, we went up and down the field before our quarterback/tight end got hurt,” Meyer said. “We had some decent drives. We were just really, really ineffective in certain areas. If that’s because of the three quarterbacks, we’ll blow that thing completely out of the water.”
WHAT NOW?: After the first five-loss regular season since 1988, the Gators now wait their placement in a bowl game. Meyer won’t take the bowl game for granted, as he said the team wants to send the seniors out right.
“There’s immediacy, and there’s future,” Meyer said. “Right now we’re in immediacy because we’re going to try and do everything to win that bowl game.”
The team was down in 2007, but Meyer thinks this is even worse.
“In ’07, it was not this bad,” Meyer said. “Those guys, there was a little anger and edge to them when they came back. With that great leadership on that ’08 team, they came back and won it all. I’m not putting us in that category, because we’re certainly not.”
The only option remaining for the coaches is to hit the recruiting trail. That starts first thing Sunday morning.
“Recruit our butt off is what we’re going to do,” Meyer said. “That starts tonight. The coaches are all on the road tomorrow. We’re going to recruit our butt off and build this thing back up.”
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