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Friday, July 01, 2022

Meyer deserves some blame for Florida’s offensive struggles

A  Craigslist posting for a new UF offensive coordinator hit the internet Monday because current offensive coordinator Steve Addazio “is the suckiest suck that ever sucked,” according to one Facebook status immediately following the Mississippi State debacle Saturday.

This is funny and relatively accurate in my opinion, and most likely the opinion of most Gators fans.

I wouldn’t dare argue on Addazio’s behalf.

He is seemingly overmatched and utterly incapable of publicly taking responsibility for the deficiencies of both his offense and position group (the offensive line).

Addazio routinely patronizes the media and the fans with his “nothing to see here” routine, and he deserves every bit of criticism that comes his way.

But let’s get one thing straight here: this cross of offensive ineptitude is not Addazio’s alone to bare.

While Addazio is under constant fire from the public, it looks like Urban Meyer might walk away from this 2010 disaster unscathed.

Meyer has built up so much good will by winning two national championships that most fans either don’t even think to criticize him or simply find it uncouth to do so.

But Meyer is the one who handed the keys to the Mercedes to Addazio after Dan Mullen bolted for Starkville.

Meyer’s decision was so unforeseen that most people believe Billy Gonzales left town in a lateral move for SEC-rival LSU because he felt the OC job should have been his.

Gonzales had been in the Meyer camp since playing for him at Colorado State in the early ‘90s, and he helped create Meyer’s offense along with Mullen.

If handpicking Addazio over Gonzales isn’t enough to earn Meyer a slice of the criticism pie, I ask the fans: How do you think the relationship between Meyer and Addazio works?

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I’m betting they meet up every Sunday. Meyer tells Addazio who they are playing and then gives him carte blanche on gameplanning for the week.

Meyer then pays no attention to how the offense looks Tuesday-Thursday. Addazio calls his plays without input from Meyer on Saturday. Meyer stands on the sideline with a look of horror on his face as he watches plays he’s never seen culminate in a seven-point showing against the Bulldogs. But Meyer never, ever gives his input. He trusts Addazio completely.

Yeah. Right.

Meyer built his reputation as an offensive guru. There’s no way he hasn’t always been hands on with UF’s offense, and I can only imagine he is most hands on when the offensive coordinator may have just “fall[en] off the pickle boat,” to borrow a saying from Addazio.

The offense does not turn to gold just because Meyer touches it.

Urban Meyer is probably the best recruiter in the nation and a great motivator, but he has never been a great in-game coach. Even when the Gators were on top of the college football world.

Winning masks a lot of imperfections. But if we go back and examine one specific drive predating Addazio’s reign of terror,  Gators fans will see plenty of similarities to what upsets them today.

During the third quarter of the 2006 SEC Championship Game against Arkansas, Meyer was at the helm for perhaps the worst coached drive I‘ve ever watched. 

Trailing by four in the second half, he called a fake punt from his own 15-yard line, misused his pocket passer, blew all three timeouts and punted on 4th and 1 from his own 41.

On Florida’s previous drive, Arkansas took a 21-17 lead when Chris Leak, who piled up a whopping 137 rushing yards in his four-year career, pitched the ball to an Arkansas defensive lineman for a pick-six on an option play.

On this drive (see right), Leak was asked to run an option play two more times and fumbled on one of the attempts, though Jim Tartt recovered for Florida.

Meyer put the finishing touches on the masterpiece by burning his final timeout only to have Eric Wilbur punt it away anyway. 

Then Reggie Fish muffed the punt. Wondy Pierre-Louis recovered the ball for a touchdown. The Gators took a 24-21 lead. UCLA upset USC. Florida beat Ohio State, winning its first national championship under Meyer. Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin, two one-of-a-kind athletes, went beast mode in 2008, the second championship season under Meyer.

And now Lee Harvey Oswald — err, Steve Addazio — acted alone in the assassination of the 2010 Florida offense.

But it doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist to see that there’s blood on Meyer’s hands as well.

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