We're sure this will pop up somewhere else in the Florida-centric constellation of attendant sportswriters and bloggers--too positive for Mike "Shecky" Bianchi, too analytical for Dooley...maybe Kerasotis? Nah, he'll just take the opportunity to piss us off, and this concept for a piece doesn't make us want to throttle the shit out of our pet midget like every other one of Kerasotis' palsied, one line shitpigeon columns. Screw it: we'll strike first.
WHAT THE GATOR FOOTBALL TEAM CAN LEARN FROM THE BASKETBALL TEAM...
...and by "the basketball team" we mean the guys who just won the national championship for the University of Florida. The comparisons will always be a little fuzzy here; obviously, you can't just type some crap like "Get a Joakim Noah," since a 6'9" guy at Noah's weight roaming the gridiron would likely spend his time getting broken in half by linebackers who can deadlift a metric Mangino. You also can't type shitty pablum like "be a team," since that's awfully Herm Edwardsish (You play to win the game. You drink to get drunk. You give backrubs to get laid. Thanks, Herm.)
There are a few tangible things to take out of the Gators' spectacular season, however, that apply reasonably well to Florida's fortunes on the field.
Square peg, meet square hole. Talent should settle into its own niche and thrive there. Take a polar bear and put them in the lush confines of the Lope-Okanda Game Reserve in Gabon, for example, and you're going to end up with one very hot lethargic, and soon to be dead megapredator on your hands--plus a handful of very, very confused locals. The polar bear in question for the Gators? Chris Leak, for one, who is not a running quarterback and will never be no matter how many brick walls Meyer has him run headfirst into in practice. Or Andre Caldwell, who will have to find some way to utilize his blazing speed in an offense devoid of deep routes. The offense took grand steps toward righting itself with the second half renaissance, but even then the flimsy o-line and and periodic disappearance of the run game scuttled the Gators in the South Carolina game and made the Outback Bowl a tighter affair than it should have been.
The Gators' b-ball scheme rolled its collection of blue-chip parts into a Ferrari: big men who were allowed to roam the middle complemented by versatile guards and the bombs-away range of Lee Humphrey. Their losing streak following their hot start coincided with straining on the part of point guard Taurean Green to do too much on the floor; once he relaxed and ran the offense as it was drawn up the team flourished. If Chris Leak can fill out a similar role for the football team, he'll do just fine.
A polar bear in the Gabon last year.
Depth and rotation. Meyer won't throw 30 yard post patterns into thirty point leads in the fourth quarter, but he's not the kind of coach to squat on a seven point lead like it was the lost gold of King Solomon, either. The Meyer approach relies on beating down opponents by making them chase you all over the field in between punishing seam runs set up by the spread. Late in games, you must have depth to run teams into hypoxia, which Florida lacked last year across the board. (Like a bachelor, Ron Zook stocked his cabinets with inept enthusiasm: all chicken and beer without a vegetable to be seen. Vegetables= starting linemen with experience and significant playing time.)
Billy Donovan had the luxury of running teams out of the gym with a deep bench. Combined with their style of play,
they could destroy teams with waves of substitutions and maintain a withering pace without torching their stamina for the next game. Meyer's working on this, but at no time last year did the lead-plumping avalanche effect kick in for the Gators. Developing depth isn't just a nice idea; it's imperative for the design of Meyer's offense and Mattistrong's man-to-man, double-down defenses.
Playing siege warfare? You need numbers.
Multiple looks for multiple opponents. Perhaps last year just installing systems was enough of a chore, but the Gators tended last year to do the same old two step for each game: run on first down, run on second down, and complete a long pass for a conversion on the successful drives while tossing three yard curls and then punting on unsuccessful ones.
There wasn't much versatility in year one, which was a shame given the diverse tool set Meyer has sitting on the bench. Only when the debacle at LSU and UM's subsequent retooling of the offense in the bye week rolled out all new sets for the Georgia game did we see adjustment and target specific strategy begin to enter the picture. Hopefully this will become a trend, but in any big conference parity between the top five or six teams means exploiting matchups rather than overpowering opponents across the board. It's one of the things the hoops team accomplished with style, winning shootouts, grinding halfcourt games, and everything in between on their way to the finals. It's exactly what Florida's football team will need to do to get to Atlanta next year.
Get everyone involved. Throughout the basketball season, the Gators posted nightmare lines for opponents, routinely putting three, four, and sometimes five scorers into double digits on a night. Given the fact that Florida's now knee-deep in receivers (young, yes, but plentiful nonetheless) the same kind of swarming attack should be in the cards for the football team, with the ball going to at least 6 or 7 receivers each game.
Get some good hair on. We've said it before and we'll say it again: good hair wins championships. Between Joakim Noah's customary biracial Brazilian afro to Corey Brewer's chic close crop and accessory fly headband there's enough nice skull-frosting to guarantee that the mojo in a title game would go their way. Toss in Lee Humphrey's obligatory neat 'n trim Fantastic Sam's special for 7.99 and add a dash of Billy Donovan's Eddie Munster gel helmet and we're talking titles for years.
Candidates on the football team? Leak's got the outmoded shaved head, which really should be allowed to blossom into a lo-rise afro. Urban's got the Fantastic Sam's/gel combo, which is passable but not quirky enough to earn style points. The team must pick up the slack. DeShawn Wynn could shave his weight into the back of his head to amaze biomechanics professors; Dallas Baker could go Kid 'n Play and grow a mini-smokestack for the season; Billy Latsko could grow the Brian Bosworth mullet he's craved for so long. The possibilities are endless, but this much is clear from the Gators' hardwood triumph: good hair = good luck.
Interesting hair: a must-have for a championship run.