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NCAA Football: Kentucky at Florida
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Losing to Kentucky can’t be a surprise. Being mad or surprised about losing to a program clearly gaining ground on your program’s decrepit, late-stage boom economy millionaire of a program can’t happen when that millionaire of a program has clearly been phoning it in for three years. That’s gonna show up eventually when the millionaire runs out of old credit, and then keeps trying to write the same checks.
  2. The easiest check to write for Florida over the past three decades has been the one paying off a guaranteed win over Kentucky. That check finally bounced. We’re here! Here is bankruptcy. On a rational level, the program accepted that when it fired McElwain, and hired Dan Mullen. On an emotional level, that probably happened on Saturday night when the easiest, most consistent thing for the Gators became one more thing the program could no longer fund.
  3. We’re a subprime program now, and it will take years to get back to solvency. Years.
  4. That showed up last year when that program only won four games, and fired its idiot CEO who recruited three-star safeties like they were All-Americans, but guess what? That doesn’t go away in a year. This is still a four-win team playing into what increasingly looks like a season where there is a likely win over Idaho, and then...nothing guaranteed whatsoever. Florida could lose to every team except Idaho on this schedule, including Colorado State, who just beat Arkansas this past weekend in Fort Collins.
  5. That is not pessimism. That is what things are right now. The offensive line cannot run block, and misses basic slide protections. (Cole Cubelic did a great job highlighting this on Saturday night, which helped explain Feleipe Franks’ anger coming off the field after yet another rushed third down pass attempt.) The defense now not only is thin throughout the secondary, but can’t set the edge on runs. The Grantham strategy of aggressively blitzing works a lot better when both of these things happen. When neither happens, big plays happen. Per David Wunderlich, Kentucky didn’t even have to run a red zone play in the game. That’s letting the opponent feast in the worst possible way.
  6. It’s also really hard to even say what Feleipe Franks is as a quarterback, because he’s asked to do so much, and capable of only some of it, and supported so little in the rest. There was no consistent commitment to the run game outside of making Franks run it too much, and in situations where he could not possibly win. (Franks led the team in carries. Franks is not Tim Tebow or 2017 Khalil Tate.) He misses throws when he presses — and that’s most quarterbacks — but he has to press because without him, nothing whatsoever will happen with the offense.
  7. The situation is not horrible, but it also isn’t really good in many ways, and that’s all basic elementary unavoidable fact right now. This is not a good football team and will not be for a while. They don’t have to stay that way, and probably won’t. There were a lot of probably-good teams who skunked their first conference game this past weekend. USC looked similarly paralyzed against Stanford, and South Carolina got slapped by UGA, and Florida State struggled with Samford. Florida State is deeply talented! This happens sometimes.
  8. The difference with Florida is that these were probably good teams. There isn’t much probability here for the Gators, whose last five-star signee came on in 2015 — a year when Will Muschamp brought in his last haul of recruits. On paper, this is the fifth or sixth best roster in the SEC if we’re being optimistic, and that’s before considering transfers and the damage done by the McElwain era in terms of coaching negligence and lack of development. One offseason doesn’t undo that, particularly when the local competition includes Georgia.
  9. Georgia had seven five-star recruits in their 2018 class. SEVEN. It’s not happening against them for a while, and by “it” I mean “competing with them, much less beating them.” They’ve been working smart and hard. Working smart and hard when the competition is working dumb and not-much equals some very, very bad things over time for the competition.
  10. These are all real harsh terms. The good news is that Dan Mullen managed to make Mississippi State competitive to the point where right now they’re arguably a much better football team and program than Florida. That should be apparent when the Bulldogs kick Florida’s ass in two weeks, and Kylin Hill runs for three hundred yards on a defense coached by a sentient mound of Underwood Deviled Ham Spread. That will happen. Prepare yourself appropriately for it.
  11. It’s important to note where you’re going to be rational, and where you’re going to be completely irrational. I will be completely rational about what this team could be given the talent on hand, and what they can realistically accomplish. I will be completely irrational in blaming Todd Grantham, the new defensive coordinator, for more than he should be blamed for on a football field. He only has so much to work with, and that’s too bad because someone has to shoulder the blame, Todd. It’s not fair but that is how it will be. That’s progress for me, though, and I applaud it even if you don’t. Yay, me, excellent personal growth on display here in picking a new Uncontrollable Football Anger Proxy.
  12. Grantham makes $1.39 million a year. He can take it.
  13. Treat these like scrimmages. This is not a competitive football team, so relax. We lost to Kentucky, but the Wildcats been working hard to get better for six years. This team’s been doing that for about eight months or so. This is absolute worst because the last thing we want in the world is to endorse hard work and patience. Hard work and patience are boring. Sometimes they don’t even pay off. The college football timeline is littered with rebuilds that never rebuilt, turnarounds that never happened, and dynasties that fizzled before they even set fire to a single village. This could be that, and no one can disprove you at this point for thinking that because it is September 10th, and the season and Dan Mullen’s tenure is exactly two games old.
  14. The great clarity of losing to Kentucky and being here, though, for Florida? There are no guarantees, no bill to be confident will not be too much for the bank account. This program’s broke as hell right now. Even if Dan Mullen is or isn’t the dude for the job — and boy will there be a lot of extremely premature takes on that this week — there’s no choice but to go forward. This team has to learn basic things over again, embarrassingly basic things other teams do right now in their sleep. Things Kentucky can do, but we evidently cannot. Is that enough of a stark reality? It might not be for some people who don’t understand what this team is, or what this program hasn’t been for the better part of five or six years now. It’s more than enough for us.
  15. Florida football is living on an air mattress in an unfurnished apartment right now. In a few paychecks, if we don’t get fired, we’ll get a real big boy mattress, and then maybe a few paychecks later a real frame for that bed. It’s like that right now. It will be that way for a while.
  16. P.S. We’re losing to Vandy. Just be ready for that.