Some perspective on the 2013 Florida Gators

There has been a lot said about the Florida Gators in 2013 and how terrible it was. Granted it was pretty bad but was the season a total blowout? After the end of such a disappointing season, Muschamp, who managed to secure Jeremy Foley’s confidence and keep his job, stated that he will get things turned around and that they are “not that far off”. I assume he means by returning to championship form.

Is he right? Besides the final record, do the numbers reflect how bad of a season it was for the Gators?

Strength of Schedule

* Gators faced 9 teams that ended up eligible for a bowl game in 2013.
* Gators faced the winner of the SEC East, the ACC champion and contender for the BCS National Championship.
* 9 opponents managed 7 or greater victories in the 2013 regular season (1 win includes FSUcks ACC championship win).
* The Gators are 0-5 vs. Top 25 teams.

Gator Defense

* 4 Gator opponents performed better statistically than their season average in rush and pass yards. Arkansas was +15.5 rushing, Missouri was +38.5 rushing. Georgia Southern was +68.6 rushing. FSUcks was +4.2 passing.
* Only Missouri managed more total yards vs their season average with +7.1.
No opponent managed better than average rushing and passing vs. the Gator Defense.
* The Gator defense held all opponents to -798.7 rushing yards and -713.8 passing yards vs. their season average.
* Overall, the Gators held all opponents -1512.6 total yards vs. their opponents season average. The Gators were 1-4 vs. those opponents.
* Overall, the Gator defense allowed an average of 307 yards in 2013. 5 teams managed greater than 300 total yards vs. the Gator Defense. Missouri, Georgia, South Carolina, Georgia Southern, and Florida State. The Gators are 0-5 vs. those opponents.
* The largest margin in a loss to a Gators opponent was to FSUcks. Otherwise the Gators defense kept 5 opponents from scoring less than 11 points. On average, Gators opponents managed an average margin of victory by only 2.3 points.
* The Gator rush defense allowed 43 less yards in 2013 than in 2012. They were not as stout against the run (a difference of 416 yards) in 2012 than in 2013, but in the air the Gators denied opponents 459 less yards in 2013.

Gator Offense

* The Gators Averaged to perform better statistically than 7 of their opponents season average in rush, pass and/or total yards. +91.6 rushing yards vs. Toledo. +57.6 passing vs. Miami. 7.7 rushing yards vs Tennessee. +48.7 rushing yards vs. Kentucky. +5.0 passing yards vs. Arkansas. +26.2 rushing yards vs. LSU. +100.7 passing yards vs Vanderbilt. +57.8 rushing yards vs. South Carolina.
* The Gators averaged -140.2 rushing yards and -535.4 passing vs. their opponents average allowed. The Gators were 3-2 vs. those opponents.
Overall, the Gator offense managed an average of 323.8 yards of total offense per game in 2013.
* Every opponent managed to hold the Gator offense under their defense season average. * The closest the Gators came to exceeding their opponents average was, 2.8 vs. scUM.
* The Gators offense was not able to exceed their opponents average statistically in either rushing or passing yards.
* Missouri held the Gators to the greatest deficit offensively with -256.8 total yards.
* The Gators exceeded rushing 200 yards vs. 4 opponents. Toledo, Tennessee, Kentucky and South Carolina. The Gators are 3-1 vs. those opponents.
* The Gators exceeded passing 200 yards vs. 3 opponents. Miami, Arkansas, and Vanderbilt. The Gators are 1-2 vs. those opponents.
* The Gators offense managed 202 total yards more than the Gator defense allowed for 2013. However, the Gators defense performed better vs Missouri, South Carolina, Ga Southern and FSUcks. The Gators are 0-5 vs. those opponents and 4-3 vs opponents where the Gator offense out performed the Gator Defense.
* There were three Gator losses where the Gators offense outperformed the Gators Defense which resulted in a loss. Those opponents were Miami, LSU, and Vanderbilt. Two of those losses included a total of 9 turnovers (5 @scUM, 4 vs. Vanderbilt).
* The Gators offense turned the ball over a total of 17 times including 9 interceptions (for 252 yards), and 8 fumbles.
* The highest margin of victory over all Gators opponents was by 20 vs. Arkansas. Those 4 victories were by an average margin of 17.3 points. Only one of those teams are bowl eligible.
* Overall the Gators managed 172 more yards through the air on offense in 2013, than in 2012, but the running game took a significant step back regressing by 628 yards on the ground from 2012.

There is no doubt that some of these statistics are not surprising, especially those associated with Florida’s offense. The struggles are obvious. But these numbers do not tell the full story of a tumultuous season. The injuries that plagued Florida are well documented, including the loss of the starting and back up Quarterbacks where the Gators were relegated to use a 3rd string Quarterback who has never taken a collegiate level snap at any point of his career.

There was an even greater, more deflating loss that statistics wont show. Leadership. The loss of QB Jeff Driskel with a broken fibula in the game vs. Tennessee and three days later the Gators lose Defensive Tackle Dominique Easley with a torn ACL. I think this had a more profound impact on this team than perhaps the loss of all 17 total injuries the Gators suffered prior to and throughout the season.

Yes, there are other factors that come into play that ultimately led to a 4-8 season. Play calling. Perhaps some coaching. While injuries and turnovers are part of the game, no team would easily overcome the sort bad luck Florida endured and still look forward to great or even average success. Does that mean there were losses on Florida’s schedule that are just unacceptable? No, Miami, Georgia, and Georgia Southern were all losses where 1 touchdown would have been the big difference between a win and a loss. 1 touchdown could have been the difference between a 4-8 season and a potential 7-5 season. Add in the fact that Vanderbilt scored a couple touchdowns from turnovers by the Gators basically in their own red zone and the Gators could be looking at an 8-4 season.

Even when matters were at their worse for Florida they managed to stay in the game four 4 quarters in all but 2 games. Missouri and Florida State.

I agree with Muschamp that they overall are a better team than the record indicates even though the record doesn’t indicate it. He probably more than anyone else realizes that he is also on a very short leash. 2014 must show not only a considerably better team (primarily offensively), but in the wins and losses column. He has already made moves to improve the team by parting ways with Offensive Coordinator Brent Pease and Offensive Line Coach Tim Davis. He knows that the Gators must turn it around quickly, or he may not survive the entire season with Gator fans already calling for his head. Muschamp’s time is winding down, but he deserves some overtime to see if he can turn the Gators into the winner they should be.

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