Despite Vote, Pease is on Hot Seat

In college football the vote of confidence is never a good thing.

At USC Lane Kiffin had the 100 percent support of his athletic director Pat Haden and it got him fired on the tarmac at LAX after an embarrassing 62-41 loss to Arizona State.

So what did it mean when Florida head coach Will Muschamp gave offensive coordinator Brent Pease the dreaded vote of confidence? It meant that the Gator offense better get moving quickly or Pease will be updating his resume.

A banged up Gator offense has been bad this year but the healthy version wasn’t much better last year. In 2012 the Gators were 103rd out of 120 teams in total offense and 114th in passing. This year the Gators are 106th out of 123 teams in total offense and 107th passing.

Give Pease a chance? Shoot, right now Gator fans would happily trade him in for Ed Zaunbrecher.

Either way Muschamp’s vote of confidence is meaningless. With a record of 22-11 (13-8 in the SEC), Muschamp doesn’t get a vote. And if that record doesn’t improve in the next month, Muschamp’s only job will be to make the changes on his staff that athletic director Jeremy Foley tell him to make. And you can believe that Pease will be at the top of the chopping block.

A record of 4-3 through seven games is no way to earn more responsibilities. Gator fans hate to lose. That’s what happens when a program wins eight conference titles and three national titles in a 22-year span. But even worse than losing is being bored to death in the process, every team has to suffer a few losses or a down season here and there but the Gators are just painful to watch.

The offense just slugs through each game with no chance at converting 3rd and long. If the scores aren’t coming on defense or special teams they might not come at all. These fans have watched Steve Spurrier’s teams hang 40 and 50 spots on every top program in the southeast. Then they watched as players in Urban Meyer’s spread option set new records for offensive supremacy. They like offense. They like points. They like to hear “The Orange and Blue” multiple times during a game. They weren’t exactly thrilled winning 14-7 games against Missouri but losing 36-17 isn’t going to work for anyone.

So don’t blame the fans for being “spoiled” if 151 yards of offense doesn’t entertain them. It would be easy to credit the great SEC defenses if we didn’t see the Texas A&M Johnny Footballs and Auburn wage a 45-41 back-and-forth battle last week and Vanderbilt score 17 fourth-quarter points to knock off Georgia. When Florida played LSU you would have thought there was an electrical barbed-wire fence around the end zone. But somehow Ole Miss found enough holes in the Tigers defense to score 27 points and earn an upset victory.

Fact it everyone in the SEC is scoring in 2013 except Florida (and Arkansas…and Kentucky but they really stink) and the Muschamp/Pease plan of implementing an ‘Alabama-style’ offense has failed miserably when you consider that the Crimson Tide are averaging 40.7 points per game!

To his credit Muschamp knows time is running out and that’s why his assistants, who would normally be out recruiting during the off week, are in Gainesville trying to fix this offense. It’s also why freshman Kelvin Taylor should see a much bigger role in the offense next Saturday against Georgia. Taylor rushed for 52 of his 74 yards against Missouri on the Gators’ only touchdown drive of the game and did not see another touch until late in the fourth quarter when the game was clearly out of hand. Why? No one knows. Maybe he was being punished for daring to cross the goal line with the football.

The defense was once stout but the unit is now exhausted and is struggling to stay healthy and finish out games. The idea that the Gators can grind out 14-10 victories is flawed. And while injuries to Jeff Driskel and Matt Jones are convenient excuses the reality is offense wasn’t that good when they were in the lineup.

All of these things forced Muschamp to come out in defense of Pease and the staff this week. There’s little doubt that Muschamp believes Pease is the right guy but if things don’t change quickly the coach won’t have the final say.