Gators Offense Has No Bite

kenBy: Kenneth Harrison Jr.

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Jim McElwain is in his second year as head coach of the Florida Gators. Currently he guided the team to a 5-1 record and their first place in the SEC East. Last year they finished 10-4 and 7-1 in conference play. A 10-win season is very respectable in year one.

On the surface everything seems great. I’m going to delve just a bit deeper to really get a proper perspective on his coaching performance.

He started coaching at Eastern Washington in 1985 as a graduate assistant. He was a quarterback and receivers coach there until 1994. In 1995 he went to Montana State as the offensive coordinator. He stayed there until 1999 and he led the Bobcats to the number one scoring offense in the Big Sky Conference in 1998 with 31.6 points per game.

His first FBS job was at Louisville as the receivers and special teams coach from 2000 to 2002. During the 2000 season they set a school record with nine blocked kicks. He followed head coach John L Smith to Michigan State in 2003 and took the assistant head coach position.

In 2007 he took the offensive coordinator position at Fresno State. The Bulldogs ranked 38th in the country and averaged 419.5 yards per game and 32.9 ppg. In 2008 he took the same position at Alabama. The Crimson Tide won national championships in 2009 and 2011.

The reason for the backstory is to show that McElwain is an offensive coach. For some reason that has not translated in Gainesville. In 2015 they ranked 83rd in the country in total offense. They only averaged 207.1 ypg and 23.2 ppg. This season their 75th nationally with 244.7 ypg.

Some programs are defined by a specific style of play. UF has been known as an offensive juggernaut since Steve Spurrier took over as head ball coach in 1990. They consistently led the SEC in total offense and points. The same happened during Urban Meyer’s reign from 2005-2010.

Florida has an elite defense but they struggle on offense. McElwain is supposed to have the solution to get the offense on track. If they can ever combine a good offense with their defense they’ll get back in national title contention.

Coach McElwain feels the same because he rated the offense as “very average” earlier this week.

“We’re 5-1,” McElwain said. “Last time I checked, that’s leading the East. And our guys are excited about it.”

I can blame some of the problems on the personnel. During the three years Will Muschamp was head coach the offense was pretty bad. He was a defensive coach so he did great recruiting on that side of the ball but they didn’t attract the top offensive talent.

The 2016 recruiting class was ranked in the top 15 nationally be several recruiting publications. The 2017 class is currently just outside of the top ten. We won’t know for sure until signing day but the Gators are on the right track with bringing elite talent in.

We label coaches all the time as a genius on whatever side of the ball their known for coaching on. I always say the players make the coach look good. For instance, Brian Billick looked like a great offensive coordinator in Minnesota when he had Randy Moss, Cris Carter and Robert Smith. As a head coach in Baltimore his offenses always struggled. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

I think Jim McElwain is doing a good job so far at Florida. They just need to get more consistent on offense.

 

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