It has been 12 seasons, 107 victories, two SEC championships and two national championships since Steve Spurrier coached Florida, but Gator fans are still going through Spurrier withdrawal.
The Gators opened the 2013 season last Saturday by dominating Toledo 24-6. That’s right: dominating. Florida outgained the Mud Hens more than 2-to-1 (415 to 205), 262 yards coming on the ground.
But none of the dozen or so Gator fans I’ve spoken to since the game was impressed. Off-tackle right, off-tackle left, short pass to the flat . . . that doesn’t stir the passion in Gators. They want 70-21, which is what the Spurrier Gators did to New Mexico State in the ’94 season opener. Spurrier’s Gators scored less than 35 points only once in 12 season openers. The welcome-to-a-new-season offense under Spurrier piled up point totals of 50, 59, 35, 44, 70, 45, 55, 49, 55, 40 and 49 points. Those teams averaged more than 40 points a game against all comers. Spurrier’s Fun’n’Gun was a thing of beauty.
News flash to Gator fans: Those days are gone. Spurrier isn’t returning home to Gainesville. (For the record, if Spurrier did return you probably wouldn’t see the Fun’n’Gun. Have you noticed that Spurrier is winning at South Carolina with a defense-first, pounding running game approach. The college game has changed since the 90s.)
The Will Muschamp Gators are definitely Grind’n’Pound. While Spurrier’s idea of beauty was 70-21, Muschamp’s is 17-3.
That isn’t likely to change no matter how often you hear Gators talking about wanting to “air it out”. Muschamp’s recruiting game plan concentrates on defensive players, offensive linemen and tough running backs. Given the option of a 260-pound, lightning quick pass rusher and a potentially dynamic wide receiver, Muschamp is going to go big every time. That’s his DNA. Don’t count on him changing his philosophy.
Muschamp’s way may not be pleasing to the eye and boost the fans’ ego, but it’s better than getting your butt whipped.
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