Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Why Florida lost to Auburn: Stomach pains?

As the Gators prepare to face LSU this week, a new culprit emerged from Saturday's loss to Auburn.
It wasn't Tim Tebow's arm that doomed the mighty Gators.
It was offensive coordinator Dan Mullen's stomach.
Mullen had been in the hospital the night before in severe pain, and gutted it out by showing up for the game. Still, coach Urban Meyer refused to see it as a negative if your play-caller is sweating profusely and his insides are burning.
"The negative right now is we probably have 10 seniors," Meyer said. "How many of which are actually playing a lot? ... How are we going to respond? Obviously, I don't have that answer. I feel like there's a lot of character on this team and some good people."
The Gators showed they can come from behind, rebounding from a 14-0 halftime deficit and tying the game at 17 with 7:36 remaining. They even looked like they might pull off a comeback, but the imaginative offensive play-calling that had put 59 point on the board just two weeks ago, couldn't come up with much more than Tebow run plays on 1st and 2nd down (leaving about 3rd and 2) then throwing it on 3rd down. The offense, predictably, stalled on its final drive.
Doesn't the Florida staff have sick days? Geez. How many of us would report to work - even check ourselves out of the hospital - to go to work? Obviously, it showed.
Even the commentators posed questions about Mullen's play-calling, especially since Tebow ran 16 times — often right up the middle. There were even more eyebrows raised when it was learned that Mullen had an emergency appendectomy late Friday night.
Mullen was having side pains at dinner Friday and then had blood tests. Meyer said he learned about 11:30 p.m. that Mullen needed surgery.
Mullen missed the team's first walkthrough but arrived at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in time for the game.
"He is a tough guy," Meyer said. "He did everything he possibly could. That didn't affect the game. He still called a fine game. We still could have done things better."
Forced to punt to Auburn with about 4 minutes to play, Chas Henry shanked one 25 yards — the last of the four special teams miscues.
The other three were:
—Florida was flagged for running into the punter on Auburn's opening possession, which turned good field position into a first down and the Tigers eventually scored a touchdown on the drive.
—The Gators had a 34-yard field goal attempt blocked in the second quarter.
—They faked a punt and picked up the first down late in the third, but were flagged for illegal formation and were forced to kick it away.
"It hurts a lot," Medder said. "It feels like you're getting stabbed."
The final blow came after the shanked punt. Quarterback Brandon Cox, obviously hyponotized into believing he is an All-American, played way above his head. And running back Ben Tate drove Auburn into position for the game-winning field goal with powerful runs that seemed to break Florida's will with every yard.

Tommy Tuberville silenced his critics, at least, for a week. But he's still on an island. The university president doesn't celebrate with him, the fans know that his best teams are behind him. But he got to laugh last on Saturday. For once this season, everything he tried worked. Even freshman Wes Byrum made a 43-yarder — twice — to snap Florida's 11-game winning streak and its 18-game home winning streak. War Eagle?

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