The only disappointment from Jim McElwain’s first two seasons as coach of the Florida Gators has been a serious lack of scoring punch. Now comes statistical confirmation of their subpar status in that area.
According to final statistics released by the NCAA, the per-game average for Div. I football teams in 2016 was a record 30.04 points. Florida missed that average by nearly a touchdown, coming in at 23.9 to rank 107th of 128 schools.
The problem starts and ends at the quarterback position, an area McElwain has promised to address, though it should be noted that the Gators would be just fine if Will Grier hadn’t selfishly checked out on them with a performance-enhancing substance violation and a transfer to West Virginia.
Imagine, though, how sad the situation would have been without consistently excellent defense at Florida. Takeaways and defensive touchdowns played a major part in the modest scoring that McElwain’s teams have done.
No wonder Florida fans have struggled to fully embrace the new coach in spite of back-to-back SEC East titles under McElwain. Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer sometimes had 30 points by halftime as Gator coaches. In 1996, for instance, Spurrier’s national championship team averaged 47 points per game.
I’m thinking it will get fixed. McElwain’s a bright coach with a long-term plan. Meanwhile, it’s a matter of adjusting to what the rest of America is doing and playing a bit of catch-up along the way.
That’s tough to swallow for a Florida team that won nine games, including the Outback Bowl, but it plays into recruiting and ticket sales and everything else that gets tied to coaching.
If you’re looking for the scoring most of all, the South Florida Bulls are a good season-ticket value.
USF averaged 43.8 points last season, fourth in the nation, and scored 46 in a Birmingham Bowl win over South Carolina. Now the Bulls have Charlie Strong for a head coach, which will only boost the talent there. That spells touchdowns, almost by accident, and it will have to be that way in order to compete in the American Athletic Conference, where Tulsa and Navy and Houston and Temple regularly light it up.
FSU and Miami are above the national scoring average at 35.1 and 34.3 points per game, respectively.
Below average are UCF (28.8 points per game), Florida Atlantic (26.4), Florida International (24.0) and, as previously mentioned Florida.
Only two SEC schools ranked lower on the scoring list than the Gators. One of those teams (South Carolina) has Will Muschamp as its head coach and the other, as if you couldn’t guess, is Vanderbilt.