The Thing About Florida…

by | May 17, 2011, 11:29pm 0

I’ve said before that I find Florida interesting. Thanks to Michael Aguilar, who recorded the Florida’s Southeast Regional final against rival Georgia, we’ve got a great opportunity to take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the #3 seed at next week’s College Championships.

This game was very close:

  • First half: Georgia 0-Florida 0, 1-0, 1-1, 1-2 (Florida breaks), 2-2, 2-3, 2-4 (Florida breaks), 3-4, 3-5, 4-5, 4-6, 5-6, 6-6 (Georgia breaks), 6-7, 7-7, Georgia 7-Florida 8.
  • Second half: Georgia 7-Florida 9, 8-9, 9-9 (Georgia breaks), 9-10, 10-10, 10-11, Georgia 10- Florida 12 (Florida breaks for the win)

Teams get open when they make Florida go man.

  • On the first point of the game, Florida’s defense is bad. Aside from Alton Gaines letting his man go in and then nearly missing a block on a layout, which is okay because I think it’s fine to try to bait a turn this early, Florida players get beat underneath repeatedly because their overzealous attempts to be physical allow their men to simply run around them. Georgia cutters are open pretty much everywhere, and when they’re not, Florida’s marks don’t do much to stop handlers from throwing big around break throws to switch the field.
  • It continues to be bad throughout the game. At 15:06, with the score tied at 7-7, Florida buckles down and remembers how important it is to protect the force side, but after a Georgia timeout, they allow more easy cuts off of the back of the stack.*
  • Perhaps Florida’s defense is weak in this game because it was their eight of the weekend and it’s hot down there. I don’t think that’s it, though. Instead, I think it’s because by going vertical for most of the game, Georgia doesn’t allow Florida to switch and poach the way that they typically do against a horizontal stack. And while a vert stack is easier to poach on on paper, the lane flashes that defenders use against a horizontal are a lot harder for handlers to see coming.

Florida’s offense is good.

  • So good, in fact, that they only turn the disc over after receiving it three times all game: once at 6-5 when a Nathan Sage huck to Cole Sullivan is D’d, once on the same point when Sage overthrows Miguel Palaviccini, and once at 9-8 when Sage hucks it out of bounds while trying to hit Sullivan. Three offensive turnovers is a very low amount of turnovers for one game. To boot, they all come on hucks, so while Georgia converts two of them for breaks, they have to work the entire length of the field to do so.
  • I find this particularly impressive because Florida uses the same throwers on offense and defense. To be able to consistently switch from defensive offense, where they are much more willing to attack with aggressive deep and break throws, to offense, where they are much more deliberate and calculated, ain’t easy.**

Florida’s offense is especially good when  teams don’t do much to stop it.

  • Watch the video and count how many times the handler throws a flick to an isolated Nathan Sage coming under, who throws a flick huck an isolated Cole Sullivan going deep. I don’t really feel like going back and counting, but it’s a lot.
  • At some point, if you’re Georgia, you’ve got to do something other than man-to-man defense with a flick force. Specifically, I’d say force backhand, back Sage and Cole and double team them as soon as they go deep, let someone else get the disc, and worry about things from there.
  • Yes, it is counterintuitive to let someone get the disc uncontested; Yes,it is hard to double team because when you leave a guy, he’s liable to find his way to the endzone two or three throws later; and yes, Florida’s non-throwers know how to get the disc back into the hands of the throwers (see 1:41-2:00 for a glimpse of how the Gators do this very well). But you tell me what Florida spends more time on at practice: Cole and Sage with the disc and Jeff Kale and Glenn Lenberger downfield, or the opposite? Also, every time that you shut down that first string, the targets run another 45-yard sprint to set it back up again. You won’t get a turn every time, but when teams have to go to their second and third options, good things happen.

I have some other thoughts.

  • Hats off to Georgia. While I’m giving a lot of focus to Florida here, let’s not forget that the final score was 12-10 and that it was never out of reach at any point. Georgia had a rough season, but being able to step up and play that well against a rival is something to be happy about.
  • I think the winning factor for Florida was only turning the disc over three times on offense. Most college teams just can’t do that on either side of the disc, and if you can, you don’t need all that much out of your defense. Word up to the ’06 Phoenix Suns.
  • At 3-2 and on D, Florida calls a timeout and scores. I don’t think teams do this enough. When you’re on defense, it can be so easy to get hyped up and squander an opportunity to get a break, and as we can see from the score, such opportunities can be precious. The “ok, let’s chill out and run something deliberate and easy until we score” timeout is great.
  • The guy guarding Cole makes the mistake of calling a lot of travels. Florida likes to play slow, so making calls makes the game move at a pace that they like.
  • *It should be noted that a Georgia player bails Florida out by looking off a swing and forcing a bad break throw that goes out of bounds
  • **It occurred to me that if Florida’s key components were the same on offense and defense, they should have been able to flip the switch a few more times and go into “offense mode” after forcing a turn, which would have meant a game that wasn’t so close. I’m not quite sure where the disconnect is here. It’s something to think about.

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