GAINESVILLE — When the Florida coaching staff sat down to assess the past two games, plenty of problems required immediate attention: penalties, running the ball, stopping the run, pass protection, tackling, the secondary and injuries.
But what stood out most to offensive coordinator Charlie Weis was actually fairly simple — at least in theory: The Gators need to score more points.
"If you score 10 and 11 points on a weekly basis, you're going to lose most of them, if not all of them," Weis said. "So what we have to do is … be more aggressive.
"You're in that Catch-22 when you're dealing with inexperience at the quarterback position, but we will be more aggressive."
Beginning Saturday night at No. 24 Auburn (4-2, 2-1 SEC).
Florida (4-2, 2-2) finds itself in the critical care unit of the SEC race — coming off losses to No. 2 Alabama (38-10) and No. 1 LSU (41-11). Florida is without starting quarterback John Brantley because of a sprained right ankle and for the second straight week will be led by a freshman, Jacoby Brissett or Jeff Driskel. Or possibly both.
Another loss, and it could trail South Carolina (3-1) and Georgia (3-1) by two games in the SEC East with three conference games left (though it has games against both).
"Being an older guy, I've been through this before with last year's team," redshirt junior defensive tackle Omar Hunter said. "The thing is, with this team, we've got a lot of young guys. You would think that those young guys would lose their cool. But actually, they've been pretty tough.
"Everyone's letting the past two weeks go, and everybody's looking forward to Auburn. We still control our own destiny."
Which is why Florida needs leadership before it's too late. And on a team in which more than half is freshmen and sophomores, coach Will Muschamp said it must come from anyone who's willing to take the job.
"It doesn't have to be a senior. We don't have many," he said. "Anybody. That is something I challenged them about (this week). It is really hard to be a leader. We have a lot of guys that want to be a leader one day and then the next day they want to step off the podium and let someone else do it. That's not part of the deal.
"When you want to be a leader, you step in front and positively affect everybody in the organization. Every day you have to be a productive player. That's how we've outlined it for them. When you face adversity, you find out a lot about your leadership and where your football team is."
The stakes are high for Florida, but Weis said he's more at ease after two weeks of preparation concentrated solely on his freshmen.
"I have a lot of confidence in these guys," Weis said. "The big difference is the level of experience. I can't tell you the invaluable price you can put on experience. It's a big difference-maker. The first rattle out of the box has taken place now. It'll be a lot easier to run the operation this week than it was last week."
Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]om. Follow her coverage at gators.tampabay.com.