The beat goes on, as the Gators found a way to lose their 4th straight game in 2011, this time to a mediocre Puppy team.
Talk about embarrassing – it took 2 Florida turnovers inside their own 20, 2 4th down TD passes, zero running game, 7 sacks allowed, an injured QB, and 14 penalties, for Georgia to barely pull out a win in the 4th quarter. The UGA kicking game was awful – and even that wasn’t enough for the Gators to take advantage of. It’s hard to believe that this Gator offense, despite it’s limitations in talent and personnel fit for the schemes Muschamp and Weis want to run, could still be performing this poorly.
The defensive gameplan was spot-on:
1) Controlled the TEs, and made Murray use the WRs, which he’s not comfortable with. Got some fortunate (to say the least) 4th down TD throws.
2) Conceded the run to some extent. It worked some for the Puppies, but they are a passing team first, and aren’t comfortable running too much. Allowed some yards between the 20s, but stiffened there. The Gator defense just didn’t close the door due to some shaky PI penalty calls and poor technique (and lack of size) by the CBs on the 4th down TD throws.
3) Controlled the screen game to great extent – again, making Murray look downfield. His stats were pretty bad.
Sharriff Floyd was a man in this game. The DL in general did more than enough to win. The secondary, less Roberson and Elam, was the unit that cracked at critical moments. Jaylen Watkins made some plays, taking advantage of the most playing time he’s received to date. Riggs and Saunders won’t be playing much in 2012 at this rate. Overall, the defense again played well enough for a decent offense to pull out a victory……which unfortunately isn’t the case in 2011. Yeesh.
The offensive gameplan was, as odd as this sounds, good as well. Spreading the field with Brantley the surprise starter at QB opened up a lot of opportunities the first half. However, poor execution, penalties, and horrid pass-blocking eventually doomed the Gators by not putting the game away early. The lack of any semblance of a running game, even with the smallish backs, was particularly alarming – an even worse performance than against Bama, LSU, or Auburn. If Burton is going to run some Wildcat plays, he has to properly execute the zone read, and keep the ball occasionally……he can make things happen with the ball in his hands. Since Brantley had limited mobility, he couldn’t execute the run game out of the I-formation, which really hampered the offense in scoring territory.
The fumbles by Rainey and Hammond were killers, and ultimately decided the outcome. I’ll give Hammond a pass because he hasn’t had fumbling problems before, but Rainey has zero excuse – he simply doesn’t protect the ball in open space.
One note on the late-game coaching strategy……I have to disagree with Muschamp taking a delay penalty and punting the ball with a 4th down and 2 at Georgia’s 33 yard line. That decision shocked me, and practically all of Gator Nation. Maybe even a worse call than against Auburn when he eschewed a late FG to go for it on 4th down in the red zone down by 8 points with more than 6 minutes left. 2 decisions that show how little confidence he has in the offense – but still poor strategy, and the second-guessing is justified. That couldn’t have helped the morale of the offense. Based on their crappy second half output, there really was no choice but to go for it that close to getting some points.
What a disaster all around. Maybe the silver lining in all of this is that Mark Pricht may actually stick around a few more years to continue the tradition at Georgia of underachieving.
The good news? Florida is dead last in the SEC and 114th in the nation in turnover margin, and dead last in the nation in penalties. YAY!!!
It’s Homecoming week for the Gators, as they welcome what has usually been a more-than-accommodating visitor in Vanderbilt. All bets are off this year, though, as Florida’s offense continues to be a mess, and the entire team continues to be an undisciplined bunch.
The Commodores have been very competitive this season, giving Georgia and Arkansas all they could handle before losing late. Their offense is not explosive, but has been steady with a good season from QB Jordan Rodgers, who is a good runner out of the Spread. Their defense leads the SEC in interceptions, which could be a bad sign for the Gators, as they will primarily be a passing team the rest of this year due to the struggles of the OL and RBs.
The Florida defense has executed the gameplan fairly well the past 2 games, but still cannot generate turnovers, and the secondary breaks down due to inexperience or lack of talent/physical play at critical times. I don’t think Vandy can exploit the secondary too much this week, but the front seven will have to play the run game out of the Spread well. The Gator DL should have the physical advantage, so the LBs can actually fill some gaps for a change and make plays.
I’ll continue to say it – the hardest thing for a young team that is struggling is to get off of a losing streak and to break the bad habits they have formed. It cost them wins against Auburn and Georgia, and could lead to a stunning loss at home this week to an opponent who they have not lost to since 1988. Expect a lot of empty seats, and a nasty crowd if things turn ugly in the first half. Despite the fact that most Gator fans knew it could be a struggle in 2011, the poor play and mental mistakes have stretched what little patience they have very thin.
Preciction Florida 27 Vanderbilt 20