It was a brutal performance by the Gator offense, leading to a heartbreaking loss to Georgia. All of the hard work and effort to get to this point was thrown away by 6 turnovers, allowing the Puppies to come away with the edge in the SEC East race, and offsetting a gritty and tough showing by the Gator defense. As Coach Muschamp reiterated after the game, this team has little room for error, and that was evidenced by a bitter defeat.
There is really no earth-shattering analysis necessary……6 turnovers killed Florida’s chances, especially the ones at the end of each half. Driskel’s horrible decision to throw across his body into the end zone cost the Gators the lead going into halftime, and completely changed the complexion of the rest of the game. Then, the last chance drive that looked so promising was wiped out by Reed’s ill-advised attempt to do too much, causing him to fumble and effectively ending the game.
All that being said, the offensive game plan was certainly that – offensive. Very conservative, very predictable, especially given the evidence from the very first possession that the Gator O-Line was not at 100% health, and that Georgia was going to crowd the box the entire game. The few times that Florida ran some screens and draws were effective, but were too little and eventually too late. Coach Muschamp and Coach Pease have to come to an agreement and understanding on just how much the playbook needs to be opened up from the start of future games in order to help out the players. It may be time to break tendencies on the early downs to help get the offense moving and restore some lost confidence. By the way……Jarvis Jones should send 50% of his NFL 1st-round draft pick contract to the Gator OL after making him look like an All-American the past 2 years.
What else can be said about the Florida defense? They were outstanding all afternoon, generating clutch turnovers in their own territory, and preventing scores after almost every Gator turnover. They probably would say that their run defense was not as good as usual, but they continued to play hard and not get discouraged despite the struggles of the offense……a real tribute to the resolve of the players and the defensive coaches.
There is still one more SEC game to go, and the team has to regain it’s focus and somehow put aside the disappointment and perform well this week. This year’s offense simply does not appear to be the kind to open up any kind of breathing room on it’s own, and a letdown against Missouri would be a big mistake, despite the Tigers’ struggles this year. James Franklin can still lead an effective spread attack when he gets hot, and Missouri has a few playmakers on defense, led by DL Sheldon Richards, that could keep them close into the 4th quarter.
The Gator O-Line is banged up, and somehow Coach Davis has to patch together a unit to give Driskel some help, but Coach Pease can help as well by getting Driskel out of the pocket some, and using the screen and flat passes a little more often.
Even though it’s unlikely, there is still a slim hope that Georgia could slip up against Ole Miss (forget Auburn – they are horrible), and allow Florida to go to Atlanta. There is still a lot left to play for, and now is not the time for self-pity. Time to get back to efficient, tough football, getting another SEC win, and moving forward towards the end of the regular season. The coaching staff has a new challenge this week getting the players ready after a loss, and have to make sure they secure a win.
I’m still concerned that the Gators, with the early kickoff of noon and the hangover of a tough loss, will come out flat and uninspired, and fall behind early (again). I hope I’m proven wrong, but I have a bad feeling that things could get dicey before this one is over.
Prediction: Florida 24 Missouri 17