It is one thing to say we knew "the gauntlet" portion of our schedule would be a challenge. It is another to watch our team struggle in a game we easily could have won.
The massacre last weekend could have left us punchless and dispirited in Gainesville. To our credit, we played hard and competitively. In the end, we lost because Florida took a page out of Bama's playbook and pounded our d-line in the second half. The fact that we tried an on-sides kick with over three minutes left meant the staff knew we couldn't stop the Gator's ground attack. A Florida running back had not scored a touchdown in the Gators' previous nine games. We allowed five running back touchdowns today. I found that kind of sobering.
Our offense remains frustrating. It seemed that we had scripted downfield pocket passes for our opening drive. Never mind the rain - or that downfield throws played into Florida's defensive strength, its pass rush. Shurmur's first four throws were difficult - and way off. After two hopeless between-the-hashes possessions (and an early deficit), on our third drive we ran a jet sweep that opened up the field. Once we ran for positive yardage, we could use play action - and we scored.
We kept the playbook open with some hurry up and a great screen pass to Blasingame. We scored again on a lovely misdirection rollout TD throw. Then we drove for a go-ahead field goal with 48 seconds left in the half.
In the second half - after letting Florida see the misdirection, screens and jet sweeps, we reverted to pocket passing and north/south running. We have good receivers - and Duncan, Lipscomb, and Sherfield delivered nice plays. Caleb Scott and Nathan Marcus delivered TDs along with Lipscomb. Shurmur tossed for 264 yards and three TDs. There were no turnovers. But we lost.
Our O-line continues to fail to open holes between the hashes. When we mix in misdirection - it makes their job easier because the defense can't stuff the box so complacently. On offense, we tend to be our own worst enemy. It is inexplicable and it is costing us games. Screens, jet sweeps, rollouts, and misdirection worked today - but we went away from what was working in the second half. We lost time of possession in the second half by 20:14 to 9:46. Our offense could not control the ball - and that left our defense in a big hole.
Defensively, individual efforts were impressive - but the unit as a whole was torched for 38 points. Oren Burks led the way with 15 tackles. Ladarius Wiley contributed 11 stops. Taurean Ferguson and Jordan Griffin had eight tackles apiece. Jonathan Wynn had his best game of the season.
Again, however, we fell prey to vanilla. We did not blitz much; we did not shift around to try to fool the freshman QB, Franks; we did not sell out to stop the run. So we let Florida batter us for five yards a pop on the ground. And they did - wearing down the d-line, converting 7 of 16 third downs (and 3 of 3 fourth downs) and amassing 218 rushing yards along the way.
It may have come down to one play: we kicked a go-ahead field goal with 48 seconds left in the first half. Somehow, however, in the remaining seconds, we let Franks uncork a bomb with no safety at home. Florida got a tying field goal - and we remained over-respectful of the pass the rest of the game. On the one hand, Coach Mason's defense showed up to play - a tribute to the staff after last week's shellacking. But the staff got out-maneuvered in this one. We beat Kansas State by confusing and surprising their offense - we lost to Florida by telegraphing what we were going to do and letting the Gators know they could confidently play it safe and run down our throat.
We weren't lucky either. A fluke deflection set up one Gator touchdown, a terrible spot another, a dubious PI call a third. Near turnovers failed to materialize. Holding seemed optional for the Gators for much of the afternoon. But the bottom line is: when the other team runs for five yards per carry - you lose.
Special teams were a bright spot. Kick-offs and punting were solid. We converted our field goal. Coverage was good.
There is no shame in losing to Florida in Gainesville. But this was a missed opportunity. We fell short in the trenches - and on the chalkboard. We need to take more chances next week against Georgia - they looked pretty good today.
VIDEO- ALL VU SCORES VS. UF