The Gators gave a spirited effort at South Carolina, but the undermanned offense couldn’t generate the points needed in the second half as the losing streak reached 5 games. It certainly looked like the players had not mailed it in for the rest of the season, as they played hard for 60 minutes. The game plans for both offense and defense were good enough to win the game, but the lack of talent and having to go far into the depth chart on offense were too much to overcome.
The first half performance of the offense was impressive, albeit they had an element of surprise with a QB who had never taken a college snap (and therefore no film to scout). The unbalanced O-Line formation opened some holes even against a front stacked to stop them. It seemed like those guys were pissed off at all of the ripping they’ve received (much of it deserved), and came out with an attitude I hope to see the last 2 games. The direct snaps to the RBs were another wrinkle that yielded some big results. Kelvin Taylor again showed why he’s the best RB on the team right now, breaking off some long runs and scoring 2 TDs. The thing that prevented the offense from getting any points in the second half to possibly win the game was the painfully weak arm of Skyler Mornhinweg. It’s hard to understand how he received a scholarship offer to a school like Florida with such a limited skill set – perhaps the fact that no one at the time wanted to sit as a backup to Jeff Driskel plus Brent Pease knowing his dad (NFL OC Marty) was enough to tip the scales. The WRs were absolutely no factor, though no fault of their own – that game plan was more bland than vanilla, if such a thing exists. And yet the Gators were right there at the end with a shot at the win.
The defense improved against the run, holding SEC leading rusher Mike Davis to only 58 yards – less than half his average for the season. However, the long run from Davis’ backup from deep in Carolina territory that set up a FG seemed to turn the momentum in the 3rd quarter. Overall the defense did an excellent job of containing the running of QB Connor Shaw, and did not allow the WRs to really do much. The 4th down stand was gutsy – Jarrad Davis looks like a future stud at LB. It was nice to see some penetration from the D-Line without having to resort to constant blitzing. Enough was done to win this game with a functional offense doing it’s part.
This week Georgia Southern comes in with it’s triple-option attack, which is difficult for any defense to completely prepare for in one week. I expect them to have some success running the ball, which makes it imperative that the defense firm up if the Eagles get near scoring territory, to take pressure off of the Gator offense. I’m torn between wanting Tyler Murphy to get another full week of rest vs. getting some live reps before the last game of the season. Ultimately it’s probably best if he dresses out, but doesn’t have to play.
It will be a difficult task to focus on this game, as the game vs. Florida $tate looms. If the players show the same energy and focus they exhibited at South Carolina, things should be fine. But when you’re dealing with young kids and the added distractions surrounding a coaching staff under siege and a hugely disappointing season, anything can happen (and has happened so far). It’s another challenge for the staff this week to prepare these guys well, get the win, and then put everything into beating the Criminoles.
Prediction: Florida 27 Ga. Southern 17