Florida put a second straight beatdown on the Taliban City Losers with a 40-17 win that wasn’t as close as the score suggested. The only reason the game was even that close was halftime – at that point the Gators were completely dominating the Criminoles on offense and defense, and the break prevented a mercy killing in the Swamp.
As expected, Florida’s strength on offense – the passing game – was a perfect attack to employ, as F$U’s pass defense was horrid all season. Just like a bad matchup in the NCAA basketball tournament, you could see this was gonna be a long night for their defense, which only made me especially happy that it happened under the watch of interim head coach Odell Haggins, who hates the Gators. Deal with it Odell……again.
The O-line again struggled to generate a running game, and even were stuffed late in the 3rd quarter with a first-and-goal inside the 1……unacceptable. More reason to put Coach Hevesy on notice in 2020. That really bothered me, as Coach Mullen could have just given Lamical Perine a last touchdown run in the Swamp on Senior Night but didn’t even have him in the game. But it didn’t even matter, as Kyle Trask and the WRs toyed with F$U all night, doing pretty much as they pleased. Only a few missed deep throws by Trask and a missed RB pass form Kadarius Toney to Dante Lang prevented a 50+ point output.
The defense did as I expected – giving up a big play to each of the only two players on FSU’s offense that are legit talents – WR Tamorrion Terry and RB Cam Akers – but shut down everything else for the most part. The only real complaint was (again) the safeties getting burned deep 2-3 times……they were lucky James Blackman was harassed and missed open receivers for some big plays. I still can’t believe Akers didn’t enter the transfer portal after last season to get the hell away from that sinking ship……but at least he’ll leave early for the NFL now. The Gator pass rush racked up 8 sacks and numerous pressures, and never let either F$U QB get comfortable in the pocket. Jonathan Greenard added 3 more sacks, and should be 1st team all-SEC. The open-field tackling was adequate, but there were some bad misses by the safeties that allowed a few scoring drives to continue.
Finally, in the ultimate act of schadenfreude, the ACC referees allowed to officiate this game in Gainesville for the first time since the Swindle in the Swamp in 2003 absolutely killed F$U with crushing penalties at the most inopportune times, extending Gator scoring drives and even reversing a Gator turnover. It was beautiful to watch.
Florida finishes the 2019 regular season at 10-2, which betters the 2018 record of 9-3. Now the Gators await the results of the conference championship games and the final CFP rankings to see where they fall in the bowl pecking order. If Florida somehow gets shut out of a New Year’s Six bowl game that would be a disgrace, but it’s college football, and weird, inexplicable things happen. I’m hoping for an Orange Bowl bid, but the Cotton Bowl is in play as well.
On the heels and momentum of a state championship, Mullen and his staff are now hitting the recruiting trail hard to close on some potential stud players, with some new names popping up on the board now. There is still some real dead weight on the staff in regards to recruiting (OL – Hevesy, Safety – English, RB – Knox, TE – Scott), and Mullen can only do so much on his own……he needs the position coaches to pull their weight, and we’re going to see soon if they will.
Given the circumstances of how the season developed – especially the season-ending injury to Feleipe Franks, recurring injuries to Jabari Zuniga and Greenard, and no real running game almost the entire season, Coach Mullen gets tons of respect for coaching around the deficiencies and getting to 10 wins, and also being in the LSU and Georgia games deep into the 4th quarter. F$U and scUM continue to struggle and regress, and it’s time to bury them deeper as well as start to reduce the talent gap between Florida and the 5-6 schools nationally that have dominated recruiting the past 6-8 years.
I’ll be back with my bowl preview later in December. Enjoy another successful football season, a state championship, and the holidays to come.