The Florida Gators dropped a 40-17 contest at Columbia, SC on Saturday. It was an ugly loss that wasn’t as close as the lopsided score indicates.
Here are a few of my takeaways:
- Defense: Yet again the Florida defense reared its ugly head. Somehow, graduate transfer QB (from St. Francis, PA) Jason Brown looked calm and cool in his first start with the Gamecocks, finishing 14-24, 175 yards and two touchdowns and no turnovers. Additionally, the Gators gave up 284 yards on the ground and allowed two Carolina backs to go over the century mark.
- Run the ball, Dan. Typically, a teams first 15 or so plays are scripted and rehearsed serval times in the lead up to a game. Oftentimes, it centers on the strengths of the quarterback or exploiting a matchup. Florida entered with one of the top rushing games in the nation and was facing the SEC’s second worst run defense. So, what do the Gators do to open the game? 10 straight passing plays. Make it make sense! Dameon Pierce averaged 6.5 yards a carry (mostly in the second half) but only got six carries. Malik Davis only gained 17 yards, but the playcalling was questionable, at best. A solid run game will open things up across the field for whoever is at QB.
- Turnovers. Another week another loss in the turnover margin. The Gators moved to -9 in turnover margin for the year and it’s one of the biggest reason for this team’s struggles, offensively. USC took a 30-10 lead into half after a scoop and score by the Gamecocks defense. In the fourth quarter, trailing big, Emory threw an interception, but the damage was done by that point.
- Going Bowling? Can you believe we are now questioning whether this team will be bowl eligible? It seems like just a few weeks ago the Gators were 3-1 and having just blown out Tennessee and narrowly losing to Alabama. Yet, here we are. Florida must win two of the final three and that’s not an easy task. A (near) guarantee win will come against Samford on Saturday, but a road trip to Missouri and a home date against a Florida State team trending up are daunting at this point.
- Coaching. How can we not talk about what’s happening? It’s what everyone is talking about on social media. Dan Mullen doesn’t appear to want to be here and this is wildly reminiscent of the final weeks of Jim McElwain’s time in Gainesville. His playcalling has been bland and many of the issues we are seeing stems directly from his inability to recruit top prospects. How does that change? I don’t know, but how this team finishes the regular season will be telling. It’s hard to argue with fans that want Mullen to be fired based on where this program is as another down year could really send the program into a spiral. Much aligned defensive coordinator will not be on the sidelines next year and there is no clear candidate to take over the defense, he will likely ride out the rest of the year, for better or worse.
What are some of your big takeaways from the disaster in Brice – Williams?