Florida took down rival Florida State for the third straight time Saturday. It capped off a regular season full of craziness, coach firings, uneven play and a deafening amount of noise in the system. But, a win over a rival will always be celebrated by a team’s fans now matter how bad the game was. Let’s look at how the Gators performed.
Another subpar showing for the Gator offense in these last few games. It managed 24 points with over 350 yards of offense but 17 of those came in the second half after a quarterback change. In the first half, bad interceptions by Emory Jones debilitated the Florida offense while they simultaneously kept the game close at a 7-7 tie. In fact, Florida failed to score on five straight drives after opening the game with a 75-yard touchdown finished off by a connection of Jones to Kemore Gamble. The last three drives were the picks by Jones. Interim Head Coach Greg Knox made the change to Anthony Richardson midway through Florida’s opening drive of the second half. After a field goal on that drive, Malik Davis got the Gators down into the redzone on the next one where Richardson threw a dime to Justin Shorter for a TD. Dameon Pierce stole the show to close out the game. He totaled 10 carries for 61 yards and a TD in the second half alone. He plowed into the endzone to make it a 24-7 game. More than enough for the Gators to hold on to for a win.
And that’s because the Florida defense played quite a solid game. Brenton Cox Jr. led a pass rush that provided constant pressure to Jordan Travis. Cox finished with four Florida sacks plus a fumble recovery. The Florida defense allowed just 191 yards and seven points through three quarters. What really hurt this unit’s grade was a below average fourth quarter where the Seminoles seemingly doubled their yardage totals and tripled their points. They put up 157 yards and 14 points in the final 15 minutes. Thankfully for Florida, the Noles took forever to score their second touchdown and completely whiffed on an onside kick that sealed FSU’s fate. The Gators also forced two fumbles, recovered one and picked off Florida State quarterbacks on two occasions. One of them being an impressive first career interception for Jason Marshall Jr.
Special Teams: B
This grade is primarily as a result of Jeremy Crawshaw’s great day punting the football. He kicked five times for a 48.6-yard average with three of them downed inside the 20 and a behemoth 61-yard punt. He’s had a pretty solid year in his first season as the Gators’ starting punter. Chris Howard made the lone field goal of the afternoon between both teams as he made one from 36 yards out on Florida’s first drive of the second half. Punt return still remains to lack excitement and kick return is a non-factor.
The Gators wrapped up their regular season and earned bowl eligibility by winning one of the worst games of rivalry week in 2021. This team easily could’ve quit once Dan Mullen was fired but it came out, sent the seniors off into the sunset with a win over a rival and now have one more opportunity to play and get a win this season.