No. 19 Florida Gators (10-4) football played terribly for its fifth consecutive game as the No. 14 Michigan Wolverines ran wild on Friday to pull off a dominant 41-7 victory in the 2016 Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
Since routing Georgia on Halloween, Florida has averaged 15.4 points per game, scoring just 24 in its last three contests combined. It’s hardly the end to the seemingly magical season that head coach Jim McElwain and Gators fans envisioned.
Defense doesn’t show up: The Wolverines got whatever they wanted on Friday, running up and down the field on the UF defense without much issue. In what was billed to be a low-scoring match-up of two of the top defenses in the nation was that way on only one side of the field – the side where Florida stood. The Gators were outscored 31-0 over the final three quarters and outgained 160 yards to 2 yards in the third quarter alone.
For as disappointing as UF’s offense has been over its final handful of games this season, the defense failing to show up and give effort speaks to the fact that Florida has much further to go as a team than McElwain would have you believe. Michigan scored on six consecutive offensive drives to end the game – six!
Offense is still an issue: Sophomore quarterback Treon Harris looked decent for most of the first half, and he actually had the Gators outgain the Wolverines 245-233 in the first half. The problem? As well as Harris played at times – especially when he made plays with his feet and extended drives on a couple of occasions – he also continued to make boneheaded decisions. UF turned the ball over twice on three red zone trips in the first half. The one time Florida scored, it had 1st and Goal from the 1-yard line but needed to use a trick play on third down in order to get the ball into the end zone.
Don’t get it twisted, though. Harris was not the sole reason his team lost this game. Not by a long shot. He certainly was not a solution, but the Gators’ problems extended well beyond quarterback play in this contest.
Straight burned: One of two (or three, if you believe McElwain) Gators to declare early for the 2016 NFL Draft, junior cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III had arguably his worst game at Florida. Hargreaves bit on a double move and gave up a 31-yard touchdown, only to get burned for a 45-yard gain later in the game. Those big plays (the first one, obviously) resulted in scores for Michigan that helped the Wolverines pull away early in the contest.
That’s a game plan? Outside of a couple trick plays – one that worked brilliantly, two that were poorly-timed and designed – what exactly did this coaching staff work on during the multiple weeks of bowl practice? Baylor had the same amount of time and came out with a completely unique plan to rush for a bowl-record 645 yards and win a game. Florida basically did the same things it has offensively since losing Will Grier. The defense appeared not to communicate whatsoever, even when UF was still in the game. Michigan did play well offensively, but not well enough to put up 41 points against what all season long was one of the best defenses in the nation.
Everything else: Junior running back Kelvin Taylor eclipsed 1,000 yards on the season by picking up 50 yards on 11 carries … freshman wide receiver Antonio Callaway led the way with five receptions for 75 yards, a touchdown pass and a couple nice returns …