Florida’s loss, like its seven wins, a team result

There is the rare occasion in which a single player can win or lose a game. It does not happen often, especially in football, but it can and has in the past. That was not the case on Saturday and neither sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel nor redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed deserves to shoulder the blame for the Florida Gators’ hard-fought but sloppy loss to the Georgia Bulldogs.

Driskel had a hellacious game.

After fumbling on the opening play but recovering it, he coughed the ball up two snaps later. Driskel fumbled a second time later in the game and also threw two interceptions including one into the end zone to end the first half. Throwing the ball away would likely have resulted in a Florida field goal and 9-7 halftime lead instead of a 7-6 deficit.

He also made some plays.

Driskel completed 54 percent of his passes for 185 yards, converted a number of third downs with his arm and even had a stellar 20-yard run off of a zone read late in the game. Yet through his failures and successes on Saturday, he was not on the field alone and at times had little help from teammates his teammates both up front and out wide.

“We got to play better around him,” said head coach Will Muschamp after the game, diverting the blame away from Driskel. “We got to protect better. We got to create vertical plays. We got to find ways to run the ball. You can’t put everything on Jeff Driskel.

“You got to be able to run the ball. You got to be able to create vertical plays and stretch people out and not let people load the box. Again, that’s something that we’ve been able to overcome for the most part throughout the way we’ve played when we take care of the ball and we play field position and we don’t put ourselves at risk in some situations. We did tonight. We didn’t play the way we’ve been playing as far as the field position and the turnovers. The formula we’ve needed to have happen against good football teams we’ve done to this point, and we didn’t today.”

Read the rest of this story…after the break!

Muschamp did not need to put the onus on Driskel. The signal caller took a bulk of the responsibility anyway, just as good leaders are supposed to, especially when it is evident that they struggled in a particular game.

“I made some critical mistakes. That’s what it comes down to,” he said on Saturday. “When you have a defense like you do, you can’t turn the ball over. They’re going to make stops. You can’t force things. You just got to take points. There was a couple times there where we took points off the board and put our defense in tough spots.”

He continued, “When you make that many errors and put the ball on the ground and throw interceptions, it’s hard to win games. When your defense is playing lights out like they have been all year, it’s tough. It comes down to the basics – taking care of the ball – and we’ll work on that this week.”

Despite all four miscues by Driskel, Reed’s fumble inside the five-yard line with his team down eight and just over two minutes to play is the one that will stick out when the game is remembered years from now.

His reception on 2nd-and-6 from Georgia’s 18 was his career-high-tying fifth of the game. The 13 yards he gained on the catch gave him 74 total for the contest, a career-best single-game mark. However, instead of getting tackled or scoring a touchdown and having the play be a hallmark moment, Reed leapt into the air and fumbled the ball, making the play a black eye on an otherwise terrific performance.

Reed knew it immediately. He looked crushed on the field and burst into tears once he took a seat on the bench. Teammates comforted him not only to raise his spirits but to assure him that his fumble did not cost the Gators the game, even if a score in the situation would have provided Florida with the opportunity to tie the contest with a successful two-point conversion.

“Just got to take care of the ball,” said Muschamp, looking dejected. “Great effort. It was an outstanding play, turning up the field and trying to make a play for the Gators. In that situation, you just got to have better ball security. Again, [I] don’t fault the effort.”

Driskel’s interception and Reed’s fumble likely resulted in at least a nine-point swing for Florida. But what about junior defensive end Dominique Easley’s third-down holding call, which extended a drive that would have ended in a punt and eventually led to a Georgia touchdown?

What if the offensive line blocked better or junior running back Trey Burton didn’t fumble a Wildcat hand-off and instead took the ball down the field for a big gain, which was possible considering how well the play was blocked?

The Gators had been successful through the first seven games of the season by winning as a team in all three phases of the game. Florida lost Saturday not because of one or two players but rather what the entire team did – or did not do – on the field.

Photo Credit: Bob Self/Florida Times-Union

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16 Responses to “Florida’s loss, like its seven wins, a team result”

  1. J says:

    The Holding play on Easley was the game for me. I knew it was over then. No face mask call all game long when Florida had five that should have been called. One Patton broke his arm on, UGA gets the face mask call and you didn’t even see one in the replay.

  2. J says:

    Some one tell Brent P. to not wait till 6 min left in the game to throw on first down to open up the run/draw play. Stop babying Jeff and teach him to float away for the blitz or throw your man open with hot routs. Please!

  3. SaraGator says:

    You’re SO correct, Adam! Jordan Reed didn’t cost us the game; stupid mistakes did by ALL units.

    Our boys played the game with their emotions and were unfocus ALL game.

    Despite this terrible loss – you have to be proud of our team and can still sneak into a BCS game. LSU will more likely lose to Bama. Georgia lose to BAMA in the SEC Champs game. And, if we win out we move up to the Sugar Bowl. Not bad, eh? We just have to win our games.

  4. cline says:

    Re-group and beat Mizzou, it’s only one game.

  5. Alex says:

    Nixon needs to be replaced immediately. Debose and Nixon are prime examples of the recruiting services not having a clue.

  6. gatorboi352 says:

    Worst play of the game by far was Driskel’s interception in the end zone at the end of the first half. He will grow from this.

    Our D might be second only to Bama in the whole country.

  7. Crock says:

    I’m not sure how you can say Driskel didn’t cost us the game.

    • I’m not the one speaking in the quotes, Will Muschamp is. The part I wrote is that Driskel had a hellacious game.

    • sjkoepp says:

      Tough to say. O-line and play calling did him no favors, and he wasn’t the only person turning the ball over. The whole offense was pretty bad in every facet.

      • Crock says:

        I don’t disagree that the O-line play wasn’t great, but he turned the ball over 4 times.
        All 4 were “unforced” imo. I like Driskel and sure there are other plays that matter, but he is being asked just to manage the game. He isn’t being asked to win it. We are 8-0 if he protects the ball saturday.

        • Sneaksie says:

          “It’s easy for me and you to talk about it, as opposed to sitting there in front of 90,000 people with 300 pounders chasing you.” -Will Muschamp

  8. joe says:

    Florida defense is ranked 6th. Florida offense is ranked 101st just below Weiss and Kansas. Just sayin

  9. gatorboi352 says:

    One thing to remember: a GA lose in 1 of the next 2 games means all of our original goals are still in front of us. We are 7 in the BCS and would be headed back to the SEC title game to hopefully have a shot against Bama. Beat Bama and no one can _not_ put us in the title game.

    And no, I didn’t forget: We will handle FSU.

  10. Courtney says:

    You’re right gatorboi …ole miss could easily sneak up and beat Uga… plus we will end up with ten or eleven wins. After 8-5 and -7-6 this season has been a overacheving success. I hate that we lost..but i will be forever proud that we fought until the end.

    I mean we have beaten three of four ranked teams after and beating none last year. That a&m victory on the road is looking better every week. We are heading in the right direction.
    Guys don’t forget this is only pease first year…