Breaking down Florida’s blunders vs. Georgia

By Adam Silverstein
November 3, 2013

Outcomes of football games often swing based on a player’s action, coaching decision or officiating call, but the Florida Gators on Saturday seemed to waste more than the normal amount of opportunities before eventually falling 23-20 to the Georgia Bulldogs at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL.

FIRST QUARTER

Opportunity: Establish momentum at the start of the game with a scoring drive.
Result: Georgia leads 7-0 after a seven-play, 75-yard drive that lasted 2:45

Breakdown: Florida won the coin toss, and head coach Will Muschamp deferred possession until the second half for the third-straight game. For the second consecutive game, UF’s opponent took that opportunity to march right down the field and score a touchdown. Though the Gators’ defense has played its worst at the start of games all season – and the team is just 8-7 under Muschamp when an opponent scores first – Florida still gave its opponent the chance to establish momentum rather than keeping that team’s strength off the field to start the game.

Opportunity: Negate UGA’s touchdown by answering immediately after reaching the red zone following an 83-yard completion from redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy to redshirt junior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar – UF’s longest offensive play since 2011.
Result: Florida does not score

Breakdown: Down at the Bulldogs’ 10-yard line, the Gators ran the ball, threw incomplete on a short pass and ran the option on 3rd-and-Goal from the 10 instead of at least trying to throw into the end zone. At the end of the failed option run, which only gained two yards, redshirt senior WR Solomon Patton picked up a personal foul that pushed Florida back to the Georgia 23. A more manageable 25-yard field goal became a 40-yard try that redshirt junior walk-on kicker Frankie Velez shanked right.


SECOND QUARTER

Opportunity: Score before the end of the first half OR pin the Bulldogs’ back near the goal line and go into the half trailing by 17
Result: Georgia moves 42 yards in seven plays, picking up a conversion on 3rd-and-22 in the process, and tacks on a field goal to lead 23-3

Breakdown: On UGA’s 40-yard line after driving 49 yards in 12 plays, Muschamp forced Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt to burn his final timeout by lining up to go for it on 4th-and-10. After the timeout, Muschamp went for it anyway, but Murphy threw a dump-off pass to Dunbar that became a three-yard loss. The Gators could have thrown deep – at worst, a long interception would have had the same as a short punt – or punted and entered the half down 20. Instead, Florida turned the ball over on downs and allowed Georgia to move right down the short field and hit a 32-yard field goal as time expired.

Quote from Muschamp: “If they had timeouts, I probably would have [punted] … We want to play aggressive. I told the players coming into the game we’re going to play an aggressive style. … We got exactly what we wanted coverage-wise. We just got to run through the catch and we got to convert that situation. We got man coverage, exactly what we drew up and exactly what we wanted. We just got to convert it. … I felt like we needed to call the game aggressively, let our players play aggressive.”

THIRD QUARTER

Opportunity: Starting the second half with the ball, cut into the Bulldogs’ lead
Result: The Gators do not score

Breakdown: Florida moved the ball well at the start of the half, gaining positive yardage on seven of its first 10 plays. UF even converted a 4th-and-5 as Murphy completed an 11-yard pass to Patton down to UGA’s 22-yard line. Once again in makeable field goal range, the Gators offense fell apart. Murphy was sacked for an eight-yard loss on the next play. On second down, the Gators ran a broken pass play (trying but failing to emulate a play the Indianapolis Colts ran this season). On 3rd-and-18, Murphy ran for a one-yard loss. Redshirt freshman Austin Hardin then kicked the ball straight on a 47-yard field goal attempt…but it fell a few yards short of the uprights.

Opportunity: With momentum on its side following a fumble recovery turned into a touchdown and a subsequent three-and-out by the defense, Florida was back in Georgia territory with a chance to score again while trailing 23-10.
Result: UF does not score

Breakdown: A seven-yard rush by freshman running back Kelvin Taylor and 15-yard penalty on Bulldogs linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons had the Gators on the opposite 40. After failing to move the ball on first and second down, each of Florida’s starting offensive tackles committed a five-yard penalty – false start and illegal formation – pushing the Gators back to midfield with a 3rd-and-20 that was ultimately not converted. On the play with the illegal formation penalty, Murphy had hit senior WR Trey Burton for a big-gain to pick up the 15-yard first down, a conversion that was all for naught.

FOURTH QUARTER

Opportunity: Down three with 11:20 left in the game, Florida stops Georgia RB Todd Gurley on 3rd-and-3 and then 4th-and-1 deep in UGA territory at its own 39.
Result: The Gators start the subsequent offensive drive in their own territory.

Breakdown: Though he made a terrific defensive play, redshirt junior LB Neiron Ball removed his helmet after stopping Gurley, and Florida was called for a 15-yard personal foul penalty for a player taking off his helmet on the field. Rather than starting rather close to field goal range, the Gators took over at their own 46-yard line.

Muschamp Quote: “That’s all a judgment call. Whatever they call, they call.”
Ball Quote: “My helmet, it was on my nose in a very uncomfortable position. The only thing I did was take it off. I didn’t take it off intentionally. It’s definitely a tough call. Nobody wants to be called for a 15-yard penalty.”

Opportunity: On the UF offensive drive started by Ball’s penalty, the Bulldogs commit an illegal substitution foul on 4th-and-2 while the ball is on their own 46-yard line. The Gators is in enemy territory with a first down at the 41-yard line.
Result: Florida does not score

Breakdown: Momentum was still firmly in UF’s grasp as UGA committed a boneheaded penalty coming out of a timeout. The Gators, however, wasted yet another opportunity with a couple of questionable play calls including a drive-stalling “Wildcat” play with Burton running the option with Patton for a two-yard loss. Murphy was also sacked for a 14-yard loss on 3rd-and-12. Florida had no choice but to punt.

Opportunity: Stop Georgia on its next drive and get the ball back down three with plenty of time remaining in the game
Result: The Bulldogs put together a 15-play, 67-yard game-ending drive that includes four third-down conversions (the last of which came via penalty).

Breakdown: Known as a fourth-quarter team in 2012, one that got off the field on third down defensively and could control the ball to end games, the Gators got a taste of their own medicine. Georgia converted a 3rd-and-1, 3rd-and-2 and 3rd-and-7, forcing Florida to start calling timeouts with two minutes on the clock and UGA down inside UF’s 30-yard line. The Gators had one final chance to get the ball back and might have received it down six (following a field goal) with about 40 seconds remaining by stopping the Bulldogs on 3rd-and-5 at the 25-yard line. However, a personal foul for illegal hands to the face was called on junior defensive tackle Darious Cummings, giving Georgia a first down and ending the game.

Muschamp Quote (on penalties): “It’s hard to see some of that, you know. Whatever they call, they call. In the last 24 years, the University of Florida, we’ve led the SEC in penalties 20 out of 24 – either first or second. That’s long before I got here, so it’s interesting, but it is what it is.”

Georgia running back Todd Gurley throwing a punch on Saturday

Animated GIF Credit: Bleacher Report

20 Comments

  1. g8ter27 says:

    oh soooo many things wrong with this team right now but here is one that hasn’t been addressed too much this week. How in the heck can we not get a kicker to kick a 47 yard field goal or one that can kick the ball past the 10 on kick offs? It is crazy. Most FCS schools have much better kickers than we do.

  2. HardToKillGtr says:

    I just knew the Gators were making a few mistakes here and there in this game. Had a funny feeling about it the whole time. Coach said we only need to make a few changes and we’ll be able to have more points on the board than the other team at the end. Coach said we only need to block and tackle for the whole game and he will let them have extra deserts all week if they will do this! What a good he is.

  3. Michael Jones says:

    Good article, Adam. Needed to be written. Our pathetic little 2-5 yard passes on 3-and-long are laughable. Super conservative “scared of losing” type of play calling. We’ll never be champions like that.

  4. gatorboi352 says:

    The only X-Factor in all of these things, every game and every year is the coach.

    Can’t fire players. It’s time for Muschamp to go. He will be a great DC again or HC someday at some other institution. It will not be with UF. We keep him for a 4th year we’re only prolonging what we’ve seen the last 2 and a half years.

    Homecoming weekend around Gainesville is going to be u.g.l.y.

    • NYC Gator says:

      I’ve lost faith in Muschamp too, but who would you replace him with? It’s pretty obvious we need someone with actual head coaching experience and we’d be competing with USC and probably Texas for any the top candidates this year. We honestly might be better off giving Muschamp the offseason to try turn this around and if 2014 is the same nonsense, then we fire him. I just don’t think there’s an obvious replacement out there right now that we can outbid Texas for.

    • Mike says:

      Agree with you. It will be tough to lose Muschamp’s Defensive coaching skill – it is his strength.

      But as a HBC he brings little of the quality leadership you need from a UF Head Coach.

      Too big of a stage, too bright of a spotlight for Will Muschamp. Unfortunately.

    • Crock says:

      James Franklin

  5. SW FL Joe says:

    I guess because we didn’t embarrass ourselves like we did at LSU and especially at Missouri its a moral victory

  6. Spike says:

    Doesn’t matter but like to see SEC take action with that punch. If that was UF, you know we would have a suspension coming.

  7. Ken (CA) says:

    I think more interesting than “only” 8-7 when opponent scores first is the fact that this “defensive genius” has had the opponent score first in basically 50% of the games he has been a head coach.

    • Michael Jones says:

      I’m with you, Ken. I’m not buying the “defensive genius” business. For one thing, some teams (like LSU), shut it down offensively rather than risk a turnover once they see that our offensive is completely harmless and a 10 point margin might as well be a 50 point margin. However, when the other teams turns up the pressure offensively–as in Georgia’s clock eating game-clinching drive at the end of the game Saturday–there’s nothing our defense can do to stop them, get off the field, and get the ball back to our sad little offense.

  8. Rob says:

    Muschamp is fine. Peace and his joke of an offense needs to go. May work in a crummy conference but not in the SEC.
    Proud of the players who finally decided they would no longer allow GA to push them around. One Senior started on defense, stud freshman RB in the making, like did better in 2nd half, etc. Young team!
    Let’s see if we have changes to the coaching staff for the Offense before giving up on the Head Coach. We run for 7 yards and then run some gimmick play with 5 players in motion and look like clowns.

    • Michael Jones says:

      Ha ha ha ha ha. . So true. Well said. The only thing I disagree with is the business about Pease. I think Muschamp is behind our offensive ineptitude. He’s definitely behind the philosophy. I think he turned Pease loose a little bit on Saturday, but it’ll take more than one game to turn things around.

      Love the “gimmick play with 5 players in motion and look like clowns” comment. Couldn’t agree more. We finally get a little momentum and are driving the ball down the field and something bizarre like that gets called out of nowhere. We lose 5 yards (or more), lose a down, and our offense can rarely make up for that, so the momentum and the drive gets killed.

      Also like the positive take in your 2nd paragraph.

      GO GATORS!!!

  9. Darren says:

    I watched the replay on SunSports and it looked like Morrison inadvertently kicked Ball’s helmet mostly off and he just pulled it off the rest of the way. By rule, that shouldn’t be a penalty.

    • Michael Jones says:

      Thanks for that heads-up, Darren. I thought there was something odd about how quickly and easily his helmet came off. Makes sense now.

      Ball’s a good kid. Glad that came to light.

  10. Collegeballdude says:

    I think muschamp needs another year. Rumor has it Charlie Strong may be on the short list if muschamp were to go.

    • Michael Jones says:

      I’m with you, Colegeballdude. I even say give him 2 more years. I think he can turn this thing around. He’s been humbled and maybe now we’ll see the very best of Will Muschamp.

      I don’t believe the guy’s a quitter. I’ll say that about him. I watch him on the sidelines, his body language, his demeanor, and no matter how bad it gets, he never quits on his boys or on UF. There’s something to be said for that.

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