Florida’s little mistakes result in big losses

By Adam Silverstein
November 16, 2011

Even at full strength, the Florida Gators would not have been favored to defeat Alabama or LSU in the fifth and sixth weeks of the season, though a victory in either contest was certainly a possibility. However, Florida continuing their downfall after those games – losing three of their next four to Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina – has been both unforeseen and frustrating for the coaches, players and fan base.

After being beaten down by two of the best teams in the country to the tune of 28 and 30 points, respectively, the Gators stood up, dusted themselves off and became much more competitive on both sides of the ball.

Their next three losses were by a combined 20 points, and Florida had opportunities to beat Georgia and South Carolina late in those respective games.

Yet no matter how much better they played, the Gators continued making mistakes that shot them in the foot and put them behind the eight ball.

“We just got to get better. We had chances to win these last couple of games and didn’t finish. Little things are killing us right now. One person making a mistake here and there, those mistakes add up,” junior linebacker Jon Bostic said. “Coach is calling the plays and giving us the opportunities to win. We got to go out there and execute.”

[EXPAND Click to expand and read the remainder of this post.]Whether the offense gets off the field too quickly because a false start turns a 3rd and short into a 3rd and long or the defense jumps offsides on a crucial 3rd down and is stuck out there, Florida appears to hurt themselves more often than not.

“Florida beat Florida, not South Carolina beat Florida,” sophomore defensive end Sharrif Floyd said Monday about last Saturday’s contest. “Our mistakes hurt us in the long run; too many of them cost us the game. It was a lack of mental focus. We just got to understand it’s a 60-minute game and that’s how long we got to play for.”

Sharing in that philosophy is junior safety Josh Evans, who believes the Gators would be much better if they can clean up some of those mistakes.

“It’s us that hurt ourselves sometimes. It’s not the team is that much better than us. It’s little stuff we can fix,” he said. “If we can eliminate the mental errors, we should be pretty good. It’ll take time. People got to get together and take stuff on seriously.”

Florida’s players showed up for Monday’s team meeting 15 minutes early and discussed both the mistakes they are making as well as their inconsistencies on the field.

If the Gators are not committing penalties, they’re being inefficient in the red zone (one touchdown in seven such opportunities in their last three losses) or fumbling the ball in their own territory while putting together a drive.

Some of those issues can certainly be fixed with time, which is on Florida’s side considering how young the team will be heading into next season.

“We’re a young team and we got a lot of maturing to do,” redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed noted. “That’s one of our main problems right now. Once we get that done, I think we’ll be really good,”

Maturity will not matter though if the Gators cannot put everything together with the game on the line. Florida’s had leads in each of their last two losses – to Georgia by four and South Carolina by five – but could not hang on for the victories, letting them slip through their collective fingers.

“[The mistakes that occur] when the game is close at the end are really tough on you,” redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley recalled. “You know you’ve done enough to put you in a position to win but there is always that one or two plays that cost you the game. That’s hard to swallow.”

What may be more difficult for the Gators to digest is their first six-loss season since 1987, which is exactly what Florida will have if they defeat Furman on Saturday and lose to Florida State a week later. Mental focus and maturity will be the keys if UF hopes to come out of the regular season with a winning record.[/EXPAND]

9 Comments

  1. Joe says:

    Adam, it’s not like these mistakes have just started since LSU. Florida has been making the exact SAME mistakes metioned in this article over and over since the very first game. At the end of Sept we lead the country in false starts, off sides and PI penalties. Our red zone offense has been poor all season, way too many FG’s vs TD’s. Difference is our Sept opponents were so bad (they currently have a combined record of 9-25) we were able to overcome the mistakes and still win. We all knew that if we continued to play like we did and not get these issues straightened out, against better competition it would eventually catch up to us and cost us games, and it has.

    • It wasn’t an opinion piece. Just a regular story. And I agree with you – it’s been a season-long issue – but where it’s affected them the most is in the games they lost.

      • Joe says:

        Always does. Winning tends to cover a multitude of mistakes. The plus side is that this coaching staff has publicly recognizes the flaws and doens’t just say “We’re winning, all is well” or “We’re getting better and better”. That gives me hope this will get turned around.

      • Ken (CA) says:

        What bothers me is the constant excuse “we’re a young team”. They may be an immature team but they reall arent that young, not after 2 full seasons at least at this point for most of the players, and they are still making the same mistakes over and over. All of the NFL experience on this coaching staff is well and good, but at the NFL level they are dealing with players who have already gone through 3 years of college prep and grown up from the high school talent to mature players that understand the work required to succeed.

        This staff doesn’t seem to understand how to mold the talent (and there is lots of it on this team) into successful players at a higher level.

        • Well there are twice as many underclassmen as there are upperclassmen.

          • Ken (CA) says:

            But we were very light on upper classmen when Urban came in as well, several true freshmen starting then just like now. It was also a very young team, and no matter what people are saying in other comments, we have a lot of talent out on the field, it just isn’t being honed and they just don’t seem very tough mentally

            • Urban’s first team lost three games and had its starting QB all season. This year Florida didn’t have theirs for 2.5 games and had him significantly limited in one more. That team was also going pro-to-spread not spread-to-pro, the latter of which is more difficult from a player perspective, IMO. Not trying to argue with you, just saying all things are not equal.

          • Ken (CA) says:

            I don’t know about the difficulty of going from one to the other, and not saying things were eqal, just saying that there was a similar talent base and level of experience, and while Urban didn’t force the pro into the spread immediately, he gradually did it to fit personnel, Muschamp has gone to his system that the personnel aren’t really set for, at least that is what it seems from my perspective. What made Meyer great was his ability to adjust his system to the personnel he had and maximize their ability, where Muschamp/Weis seem set in their system and are going to do it no matter what. They only time they have stepped out of it were times when Brantley was unavailable and they were actually moving the ball a bit those games using the spread option.

            • Just not analogous for me. Don’t think the talent base was similar nor experience level. I’d have to look player-by-player though. Meyer also had a defensive coordinator who had been on the team under Zook (easier transition), a better quarterback and much better receivers (it at least appears that way). Meyer was great…but I just don’t think he was faced with nearly as much adversity as Muschamp has been this year.

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