The No. 12 Florida Gators (4-1, 2-1 SEC) fell at home on Saturday, dropping a 38-10 decision to the No. 2/3 Alabama Crimson Tide (5-0, 2-0 SEC). OGGOA takes a look at some of the notable occurrences before, during and after Saturday’s game with notes and quotes from both head coach Will Muschamp and the players.
MUSCHAMP’s GAME RECAP
Early in his post-game media availability, Muschamp provides his own quick recap of the game as he sees it from offense, defense and special teams.
“We got beat by a better team tonight. You look at the first half, we were able to move the ball pretty effectively in the air. You need to stay balanced versus that team. The turnover hurt us and we were inconsistent in stopping the run in the first half. They got a good football team; we knew that going in. You can’t afford to make some of the costly mistakes. [Trent] Richardson is a good back; we knew that going in. We got to clean up some tackling and some issues. I’ll look at the film and move forward.”
INJURIES AND ABSENCES
Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley, who threw a 65-yard touchdown to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose on the first play of the game, was playing quite well on Saturday even though he gave up a costly pick-six to Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw. In the middle of driving Florida in for another score at the end of the second quarter, Brantley’s offensive line failed him. He was sacked twice in a row, backing the Gators up from the Crimson Tide’s 13 to their 35. Even worse is that the second sack, courtesy of Upshaw, severely injured Brantley’s lower right leg and forced him from the game completely.
Muschamp said he did not have an update on Brantley after the game. “He’s in our training room,” he said. “I haven’t even talked to the doctor yet. I have no idea.” Further information may not come until Monday during the football team’s weekly media day.
Freshman safety De’Ante Saunders missed Saturdays game for a violation of team rules, Muschamp announced after the game. “He’ll be back next week,” he said.
Additionally, sophomores defensive end Sharrif Floyd and defensive tackle Dominique Easley were not a question to play Saturday. Muschamp said neither was injured, though it was obvious that Easley’s ankle had a large wrap on it during the game.
TROUBLE ON THE LINES
Throughout the week the prevailing thought was that the Florida-Alabama game would be won in the trenches. To that end, the Gators failed mightily on Saturday. Not only did UF not get any pressure defensively (zero sacks and just two tackles for loss), it also failed to stop the run at the first level. Richardson exploded for a career-high 181 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries. Florida was unable to stop him or wrap him up, allowing UA to move the ball as they wished.
On the other side of the ball, the offensive line gave Brantley some good protection early in the game but completely failed as the contest went on. The Gators could not run the ball whatsoever (running backs senior Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey combined for eight yards on 14 carries,) and each was often tackled behind the line of scrimmage. The Crimson Tide defense earned 11 tackles for loss in the game, pushing their opponent back 54 yards while doing so.
When freshman QB Jeff Driskel replaced Brantley (after the latter was sacked due to poor protection and knocked out of the game), he received no help at all from the offensive line. “The quarterback position – you got to play well around him. We didn’t protect very well. They got pressure with four guys rushing, so Jeff didn’t have much of a chance,” Muschamp said. “Generally when you have a guy hitting you in the throat, sometimes you do overthrow it.”
STILL IN IT UNTIL BRANTLEY WENT DOWN
The Gators may have been down 14 points in the second quarter, but the game was far from over at that point. Brantley was in the middle of making up for the biggest mistake he’s made all season, leading Florida on a what started as a six-play, 54-yard drive to Alabama’s 13-yard-line…until he was sacked for losses of 12 and 10 yards, respectively, and knocked out of the game. Muschamp said after the game that he knew the Gators had a chance at that point and was understandably disappointed at how that unfolded.
“It was disappointing from the standpoint that we’re going into halftime, it’s a 24-10 and we’re in field goal range. Thought we’d get at least three there and we’re down 11 with a turnover return for a touchdown,” he said. “You feel good about where we are at that point in the game. And then you lose John and that took a little wind out of our sails there as far as offensively moving the football.
“We came out had some nice stops to start the second half defensively. We just got to find some ways to manufacture some yards offensively in the second half and then defensively just got to finish better, finish better and tackle. We had some guys in spots to make plays. You got to make plays. You got to tackle. I was encouraged from the standpoint of we’re going into halftime and it could have been an 11-point game. But it wasn’t. And that’s the bottom line.”
He also said that he was impressed with what Brantley did on the field. “I thought John played really well. He had big third-down conversions,” Muschamp said. “The deep ball to Andre to start the game. The dig there to Andre that their player made a nice play, knocked the ball off of him. I thought john played extremely ell, threw the ball extremely well, converted third downs against a good defense.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Muschamp on the offense’s ability to move the ball: “When the game flipped and became a two score game, and then at the half we were in a two-minute situation throwing the football. When we lost John, that took the wind out of our sails a little bit as far as some of the things we were doing in the run game. You got to give those guys credit; they played well. We got to find different ways to run the ball and stay balanced in what we do. But we moved the ball effectively in the first half. We felt very good going into halftime [until] unfortunately the injury with John.
» Mushcmap on how he felt the team responded to adversity: “Obviously we didn’t handle it very well. We’ve got to push through it. Injuries are part of the game. We got to go to the next guy and you got to play.”
» Muschamp on if Driskel was prepared: “I think Jeff played well. Again, you got to give him a chance in the pocket and he didn’t have much of a chance. Created a first down on third down there with a nice run. Didn’t have many opportunities with what we were doing.”
»Muschamp on Alabama’s long punt return: “That was disappointing. Our coverage units had been solid to this point.”
» Muschamp on if the team was frustrated in the locker room: “I don’t think there’s any question you’re frustrated. And if you’re a competitor, you should be.”
» Muschamp on not getting any pressure: “When we pressured it was not effective. It really wasn’t.”
» Muschamp on how Debose stepped up: “Andre’s done a good jbo. He’s done a good job in practice. He’s practiced hard and presented those opportunities to be in the position he’s in right now. I’m very pleased with his progress.”
» Muschamp on not running the ball well outside: “We didn’t run the inside running game very well either.”
» Debose on the game as a whole: “We started fast. Things were going good for us. I just saw the coverage that coach told us we were going to get. I saw man coverage and made the best of my opportunity. I just saw green grass and ran as fast as I could.”
» Redshirt senior WR Deonte Thompson on Brantley going down: “We came out playing well. John was throwing the ball around good. The offense was clicking. We were doing everything well. He got hurt and it happens like that. This is football. It happens like that sometimes. We still control our own destiny. We just got to keep going and keep fighting. We still got a lot of tough games coming up.”