Four Murphy turnovers doom Gators, Florida loses to Vanderbilt for first time since 1988

A horrible season for the Florida Gators got even worse on Saturday as the Vanderbilt Commodores entered Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL, on homecoming and picked up a 34-17 victory, beating their SEC East rivals for the first time since 1988.

Vanderbilt came through with a win in Gainesville for the first time since 1945, one that ended Florida’s 22-game winning streak in the series. It was also the Commodores’ first league victory against the Gators dating back to when they joined the SEC in 1992.

Florida dropped its fourth-straight game by falling behind early and never finding a way to recover. The Gators are now below .500 for the first time since 1992 and are in the process of breaking their consecutive bowl game streak, which currently stands at 22.

After winning the toss and deferring possession, Florida allowed its opponent to pick up an opening drive score for the third-straight week. Vanderbilt gained 62 yards on 13 plays, converting two first downs in UF territory, and took an early 3-0 lead.

The Gators responded immediately with a 12-play, 48-yard drive, but redshirt freshman kicker Austin Hardin missed a 44-yard field goal wide right.

Florida committed another miscue just minutes later when redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy, on 1st-and-10 from UF’s 25-yard line, threw an interception that was returned to the 10. On the very next play, VU running back Jerron Seymour rumbled into the end zone to put his team up 10-0 in the first quarter.

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11/5: Pease on Wildcat; Brown, Moore step up

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease met with the media on Tuesday ahead of the ninth game of the season against the Vanderbilt Commodores on Nov. 9.

SECOND THOUGHTS ON THE BURTON-CAT

Suffice to say, the Gators have not had much success at all running direct snap plays with senior wide receiver Trey Burton this season. Nevertheless, Florida has continued to run them with the latest incarnation coming on Saturday in form of an option on 1st-and-10 from the Georgia 41. UF was trailing UGA 23-20 at the time and ended up completely stalling on the drive. The Gators never touched the ball again.

Asked Tuesday about the decision, Pease admitted that he definitely second-guessed the call following the game, even if he was not completely clear in his reasoning for running it in the first place.

“Well, I look at the play and, I mean, we knew we had it in and a lot of the things we’ve done with Trey have kind of been more inside with him carrying it. This gave us an option. What we wanted to do with him hitting it and also getting the ball to [Solomon Patton]. And, as I look back on it, yeah, I second guess myself on that play,” he said.

“One thing we do is we go through and we say, ‘OK, what plays are good?’ And that’s something we haven’t hit. I think with him it takes some adjustment by a defense to play to him, and we hope that’s what they do defensively. If we just designed the run for him, you’re right, those probably haven’t been that great this year. I know they were more effective last year. But that’s why the play was designed more for him to have an option, it’s either him or getting the ball to Solo.”

NOT-AS-OFFENSIVE LINE

Though Florida still surrendered four sacks on Saturday, only two were blamed on the offensive line. As a whole, the unit played much better with a big – literally – part of that being the effort contributed by a first-time starter in junior right tackle Trenton Brown.

“I think he did a good job in the game. There’s still some things you look at on film and [he can improve on]. He had one holding call,” Pease said. “But I think the kid went out and competed and was good on his assignments. There’s a couple things we’ve got to clean up. I think he’s good now that he’s kind of had some of those been-in-a-game situations. I think he’ll get better.”

Brown admitted that he has plenty of room for improvement but was also perturbed that his 6-foot-8, 360-pound frame did not see the field for more snaps through the first seven games of the season.

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Breaking down Florida’s blunders vs. Georgia

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.

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Resilient Gators fall short against Bulldogs; Georgia wins third-straight over Florida 23-20

The Florida Gators nearly fought all the way back following their worst half of the season but fell just short of a come-from-behind victory on Saturday with the Georgia Bulldogs pulling off a 23-20 victory at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL.

Florida (4-4, 3-3 SEC) has now been defeated by Georgia (5-3, 4-2 SEC) in three-straight seasons for the first time since 1987-89. Gators head coach Will Muschamp fell to 0-7 all time in the Florida-Georgia series, losing thrice as a coach and four times as a former Bulldogs player.

After allowing Georgia to score the first 20 points of the game, Florida buckled down and outscored its rival 17-0 in the second half via a mixture of impressive defensive plays and effective offense. Unfortunately for UF, many mistakes were made in both halves and it was too much of a burden for it to overcome.

The Bulldogs bit the Gators early after Florida won the toss and deferred to the second half. Georgia put together a seven-play, 75-yard drive out of the gate including a 25-yard rush and five-yard touchdown run by running back Todd Gurley.

It looked like the Gators were primed to answer back immediately as redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy hit redshirt junior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar for a 83-yard reception on UF’s second play. However, Florida stalled and was pushed back on 3rd-and-Goal from the UGA eight after senior WR Solomon Patton committed a personal foul.

The Gators were forced to settle for a 40-yard field goal, but kicker Frankie Velez missed his attempt wide right.

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Friday Final: Changes coming for Gators, Florida player updates heading into Georgia game

Florida Gators coaches and players spoke this week ahead of Saturday’s neural-site contest against the Georgia Bulldogs scheduled to kick off at 3:30 p.m. from EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL, and air live on CBS.

Below are some stories, notes and quotes that either broke towards the end of the week or fell through the cracks and did not make it into one of the six posts already published here on OnlyGators.com (see links).

Monday: Will Muschamp previews Georgia, updates injuries, talks new starters
Tuesday: Brent Pease talks changes to the offensive line and overall scheme
Wednesday: LT D.J. Humphries out 2-4 weeks, Florida-Georgia updates
Thursday: Overcoming embarrassment, can Gators’ defense return to form?

NEW LEADER IN THE BACKFIELD

Muschamp confirmed on Thursday during his weekly radio appearance that freshman running back Kelvin Taylor will be Florida’s starter on Saturday. “He’s earned the opportunity,” he said. “He’s really done a good job in the opportunities he’s had as the season has evolved.”

MORE CHANGES AT TACKLE

Though the Gators experimented with redshirt junior left guard Max Garcia at left tackle during the off week, he will remain in his current role. Unfortunately, sophomore left tackle D.J. Humphires going down with a sprained MCL on Monday means that redshirt sophomore Tyler Moore, who was actually benched as the starting right tackle in favor of junior Trenton Brown, will be back in the lineup.

“We were going to give Trenton Brown an opportunity to start at right tackle,” Muschamp explained. “Unfortunately, D.J. Humphries sprained his MCL Monday in practice and he’ll probably miss 2-3 weeks. We hope to get him back before then. But Tyler Moore will bump over to left tackle.

“Max has been playing inside and playing very well inside at left guard. We didn’t feel like it was good to move him and possibly create another void at the left guard position.”

BURNING REDSHIRTS

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10/28: Taylor to start for Florida vs. Georgia, injury statuses, offensive line updates and more

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss progress made during the off week and the upcoming World’s Largest Cocktail Party showdown against the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday, Nov. 2. The contest will kick off at 3:30 p.m. from Jacksonville, FL, and air live on CBS.

IT’S (“PROBABLY”) TAYLOR TIME

Though Muschamp was quite clear that freshman running back Kelvin Taylor would be getting more work than usual on Saturday against Georgia, he stopped just short of declaring him the unquestioned starter. “Well, we’re working through the week and that’s probably what we’ll end up doing, he said.

Muschamp did, however, offer up a fair amount of praise for Taylor. “He’s continued to improve throughout the season, week-to-week. He’s always been a very instinctive natural runner. It’s very obviously. But again, with assignments and different things, I think he’s done a nice job and he deserves the opportunity,” he said.

Those are sentiments shared by redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy.

“He’s shown that he can do a lot of good things with the ball in his hands. I think the coaches, as well as myself, have to do a good job of finding ways to get him the ball so he can create big plays for us,” Murphy explained. “Like I said, we’re going to need some explosive plays and he has the ability to do that. We’re just going to have to find ways to continue to give him the ball and eventually he’s going to break. He’s very talented, very elusive player. Looking forward to seeing him this week and what role he’ll have.”

ALL HEALED UP

Muschamp did not list Murphy on Florida’s injury report two weeks ago, but he was nevertheless a game-time decision when UF took on Missouri. Murphy played with what was revealed Monday to be a sprained AC joint and put together his worst performance of the season as he was inaccurate with the ball throughout the contest.

“It didn’t bother me at all. I think maybe just not practicing or not throwing a little bit kind of hurt me a little bit. Other than that, I felt fine. It wasn’t bothering me or anything,” he said. “I had that overthrow to Trey [Burton] which hurt us in the beginning. I kind of couldn’t help but laugh because he was so wide open. You gotta hit him.”

Murphy did not throw during the off week – redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg took all the snaps – but should be back in action on Monday and completely cleared to take first-team snaps by Tuesday.

INJURY UPDATES

Redshirt junior linebacker Ronald Powell (ankle) missed Saturday’s game against Mizzou but “ran well” during the off week and even got in some change of direction work on Sunday. Muschamp said he expects Powell back in action on Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest “if he were to play in the game.” He admitted: “[It is] still kind of up in the air whether that will happen or not.”

Senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs (head) is set to return to practice on Tuesday and is listed as probable, while senior LB Darrin Kitchens (shoulder) and redshirt freshman tight end Colin Thompson (foot) are both doubtful.

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10/19: Florida at Missouri post-game report

The No. 22/22 Florida Gators (4-3, 3-2 SEC) were embarrassed by the explosive No. 14/14 Missouri Tigers (7-0, 3-0 SEC), falling 36-17 on the road at Farout Field in Columbia, MO. After the tough loss, Florida head coach Will Muschamp met with the media to provide some of his thoughts on his team and its defeat.

OPENING STATEMENT

“We’re just not a very good football team. Certainly not today. It falls on my shoulders. We’re inept offensively. We have a hard time running it and certainly can’t protect very well. It obviously showed today against the front we played against. Just very disappointed that we haven’t made more positive strides offensively this season, just regressed again from last week. We’re going to go back and work extremely hard to get those things corrected. Defensively, [we allowed] too many big plays. …

“As a football team, we didn’t do enough good things out there, and that falls on my shoulders. We just need to get better and that’s what we’re going to do. Disappointed with the way we played. We need to improve and get better. We got an off week to get it turned around.”

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Missouri improved to 2-1 all-time against Florida, winning the first and only game the two teams have ever played in Columbia.
» The Gators are now 1-5 in their last six games against ranked opponents, beating Florida State in 2012 but falling to Georgia, Louisville, Miami, LSU and Mizzou all since Oct. 27, 2012.
» Florida fell to 7-11 under Muschamp when rushing for fewer than 150 yards and 4-10 when tied or trailing at the half.
» The Tigers posted 500 yards of offense against the Gators’ top-ranked defense, the most UF has allowed in a single game since the 2008 Capitol One Bowl against Michigan.
» Florida gained just 151 yards of offense, the fewest in a single game since the 1999 SEC Championship against Alabama.
» UF went 3-for-15 on first down, averaged 1.9 yards per rush and 6.1 yards per completion. Mizzou averaged 5.5 yards per carry and 16.4 yards per catch.
» The Gators’ defense had allowed just one play longer than 40 yards all season but coughed up three on Saturday.
» Florida failed to hold an SEC opponent under 20 points for the first time in 14 opportunities.
» UF forced at least one turnover in 17-straight games.
» The Gators went 109:01 of game time dating back to Oct. 5 without scoring an offensive touchdown until crossing the goal line in the fourth quarter.
» Florida lost the time of possession battle (29:18-30:42) for the first time this season.
» The Gators did not sack the opposing quarterback once for the second-straight week.
» Florida’s porous offensive line allowed six sacks on the afternoon.
» The Gators committed at least eight penalties in a game for the fifth time this season. Three of those five contests ended as losses.
» UF was held to 2.8 yards per carry and under 150 team rushing yards for the second-straight game and third time overall this season (two losses).
» Florida registered a season-high eight pass defenses.

» Freshman running back Kelvin Taylor registered career-highs of 12 carries and 74 yards – and scored his first career rushing touchdown – during Saturday’s game. He has combined for 22 carries and 126 yards over the last two weeks.
» Senior wide receiver Solomon Patton returned a kickoff for a touchdown on the first play of the second half, catching the ball five yards into the end zone and bringing it back the length of the field. It was his first career return touchdown.
» Sophomore defensive back Brian Poole registered an interception, two tackles for loss and a pass defense. He nearly had a second interception, too.
» Redshirt junior walk-on kicker Frankie Valez kicked a 23-yard field goal in the first quarter and is now 3-for-3 on his career.
» Freshman punter Johnny Townsend made his first start and booted the ball eight times for 365 yards, averaging 45.6 yards per punt with a long of 61 and two touchbacks.

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Missouri Tigers maul Florida Gators 36-17

An unrelenting offensive attack from the No. 14/14 Missouri Tigers (7-0, 3-0 SEC) dominated an injured No. 22/22 Florida Gators (4-3, 3-2 SEC) defense, picking up a 36-17 victory on Saturday afternoon at in Columbia, MO.

The Gators allowed the Tigers to rack up 500 yards of offense, the most given up by Florida in 2013, as Missouri became the first Southeastern Conference team in 14 tries to post more than 20 points in a single game against UF’s stout defense.

The visitors were outmatched all afternoon as the Gators struggled on the way to gaining just 151 yards of offense. Florida was 3-for-15 on third down as the Gators’ offensive line allowed six sacks and failed to adequately protect the quarterback throughout the contest or open up holes in the running game most of the afternoon.

After Florida deferred until the second half, Missouri started on offense and got on the board in just 22 seconds.

Quarterback Maty Mauk completed a 41-yard pass on the first play of the game to wide receiver L’Damian Washington, and the Tigers gained 15 additional yards on the play after a targeting penalty was called against Gators redshirt junior safety Cody Riggs. He was subsequently ejected from the game. On the very next play, Mauk hit WR Bud Sasser for a 20-yard touchdown.

Florida went three-and-out on its first possession, running the ball three-straight times, but lucked out on the ensuing punt, which was muffed and recovered by junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy.

Facing first down at Missouri’s 24-yard line, UF gained 17 yards on a rush by freshman running back Kelvin Taylor before stalling and settling for a 23-yard field goal by redshirt junior kicker Frankie Velez.

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