What we learned: Michigan beats down Florida in Texas

By Adam Silverstein
September 2, 2017
What we learned: Michigan beats down Florida in Texas

Image Credit: Michigan Football

Anyone expecting to see a changed No. 17 Florida Gators football team on Saturday got their wish — it’s just that Florida has not changed for the better. In a 33-17 loss to the No. 11 Michigan Wolverines, the Gators looked about the same on offense as they have the last few seasons but were obviously much more porous on defense, giving up chunk plays in major moments that played a large role in the defeat.

OnlyGators.com breaks down Florida’s loss below.

It was over when: Redshirt freshman quarterback Feleipe Franks fumbled at Florida’s 37-yard line with 11 minutes left in the third quarter. Michigan responded by kicking a 50-yard field goal — its third score in less than three minutes — and took a nine-point lead. Considering the Gators’ offense was basically nonexistent in the contest, that lead was insurmountable and also resulted in Franks being replaced by graduate transfer Malik Zaire.

Exceptional effort: With Florida failing on both offense and defense, it should come as no surprise that redshirt senior punter Johnny Townsend produced another star-making effort. Townsend averaged 54.7 yards per punt, dropping two inside the 10 (though one got returned out) and taking all six of boots at least 50 yards.

Important injury: Sophomore safety Chauncey Gardner went down in the third quarter with what looked like cramps. However, he never returned to the game and ESPN reported near the end of the contest that Gardner was on the sideline wearing crutches.

Odds and ends: Florida saw its streak of 27 straight wins in season openers end as it dropped its first since 1987 … the Gators are now 0-4 all-time against the Wolverines … UF dropped its sixth game in the month of September since 2005 (42-6) … Florida is now 3-7 against ranked opponents under McElwain but fell to 16-4 when scoring first and 15-2 when leading at the half … UF found its first blocked punt since 2013 … all three of senior cornerback Duke Dawson’s career interceptions have been returned for touchdowns … Michigan outgained Florida 433-192 (215-11 on the ground, 218-181 in the air) … UM converted 6-of-18 on third down and 1-for-1 on fourth down, often gaining well more yardage than it needed … UF was 2-for-13 on third down and 1-for-2 on fourth … the Gators averaged just 3.6 yards per play (compared to 5.8 for the Wolverines) … Ty Issac picked up 114 yards on 11 carries for Michigan

What it means: Year 3 of McElwain looks the same as the first two. The Gators’ offense, while it may prove to have taken a step forward in future contests, was pathetic against a solid Wolverines front. Florida did not find the end zone on offense, scoring five on special teams (field goal, two extra points) and 12 from its defense. That may be good enough to beat some teams but not a program like Michigan, which exposed all of Florida’s deficiencies on both sides of the ball for a solid albeit unspectacular win.

By the quarter

First: Florida was able to grumble about the referees on the first play of the game after sophomore wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland was hit late on a sweep but a relatively obvious targeting penalty was not called after review. Franks completed the first pass of his career, a 34-yard dime to sophomore WR Josh Hammond, but miscues forced UF to settle for a 46-yard field goal by redshirt junior kicker Eddy Pineiro. On the ensuing possession, Michigan had three third-down conversions, including a 36-yard rush on 3rd and 13, but settled for a field goal as UF burned two of its timeouts in seven minutes. The Wolverines then went up 10-3 as the Gators blew coverage and allowed a 46-yard touchdown pass one play after redshirt senior safety Nick Washington injured his shoulder.

Second: The sluggish play continued for Florida’s offense, but Michigan shot itself in the foot twice. After a 15-yard celebration penalty negated another third-down conversion for UM, Dawson nabbed a tip drill interception on the next conversion attempt, running it back 48 yards for a touchdown. The Gators’ defense stepped up again as freshman CB CJ Henderson intercepted the third-down pass from Speight on the ensuing possession, bringing it back 41 yards for a second pick six. Florida nearly tripled its fortunes when redshirt senior defensive back Garrett Stephens blocked a punt, but the offense was unable to move the ball and Pineiro missed a 47-yard field goal. Michigan responded with a 37-yard pass to set up a 55-yard field goal following two UF sacks.

Third: The Gators’ defense failed on the half’s opening possession, giving up 18 yards on a 4th-and-1 conversion attempt as part of a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown-scoring drive for the Wolverines that gave them a 20-17 lead. Cleveland then fumbled the ensuing kickoff, but Florida forced its first three-and-out of the game to trail by six. Faced with another third down, Franks attempted to run for it but was stripped, giving Michigan another shot in UF territory, though the defense held it to another field goal. This brought in graduate transfer QB Malik Zaire.

Fourth: After a lot of back-and-forth action through the first half of the quarter, Michigan struck with a 48-yard bomb that put it inside Florida’s 10 with seven minutes to play only for it to miss another field goal keeping the lead at single digits. The Gators remained unable to muster anything offensively and succumbed to a good defensive effort from the Wolverines. Florida even gave up a defensive touchdown late when Michigan sacked Zaire and forced him to fumble on consecutive plays, first inside the five and then again inside the end zone.


  1. GATOR-6 says:

    I am depressed.

  2. David says:

    I had fairly high hopes for this season but they were dashed today. Not that they lost but they looked BAD. I was trying to find something to build hope on but it’s wasn’t there. I have no idea as to what happens from now but I wouldn’t bet my money on The Gators.

    • james says:

      Why did you have high hopes? Same O players. Same coaches. What gave you any logical cause to believe these same players and coaches that produced a crapshit offense last year would come back with anything dif this year? You can realize the Gators are mediocre at best (again) and still be a fan. It’s your unrealism that dashed you, not the Gators. I’m an old, long time fan. Galen Hall (ho hum) to Steve Spurrier (lovin it) to Ron Zook (fireronzook.com) to Urban Meyer (lovin it, again) to Will Muschump (more blah) to now. It’s the Gator cycle. After the Zook and Muschump disasters we got one year place holders, so after Mac goes (soon I hope) we’ll get another 1-year seat filler until 2019 or 20 when the next as yet unknown golden boy signs up and the good times roll again! Trust me, it’ll happen same as it ever was.

  3. 1974Gator says:

    What a mess! We couldn’t run or pass on a Michigan D that rushed 3 and blitzed us most of the game. Our receivers couldn’t separate and I was embarrassed for our O-line’s inability to create any protection for our QBs. The secondary and linebacker lack of experience was exposed and now we have at least two DB injuries that we can not afford. From my view Felipe played better then Zaire. Let’s give Franks and Luke a shot next week. I don’t know what to expect from this team.

  4. Erng'n Blue says:

    I’m going to sleep tonight to a wet dream of Spurrier being the coach tomorrow. That’s the only way to pull us out of this mess. Disgusting!

  5. Gators2017 says:

    Well on the bright side Chip Kelly is available for 2018. I know great coaches don’t grow on trees but it would be nice to have a coach with the “it” factor. Someone that commands respect and can change the mood of a program overnight.

  6. J G Lopez says:

    McElwain has shown what he’s got and if you want a slightly above average team well all good. That was a massive beat down on the national stage and top high school kids are watching.Do you think they want to play for a team that got beat down so hard and the coaches had no answers? McElwain’ gotta go.

  7. Erng'n Blue says:

    Three years in and Mac still has Warren “looking for his baseball” under center. Two pick six never looked better than tripping in a three drop, twice and we lost by double digits. I’m not making this up!

  8. SW Fl Joe says:

    God bless the Gator fans who are still willing to plunk down hard earned cash to go watch this garbage in person.

  9. G2 says:

    Just what I thought, getting manhandled on both lines. We are light years behind the big boys now. Hope the new AD has a quicker trigger finger than Foley! Gonna be a rough ride.

  10. Mike says:

    I know it was only the first game. This was our barometer game to tell us where we are as a team. I did not think it was going to be great. But I also did not think it was going to be this bad. I sit and watch these other teams continually progress as we seem to continually regress. I see Coach Mac during the games and he looks like a deer in head lights. Which is exactly how his teams plays. It sucks when you look forward to the season beginning. And only after the first game you can’t wait for the season to be over.

  11. Michael L. Jones says:

    One of the biggest problems is that Mac is content with getting four star specialty players but only 3 star linemen and it shows every time we go up against a power team. It shows embarrassingly as we get manhandled over and over again.

    And how do you put a brand new safety in the game and not tell him that they will run a play action long pass behind him right off the bat? How do you not do that? I like Shannon but whoever was in charge of coaching that kid. . hmm.. hmm. . hmm That’s the guy who got beat deep. . not the kid.

  12. M Palmer says:

    This is not acceptable…..year 3 is suppose to show the progress of this coaching staff. Our hopes were high: 3 quarterbacks that could possibly play. And oh yes, Coach says, we are going to Texas & beat Michigan !!!!
    Well, its seems like we are not progressing but regressing. We have a proven Coach as our Ambassador on campus.
    Time to get Spurrier really involved this team. At least let him take over the offense for the rest of this season.
    Something needs to change !!!!! Can’t watch this “mess” anymore & certainly won’t pay $$$$ to go to the Swamp !!!!!



    • CarlisleWolverine says:

      Michigan fan here. Went to the game. Saw Michigan’s offense from Nuss days at UM. No originality when he was in Ann Arbor. Florida could do better in OC department.

    • Mike says:

      No Imagination or common sense. I am far from being a football coach of any kind. But if you have a fast defense. Then use that against them. I have seen fast defenses get beat by calling quick release plays. The defense eventually ends up with their hands on their hips and growing frustration.

  14. 20/20 says:

    see regression. o line is awful and when you start to use psychology to make them play you are a desperate coach. hate seeing a train wreck in motion but…. Gators have zero discipline and those missing players are half the problem. no good solution.

  15. Gator Boys says:

    Can we please be a bit more patient? Recruiting is going very well. Lets not damage that with calls to fire the coach and lackluster cheering in The Swamp.

  16. Anything good? says:

    Is there any chance that Michigan is just a really good team? I know it was an ugly result but those guys were everywhere on D. The O-line was outmatched against what some are calling the best D-line in the country. Yes, play calling was bad. We never did anything to attack the edge or quick hit over the middle… that didn’t make sense. To me the defensive woes seemed like more of a personnel problem than a scheme problem, almost like we were missing a few playmakers.

    Here is what I did like:
    1. Franks showed a ton of poise and accuracy in the face of tons of pressure. He made a few throws to the outside that were in a perfect spot, but well covered. He looked much better than Zaire. Even showed some wheels on the scramble.
    2. The defense was decent early but we just didn’t have the depth (again, missing some guys?) to keep it up for 4 quarters. Not crazy about the chunk plays given up on 3rd and longs but they created some favorable situations and made some important stops after sudden change.

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