Georgia ended the Gators three-game winning streak over the Bulldogs in convincing fashion on Saturday. Here is the Florida report card:
Rushing Offense: C-
This was the better of the two Florida offensive units, but given the struggles of the passing game, that isn’t saying much. The stats don’t look awful – Florida rushed for 183 yards on the day – but the truth is that the rushing game didn’t really become effective until the contest was over and it only excelled when Georgia started bringing in their backups on defense.
The key to the struggle was the Gators first two series. By the time Florida had achieved a first down on their third offensive possession, Georgia was already up 21-0. Against an offense as anemic as this one in terms of its ability to score points, that is always going to be an impossible mountain to overcome. Some of the play calling early really hamstrung the Gators, but the running game needed to break something to get the team some momentum and that never happened.
Passing Offense: F
Florida cannot win against any team with an even passable offense because the Gators simply cannot throw the ball.
The first series of this game was emblematic of everything that is wrong with the Gators offense. A false start penalty on the first play of the game from scrimmage immediately handicapped an offense that isn’t going anywhere anyway. A two-yard run was followed by an ugly looking incomplete pass on second down. Then, on third down with 13 yards to the sticks, Feleipe Franks dropped back and was promptly sacked by Lorenzo Carter for a six-yard loss. Five plays later the Bulldogs were in the end zone.
Franks was miserable yet again. He was 7-of-19 for just 30 yards passing. He also threw a pick-six on the Gators second offensive possession and finished with a QBR of 2.5. Malik Zaire was a little better in relief, though it must be noted he was playing against Georgia’s underclassmen and backups. Unless you are Navy you are not going to win with just 66 yards passing.
Rushing Defense: F
The Florida defense has been overachieving all season long. At some point, they were bound to crack and with the struggles the offense has been facing the end result was not going to be pretty.
Against Georgia, the rushing defense cracked, then completely fell apart.
The Bulldogs rushed for almost 200 yards (292 to be exact) on 35 carries. Their deep stable of backs also scored four times on the ground. Nick Chubb did most of the heavy lifting as he rushed for 77 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, but it was Sony Michel wielding the dagger that took Florida down.
Michel rushed for 137 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Those stats are damaging enough, but Michel achieved those numbers on just six carries. His 74-yard touchdown burst for the Bulldogs third score – where he burst through the line and burned most of the Gators defense – was the one that ended the game.
Passing Defense: C
The passing defense was decent enough, but mainly because Georgia rarely needed to throw the ball to move the chains. Freshman quarterback Jake Fromm was the big question mark coming into this one as it was thought that the Gators pass rush might be able to get to the Georgia passer and force him into mistakes. It was a solid theory, but not a theory that could be acted upon as Fromm only threw seven passes all game.
Fromm was able to take a backseat to the Georgia rushing attack and pick his moments. His touchdown pass to Javon Wims was a relatively simple one and overall he completed 4-of-7 for 101 yards with a touchdown and an interception. This goes to show that the idea Florida had was right, but that when a team builds a 21-point lead so early, their need to pass the ball and expose a weakness in their offense disappears/
Special Teams: C
A big special teams play might have ignited some interest back into this one, but it would have had to happen early in the first half and no one came through. The placekicking game was an afterthought – Eddy Pineiro attempted (and made) just one extra point – and nothing of interest came out of the return game.
On the flip side though, perhaps the best single performance of the day by a Florida player was put together by punter Johnny Townsend. Townsend punted seven times for 381 yards, never outkicking his coverage and allowing just 24 total yards in returns. Townsend also boomed a 70-yard punt, flipping field position on the Bulldogs.
Jim McElwain is now officially a lame duck coach. Infighting during the week meant that the coach needed a big win here, but instead, Florida showed up with a whimper and the game was over well before halftime. McElwain’s inability to give Florida a viable option at the quarterback position (what was the point in the Malik Zaire transfer at this point?) means that the Gators defense has to play perfect football and even that might not be enough for the team to win. Bad decisions before the game, bad decisions during the game, and a bad attitude, in general, make this one of the worst coaching performances of the season in college football.