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November 3, 2013
Here are a dozen observations from Florida's 23-20 loss to SEC East rival Georgia.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy did what he could on Saturday. Though he only completed 13-of-29 passes for 174 yards, Murphy did not turn the ball over and was also effective on the ground, taking consecutive carries for 25 and 14 yards while finding the end zone on the latter run. No player truly stood out for the Gators offensively, but Murphy certainly did what he could throughout the contest.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Making one of the most heady plays this season was enough to earn redshirt junior nose tackle Leon Orr the honor this week. On 2nd-and-12 from Georgia's 28-yard line, QB Aaron Murray threw a lateral that was dropped. Orr never stopped his pursuit on the play, picked up the ball and registered the only turnover of the game. Florida found the end zone just two plays later when redshirt junior running back Mack Brown carried it in from five yards out.
UNSUNG HERO OF THE GAME
True freshman punter Johnny Townsend did not boom the ball every time he kicked it, but he did pin the Bulldogs inside their 20-yard line thrice on the afternoon and likely would have done so again had head coach Will Muschamp decided to punt at the end of the first half. Townsend even downed one ball inside the five-yard line, which led to the Gators' play of the game (see below).
STAT LINE OF THE GAME
7-of-12 (.583), which refers to Georgia's third down efficiency. The Bulldogs were only converting 36 percent of their third down opportunities heading into Saturday's game and went up against a Gators defense that was ranked first in the SEC, only allowing teams to convert on that down at a 27 percent rate. Florida gave up third downs at double that rate on Saturday including four on Georgia's game-ending drive that lasted 8:17.
ON THE RISE
Freshman running back Kelvin Taylor did not have an explosive day by any means, but UGA did concentrate on stopping the run and limiting his effectiveness. Taylor took 20 carries for 76 yards and was often one cut away from a couple of bigger gains. As he matures and gains experience playing football at this level, those explosive runs should come.
ON THE BUBBLE
The Gators' offensive line, surprisingly, provided more protection and better run blocking than it has in a while. Unfortunately, Florida's play calling, especially during important game situations, continued to be mystifying. From the direct snap play with senior wide receiver Trey Burton that slowed down a Gators offense that was moving well in the second half, to calling plays with mostly short routes when Florida needed big chunks of yardage, to running the option and other rushing plays to the short side of the field on an all-too-frequent basis, Pease continued to make mistakes that one would not expect from an experienced offensive mind.
The Gators threw the ball downfield. Redshirt junior wideout Quinton Dunbar caught an 83-yard reception on Florida's first drive of the game, the longest since one of the same distance back in Sept. 2011 against UAB.
For any steps Florida took forward during the bye week, the Gators looked like the same undisciplined and mistake-riddled team. Penalties committed at inopportune times killed Florida on both sides of the ball, and the Gators shot themselves in the foot way too many times on defense, especially in the first half and on the final drive of the game.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Though Orr's fumble recovery changed the momentum of the game, junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy forcing a safety by sacking Murray in the end zone on a corner blitz gave the Gators a great boost of energy and the feeling that they could actually come back and win the game. Florida came back and scored a touchdown following the punt, making Purifoy's sack the start of a 10-point swing for UF.
THE GOOD NEWS
There is none.
THE BAD NEWS
The Gators are 4-4, no longer in the SEC East race and have little left to play for going forward. Florida must try to win two games to finish at .500 and secure a spot in a bowl game.
The news is equally bad for Muschamp, who is now 0-3 against Georgia, 0-7 all-time in the Florida-Georgia series (0-4 as a player) and just 5-7 against UF's traditional rivals including UGA, Florida State, LSU, Miami and Tennessee (with three of those five victories coming against UT). Florida has also failed to be a resilient team under Muschamp, finishing games 8-8 when an opponent scores first and 4-11 when tied or trailing at the half.
A LOOK AHEAD
The Gators host the Vanderbilt Commodores next Saturday and are looking to extend their winning streak against the visitors to 23-straight games. Florida has beaten Vanderbilt in 21-straight seasons (since 1992) and 22 consecutive times overall. A win over the 'Dores would go a long way to securing bowl eligibility for the Gators, which also have Georgia Southern remaining on their schedule. Earning a victory against either South Carolina or Florida State will be an incredibly tough task for Florida.