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November 10, 2013

Upon Further Review: Make it four in a row



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    Here are a dozen observations from Florida's 34-17 loss to SEC East opponent Vanderbilt.

    OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
    Redshirt junior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar caught six passes for 77 yards, and if redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy was more accurate with the football, Dunbar likely would have had two more receptions and a touchdown on the afternoon. Dunbar got separation and looked better than he has in weeks, but Murphy badly missed him three separate times on the afternoon, two of which resulted in interceptions.

    DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
    Florida failed to register a turnover in the game after doing so in 19-straight contests, so there was no big play to default to here. Senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs had a couple nice tackles for loss in the contest and did his best to help hold Vanderbilt to just 2.9 yards per carry.

    UNSUNG HERO OF THE GAME
    Senior WR Solomon Patton only had three receptions for 17 yards, but he looked exceedingly fast in the return game. He was an ankle tackle away from breaking a kickoff return touchdown and powered through some big hits on another attempt to gain extra yardage.

    STAT LINE OF THE GAME
    7.6, which refers to Murphy's quarterback rating. Murphy threw the ball 46 times, completed nearly two-thirds of his passes (30) and amassed 305 yards on Saturday, all great statistics in their own right. Unfortunately, he committed four costly turnovers on the afternoon (three interceptions) and put the Gators in such a big hole with his mistakes that it was too tough for them to dig out of - especially with the defense not playing up to snuff.

    ON THE RISE
    Freshman WR Ahmad Fulwood came through with three receptions - two for first downs and a third that will find a place later in this breakdown. He has continued to come on through the season despite his lack of production and could definitely be in a starting role next year.

    ON THE BUBBLE
    Despite leading the Gators with 10 tackles (five solo, one for loss), sophomore linebacker Antonio Morrison continues to miss tons of playmaking opportunities and is constantly out of place on defense. Considering head coach Will Muschamp expects his middle linebackers to be coordinators on the field - and Florida's defense has been struggling mightily in recent weeks - even more blame goes on Morrison's shoulders. Simply put, he has not lived up to the hype. Not one bit.

    SURPRISING
    The Gators completed passes to 11 players. I stopped checking after going through the 2006 season because it was tedious with little long-term payoff, but it is the first time that has happened since at least that year. Florida burned the redshirt of freshman WR Chris Thompson in the process.

    DISAPPOINTING
    On homecoming with bowl hopes, a 22-game series winning streak and any semblance of having a positive outcome to their season on the line, the Gators folded and hit rock bottom. It a disaster in every sense of the word. UF did not win a single quarter on Saturday and once again got beat at its own game as it was unable to stop the run or get off the field on defense when necessary. It was an embarrassment to say the least.

    PLAY OF THE GAME
    With 7:40 left in the game, a Vanderbilt defensive back made a great play on a ball thrown into the end zone for Fulwood. However, rather than the batted ball hitting the ground and falling incomplete, it ricocheted off the defender's cleat and back into the air. Fulwood, with both feet in the end zone, reached out to grab the ball from out of bounds, securing it for the touchdown.

    THE GOOD NEWS
    There is none. The season's almost over. There you go.

    THE BAD NEWS
    Florida lost its first game to Vanderbilt since 1988, breaking a 22-game winning streak. The Commodores beat the Gators in Gainesville for the first time since 1945. UF lost to unranked opponents in consecutive weeks for the first time since 1988. Unless Florida somehow registers one of the biggest upsets of the 2013 season - knocking off either South Carolina or Florida State - the Gators will not qualify for a bowl for the first time in 23 years while finishing below .500 for the first time since 1979 (0-10-1, 0-6 SEC).

    A LOOK AHEAD
    Florida goes back on the road to face South Carolina, a team seething for revenge after falling 44-11 to the Gators in The Swamp. The Gamecocks must also win to keep hope alive for reaching the SEC Championship. USC is one game behind Missouri but holds the tiebreaker after pulling off a 27-24 overtime victory on Oct. 25.


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