There is one truth in the Gator Nation right now and that is this: Florida is 1-4 in the SEC for the first time since the 1948 team.
Oh, I am aware that the 1979 team didn’t win a conference game or any other kind of game for that matter and the 1971 team went 1-6 by winning its final SEC game of the season.
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They could still be in the argument for the Gators’ worst SEC season ever.
Because no Florida fans in 74 years have grabbed a newspaper (do those even exist anymore?) and looked at the SEC standings and seen 1-4 next to Florida.
(It will be a battle of two 1-4 teams next Saturday, but that’s for later in the week).
How did we get here and can Florida climb out of this hole? The Sunday Hash looks into these matters.
Kirby Smart called it “probably the drive of the year so far”
Florida had all of the momentum with 17 straight points and Georgia was again stymied on a kickoff return at the 22. Florida chose to substitute along the defensive line and Georgia has coaches, too. So, they ran the ball down the throat of the Gators. One pass, six runs, 78 yards, one gut-wrenching touchdown. Georgia ran for 59 yards on the drive. “They answered the bell,” Smart said.
And that is another truth
Florida played hard and rallied to get back into a game the way the Gators have all season, but could not get the big stop because Georgia has better players who have been seasoned over time.
“Tons of respect for the football team that Georgia has,” Billy Napier said. “There’s no hiding that. They have a fantastic team, really good players, and they’re well-coached. We learned a lot about what we need to do to get our program to where it can be competitive against a team like that.”
OK, but it seems to be taking a long time
Gator fans are losing their patience because this was a bad stretch of three days for Florida’s faithful. The Cormani McClain snub didn’t help and then Georgia went up 28-3 and won by 22. Hey, the Gators covered the spread if you got it at 22.5. Yikes, is that where Florida is?
I thought Anthony Richardson played with a lot of fire…
… especially in the second half, but Florida’s basically running the same five or six plays over and over again. You would think that in a game like this, the Gators would have something to spring on Georgia. The bootleg pass has been scouted to death.
In the first half, Richardson almost never kept the ball and the defense was swarming on Florida ball carriers, which is how UF rushed for a measly 13 yards.
And this is still a defense that allowed 42 points and 555 yards
Yes, there were the three gained turnovers on great plays that got Florida back into the game. And I know the roster isn’t very good on that side of the ball. But should it be so bad that the Gators have a chance to be only the second team in school history to allow more than 400 yards a game? I think not. I don’t think the players are THAT bad, you know, 429.3 yards a game bad.
But they are
A team that has Gervon Dexter, Brenton Cox, Ventrell Miller, et al., has allowed four teams to rush for more than 200 yards in a game this season and three teams to throw for more than 300 yards (all three were losses). Florida has now allowed 19 rushing touchdowns and has a good shot at breaking the all-time record of 22 set in 1971. This is certainly going to be a team that shatters a lot of records and not in a good way.
And the last thing a bad defense needs is a fluke play for a long touchdown
But if it weren’t for bad luck, they’d have no luck at all and Brock Bowers caught a pass that was well-defended by Amari Burney and turned it into an easy six points.
“I was kind of surprised I caught it,” Bowers said. “I really didn’t see it until the defender hit it with his hand. Then it was like things went into slow motion. It’s like the ball was just hanging there. When I caught it, I looked up at the scoreboard and saw that no one was around me, so I just started running.” Good for you.
I don’t know if the fanbase is getting tired of Napier’s postgame remarks
It seems repetitive, but it seems clear that he is pounding themes home for the future and can’t get there without some things changing in the present.
“How can we build on ourselves as a team and as an organization?” he said. “Just how can we build on that and be better from all the mistakes, just everything that happened.” You tell me because I’m not seeing it get any better.
I do see a team that won’t quit, which is an admirable trait
Napier talked Saturday about guys playing for each other, a common theme for coaches to use but one that did not work a year ago.
“I told the players in the locker room just now, ‘As long as I’m coaching here, we are going to play this game for the people that we play it with,’ Napier said. “I think that that takes time to develop. I think that we are getting somewhere in that regard.”
Can you speed it up there bro? This season is getting away from you.
There was a moment on the perfect pass to a wide-open Xzavier Henderson…
… where I was a little stunned that this was really a game. “The call we had there was basically like a quick out to Ricky [Pearsall] and I was looking to throw that, but I saw the corner squat, and I just knew the hole-shot was going to be there eventually,” Richardson said.
And so, this is it
A 4-4 record with the final third of the season looming. No game looks unwinnable and yet all of them look losable when your defense can’t stop anybody. One day, we may look back on this and laugh and laugh about the time Napier took over and struggled his first season, kind of the way Alabama and Georgia fans laugh at their first seasons under Nick Saban and Kirby Smart.
So, I challenge the Gators…
… the coaches, players and 800 support staff members, to build some momentum in these last four games. The teams they face have a combined record of 16-16. Those teams have a record of 6-14 in their respective conferences. Napier is trying to build a culture and a roster. Everyone else just wants to see Florida win some games.