Florida had defense at all levels and a nice passing game to blow past Arkansas, 30-10, Saturday night in the Swamp. And, for once, it wasn't about the running game or time of possession.
The Razorbacks used the great Florida speed in the front as an advantage for one impressive touchdown drive to take a 7-0 lead. They dodged Brandon Allen's first turnover with a blocked field goal, but fell behind on his pick six.
It fell apart when a bobbled punt was judged to be fair catch interference with 1:42 left in the first half, a call that negated Jarrett Lake's fumble recovery at the Florida 15-yard line.
The Gators scored on that possession on a 53-yard pass with 20 seconds left in the half, then opened the second half with a 75-yard march culminated on a similar 38-yard pass play. Both were against UA cornerback Tevin Mitchel, with missed tackles behind him by his teammates.
Arkansas totaled 120 yards in the first quarter and held a slight advantage in time of possession for most of the first half, but the Gators brought an extra defender in the box and an assortment of blitzes to hammer Allen the rest of the way. There were two personal fouls for late hits, seven quarterback hurries and two sacks, both with hits squarely in the middle of his back.
Allen met the media with a bloody right hand and kept it in his pocket most of the time, but it was hard to miss the blood and bruise to several fingers of his throwing hand.
Allen brushed it off as a "jammed finger" and "no big deal," but head coach Bret Bielema said his quarterback's problem was mainly a "tender shoulder," a reference to the sprain and bruise that sidelined him for the Rutgers game.
All connected to the Arkansas offense -- starting with Bielema -- spoke of the hits that Allen took throughout the game and the drops by the wide receivers. Bielema said Tuesday practice would focus on "catching the ball. That sounds like the most simple thing."
Bielema, noting that the previous staff recruited "a lot of guys who are supposed to be able to catch the ball. Some were low or behind, but they have to catch them."
Defensive end Chris Smith said Bielema's post-game talk to the team focused on mental mistakes and errors.
"The biggest thing, don't beat yourself," Smith said. "Arkansas can't beat Arkansas. We have to minimize our mistakes. I'm not speaking about playing perfect, but cutting down on a lot of errors.
"Give Florida credit. They came out and made their plays. But we made too many erros."
Allen took the blame.
"They got to us a couple of times with a corner blitz (on the back side) and I have to see that," Allen said. "Some things got away from me. The pick six, that's on me.
"I wasn't accurate. I was low, high. I've got to put it where they can catch it. The drops were on me because of the places I put the ball. They were going to be tough catches and I have to be more accurate."
Allen said the noise from the home crowd of 90,043 wasn't a factor.
"We didn't have any communication problems," Allen said. "We did fine with that.
"The problem was with the Florida defense. We started out running the ball, but they brought more pressures and more in the box. They have very good defensive backs. Give credit to them there."
Fullback Kiero Small said the offense did not like seeing Allen on the ground.
"That's not good," Small said. "He got up and played through it. He showed toughness, but we have to keep him standing. Next game, we can't let a defense hit him like that."
Bielema and players thought momentum was a factor, but none blamed the SEC crew led by referee Hubert Owens. Bielema said the call on the fumbled punt late in the half was correct.
"I didn't complain because I knew it was correct," Bielema said. "The rule, it's got to go to the ground to be a muff. He is allowed to recover it when it's muffed in the air. I know that rule."
Allen said, "It's a momentum swing, but it was the correct call and we all knew the rule. Momentum changed to their side after the pick six and we never did anything to change it. That's on us."
Bielema was disappointed in the tackling, noting play in the secondary was sometimes "way too soft. Tevin was reaching on one and the second one he broke inside instead of outside."
Defensive end Trey Flowers said the Hogs thought they "could beat their offensive line," but they couldn't win many chases with quarterback Tyler Murphy.
"We did get through to him, but we couldn't get him down," Flowers said. "We let him get through us some, too, when we came through too fast. Give him credit."
The protection issues were two fold.
"They came with four, then five and then six," Bielema said. "They gave us some stunts. Then there got to a point that they knew we were in a throwing game and the linemen pinned back there ears and came after the quarterback. We've got to protect the quarterback but we had too many balls on the ground."
Allen said simply "a lot of things didn't go our way and there are a lot of things I'd like to do over. I'd like to have the pick six back and I'm not real proud of my performance."
The injury report was long. Cornerback Will Hines broke his arm and was on the way to the Gainesville hospital "for a set," Bielema said. Center Travis Swanson sustained what Bielema believed was a "slight MCL" tear in his left knee. Tight end Hunter Henry and running back Jonathan Williams both had minor knee injuries, too.
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