Gator Offense Struggles in Tuscaloosa

The Florida offense marched down the field on their opening drive. After that, it wasn't pretty. They went 74 yards down the field on the first possession before Alabama intercepted a fourth down jump pass from Trey Burton. Instead of progressing after the first drive, the Gators managed only 207 yards the rest of the game.

"Early on, that was us," Florida offensive coordinator Steve Addazio said. "Later on, you're not in what you're trying to do. You're in a whole different deal now (playing from behind), just trying to throw the ball and make some plays at the end. You're out of who you are at that point in time."

After a reverse to Omarius Hines brought to Gators to the Alabama six-yard line during the first drive, Florida found itself in the red zone, where it experienced success all season. This time, they sputtered.

Emmanuel Moody carried for four yards to the two-yard line. The Gators then tried back-to-back plays to punch it in with Burton, but he couldn't do it. On fourth down, the Gators wanted to take the lead. The offense stayed on the field in the same heavy set as the previous two plays.

However, Burton tried the jump pass on fourth down to tight end Jordan Reed. It wasn't open. Alabama linebacker Nico Johnson intercepted it, and the Gators came out with no points. The fault came when Reed wasn't able to get off the line cleanly.

"He couldn't get separation," Addazio said. "It just didn't come together. That play is a lot like that. It's either really there, or it's not. It wasn't."

There wasn't hesitation on the Florida sideline when Burton was stopped on third down. The Florida coaches wanted a touchdown.

"Our mind was set, given the whole scenario," Addazio said. "We felt good about what we called, obviously. It didn't happen. We felt like it was the right time. We had been working on it and waiting for this opportunity. If you had that one again, call a different call."

After the interception, Alabama got into the end zone on its next three drives to push the Crimson Tide lead to 24-0 just over midway through the second quarter. The Gators would add a field goal before the half.

Despite the daunting task of overcoming a three-touchdown deficit, the Florida offensive coordinator still liked his team's chances.

"I still felt good at halftime," Addazio said. "I still felt good coming out in the second half and trying to get something moving and going. When you have no success and can't move the football that can be stymieing. That was not the case. You always felt like you had a shot to get back into this thing."

The Florida rushing attack was hindered because Jeff Demps was limited. He was not a fixture at practice all week because of a foot sprain, and the rust showed. There were multiple plays where Demps has kicked it into another gear earlier in the season, but that next gear wasn't there Saturday night.

"He wasn't himself," Addazio said. "It was the first time he was able to get anything done. He didn't practice all week. He gave us some good play, which was good for us, especially with Mike Gillislee getting dinged up."

There was one bad snap that trickled past quarterback John Brantley, but other wild snaps seemed to slow down handoffs and kept Brantley from dropping back smoothly. High snaps were an issue, but Addazio didn't believe they caused problems.

"That's the name of the shotgun game," Addazio said. "It's no different than it's ever been here. It's always been that way. They're not all going to be right on the money when you're driving off the ball like that."

The process of moving on begins when the Gators return to practice Sunday night. They will host an undefeated LSU team at home next Saturday night, and the Florida goals of a berth in the SEC Championship game are still alive.

"What we have to do is take the positives," Addazio said. "We've got to build on things we didn't do well. We've got to get back to work right away and get ready for a big game in The Swamp Saturday."
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