Gators Can't Find a Way to Win

For a few seconds after Florida's 10-7 loss to Mississippi State Saturday night, the door to the pressroom swung open. In poured the sound of Bulldog fans singing their fight song from the nearby southeast corner of the end zone after pulling the upset. Florida head coach Urban Meyer stopped in the middle of answering a question to take some time and regroup.

He fought off his true emotions and pushed through for the rest of the interview.

Urban Meyer's frustration seemed to center around multiple areas, as he repeated that the team "just has to get better" over the bye week. Blame can be thrown to multiple areas of the team and coaching staff, but there are some things that can't be coached into a player.

The knack for making a game-winning play is one of them.

"Find a way to win a game," Meyer said of what he was most disappointed about his team not doing. "We've won a lot of games around here when guys make a play here or make a play there to win the game. If you look back, there have been some big wins around here where a guy stepped up and made a play. We just have to do that, and right now we're not."

That isn't to discredit the multiple other issues his Florida team is dealing with after losing their third straight game.

"We're not very good," Meyer said. "We've got to get some guys healthy. We were down to zero backs at one point today. We're not very good right now."

INJURY REPORT: Jeff Demps wasn't expected to play, but he came into the game as it became clear it would be no easy victory. He fought through a foot sprain to record 43 yards on eight touches. Mike Gillislee played with a sprained foot.

Kickoff specialist Brad Phillips was injured and kept out of the game. Andre Debose and Jaye Howard suffered ankle sprains. Jelani Jenkins came out of the game with a concussion.

The injuries to playmakers is beginning to remind Meyer of the 2005 season when his team struggled to find healthy wide receivers to play. This time, the position struggling with health is running back.

"We went through a four week period there where it was dead in the water (in 2005)," Meyer said. "We've got to throw and catch better."

CHANGES TO BE MADE: The Gators wanted to sneak into their bye week with a win to rest their injuries and reassess the offense. Instead, they will being doing those two things on a three-game losing streak. Meyer said he will look hard into what the Florida offense is doing.

"I think so," Meyer said. "We have to be able to run the ball. The offensive line gets hammered pretty good, and whether it's deserving or not, there's enough blame to go everywhere. We have to have some run game."

RUNNING ISSUES: Running back came into the season as a talent-rich area where the Gators could play the best matchup. Saturday night, they were searching for healthy bodies. Omarius Hines had the third-most rushing attempts with six, as the offensive staff wanted to get the ball into his hands however necessary.

"We ran Omarius on a couple counter players because it's tough to get the run game going," Meyer said. "Omarius is a good runner. We're down to bare bones now."

MISSISSIPPI STATE PRESSURE: The Bulldogs blitzed for most of the night, and some Florida players said they blitzed every time Trey Burton was at quarterback.

"We missed a couple of protection checks," Meyer said. "You can point fingers all over the place. There was a missed assignment twice, and we missed a check one time."

STILL SEARCHING: The Gators continue to search for an offensive identity, now seven weeks into the season. The red zone offense struggled Saturday, which Meyer blamed on a lack of execution.

On Florida's last drive, which culminated in Chas Henry missing a 42-yard field goal for the tie, the Gators took no shots to the end zone to win the game. Instead, they marched down the field with short passes. When they got close enough to the end zone to go for the win, Brantley didn't take any shots for it. Meyer said the Bulldogs were dropping eight men in coverage, making it hard for Florida to complete a pass for a touchdown.

They were forced to lean on their field goal kicker, who has been doing it for only three games.

The Florida offense came out of the gates throwing the ball, but the first two drives were three-and-outs.

"We were going to come out throwing, but it just wasn't real successful," Meyer said. "We had to find ways to move the ball."

DEFENSIVE STRUGGLES: The Florida defense only gave up 10 points, but they couldn't get off the field in the second half when Mississippi State became one dimensional and only ran the ball. They threw one pass in the second half, and it was completed for minus-5 yards.

It was the Bulldogs running game that was difficult for Florida to stop, as they went for 212 yards on the ground.

"They plus you when they take that big quarterback and run right behind that offensive line," Meyer said. "They find ways to plus you. It's hard to stop. We've seen it around here for a while, and it's hard to stop when you single wing it."
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