Pouncey: 'We've got to Stay Together'

Mike Pouncey sat at the podium after Saturday's 10-7 loss to Mississippi State and could only wonder. After a successful career at Lakeland High School and playing for two SEC Championships in three years at Florida, he hit the low point of his football career with the loss to the Bulldogs.

"I can't remember if I've ever lost three games in my whole life," Michael Pouncey said. "This is one of the toughest times in my life. I'm going to talk to my teammates who are close to me, and we're going to stick together to get through this one."

The loss doesn't hurt only because of the toll it takes on him. Pouncey knows exactly where the blame from most fans has turned to offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio.

"It sucks because a lot of people think it's Coach Addazio's play calling, but it's definitely not that," Pouncey said. "He's calling the best plays that are there for us. We've just got to get better."

Pouncey sees play calls that are similar to what the Florida offense has used in recent years. It's the lack of healthy playmakers that has hurt the offense. With almost the entire running back position limited Saturday night, wide receiver Omarius Hines was forced to run the ball six times.

Until the playmakers get healthy, younger players have to carry the load.

"Guys have to step up and make plays," Pouncey said. "It's not the execution and it's definitely not the play calling because the play calls are there. We've got to get the players back that we need to play."

Florida went 1-for-3 in the red zone, scoring one touchdown on an option pitch to Hines. The red zone offense started the season being efficient, but it has tailed off in conference play.

"We practice on that more than I think any team in the nation," Pouncey said. "We just aren't executing it. We work on it every day. It's something that we're struggling at."

The offensive line gave up three sacks, and they have now given up six sacks in the last two weeks. Through the first four weeks of the season, they only allowed five sacks. The added pressure is coming because opposing teams have decided to blitz the Gators on almost every play.

The lack of a home run threat in the offense makes it possible for opposing defenses to pressure quarterback John Brantley, because there isn't much of a risk for the big play to be completed. However, the blitz package Mississippi State used was different.

"They had a good plan," Pouncey said. "Every time Trey was at quarterback, they blitzed everybody. They knew he was running the ball, and they did a great job of it."

The offense put up 361 yards, but they showed progress in the second half. They marched down the field before Jeff Demps fumbled with eight minutes remaining and the Gators in the red zone.

Then, they pushed the ball down the field for Chas Henry to attempt a game-tying field goal. He missed the 42-yard attempt, but the Florida players understand he was forced into a position that he shouldn't have been. With Caleb Sturgis out, Henry was kicking in his third career game.

"We're behind Chas 100 percent," Pouncey said. "I haven't said anything to him other than to keep his head up because we've got his back. We're not pointing fingers at anybody."

The temptation for any team with three-straight losses would be to point fingers. Pouncey has been called the senior leader of this team, and he will make sure it doesn't happen.

"I'm not worried about it at all," Pouncey said. "We've got to fight through adversity. We've got to stay together as a team, and we'll get a win."
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