Offense 'Non-Functional' in Loss to Carolina

The Florida offense struggled from start to finish Saturday night. The issues were only in the first quarter in recent games, but against South Carolina, they occurred the entire game. The 226 yards of offense were even higher than reality because South Carolina gave the Gators underneath throws as they desperately tried to make a late comeback.

Florida head coach Urban Meyer called the offense "non-functional." That might have been a compliment considering the way it looked.

There weren't any immediate answers from the head coach about why the offense struggled.

"If I had an answer for that, then we wouldn't have struggled," Meyer said.

The Gamecocks came into Saturday night with the best run defense in the SEC and the worst pass defense. Instead of exploiting that with passes down the field, Florida came out of the gates running the ball and throwing the ball side-to-side.

"They were blitzing us a lot early, but there certainly was in the game plan to try to go down the field early," Meyer said. "We just didn't execute."

The heavy blitz packages came up the middle, giving the Gators two options on offense. South Carolina blitzed like they did in previous games, but Florida came into it with a game plan to counteract the pressure. It just didn't work.

"They were bringing interior pressure, so you either run option football or try to put contain on it," Meyer said. "We tried to bring contain. We had some guys open, it's just balls were deflected."

The Gamecocks stuffed Florida's run game and horizontal passes on the early downs, forcing long third-down situations. When that happened, there were multiple times where Florida receivers caught the ball well short of the first-down marker, instead of even having a chance to pick up the first down.

"They dropped eight," Meyer said. "They did a nice job of that. They showed that on film, too. That means they only rush three, so they're just sitting back and you have to work underneath. It's just a mess. You've got to stay out of three-and-long."

It's nothing new for the opposing defense to drop eight in coverage. It's also not new for them to blitz on early downs. The execution hasn't been there when those situations continue to occur.

When asked why the adjustments haven't been made, Meyer wasn't sure.

"That's a good question," Meyer said. "I'm not prepared to answer that at this moment. I will be."

Despite John Brantley's ineffectiveness at quarterback, he still took a majority of the snaps. He went 16-of-31 for 130 yards and one interception. After a big week at Vanderbilt last weekend, Jordan Reed seemed like an afterthought. He had eight rushes and went 3-of-7 for 46 yards and a touchdown.

"Jordan's not functional at everything yet at quarterback," Meyer said. "We were going to be in the throwing game coming back. We were trying to go win that game."

Meyer wasn't sure how Brantley played because he hadn't evaluated individual performances yet.

Meyer called for a blue out from the fans and for an atmosphere that "would go down in the books." After Andre Debose opened the game with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, it looked like his team would respond with effort worthy to go down in the books as well.

The emphasis he put on the game and all that was at stake makes it difficult for Meyer to pick out even the most disappointing part of the game.

"It's hard for me to start," Meyer said. "It would probably take some in-depth thought, and I'm not prepared to do that."

The defense allowed 239 yards of rushing, with 215 yards and three touchdowns coming from freshman running back Marcus Lattimore. They weren't able to stop the run, but Meyer doesn't put all blame on the defense.

South Carolina controlled the ball for 40:46 during the game, keeping the Florida defense on the field for too long.

"We were on the field all night," Meyer said. "That kid's a good back, but we've got to help that defense out a little bit. We didn't help them on offense."

The difficulty for the coaching staff now becomes keeping the team together. Their goal of playing for an SEC Championship in Atlanta is over, so it will be about playing together for a group of seniors that have been here for plenty of successful seasons.

"I asked those guys to stick together," Meyer said. "I'm emotional about our seniors because I love those guys. They've made Florida football over the past few years be some powerful stuff. I just want to make sure we do the best we can for (the seniors).

"You see it all over football where a team disintegrates. I can't let that happen."
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