Brantley Looking for Four Quarters

Four quarters will get you a dollar and could also lead to a needed win against a good opponent for these Florida Gators. There have been times in the last three losses by the Gators when they looked like the better team on the field and in each of their last three losses they finished weak in the last quarter. There are many reasons why these things may be happening, but all of that is moot.

Florida trailed Auburn on October 15 by a score of 7-6 as the fourth quarter started. There were quite a few chances for Florida to take a lead and change the complexion of the game but they failed to do so. Then the Tigers scored 10 points in the fourth quarter after a couple of Gator miscues.

Two weeks later, Florida traveled to Jacksonville to take on Georgia. The Gators built a 17-3 lead that went to 17-10 at halftime after a turnover and quick score by Georgia right before the intermission. As the fourth quarter began, Florida still held a slight 20-17 lead, but Georgia scored early in the quarter and dominated the final period winning 24-20.

Saturday, Florida got off to a slow start and South Carolina jumped to a 14-3 lead early. After halftime, the Gators put up a valiant fight and with a two point conversion could have tied the score 14-14 just a few minutes into the fourth quarter. But, again, these Gators folded under the pressure. South Carolina had two drives of 48 and 37 yards, one that resulted in a field goal, and they were able to finish strong, unlike Florida has done in any of their five losses this year.

It isn't just the offense, or just the defense not finishing. One could say that poor offensive play lately has led to the defense being manipulated at will late in the games due to being worn out. One could say that injuries have played a big part, which is very true.

At this point, it doesn't matter. Whoever is left standing and able to play has to help this Gator team finish some games.

One thing seems to remain constant. The Florida players have stayed a tight bunch and not willing to lay the blame on anyone else. That was reiterated after the loss to South Carolina by senior quarterback John Brantley.

"It was a rough game, but no one's fault," he said. "We just have to stick together and have to finish strong. We didn't finish like we wanted to today, we just have to forget about it and move on."

It was clear the message that Florida head coach Will Muschamp sent to his players after the game and that message was reiterated by more than Brantley.

"We've had two great weeks of practice, this last week was phenomenal," Brantley said. "We just have to do better on Saturdays. We just have to be able finish. That has been the problem. These next two games we have to stress the fact that we have to finish."

Florida really looked like a different team to start the second half. Down 14-3 and only able to muster 85 yards in the opening half, the gators came out strong in the third set.

"We always want to start out fast and put points on the board, but when it doesn't happen we have to go out in the second half and start strong," he said before calling back to the other theme of the last six weeks. "We started very strong, but didn't finish it off.

The Gators have also had their issues when they have gotten into the red zone. Field goal kicker Caleb Sturgis is on a great pace to set some records hitting 19 of 21 on the year, but the gators would like to rely less on him and put the ball in the end zone.

Saturday, the gators got to the three yard line in the first quarter and to the six yard line in the third quarter before having to settle for field goals. Punching either one of those in may have changed the total complexion of the ball game.

"It is very frustrating," Brantley said of the missed touchdown opportunities. "We want to finish the game strong, but it starts with finishing drives. You know you have your chances and with close games like this just one or two plays can be the difference."

This team was never going to be dominating this season. But they just haven't been able to help themselves when the opportunities are there to take something from the opposition. Most of the time it is about finishing strong.

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