Turnovers cost Florida

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- The Gators thrived at possessing the ball during the 2012 season, but on Saturday at Sun Life Stadium, that success was a distant memory. Florida fumbled three times and threw two interceptions. The Gators outgained Miami by 201 yards and dominated time of possession but did themselves in by turning the ball over.

"You can't turn it over five times and go 1-for-6 in the red zone scoring touchdowns," Florida head coach Will Muschamp said. "We moved the ball. I thought we mixed the run and pass well. You cannot continue to shoot yourself in the foot and give someone else an opportunity, especially in the road. We gave them too much momentum early."

The ball security issue is a new one for the Florida team as it dominated that category last year. Jeff Driskel threw the ball 245 times in 2012 and was intercepted just five times. There were points where he held onto the ball too long and aided the defense's pass rush, which he did again on Saturday.

Other times, Driskel was able to avoid the rush, but still made errant throws, including one across his body in the end zone on 3rd and goal from the Miami 11-yard line.

"We just need to get rid of the football in those situations," Muschamp said. "You can't throw into traffic in the red zone. You just can't do it."

Driskel was able to stretch the field at times, hitting Solomon Patton for 46 yards down the field. Patton finished the game with six catches for 118 yards and a touchdown. Driskel struggled with other reads and took too long to get the football out of his hand.

Regardless of what he did, it all came down to the inability to hold onto the football for the Florida offense.

"Ball security," Muschamp said. "(Driskel) hit some balls down the field and did some nice things in the run game, but you can't have the turnovers in the red zone. You can't do that. You can't make those decisions. We can't afford to take points off the board in those situations."

The Gators also left four points on the field because of decisions made by the coaching staff. Florida elected to go for two points instead of kicking an extra point after its first touchdown. It failed, but Muschamp didn't back down from his decision to try for it.

"We had the look we wanted," Muschamp said. "We block it right, we're going to get two points. We didn't block it right. I'd do it again. There's a lot of football to play in that situation."

Midway through the second quarter, Florida elected to go for it on 4th and 1 from the Miami 16-yard line. Driskel decided to run the quarterback sneak into the loaded middle of the Miami defense, even though Muschamp said he had the option to check out of the play.

Going for the first down in that situation cost the Gators from a shot at three points.

"I felt like we needed to," Muschamp said. "We weren't stopping them defensively at that time. We felt like we needed to put the ball in the end zone."

The Florida head coach said it had nothing to do with his confidence in redshirt freshman kicker Austin Hardin.

"I have total confidence. I just felt like in that situation -- we ain't played worth a dang on defense. We had been on the field a lot. We needed to extend the drive."

INJURY REPORT: Left tackle D.J. Humphries felt soreness in his MCL at halftime and was kept from playing in the second half. Right tackle Tyler Moore hurt his ankle, but the severity was unknown. He left the stadium on crutches and in a walking boot.

Cornerback Marcus Roberson strained his knee, but Muschamp didn't believe it was serious.

UNHAPPY WITH THE DEFENSE: The Florida defense played well in the second half, but it was the first quarter performance that had Muschamp steamed. The Gators turned the ball over on their first possession, and instead of aiding the offense, the Florida defense let Miami march down the field to take an early lead.

"We gave them way too much momentum early in the game," Muschamp said. "We got out of sorts with our substitutions and communications. We settled down as the game went on and got a big play. But when you give a team belief -- that's what we did defensively.

"We should've played much better in the game. Very disappointed in the first two series. Alignment, communication, assignment -- you name it, we didn't do it very well in the first series. We got very discombobulated defensively."

The Gators prepared for the deep ball from Miami quarterback Stephen Morris. He hit Phillip Dorsett for a 52-yard touchdown to give Miami a 14-6 lead on a busted coverage that the Gators walked through multiple times in practice.

"The big play shouldn't have been there," Muschamp said. "That's something we repped over and over again in practice. Something we've done very well since they've been here. We prepared for it."

RUN GAME: The Gators rushed for just 2.8 yards per carry, totaling 122 yards on 44 attempts. Some of that was attributed to the offensive line injuries. Max Garcia also dealt with an injury but returned to the game.

"We had to makeshift some guys there," Muschamp said. You need to have some continuity up there, but we need to play better and execute better."

Matt Jones returned and started, totaling 18 carries for 47 yards. He fumbled on the first drive, giving the Hurricanes the ball and momentum before their first touchdown.

"He ran well for the first game back," Muschamp said. "The fumble, we need to hold onto the ball but it was a good tackle on their part. He put his head on the ball. We've given Matt plenty of contact going into that situation."

REBOUNDING: The Gators now have two weeks before hosting Tennessee on September 21. The bye week comes at a good time for Florida because of the injuries, but Muschamp noted that he wanted to team to get back on the field as soon as possible.

He isn't worried about the maturity of his team.

"They'll be fine," Muschamp said. "We've got a good group in there, we've got good character. They're hurting and disappointed. You lose as a team and win as a team."

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