Slow start costs Florida

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Georgia didn't waste any time on Saturday. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 14-0 lead with 9:19 left in the first quarter, stunning the entire west side of the stadium. A late comeback effort pulled the Gators back into the game and almost pulled off a win, but the slow start of the game cost Florida in the end.

The 14-0 deficit happened fast, and 23 seconds into the second quarter, it jumped to 20-0 after Georgia settled for two field goals from Marshall Morgan. While the east side in red and black erupted and started the celebration early, the Gators weren't done.

Florida ended the game with 17 unanswered points, but they weren't enough, falling 23-20 on Saturday in Jacksonville.

"We've certainly been inconsistent," Will Muschamp said about his defense. "That's the frustrating part for me."

The first two possessions for Georgia went without much to stop them. The Bulldogs went 75 yards on seven plays, ending the first drive with a Todd Gurley touchdown. On the next drive, it was three plays for 77 yards, ending with a 73-yard reception for Gurley.

After the game, Muschamp said he wasn't disappointed with the play calls. He felt they had players in position to make the tackles, but they were a step late or just missed tackles.

"We need to get out of the gate quicker and create more momentum for our team," Muschamp said. "We got what we wanted and we missed it."

The Florida defense pitched a shutout in the second half, but it didn't matter because of their issues to start the game. After putting up 335 yards in the first half, Georgia was limited to 79 yards in the second half.

The Bulldogs opened the game with 259 yards in the first quarter -- on pace to end the game with 1,036 yards at that point.

"We settled down in the second half," Muschamp said. "We dug ourselves too big of a hole."

OFFENSIVE LINE IMPROVED: The Gators went to a new group on the offensive line, starting Tyler Moore at left tackle and Trenton Brown at right tackle. Florida allowed four sacks during the game, but Muschamp thought most happened as Murphy got outside the pocket, although one o the sacks came on a seven-man protection.

"I thought we did protect well for the most part," Muschamp said. "I think we just played better. We worked on base fundamentals, reduced some things in protection and tried to simplify for those guys. We executed better up front."

PENALTIES STRIKE AGAIN: The Gators had multiple penalties that impacted the game, including seven personal fouls. Four of them were offsetting. Solomon Patton picked one up as Florida drove near the end of its first drive, and the penalty set up a longer field goal that was missed by Frankie Velez.

Florida was called for seven penalties that went for 70 yards, but Muschamp stood up for his team's discipline after the game.

"In the last 24 years at the University of Florida, we've led the SEC in penalties or been second in 20 out of 24 years," Muschamp said. "That was long before I got here. It's interesting. It is what it is."

OFFENSE SPUTTERS: The Gators put up 319 yards of offense on Saturday, with 83 coming on a long completion to Quinton Dunbar on Florida's first drive of the game. The offense was more effective in the second half when Tyler Murphy used his legs to make plays, something the coaches wanted him to do earlier in the game.

"He had a couple scramble situations we wish he would've taken advantage of in the first half," Muschamp said. "He came back and is a very coachable player."

Freshman Kelvin Taylor started the first game of his career, ending with 20 carries for 76 yards.

"Kelvin is a good player," Muschamp said. "He continues every week to improve and has running instincts. That's always been good. He did a nice job on a couple pressures and picking up the linebackers. He has done a nice job."

The offense showed promise at times, but it lacked the effectiveness the Gators needed.

"We ran the ball effectively at times," Muschamp said. "We threw the ball well at times. We have to figure out a way to create more explosive plays to create momentum."

MOVING FORWARD: The Gators now need to find something to rally around as they head through the last month of the regular season. Players talked about earning a better bowl game and playing for their teammates and the program, but that's a lot harder to actually do when there's not as much to play for in the conference.

The Gators host Vanderbilt on homecoming next weekend before games against ranked opponents South Carolina and Florida State.

"You rally around the fact that your play at the University of Florida," Muschamp said. "It's a great place to play football. You have a very close locker room and guys play for each other. That's a lot for those guys. They understand that.

"It's frustrating and they're down and they hurt, but at the end of the day guys got a lot of pride and they're competitors. They're going to go out and compete and they're going to play well."


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