Notes: Florida Gators defense leads the charge

The Florida defense bought time for the offense to get comfortable.

The Georgia offense put up just 223 total yards, the lowest total against Florida since the Bulldogs mustered 220 yards during the game in 1991. Only 69 of those yards came on the ground. The Gators were able to shut down the Georgia run game early, and by the time Sony Michel returned from an early wrist injury, the Bulldogs couldn’t get anything going on the ground.

With Faton Bauta running the Georgia offense, most expected the Bulldogs to run the ball more. However, they went away from it after the Florida defense didn’t give up any holes in the run game. It was the first time Georgia was held under 100 rushing yards all season.

“I thought our guys up front did an outstanding job at keeping their people off our linebackers,” Florida coach Jim McElwain said. “The other thing I thought our gap integrity throughout the whole game was pretty spot on. That’s a credit to those defensive linemen up front being able to keep fresh. That’s a group that we’ve obviously got some depth, but they’re really getting it.”

When Georgia did elect to throw the ball, the Florida defense was there to create turnovers. Four different Gators had an interception, the first time that has happened since a win over Tennessee in 2013. Marcus Maye started it with an interception around midfield, and a Vernon Hargreaves interception set up a Kelvin Taylor rushing touchdown that gave the Gators a 20-0 lead in the second quarter.

With Georgia trailing 20-3 but at the Florida three-yard line, Keanu Neal intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter that sealed the game. On Georgia’s next drive, linebacker Jarrad Davis recorded an interception after dropping one in the first half.

“I just know this -- this is a heck of a defense we’ve got guys,” McElwain said. “We have a heck of a defense, so let’s give them credit.”


Florida kicker Austin Hardin missed a 45-yard field goal on the Gators’ first offensive drive. After Florida scored on a muffed punt that Nick Washington recovered in the end zone, Hardin’s extra point was blocked.

Besides kickoff duties, Hardin’s only involvement in the rest of the game was on three made extra points. However, even though that eased some of the pressure on him, there are still serious concerns in Florida’s kicking game.

“He’s just got to make them,” McElwain said. “That’s what your job is. They had a good little block scheme when they jumped over our little guy and didn’t land on anybody, so it’s legal. Whatever.”

Dental student Neil MacInnes walked on to the team this week and served as the backup, but he didn’t enter the game. That could change going forward if Hardin’s struggles continue.


Freshman Jordan Cronkrite was ejected from the game because of a targeting call in the second half, forcing Jordan Scarlett to be the only backup for Kelvin Taylor. Scarlett responded.

He had an 11-yard carry on a key fourth down at LSU two weeks ago, but McElwain wanted a strong week of practice from Scarlett. He showed that and took advantage of his opportunity on Saturday. The freshman had nine carries for 96 yards, including a 60-yard gain. McElwain poked some fun at the freshman for not scoring on the long run.

“It was good to see Jordan get in there and take care of the football,” McElwain said. “When we recruited him, I thought he was fast. Son of a gun got tracked down (on the long run), so I gave him a little bit of a nudge on that. But I thought he did a heck of a job.” 

Fightin Gators Top Stories