Florida Gators’ offense ‘embarrassed' after win

Two days after Florida’s ugly win over Vanderbilt, the frustration over the offensive struggles was still evident in Jim McElwain’s tone.

The film showed that the Florida offensive line, which had easily its worst game of the season, wasn’t often confused on who to block. They blocked the right defensive player most of the time, but the issue came in simply getting beat at the line of scrimmage.

The issues on the offensive line made life difficult for the rest of the offense. Quarterback Treon Harris went 12-24 for 158 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. The Gators averaged 2.7 yards per carry, and the running backs totaled 21 carries for 55 yards. There were no holes open for the running backs to hit, and when the Gators did elect to pass, the Vanderbilt pass rushers seemed to be in the backfield almost immediately.

“For the most part, we were on the right guys,” Florida coach Jim McElwain said. “Our assignment might not have been the issues as much as the execution and finish of the assigned. It’s rather embarrassing actually, and yet, that goes back to being proud of what you put on film.”

The Gators played without left tackle David Sharpe for the first half of the game. His foot injury kept him out of most live drills in practice last week, but he went through position drills and was forced into action for the second half. His rust showed, and McElwain said the sophomore wasn’t “very effective” and took the blame for putting Sharpe on the field despite limited practice reps.

Without Sharpe, the Gators pushed Mason Halter to left tackle and true freshman Fred Johnson made his first career start at right tackle. McElwain said Sharpe is “day-to-day” heading into the South Carolina game.

Whether he can play or not, the Gators have to block better up front. The offensive line and running back Kelvin Taylor spent time pouring over the game film on Sunday afternoon, trying to find their mistakes to correct this week in practice.

“We felt embarrassed ourselves because we know we’re way better than that,” Taylor said. “A bunch of the little things we were doing wrong, just not properly communicating with each other and just going through our different schemes that we usually go through, it just wasn’t clicking for us Saturday. We hope to get back in the film room (Monday) and clean the majority of that stuff up from Saturday.”

Despite the sloppy play, the Gators escaped homecoming with a 9-7 win over Vanderbilt that clinched the SEC East. This Saturday’s game at South Carolina will serve as the SEC finale, but there isn’t anything on the line in the conference standings. The Gators know they will be playing in the SEC Championship regardless of the outcome and the Gamecocks need three wins over the rest of the season to earn a bowl berth.

Motivation will have to come from the team’s leaders this week, and cornerback Brian Poole said that’s the expectation. 

“We’re the Gators,” Poole said. “We want to win national championships, not just SEC championships.”

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