This is a remarkable and memorable season for the Orange and Blue. Florida has a team dealing with a mother lode of distractions that refuses to give in. It also has a team that cannot handle prosperity, cannot finish the deal and cannot figure out why. The Gators are averaging 28 points a game against SEC teams, yet are 2-and-4 in the league. Once again Saturday, Florida was faced with a crucial defensive possession where a stop could lead to, or assure victory. And for the fourth time, the defense wilted.
Valiant Comeback Threw Scare Into Bulldogs
This game was all but over late in the first half. Georgia was up 21-7 and dominating the point of attack. After penalties had killed a Gator drive, Georgia had first and goal at the one with less than seven minutes till halftime. But then the Gator Bowl gremlins made an appearance. An unforced fumble gave Florida the ball back and gave Georgia its first anxious moments.
Later in the half Florida had a great chance to close the gap, but Lance Butler is called for being too far off the line at the snap, negating a nifty Leak run and Matt Leach misses a 39 yards field goal. I think a score there would have made the Georgia locker room extremely tense.
In the second half, Florida's defense, relying more and more on Brandon Siler and Todd McCullough with excellent results started to find its spine. Georgia managed just 56 yards in the first 18 minutes of the half and the Gators got to within three at 24-21 with 12:20 to play.
Just One Stop, Just One
Was all Florida needed to have Georgia panicking. But on the very first play of the drive, David Greene drifted out of the pocket, Reggie Brown got behind Florida's safeties and Georgia had a 51-yard gain.
Then, with Georgia facing 3rd and 9 on the Florida 15 the Gators had a chance to force Georgia to settle for three, giving the red hot Florida offense a chance to take the lead on the next possession. Instead, Corey Bailey waits on the ball on the skinny post, Fred Gibson reaches out and snatches it away at the last instant and a stop became the clinching Georgia touchdown.
On-Sides Kick Was Bad Choice, Only Choice
Normally you would not kick on-sides with more than three minutes on the clock, but this is not a normal Florida team. Ron Zook simply couldn't trust his defense to get the ball back… not after Knoxville, not after LSU, certainly not after Mississippi State. When he did it, I thought it made no sense. Upon further review, it was the only sensible thing to do.
Plenty Of Great Stuff To Salute
- Ciatrick Fason is an elite back. C-4 continues to make big plays and make tacklers look ridiculous. He should reach 1,000 yards in Nashville
- Energy maintained throughout. Gators put everything else off to the side and gave great effort throughout.
- Brandon Siler keeps coming on. Florida's most natural middle linebacker shows this is his position for the future.
- Bubba Caldwell lights up the building. I don't know if I've seen better acceleration than Caldwell's TD sprint.
- Peach Bowl Impressed. If the Gators want an incentive for the next two weeks, it appears the Atlanta game wants Florida, even at 6-and-5.
But You Don't Lose Without Shortcomings
- 31 points, 405 yards, no takeaways, no sacks…. The defense rests
- Crowder could be out for season. Florida's top tackler appears to have a major injury. Looking ahead, it could help keep him in school for '05.
- Not enough Kyle Jackson. With the struggles by the Florida defense, more talented youngsters need more snaps. Jackson would have drilled Gibson on that late TD pass, of that I have no doubts.
- Leak deserves better protection. Four sacks, several other times flushed out of the pocket gave Gator QB too much to think about
- 5"Special" woes continue. Two short punts, a personal foul for a slap on the head by Eric Wilbur and a 32-yard punt return all factors in field position.
Governor, What The Heck Is Going On Here
At least the Gators lost to a top ten team. Miami and FSU both lost to ACC opponents that entered Saturday with losing records. The Hurricanes hopes of another national title went by the board when North Carolina kicked a field goal on the final play. FSU saw Xavier Beitia miss three field goals, including two in the fourth quarter and fell to Maryland 20-17.
It's the first time since 1978 the big three in Florida all lost on the same day. And just like that day, none of the three was playing at home. It was October 14th, 1978 when Doug Dickey and the Gators lost to Alabama. Miami, under the direction of Lou Saban fell to Georgia Tech. Florida State was drubbed by Mississippi State 55-27 in Bobby Bowden's third year in Tallahassee.
Be Careful What You Wish For
On the way out of the stadium I saw a Georgia fan shaking a bucket with some coins in it. She was yelling, "taking up a collection to bring back Spurrier". Are you kidding me?
That was one Bulldog clearly the product of in breeding.
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