The defense has been a major strong point all season until Saturday. On Saturday Alabama took advantage of the Gators aggressive play and exposed the problems a the Gators could have by getting the one on one match ups in the secondary and a quality quarterback getting them the ball.
Still, in my opinion, the problem was up front. The Gators got two sacks on the day and both came in the late third and fourth quarters when the game was all but decided. There were also only two quarterback hurries on the day, but with only 18 passes thrown, not too many are to be expected.
The tackling was very poor and that may have been in part to a very talented running back in the game, but the Gators missed tackles on others too. It was just not a pretty game for the defense.
"With missed tackles, your goal is going to be single digits, there are going to be missed tackles," Meyer said. "This was certainly a double digit day.
Two bright spots on defense in my opinion were the play of Marcus Thomas in the second half and Brandon Siler. Thomas ended up with a sack and two other tackles for loss in the game. Siler led the team in tackles, had a sack, and a fumble recovery.
Meyer was not pleased at all with the defensive performance.
"They looked faster than we did today and that quarterback played very well," Meyer said. "We were in man coverage, we held them decent against the rush, but the passing was what was alarming. We are a man coverage team and we were exposed and lost 15 (completions) of those battles."
For the first time on the season, the Gators were not plus in turnovers on the day. Although even, both of Chris Leak interceptions were costly and one led directly to a quick Alabama touchdown. The gators got the muffed punt early and failed to capitalize on it, then got a turnover late when the game was somewhat out of hand.
Meyer has stated publicly that the Gators are a ball control team and rely heavily on not turning the ball over. With the offense not clicking yet, the Gators cannot afford a large amount of turnovers.
Red Zone Offense: (-)
There were four trips inside the 20-yard line and only one field goal to show for it. The offense as a whole was not fun to watch on Saturday. The red zone production matched the rest of the offense on the day.
Special Teams: (+)
One muffed punt recovery, a fake punt that went for 30+ yards and a first down would usually be enough to win a tight game. The Gators net punt average of 40.2 yards eclipsed Alabama's of 34.8. The 14 yards per punt return was a bonus and they held Alabama to a (-1). The Gators 20.2 yards per kickoff return was a positive number and eclipsed Alabama's 16.0 yards. Certainly special teams had nothing to do with this loss by the Gators.
Offensive Player of the Game
Dallas Baker seemed the only one ready and willing to make a play for the Gators. His six receptions for 119-yards led the team and his longest reception on the day of 42-yards almost eclipsed the total yardage of Chad Jackson. Baker has been very dependable on the season and his 42-yard reception showed a little bit of speed, power, and agility as he eluded and carried defenders for several extra yards.
"I would rather win and not catch anything," Baker said after the game. "Everyone is going to get together and make sure we get it done. The seniors and leaders are going to make sure this doesn't happen again, you can count on that."
Defensive Player of the Game
Brandon Siler led the team in tackles and still seemed to fly around the field all day, despite the defensive woes. Siler led the Gators in tackles, had a sack, and a fumble recovery of an Earl Everett strip.
"It's real tough on all of us," Siler said. "We prepare and practice so hard and when this happens, you just don't understand it. We don't expect to lose to anyone and play like that, so when it happens, it is hard. It's embarrassing and disappointing. I think it is a learning experience.
On the big first play and touchdown from Alabama, Siler said you have to play through it. "We are a real stingy defense and don't like to give up anything, so when that happens you just have to keep your head high and keep going."
Special Teams Player of the Game
Chris Hetland continues to be perfect on the year in field goals and nailed his only shot from 37 yards