The Gators went
undefeated for the seventh time in the SEC East but did not capture the crown.
The team who has the conference's best record versus the Western Division was
left out of Atlanta for one simple reason - Michael Johnson. No, not the
Olympic sprinter but the backup receiver who made a remarkable fourth down
touchdown grab for UGA against Auburn. To be quite honest, it should not have
gotten to that point but Auburn's clock management and special teams cost the
Gators... Uh I mean the Tigers. Florida now will have two weeks to get ready for
bitter rival Florida State. A spot on New Year's Day probably in the Outback
Bowl is a lock and the chance to have a top 10 season. Seems hard to believe
considering all that has gone on with the team and around the Gator nation. Ron
Zook did a great job preparing his team to deal with the worse of the two
outcomes in Auburn and the Gators played their most complete game since
Offensive Grade: B+.
The offense had over 400 yards against a very good Gamecock defense. Rex Grossman had 4 touchdowns for the first time this year and for the third time in four games he threw no interceptions. Ten different receivers caught balls and with the injury to Carlos Perez, OJ Small stepped up with 5 receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown. Even after the news of the Georgia win, UF scored early in the third quarter and 14 overall points in the second half. Earnest Graham's workman like 81yards propelled Florida to a 155 yard output on the ground. The offensive line did a solid job in pass protection and run blocking. The right side did a good job as well when Randy Hand was in a tackle and Maurice Mitchell at guard. Florida had three scoring drives of 11+ plays which is a credit to the toughness that the offensive line is developing. The receiving corps really stepped up without Taylor Jacobs, Ben Troupe and then Perez. Daryl Carpenter and Kelvin Kight made touchdown catches. This offensive plan was much more like the one Gator fans expected to see with 5 plays of 20 yards or more. I don't think it was Rex's last game in the Swamp but if it was he was very polished.
Defensive Grade: B
For the fifth time in seven games the defense held and opponent under 300 yards in holding South Carolina to 271. The Cocks did have one nice drive and the athletic running quarterback hurt the Gator defense once again but not enough to sway the outcome. Mike Nattiel and Bam Hardman were solid in helping UF shut out South Carolina in the first half. Nattiel led the way with 12 tackles and Bam had 9 and 2 tackles for a loss. UF has held six opponents scoreless in half's this season. Guss Scott continues to make plays in the secondary and once again Tron Lafavor dominated the inside in the absence of the injured Ian Scott. The Gator Defense registered 8 tackles for a loss including a huge fourth down stop by outside linebacker Todd McCollough. Arpedge Rolle registered a sack in his final game at home as did Robert Cromartie from the corner position. The third down run the Gators have been on ended Saturday but the UF defense did continue it's run in the secondary by holding the Gamecocks to 74 yards passing.
Snippets and Tidbits....
Special teams were solid with 4-4 on extra points and Ingle Martin regaining his form in the punting game. UF honored its' fifteen seniors as well as David Kearley whose career was cut short by injury and James McGriff the 1998 signee out of Palm Bay who lost his life to a drowning accident after signing day. Rex Grossman is now tied for second on the UF touchdown list with 74 with Redskin Shane Matthews. Florida's defense has held 4 opponents under 100 yards passing this season. For the record the UF senior class was 36-12 and 19-5 in the SEC the last four years with one game remaining. In the last four games Rex Grossman has thrown 8 touchdowns and 2 interceptions while completing 70% of his passes.
Injury report: Carlos Perez is out for the season. Ian Scott, Taylor Jacobs are questionable for FSU. Ben Troupe and David Jorgensen are probable for the game in Tallahassee. The Gators will practice Tuesday-Thursday this week. The coaches will be out recruiting this weekend. The game versus FSU could be moved to 1pm on ABC, as we noted last week and if so will allow it to be televised nationally as opposed to the split nation wide coverage they would have had at 8 pm with Notre Dame and USC. Between now and after the Bowl Game it is time to start the REX 'O METER. On the scale of 1 to 5 whether he is staying for his senior year. The higher the better chance for him to stay. This week my meter reads..........4!