Turnover plagued Florida Gators fall to Georgia Bulldogs: 36-17

JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 27: D'Andre Swift #7 of the Georgia Bulldogs rushes during a game against the Florida Gators at TIAA Bank Field on October 27, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 27: D'Andre Swift #7 of the Georgia Bulldogs rushes during a game against the Florida Gators at TIAA Bank Field on October 27, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

The Florida Gators committed three turnovers on the day in total, and two of those crucially inside of their own 10-yard line at that. It wasn’t just the turnovers— Florida did not execute to their capability and left many opportunities on the field. Moreover, Florida did not execute to the level of a champion, and as a result of the loss to Georgia, will not have a chance to play for a championship.

Dan Mullen called it the poorest performance of the season.

"“I don’t think we played well at all. It might have been our worst executing performance of the year, and I’m really disappointed in that. We’ll learn as a team how to play in big game situations. You’ve got to execute.”“There are times in the game where you say, ‘Okay, we’re playing like the Florida Gators.’ Like we expect to play. The goal-line stand, that’s who we expect to be. We come out in the second half and go right down the field and score. Do those things. In other situations, we just weren’t as clean as we needed to be.”"

The game started out in similar fashion of the Vanderbilt game, and simply put— you cannot give a team like the Bulldogs anything easy or they’ll bite. Just as I anticipated, it was just Georgia’s day. I don’t know what it was, but something was just telling me that the Bulldogs would play really, really well.

I felt that Jake Fromm would break out of his mini mid-season slump, and did he ever do that. Fromm completed 17 of his 24 passes on the day for 240 yards. Even more impressive, Fromm was 6 of 7 with 3 TD passes on third down, something that was a focal point of improvement from what we’ve seen from him this season. Fromm was completing less than half of his passes on third downs going into this game, and scratch that for the phenomenal performance against a hated rival. It cannot be overstressed the importance of C.J. Henderson’s absence at corner, as Fromm picked apart the UF secondary after Henderson left with a back injury in the first half.

UGA got the football first and moved down the field behind big runs from Elijah Holyfield and D’Andre Swift. Rodrigo Blankenship would knock in a field goal to get the Bulldogs on the board first.

On UF’s first offensive play, the Gators attempted a flea flicker from Jordan Scarlet back to Feleipe Franks, and Franks had a streaking Van Jefferson wide open down the field in what should have been a sure touchdown. Franks overshot Jefferson and for much of the game, just never fully recovered from that misfire. The scoreboard cannot stay empty when there’s chances like that against a team like Georgia, and this is the first of many reasons why Florida could not seal the deal. Two plays later, Scarlet would be stripped and ‘Dawgs corner Richard LeCounte would scoop up the football and go the other way. Right place, right time, Georgia’s day.

Fromm would then throw his first of two touchdown passes to Jeremiah Holloman, and the Bulldogs were up 10-0 before you could even blink.

So, Florida got the football back, and Franks then under-threw his target and was picked off by corner Tyrique McGhee.

This start was crushing for Florida, but the Gators would fight back. Following a three-and-out, the Gators would strike on a 14-play, 76-yard drive that would eat more than 7 minutes. The drive was finished by Franks from a yard out after a big run by Scarlett to set up UF with a first and goal. This would cut the lead to 10-7 in the second quarter.

Just when it looked like Florida’s defense was starting to dictate this game, Fromm lead the Bulldogs on a hurry-up drive before halftime, finding tight end Isaac Nauta on four consecutive big pass plays, making it look easy. Blankenship would boot the Bulldogs to a 13-7 lead going into the half.

Florida swung the momentum back their way at the beginning of the second half after a patient and dazzling return from playmaker Kadarius Toney. Toney’s return gave the Gators plus field position beyond midfield to start the drive. Franks then delivered by far best pass of the day on a strike to Freddie Swain. Swain caught the football in stride for the TD, giving the Gators their first and only lead of the afternoon.

From there, it was all Bulldogs. Just when the Gators took back the momentum, Fromm and the ‘Dawgs would answer. Fromm’s next TD pass to Holloman came shortly after the Gators grabbed momentum.

UF could not consistently move the football with Franks struggling most of the day. That was ultimately the difference along with the turnovers. You can’t put this loss on the UF defense, not really anyway. Florida’s defense made one of the most remarkable goal-line stands that I’ve ever, and I’m sure anybody has ever seen. Seven consecutive plays, each closer to the end zone because of penalties, seven stops by that ferocious Gator front inside the one-yard line. Florida manned up about as well as they could, they just didn’t have enough firepower, or should I say they didn’t showcase it.

I fully expected the ‘Dawgs running attack to be in full effect, and to a degree that’s exactly what happened. Holyfield and Swift were somewhat held in check throughout, but Swift eventually would gash the Gators on the back-breaking final drive.

This game was closer than the score ultimately indicated, with the Bulldogs pulling away late on Swift’s run. The Gators had their chances, but too many mistakes cost them. Meanwhile, Georgia played nearly flawless for the most part, making zero critical mistakes.

I know that Mullen is ahead of schedule with this program, and I know that the program is heading in the right direction. I mean, I even predicted this loss to Georgia. I just thought it was their time. But that still doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.

Florida returns home for the first time in a month for the next three weeks before ending the regular season at arch-rival Florida State. UF has a golden opportunity at a 10-win season if they can rally and win their final four games. There’s room for optimism with this season considering that this might be the worst team FSU has ever had. And so, the Gators won’t be going to Atlanta, but there’s still so much to look forward to.