Throughout the course of the game momentum can swing on one play. Evident in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party was how one play ignited a down trodden team to almost pulling off a miraculous come from behind victory. (This is not about the short comings against Georgia.) While it is easy to pin point such turning points like the fumbled lateral by Georgia, in Florida’s precarious 2013 season there have been many turning points. The ball is just not bouncing the Gators way this season.
The Miami Game Derp Throws
The Setup: After being punched in the mouth by Miami with a deep throw for a touchdown to bring the score to 14-6 Hurricanes, Jeff Driskel and the Gators marched down the field from the UF 35 (after the kickoff was kicked out of bounds). Florida begins this drive by doing something that will be a recurring theme through the year with a false start penalty. However, Florida goes to the air on the next two plays for 49 yards (3 yards to Showers and 46 to Patton). Matt Jones gains 4 yards to get inside the red zone. Driskel then scrambles on 2nd and 6 for 2 yards but Miami is flagged for an illegal hit adding 8 additional yards to the play giving the Gators 1st and Goal at the 7.
Pease then calls the Wildcat formation into the game. Burton runs it for, about what we have come to expect, a 4 yard loss. On the ensuing play Driskel misses a wide open Quinton Dunbar in the end zone.
The Turning Point: After going the distance of the field Driskel does what UF fans feared the most (and up to this point in his career was vastly the minority of his performance) and panics on 3rd down and throws into a swarm of Miami players. The pass is intercepted by Rayshawn Jenkins and Florida comes away with no points. For me this is the turning point in the game. From here on out Driskel will try to do too much and panic too often. He knows he has let the team down, not once but twice (with missing Dunbar for an easy TD the play before).
Other notable turning points in this game are the 4th-1 stalemate conversion attempt by Driskel and the o-line, Trey Burton’s catch and fumble at the Miami 13 with 37 seconds remaining in the first half, Driskel’s pass to an unaware Trey Burton which is picked off by Tracy Howard, and Driskel’s fumbled sack at the UF 4 because of the bad protection scheme. Note most of these plays occur well into the game. And the only other impactful turning point for me in this game was Driskel’s fumbled sack which directly lead to the winning score, but I still feel this game was lost after the first pick, as Driskel just tried too hard after that. (By the way go back and watch this game and you may start wishing we had Driskel back, some nice throws in there that Murphy seems to be missing right now.)
The Most Popular Guy on Campus
The Setup: Tennessee, after returning a pick six in which Florida’s starting QB Jeff Driskel breaks his leg, is struggling to win the momentum battle still due to the stingy Gator defense and Nathan Peterman being vastly overwhelmed. Tyler Murphy has had the luxury of starting at the Tennessee 6 yard line for his second drive as the Gators QB, which results in a field goal but included a heady decision to throw the ball out the back of the end zone rather than force a potential turnover (much to the delight of Driskel haters everywhere).
The Turning Point: Florida gets the ball back from yet another Nathan Peterman turnover and on 2nd and 6 Pease dials up a screen pass to Pat Solo … I mean Solo Patton … Solomon Patton, who takes advantage of good downfield blocking by Trey Burton and really bad angles by Tennessee defenders and scores from 52 yards out. This score puts Florida up for good and the momentum carries Florida and Murphy through their next two games as well (albeit against SEC bottom dwellers Kentucky and Arkansas).
Shooting yourself in the Foot?
The Setup: Florida down 14-3 in Death Valley, LA is finally putting together it’s second drive of note. This drive began at the 2:14 mark of the 3rd quarter, and features heavy doses of Kelvin Taylor doing Taylor like things (let’s not forget the reason KT is getting heavy doses is because Matt Jones was hurt on Florida’s initial series). In this drive Taylor will run 6 times for 36 yards (with the o-line being exposed on the last two plays, which netted -1 yard), Patton will run the ball twice for 10 yards (again with the second one behind an o-line being exposed for -1 yard), and Tyler Murphy will miss an open Tevin Westbrook for a sure 6 points, instead we settle for 3. This is the beginning of the o-line doing very unwise things.
The Turning Point: After Florida holds LSU again on defense, Florida begins a march down the field. It’s the kind that builds hope, excitement, anger, and vitriol from the fans. After getting to the LSU 30 yard line after help from Kyle Christy and a fake punt, D.J. Humpheries commits not one but two 3rd down false start penalties. The second of these is our turning point. At 3rd and 10 from the Tiger 20 Florida is still within striking distance and will most likely go for it on 4th down, meaning a first down is not necessary, just don’t do anything negative. Well thank D.J. Humpheries for being a true Sophomore who flinched in the face of pressure. From this point on it’s just bad for UF, especially since it carries over into the Missouri game.
Tale of Two Halves
Writer’s Note: I watched this game from the comfort of my house. But I can distinctly say Antonio Morrison may have been watching there with me, at least the first quarter. When you have a head coach who espouses playing gap assignment football, you’d think the man in the middle would have that in grained in his very fiber of being. Both of Georgia’s touchdowns were the direct result of Morrison not reading the play, and not fulfilling his assignment. I am sure he must feel awful. No worries Morrison you’re still a sophomore too and hopefully you learn from your mistakes.
The Setup: Florida down 23-20 after appearing dead in the first half, has just come up with a wonderful 4th down stop on Todd Gurley.
The Turning Point: The man who makes that wonderful stop possible, by playing assignment football, rips off his own helmet before leaving or attempting to leave the field … thanks Neiron Ball. Florida would have started the ensuing drive at the UGA 39 yard line, where a couple of yards would have put Florida inside of field goal range, for the 3rd attempt of the day and 1st attempt to tie. This is the first of two 4th quarter penalties which cost the Gators the game. (Although I will say Darious Cummings hands to the face call, while legit, is a bogus call that late in a close game, and Florida comes out on the short end of the stick on those far more than any other team I have ever watched.)
Why so many failings?
Well Florida is just not getting the bounces to bounce their way. Whether it's penalties not being called, being called, fumbling at ill fated moments, committing ill timed false starts, being flagged for lining up illegally when you line up correctly ... (looking at you WLOCP refs) and we haven't even discussed the mountain of injuries to Florida which include it's best offensive player (Jeff Driskel) and best defensive player (Dominique Easley). Whether you don't like Driskel or not, he was Florida's best returning offensive weapon from 2012 (a season where the Gators were 1 game away from a 12-0 season.) The amount of significant injuries really shined through against UGA as you saw a backup make backup mistakes, an o-line that just isn't quite there (although they were better than they were against Mizzu and LSU), and a defensive interior that is missing that edge.
Maybe this is what Florida gets after getting three seasons of bounces going your way even in games we weren't involved in.
What are your turning points? Hopefully Florida can use the second half come back (despite falling short) as fuel to beat Vanderbilt.
Watch all offensive and defensive plays here.