Florida lost to South Carolina, 17-12, on Saturday. We'll look back at the Gators' effor in at multiple parts: The Rapid Recap, which reacts to the game in full before a second viewing, comes first.
This was the 2011 Florida Gators season in a game: John Brantley was under siege thanks to an offensive line that could barely block, Florida's receivers were almost nonexistent, one quarkback made a bunch of plays while another made a big mistake, the secondary had one major mishap, the defense got pressure but not enough, and a running game wore down a defense that couldn't get itself off the field or get much of a breather when the offense wore down. Oh, and the second half featured Florida trying and failing to come back late.
Some things just don't change.
How Florida Lost
Florida hasn't come back from a halftime deficit in 2011, so it's tempting to say that going into the locker room down 14-3 was a sign that this was going to be a loss, but it was really Florida's two-point conversion failure that killed the Gators. If Jacoby Brissett can find someone on that play, it's a tie game, and the Gators aren't more than a field goal behind after South Carolina's next drive, and who knows, right?
But that was really just the final nail in the coffin; Florida's offense abandoning its defense, which struggled with Connor Shaw's option running all day, happened early and often.
Chris Rainey had 132 yards, the most he's had in 2011, and had the biggest play by either team on the day on a 47-yard scamper. He also showed a lot better discipline as a one-cut runner than usual, and, considering he was caught from behind on that long run, had essentially the same burst and speed as ever. If he and Jeff Demps are both healthy again, finally, Florida might have a full complement of running backs not named Mike Gillislee to give carries before Mike Gillislee.
John Brantley's toughness is sort of beyond reproach at this point. He should probably book a couple of months in an ice tank, beginning moments after Florida's potential bowl game. And though he hasn't been great since getting hurt, except for short stretches, he still gives Florida its best chance to win. That counts for something.
Meanwhile, Jacoby Brissett is definitely both being deployed correctly (in goal line situations that make run-pass options more valuable) and making the most of his chances. If the 2012 season began tomorrow, I would assume Brissett would not only be Florida's starter, but also have a major lead on Jeff Driskel on the depth chart.
De'Ante Saunders' pick, the first of his career, was a wonderful read of Connor Shaw's eyes and an even better break on the ball from a very deep position. Saunders has been reduced to cinders in man coverage this season, but that play in zone was Ahmad Black-esque and really, really tantalizing work from a young guy who could be a major part of Florida's defense for years to come.
Florida can't really pass block, but it has figured out how to run block effectively more often than not, and does so even late into the game. That's how Rainey got up to 132 yards, with late runs for five, eight, 10 yards. And those aren't all Rainey making things happen on his own.
Once again, Florida's defensive line got pressure, but not sacks. (Yep, I reused this.) But only South Carolina going almost exclusively to a read option prevented the Gators from having a big day up front; they had the Gamecocks dead to rights when Shaw was dropping back early on.
Jordan Reed and A.C. Leonard both had multiple catches, which, whee, tight ends.
Take away a Shaw bomb to Ace Sanders, and South Carolina's offense only had 38 passing yards. Yay for only getting destroyed in one defensive facet!
Brantley's still too quick to check down and not accurate enough under pressure, which is totally okay because we have a lot of games left in this season for him to improve on that.
I really had no idea it was that hard for a team to figure out that an offense was going to be running the ball on almost every snap. But Florida's young defense is great at finding new ways to be both better than most realize and ultimately underwhelming.
Florida had two possessions with goal to go that turned into field goals. I understand that Gillislee is probably a risk to spontaneously combust if he lines up on offense, but there are almost certainly better ways to approach goal line offense than Florida's current "throw short of the goal line repeatedly" and "toss a pretty fade to a tight end who trips over himself and then asks for a flag."
Deonte Thompson was the only Florida receiver to make a catch, and made three of them, which I would put in Encouraging if not for the fact that there is a decent chance that will be his best game of the year. Oh, and FLORIDA'S RECEIVERS MADE THREE CATCHES AS A UNIT.
Tim Brando gave the worst play-by-play call I've heard in recent memory, failing repeatedly to call the action correctly on the field, relying on talk-radio schtick, and at one point calling Connor Shaw Case Keenum for no apparent reason. Never again, CBS.
Stats and Miscellany Dump
Rainey rushed for 132 yards, a season high, and is at 658 rushing yards for the season. He'll need to average 114 yards per game over Florida's next three games (assuming, of course, that the Gators beat either Furman or Florida State to earn a bowl berth) to become UF's first 1,000-yard rusher since Ciatrick Fason. ... A.C. Leonard had two catches in the game, a new career high, and double what he had on the season coming in. I now pronounce the Scouting Report curse dead. ... As noted by The Independent Florida Alligator writer Greg Luca, Florida's allowed nine fourth down conversions in 10 tries in its last five games.
Previously in Rapid Recaps: Florida Atlantic, UAB, Tennessee.