The Florida Gators were never likely to beat Georgia. That doesn’t mean a loss to UGA should be easily shrugged off or viewed as “no big deal.” Losing to Georgia should always hurt and always be a cause for anger. This past Saturday’s loss should motivate the Gators to be better for next season, and generate the determination needed to close the gap with Kirby Smart’s team.
By Matt Zemek
Yet, let’s take note of Saturday’s loss and make sure it gets processed the right way: Sometimes, a loss – while never acceptable – is humiliating and especially damaging. A blowout loss, or a loss caused by highly preventable mistakes, never go away during the offseason. Those kinds of losses keep coaches and players up at night, sleepless and sweaty.
This loss to Georgia was not that kind of loss.
Florida played hard. The defense was not great, but everyone could see that it didn’t get enough help from the offense. At many positions on the field, Florida was the equal of Georgia. The defensive line’s ability to stack up the Dawgs on two consecutive series of downs near the goal line spoke to how well Florida can compete up front. Georgia embarrassed Florida a year ago. This year, the Gators showed they belonged on the same field. They didn’t win, but they belonged.
Why did Florida not win or come especially close to winning? The quarterback position – that’s how. The skill players, too. Georgia had better playmakers who could more regularly create above-average plays, and Florida had too many skill people who couldn’t regularly make routine plays. It might not be a unanimous view, but most Gator fans probably realize that if Dan Mullen gets an elite quarterback, this program is strong enough in other position groups that it can become very strong very quickly.
There is reason to be optimistic, but now the Gators have to take care of business against Missouri:
1 – LOCKDOWN
The Gators should be able to think they can smother Missouri quarterback Drew Lock after Kentucky did much the same thing this past week. Lock and Missouri kept getting chances to ice the game against the Wildcats, but kept going three-and-out. Kentucky took away the long ball and successfully stuffed early-down runs by the Tigers. Missouri kept getting into second or third and long, and the Wildcats were excellent at turning down-and-distance situations into good coverage on third down. UK silenced Mizzou throughout the second half. Florida’s defense is physically capable of doing what Kentucky did to Missouri. The Gators have to get after it and make Missouri’s offense look as bad as Kentucky did.
2 – DON’T COMPLICATE THINGS
The Gators are what they are on offense. That simply won’t change this season. Dan Mullen can’t reinvent the wheel, and I don’t think he will try to – not in 2018. Florida’s running game was solid against Georgia. 170 yards surpassed most expectations.
Alas, the passing game collected only 105 yards. The offense coughed up three turnovers. The good running game was wasted.
UF needs to run for 170 again… and avoid mistakes against Mizzou.
3 – HAVE FUN
This team still has a lot to play for. Winning out would mean a very good bowl. Play with passion, not depression, one week after Georgia.