Tuesday, November 24, 2015

UF Football: #8 Florida Struggles Against FAU

The Florida Gators offensive struggles continued this past Saturday as they needed overtime to pull out a 20-14 victory over the FAU Owls! This game was absolutely dreadful as the Owls outgained the Gators 299 to 252 in total offensive yards. They held the Gators scoreless for the entire first half!

Gator QB Treon Harris was not impressive whatsoever as he was sacked five times and threw an interception. Yet, despite completing just 8 of his 17 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns, he was still named the player of the game! Are you kidding me? He was outplayed by FAU's Jaquez Johnson (17 of 33 for 146 yards, a touchdown pass, and an interception) and was only named player of the game because he hooked up with tight end Jake McGee for what would prove to be the game winning touchdown in overtime.

I'll get back to my Treon rant later. Taking a look at the rushing attack, I was very content with how Kelvin Taylor played. He ran for 105 yards on 26 carries for one touchdown. There's not much more to say there. In the receiving core, the only players worth mentioning are Jake McGee and Antonio Callaway.

McGee led the receivers with three receptions for 36 yards and a touchdown while Callaway was the leading yard getter with 52 on just two catches and a touchdown. Playmaker Demarcus Robinson was a non factor this game as he did not record a single reception.

Fortunately for Florida, their stingy defense showed up to play. Despite being outgained by 45 yards to a 2-8 team, the Gator defense held strong and forced three turnovers. The defensive line and linebacking core picked up the o-line's slack and sacked FAU's QB's five times. The perpetrators of the sacks were: Jarrad Davis (2.0), Antonio Morrison (1.0), Khairi Clark (1.0), and CeCe Jefferson (1.0).

In addition to being sack leader, Davis also led the team in tackles with 10 (two for loss). Antonio Morrison shared that honor with him with 10 tackles (one for loss) as well. He also forced a fumble that teammate Tavan Bryan recovered and ran back to the FAU 2-yard line to set up the first Gator touchdown of the day. After the two linebackers, safety Keanu Neal had eight tackles, d-lineman Khairi Clark had seven (one for loss), and Jalen Tabor had five tackles.

Speaking of Tabor, he balled in the secondary as he had an interception and five pass breakups. After him, Brian Poole had two crucial pass breakups on both third and fourth down in overtime to secure the Gator victory. Safety Nick Washington also forced a fumble which fellow safety Marcus Maye recovered.

In the kicking game, Austin Hardin earned his way back on to my blacklist as he missed two kicks from 34 and 33 yards out and had an extra point blocked in overtime. I hope he is majoring in something that will get him a job after he graduates from Florida, because he will 100% not be kicking in the NFL. The Gator kicking situation is so bad though that Coach Mac has to stick with him.

I am honestly speechless on the matter. At this point, I would say just leave him in and let him keep digging his grave with the misses. There are three games left and if can just make his kicks vs Florida State I will not have any problem with him.

On the other side of the spectrum, punter Johnny Townsend yet again balled out as he punted nine balls for a total of 391 yards. He averaged 43.4 yards per punt and pinned FAU inside their own 20-yard line six times. His longest punt was 57 yards. This guy continues to be the most consistent aspect of Gator football (apart from the defense of course). If only we could teach him how to kick field goals and play quarterback!

Final Takeaway:
I did not consider FAU a trap game, but boy was I wrong. I could not be more terrified for FSU than I am now. I understand that in a rivalry game anything can happen, but I mean this is FAU for goodness sakes! This game should have been 56-0 or at the worst 56-14. The Gators allowed a mediocre team to bully them around all day long and almost walk out of the Swamp with the upset victory of the college football season.

Treon Harris needs to be converted into a wide receiver or halfback of some sort. He CANNOT play quarterback! He completed less than 50% of his passes against FAU and simply cannot stay in the pocket to complete a pass. I am done with him! He should not start against FSU, but he will. Watch, he will even beat them somehow to make me look like a fool for doubting him.

I was as wrong as could be about this game. There was definitely no blowout, and to that I tip my hat to FAU. The Owls played a hard-fought game and I commend them for taking the #8 Florida Gators to overtime in the Swamp an nearly coming out with the 'W'. They should still hold their heads up high despite a heartbreaking finish.

After dropping to #10 in the AP poll, the Gators (10-1) better wake up for senior night against #14 Florida State (9-2). If they play like they did vs FAU, they will get blown out of the water in a similar fashion to the 2013 meeting. The Gators have not beaten the 'Noles at home since Tim Tebow's senior season in 2009 and are currently on a two-game losing streak in the series.

As always though, I am optimistic that Coach Mac will have the team prepared for FSU and Gator fans everywhere will see a completely different Florida team on November 28th. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. on ESPN. It should be a classic. Go Gators!

On the other side, FAU (2-9) has got to feel disappointed but encouraged after such a close loss. Hopefully for the Owls this momentum will carry over into their final game of the year on the road against Old Dominion (5-6) as they try to deny the Monarchs bowl eligibility. Kickoff is at a noon and it can be seen on AMSN (whatever that may stand for).

On a final note, I would like to congratulate Coach Mac for his tenth win as Florida's head coach! With the win vs FAU, he surpassed Steve Spurrier for the most wins by a first-year head coach at the University of Florida. This is a record that stood for 25 years, and I have a good feeling that the third "golden era" of Gator football may be on the horizon with Coach Mac leading the charge.

*All stats accredited to Gatorzone.com

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