Tuesday, November 8, 2016

UF Football: Arkansas Smokes #11 Florida

It was an ugly showing in Fayetteville as the Arkansas Razorbacks (6-2, 2-3 SEC) ripped the No. 11 Florida Gators (6-2, 4-2 SEC) by a score of 31-10.

The Gator offense has reverted to their old anemic state. On the first play form scrimmage, Luke Del Rio was intercepted for a touchdown. The redshirt sophomore did his best to play through an injured shoulder, but to no avail.

Del Rio finished the game 19 of 37 for 229 yards, two interceptions, and no touchdowns. His longest pass was 25 yards, which is a clear enough sign that something was off.

In the running game, there is absolutely nothing positive to say. The Gators ran for 12 yards. Let me repeat that. The Gators ran FOR 12 YARDS! Take out Del Rio's three rushes and Florida ran the ball 11 TIMES. I don't even know why I'm mentioning it, but the leading rusher was Mark Thompson. He ran thrice for 19 yards.

In the receiving corps, Antonio Callaway nearly mirrored his performance against Georgia as he nabbed four balls for 44 yards. The only difference is that he had no rushing touchdown. Behind him, Brandon Powell and Ahmad Fulwood both registered two catches for 41 and 38 yards, respectively.

Florida mustered just 241 total yards of offense and obtained just 13 first downs. 11 of these conversions came via the pass with one on a penalty and the other through rushing. The Gator offensive line allowed three sacks and suffered a huge blow as center Cam Dillard went down in the first half and did not return.

Dillard wasn't the only offensive loss for Florida. Freshman wideout Tyrie Cleveland departed in the fourth quarter and senior return man Chris Thompson got absolutely blasted on a kickoff return.

The Gator defense could not tackle in this game and allotted their second highest yard total all season as Arkansas gained 466 yards. Sophomore running back Rawleigh Williams III gashed Florida as he ran for 148 yards and two touchdowns.

Under center, junior quarterback Austin Allen picked apart the Gator secondary. He completed 15 of 26 passes for 243 yards with a touchdown and interception. One of these touchdowns went to senior receiver Drew Morgan, who had a game-high seven catches for 95 yards.

Allen's lone interception came off a nice play from Duke Dawson, who took it all the way back to the house for the only Gator touchdown of the game. It was Dawson's first career pick six, and he became the third Gator to accomplish the feat this year (Jalen "Teez" Tabor and Quincy Wilson ran back picks against Missouri).

Speaking of the secondary, safeties Marcus Maye and Nick Washington were the leading tacklers in the game. Maye had 11 wrap ups while Washington had eight. Tied at second with Washington was Alex Anzalone, who suffered a season-ending arm injury in the third quarter of the contest.

Unfortunately, Anzalone was not the only Gator linebacker to sustain an injury. For the second time in three games, Jarrad Davis yet again tweaked his ankle and had to exit before the game's long overdue conclusion.

With two key cogs of the defense gone, their replacements in David Reese and Kylan Johnson held their own. Reese had six tackles and Johnson had four tackles and half a sack. Defensive lineman Caleb Brantley was in on that sack with the redshirt freshman, marking the only time the Gators brought down Austin Allen.

The only other Gator defensive standout worth mentioning is Marcell Harris. Complementing the leading tacklers out of the secondary, the junior safety accounted for six wrap ups. His performance would be good for third most in the game and still tops the most tackles (five) from any Arkansas player.

Special Teams
Eddy Pineiro was the team's only offense against Arkansas. He nailed his lone kick from 49 yards out with 6:41 left in the game to make it 24-10. Of his two kickoffs, one went for a touchback.

In the punting realm, good ole Johnny Townsend saw the field a bunch of times in this game. As always, he balled. The redshirt junior sent off seven punts and pinned four of them inside the Arkansas 20-yard line. He averaged 44.4 yards per punt with his longest going 59 yards.

In the return game, Antonio Callaway netted 25 total yards on two punt returns while Chris Thompson had 57 total yards on three kickoff returns.

Final Takeaway
For the fifth straight season, the Florida Gators will be starting a backup quarterback in The Swamp as Luke Del Rio has been ruled out for the South Carolina game. Exactly who will it be though?

Will graduate transfer Austin Appleby get a second shot? Or will Coach Jim McElwain cut his losses and start either freshmen Kyle Trask or Feleipe Franks? It is not for me to decide, but I will support Mac's decision either way. For insight on the quarterback situation, here's my article from ESPN Gainesville briefly overviewing Florida's options.

In regards to other Gator injury updates, Anzaone (wrist), Davis (ankle), Dillard (knee), and running back Mark Herndon (hamstring) are all out for Senior Day as well. Cleveland (leg) and Thompson (concussion) are very questionable and defensive lineman Cece Jefferson will be a game-time decision.

Despite the fact that it is Senior Day, South Carolina is important for two reasons. First, the Gators need to win this game to remain a game up in the SEC East standings. Second, it is the return of the infamous Will Muschamp. Yes, the man who helped drive this program into the ground finally comes back to The Swamp for the first time since November 22nd.

I can guarantee that it is going to be hostile when he leads South Carolina out onto the field. Gator Nation (myself included) is going to boo him endlessly and remind him just how much we did not appreciate his tenure at Florida. Muschamp may say he holds no grudge against Florida, but it's hard to believe he won't be fired up with a chance to knock his old team out of the SEC East race.

The reunion with Muschamp and his Gamecocks (5-4, 3-4 SEC) commences at noon. It is the first Gator noon game since homecoming against Vandy last season. The game can be seen on CBS and heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network.

I am predicting a 13-10 Gator victory. It's going to be a rough game to watch, but ultimately one of these two ineffective offenses will find a way to get into the end zone.

As for Arkansas, they will ride the momentum from this victory into another home contest as the rival No. 19 LSU Tigers (5-3, 3-2 SEC) come to town. This will be a good game as Arkansas just lit up Florida and LSU held their own with top-ranked Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC) until the very end. I got the Razorbacks winning a close one.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and the "Battle For The Golden Boot" can be seen on ESPN. Arkansas has won the last two meetings over the Tigers.

*All stats accredited to FloridaGators.com
*Injury Updates from SECCountry.com



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