Breaking down the Gators’ Week 9 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs

There’s one truth in Gator Nation right now, and it’s this: Florida is 1-4 in the SEC for the first time since the 1948 team.

Oh, I’m aware that the 1979 team didn’t win a conference game or any kind of game, and the 1971 team went 1-6 when they won their last game of the SEC season.

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They may still be in the argument for the SEC’s worst season ever.

Because no Florida fan in 74 years has picked up a newspaper (do they even exist anymore?) and looked at the SEC standings and seen 1-4 next to Florida.

(Next Saturday it will be a battle of two 1-4 teams, but that will be later in the week).

How did we get here and can Florida climb out of this hole? Sunday Hash deals with these matters.

Kirby Smart called it “probably the single of the year so far”

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Florida had all the momentum with 17 straight points and Georgia was again thwarted on a kickoff return to the 22. Florida opted to rotate along the defensive line and Georgia has coaches as well. So they let the ball down the gators throat. One pass, six runs, 78 yards, one gut-wrenching touchdown. Georgia ran for 59 yards on the drive. “They answered the bell,” Smart said.

And that’s another truth

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Florida played hard and rallied to get back into the game like the Gators have all season, but couldn’t get a big stop because Georgia has better players that have been seasoned.

“Tons of respect for the football team that Georgia has,” Billy Napier said. “You can’t hide that.” They have a fantastic team, really good players and they are well coached. We learned a lot about what we need to do to get our program to where it can be competitive against a team like that.”

Ok, but it seems to be taking a long time

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Gator fans are losing patience as this has been a bad three day stretch for the Florida faithful. Cormani McClain’s loss didn’t help, and Georgia went up 28-3 to win by 22. Hey, the Gators covered the spread if you got it to 22.5. Oops, is that where Florida is?

I thought Anthony Richardson played with a lot of fire…

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… especially in the second half, but Florida basically runs the same five or six plays over and over. You’d think that in a game like this, the Gators would have something to grind on Georgia. The illegal pass has been scrutinized to death.

In the first half, Richardson barely held the ball at all and the defense swarmed Florida ball carriers, holding UF to a measly 13 yards rushing.

And that’s still a defense that allowed 42 points and 555 yards

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Yes, it was three turnovers on great plays that put Florida back in the game. And I know the list isn’t very good on this side. But should it be that bad for the Gators to have a chance to become just the second team in school history to allow more than 400 yards in a game? I think not. I don’t think the players are THAT bad, you know, 429.3 yards per game bad.

But they are

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Featuring Gervon Dexter, Brenton Cox, Ventrell Miller and co., the team has allowed four teams to rush for over 200 yards and three teams to throw for over 300 yards this season (all three were losses). Florida has now allowed 19 rushing touchdowns and has a good chance to break the all-time record of 22 from 1971. This is sure to be a team that breaks a lot of records, and not in a good way.

And the last thing a bad defense needs is a fluke play for a long touchdown

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But for bad luck, they would have had no luck at all, and Brock Bowers intercepted a pass that was well defended by Amari Burney and turned it into an easy six points.

“I was kind of surprised I caught it,” Bowers said. “I didn’t really see it until the defender hit it with his hand. Then things seemed to slow down. As if the ball was just hanging there. When I caught it, I looked at the scoreboard and saw there was no one around me, so I just started running.” Good for you.

I don’t know if the fan base is tired of Napier’s post game comments

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It seems repetitive, but it seems clear that he’s hammering home the themes for the future, and he can’t get there without some things changing in the present.

“How can we build on each other as a team and as an organization?” he said. “How can we build on that and be better from all the mistakes, just everything that happened.” Tell me because I don’t see it getting any better.

I see a team that won’t give up, which is an admirable quality

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Napier talked Saturday about guys playing for each other, a common theme for coaches that didn’t work a year ago.

“I just said to the players in the dressing room, ‘As long as I’m here coaching, we’re going to play this game for the people we play it with,'” Napier said. “I think development takes time. I think we’re getting somewhere in that regard.”

Can you speed it up there bro? This season is getting away from you.

There was the moment of a perfect pass to a wide open Xzavier Henderson…

Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun

… where I was a bit taken aback that it was actually a game. “That call we had there was basically like a quick outing for Ricky. [Pearsall] and I was going to throw it, but I saw the corner crouch and I just knew there was going to be a hole-shot eventually,” Richardson said.

And that’s it

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The record is 4-4 with the last third of the season approaching. No game seems unwinnable, yet they all seem lost when your defense can’t stop anyone. One day we might look back and laugh and laugh at Napier taking over and struggling his first season, the way Alabama and Georgia fans laugh at their first seasons under Nick Saban and Kirby Smart.

So I challenge the alligators…

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…coaches, players and 800 members of support staff to build some momentum in these final four games. The teams they face are a combined 16-16. These teams have a 6-14 record in their respective conferences. Napier is trying to build a culture and a roster. Everyone else wants to see Florida win some games.


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