Saturday, January 20, 2018
Colleges

A 42-7 loss to No. 3 Georgia caps brutal week for Florida

JACKSONVILLE — If Saturday was the end of the Jim McElwain era at Florida, it was a fitting send-off.

His offense was anemic. His quarterbacks kept struggling behind an offensive line that won’t stop leaking. And his Gators were overmatched against an elite team — this time No. 3 Georgia, which steamrolled over UF in a 42-7 demolition at EverBank Field.

"We’ve won a few games," McElwain said in an unusually candid post-game news conference, "but we haven’t won enough, haven’t won a championship."

The Gators won’t win one this year, either, no matter what happens with McElwain or UF’s final four games. UF’s biggest loss in the rivalry since 1982 officially knocked the Gators out of contention for the SEC East crown Georgia (8-0, 5-0 SEC) is running away with.

But UF has bigger problems than the division it won in McElwain’s first two seasons.

The Gators are 3-4 for the first time since 1986, and last week’s off-the-field drama has McElwain’s job in jeopardy. Although his death threat comments Monday (and lack of candor with administrators about them) are a problem, at least some at UF do not believe they’re enough to fire him with cause and save a buyout of more than $12 million.

Athletic director Scott Stricklin disputed any talk of buyout negotiations Saturday, and McElwain said he wants to remain with the Gators.

"Because this is a dream job," said McElwain, who is 22-12 since taking over in December 2014. "It’s a great place. It’s great fans, great support. The resource is there to win. Obviously I’m disappointed that I haven’t been able to deliver in the time I’ve been here."

He certainly didn’t deliver Saturday, which is why Georgia snapped its three-game losing streak in the series.

Take your pick of lowlights in the program’s worst loss of the season and worst non-Alabama loss since the Fiesta Bowl in January 1996.

• Georgia’s first eight plays covered 156 yards and resulted in 21 points. UF’s first nine plays covered two yards (minus-one passing).

• UF allowed only four rushing touchdowns in the previous six games. Georgia scored four in the first 50 minutes. "They just ran the ball over us, man," defensive tackle Khairi Clark said. "I feel like that’s not part of what we do as a Gator football team."

• The Gators’ fifth-best offensive play of the first quarter was a fumble by quarterback Feleipe Franks that bounced 4 yards forward.

• Only two Power Five schools in the country entered the weekend with fewer sacks than Georgia (10). UF allowed five Saturday.

• UF’s 66 passing yards were the fewest of the McElwain era and the worst since a 23-20 loss at South Carolina in November 2014. A day later, UF fired McElwain’s predecessor, Will Muschamp.

• Only a garbage-time touchdown on a drive led by backup quarterback Malik Zaire prevented UF from being shut out for the first time since 1988.

While McElwain answered every question about his future, his players declined to comment about the speculation that won’t stop anytime soon.

"I’m not going to dwell on all that stuff," Franks said. "It’s out of my control."

All that he could control was his showing Saturday: 7-of-19 passing for 30 yards and an interception. It was another shaky game by a Gators quarterback — the types of performances McElwain was brought to Gainesville to end.

"Obviously it didn’t turn out the way we wanted it," McElwain said.

Not Saturday, and not in the two-and-a-half-year era that seems to be nearing an end.

Contact Matt Baker at [email protected] Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

     
         
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