TALLAHASSEE — A few weeks back, Florida coach Urban Meyer was lamenting that the Gators weren't adhering to their "plan to win" on offense, reiterating that part of their offensive woes was due to poor execution.
Ultimately, he said, a team can have the best game plan in the world, but if it commits too many mistakes, in the end the plan won't matter.
No truer words have been spoken based on Florida's performance Saturday.
Costly mistakes doomed whatever hopes Florida had of earning a victory over archrival Florida State.
Florida had three fumbles, one interception and 11 penalties for 79 yards, including several false starts and offsides that negated yardage gains. Florida also failed to convert on a fake punt at a critical juncture in the second quarter.
One turnover led to an FSU score, on a 9-yard run by running back Lonnie Pryor that gave FSU a 10-7 lead. The botched punt also led to a touchdown, on a 39-yard pass from quarterback Christian Ponder to receiver Rodney Smith that made the score 17-7.
"It killed us," Meyer said.
Trailing 24-7, the Gators put together a seven-play drive that went 60 yards late in the first half, but the drive ended with an interception of junior quarterback John Brantley on the FSU 20-yard line with 55 seconds remaining.
Sophomore quarterback Jordan Reed had run the offense on the previous six plays before Brantley was inserted, which gave Brantley a tough assignment for a rhythm quarterback.
"It's a little tough," Brantley said. "I would say (the pass) was a little bit (forced), but the corner (Mike Harris) made a great play. He covered the fly, then peeled off, so he kind of baited me. He got me. Things happen."
For Florida, bad things happened all game. The players said it was unrealistic to point to one mistake.
"Turnovers, period, just killed us," senior center Mike Pouncey said. "Every turnover we had hurts a lot. That one (interception) pretty much put the dagger in us."
Ultimately, Meyer said, the game was about the plan to win. And lack of execution.
"This is the first time … in 10 years we did not follow a plan to win," Meyer said. "You cannot turn the ball over. I did not think our guys did not play hard. We did not play smart. We didn't coach smart. And we didn't take care of that ball."