Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gators mistakes leave them seeing red

MIAMI

For the Florida Gators, the end zone always seems uphill. Even when they are close to it, it seems far, far away.

They sputter, and they spew, and they self-destruct. They get stuck in the mud, and they fizzle, and they flop. They are a tease, moving the ball easily across every stripe on the field that doesn't give a team points and then bogging down just short of the one that does.

They can be a maddening team to watch, these Gators. Take Saturday, for instance, when Florida spent most of the afternoon on the verge of winning and somehow left the game lying somewhere in the University of Miami red zone. There were too many turnovers, too many botched opportunities, too many mistakes inside the Hurricanes 20.

It all added up to a 21-16 victory by Miami, one of the Hurricanes' biggest victories in years. If Florida is really pulling out of this series in search of more home games, then the 'Canes gave them a reason why.

And give the 'Canes credit for this much: When they were in the shadows of their goal line, every defensive lineman turned into Warren Sapp and every linebacker into Ray Lewis and every defensive back into Bennie Blades. For Miami, there is no such thing as a bad day that includes a victory over Florida, and everything else is details.

Still, if you follow the Gators, this has to be a vexing defeat to endure. Florida spent enough time in the Miami red zone to qualify to vote there, and time after time, to the point of disbelief, the Gators would find a way to mess it up.

"You can't turn the ball over five times and go 1-for-6 in the red zone," said coach Will Muschamp, glancing at a stat sheet and shaking his head. "Just killer turnovers. The bottom line is that you cannot continue to shoot yourself in the foot and give someone else the opportunity, especially on the road. And we certainly did that."

Shoot yourself in the foot? Hah. The Gators went all Scarface on their own feet. They machine-gunned their toes, and they glocked their ankles, and they bazookaed the area in between.

Consider: After a blocked punt set up their first touchdown, the Gators were trailing 7-6. Yet they got all tricky, failing on a two-point conversion.

Consider: Early in the second period, the Gators drove 54 yards to the 11 of the Hurricanes. But on third down, Jeff Driskel threw the ball directly to Miami's Rayshawn Jenkins. "Dumb play," Driskel later said.

Consider: On their next drive, the Gators drove 56 yards to the Miami 16. But on fourth and 1, the Hurricanes jammed the interior of the line and stopped Driskel cold. Yes, he could have audibled out of the sneak, but he said he felt his line could get enough push. It didn't.

Consider: On the drive after that, the Gators went 66 yards to the Hurricanes 13. On first down, Trey Burton fumbled after a 4-yard reception.

Consider: Early in the fourth period, the Gators were at the Hurricanes 17. On third and 3, Driskel threw his second interception. "A bad call on my part," Driskel said.

And so it went.

This year, the Gators offense is supposed to be much better than the scratch-and-claw and wear-opponents-down style of 2012, but you could only notice that between the 20s. Yes, the Gators outgained Miami by more than 200 yards, but they didn't make the big plays in the big moments.

Miami did. When it counted the most, it looked smarter, more resilient. No, the 'Canes still aren't a team that will remind you of the national championship team of 30 years ago — or any of the other four champions in between — but they look like a real team again.

Along the way, they demonstrated how a team has to play to beat the Gators. It has to jam the box and almost dare Florida to throw to beat you. The result was Florida's Matt Jones averaged only 2.6 yards per carry and Mack Brown averaged only 2.9. Driskel, meanwhile, threw for 291 yards but had the two picks to stop drives.

"You can't throw into traffic in the red zone," Muschamp said.

It is telling, perhaps, that on a day that the offense fizzled, Muschamp started his news conference by complaining about the defense. He is, after all, a defensive-minded coach.

But as the Gators look at a schedule that includes Tennessee, LSU, Georgia, South Carolina and FSU, it seems that the offense needs to take a larger stride forward for them to have a chance.

Some of those strides, it bears pointing out, are bound to be in opponents' red zones.

Eventually, some of them need to be in the end zone, too.

Gators mistakes leave them seeing red 09/07/13 [Last modified: Saturday, September 7, 2013 10:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. College World Series: Gators, LSU face off in all-SEC finals

    College

    OMAHA, Neb. — The matchup for the College World Series finals bolsters the case for those who say the best baseball in the land is played in the SEC.

    Florida’s Brady Singer, delivering during a CWS win over Louisville last week, is scheduled to start tonight against LSU.
  2. Jones: Fox Sports Sun shows depth in Rays coverage

    TV and Radio

    tom jones' two cents

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) makes a run home for a score in the in the final game of a three-game series between the Tampa Bay Rays and AL East rival the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, June 25, 2017.
  3. Brian Boyle says returning to Lightning a 'huge option'

    Blogs

    As former Lightning forward Brian Boyle approaches free agency this week, he said he's trying to stay busy.

    Former Tampa Bay Lightning player center Brian Boyle (24), on the ice during first period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa on March 16, 2017.
  4. Rays journal: Blake Snell to rejoin rotation, Erasmo Ramirez heads to bullpen

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — LHP Blake Snell is rejoining the Rays' rotation, but the move has as much to do with helping the bullpen as it does with Snell's improvement during his time at Triple-A Durham.

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Erasmo Ramirez (30) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in St. Petersburg.
  5. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.