UF journal: ‘Sleepwalking’ defense continues to cede points

South Carolina running back A.J. Turner (25) runs for 30-yards before he is stopped by Florida defensive back Jeawon Taylor (29) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
South Carolina running back A.J. Turner (25) runs for 30-yards before he is stopped by Florida defensive back Jeawon Taylor (29) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Published November 10
Updated November 10

GAINESVILLE —Florida's second 17-point comeback of the season shouldn't overshadow an important fact.

The defense needs a lot of work.

One year after producing one of the worst statistical seasons since World War II, the Gators' defense has done something that hasn't happened since the first World War.

UF has allowed at least 31 points in three consecutive games. The last time that happened: 1917, when UF lost 68-0 to Auburn, 55-7 to Clemson and 52-0 to Kentucky.

It's not as if the coach on the other sideline is an offensive guru, either. Saturday was the sixth time in 16 SEC games at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium that Will Muschamp scored more than 30 points.

Two of the culprits are becoming commonplace for UF. South Carolina's first two touchdowns came on easy passes to tight ends. The Gamecocks started 6-of-7 on third down before UF began to crack down in the third quarter.

"I think it was just us sleepwalking a little bit," DB CJ Henderson said. "We had to get together. I think it was beating ourselves, I don't really think it was them."

Better crowd

UF's announced attendance of 82,696 was up considerably from last week. DB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson was vocal last week about the lack of student attendance on Twitter and clarified his remarks after the game.

"Students, they say we're the best school in America. But if you're going to talk about it, be about it," Gardner-Johnson said. "Like you tell us, if you want to win go win ball games. If you want to support us, show us through actions. Don't just talk about it, show up and support your team. If it's your team, you don't got to watch, or you can watch it at home. We don't really watch, we don't really care."

QB drama

Gardner-Johnson didn't have much patience for the Twitter drama between Feleipe Franks and former QB Luke Del Rio. Del Rio tweeted last week that coach Dan Mullen was in danger of losing the fan base if Franks remained the starter. Franks responded with a thumbs-up emoji.

"Luke Del Rio is the past," Gardner-Johnson said. "So he's speaking on a team that he really didn't have nothing to do with. When he was here, he wasn't no leader. So he can take it how he wants it."

Injury updates

QB Kyle Trask (foot) wasn't seen on the sidelines, but the Gators are optimistic he could return in time for the bowl game. If anything had happened to Franks, blue-chip true freshman Emory Jones would have been available, even if it meant risking his redshirt. Jones can appear in two more games without losing a year of eligibility. WR Freddie Swain, OL Brett Heggie and DB Brad Stewart were all sidelined with injuries.

Gator bits

• RB Jordan Scarlett's 159 rushing yards were a career high.

• UF's 33 first downs were its most in a game since amassing 35 against Mississippi State in 2001.

• The Gators' 367 rushing yards were the most since amassing 418 against Georgia in 2014.

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