Dooley: Gators dominated


Florida's Andre Debose has his pass intercepted by LSU's Tyrann Mathieu during the second half at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La, on Saturday.

Doug Finger/Staff photographer
Published: Saturday, October 8, 2011 at 9:34 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 8, 2011 at 9:34 p.m.

BATON ROUGE, La. — They trudged off the field, another tail-whipping behind them and into the makeshift tunnel in the bowels of Death Valley. Florida had emptied out another stadium for the wrong reason.

LSU fans started leaving when it got ugly, a victory that was secure long before the final Tiger touchdown was scored. It was a second straight lopsided result for the Gators, the second straight game where they were physically dominated and made too many mistakes.

“It's frustrating,” said senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard. “Things just aren't going our way.”




It's up to Howard and the other veterans on this team to rally a squad that is heading down the wrong path for the second season in a row. There is no shame in losing to two of the best teams in the country on consecutive weeks, but it's a shame they haven't been able to be competitive.

There are enough teams that want to beat the Gators without the Gators beating themselves. But that's what they've been doing, turning the ball over and committing more penalties than any team in the SEC.

Sure, they had almost no chance to win against the No. 1 team in the country on the road with a freshman quarterback who had never taken a snap in a college game.

But the statistic that tells you everything that is wrong with this team right now has nothing to do with high ankle sprains or inexperience.

In their last two games, the Gators have given up 464 yards rushing.

You're not going to beat anybody doing that.

“We thought we could be a dominant defensive line,” said Howard. “Right now it's not looking like that.”

Not even close.

Since taking a 10-3 lead against Alabama, Florida has been outscored 76-11, and the one touchdown in the last seven quarters was lucky, to be honest.

Florida isn't just getting beaten, the Gators are getting destroyed.

Again, these were two great teams they were playing against. College football is breathless in anticipation of the LSU-Alabama matchup in November.

And maybe we all drank too much of the Kool-Aid during the 4-0 start. That team seemed to play with a different energy, but as we look back on it maybe it was just because of the opposition. When the bullies started swinging, this team collapsed into a heap of self-pity.

Their coach is mad as hell and he's not going to take it any more.

“We're going to move forward with guys who do what they are supposed to do,” he said.

Because this game wasn't just a physical mismatch. LSU won the mental side of it, too. The Tigers were a disciplined team. Their tailbacks ran through tackles. Their receivers didn't drop passes.

Meanwhile, I give you Florida, which had two different players jump offside on consecutive plays, giving LSU a first-and-goal at the Florida 6-yard line without having to snap the ball.

Florida, which had a brilliant 25-yard run by Chris Rainey called back because of a block in the back 15 yards behind the play.

Florida, which has given up more yards after contact to running backs the last two weeks than I ever remember a Florida team giving up.

“Tackling's want-to,” said Muschamp. “You either want to do it or you don't.”

Muschamp talked about the Florida Way during his introductory news conference last December. I would hope this is not the Florida Way. Right now, the Florida Way appears to be missing tackles and assignments.

“We're going to do things the Florida Way,” Sharrif Floyd said. “We're going to get it right.”

It's not too late, but time is running out. I get that Florida's situation at quarterback is a mess that is unfortunate. I get that this is a young team with depth issues at certain positions. I get that I saw this as an 8-4 team before the season.

But I also get that 8-4 looks awfully good right now.

Because Saturday wasn't about the quarterback position alone.

It was about all of them.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

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