Failure to get turnovers stings

Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel fumbles the ball while jumping toward the end zone against Florida during the first quarter Saturday. Florida State recovered the fumble and later scored.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Monday, November 28, 2011 at 11:09 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 28, 2011 at 11:09 a.m.

Florida coach Will Muschamp was asked to evaluate his team's defensive effort Saturday night against rival Florida State.

The Gators held FSU's offense to just 95 total yards. But another number stuck out in Muschamp's mind.

“They got four turnovers and we only had one,” Muschamp said. “So it wasn't good enough.”

Florida has forced a Southeastern Conference-low 12 turnovers this season. Muschamp has stressed turnover margin since the beginning of the season, but it hasn't materialized for a defense that has lacked big plays for the majority of the season.

“It has to be a mindset,” Florida junior linebacker Jon Bostic said. “You have to be able to go in there and poke at the ball and do what you can to get it loose.”

Florida had a chance to recover an early fumble, but Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel instead landed on his own fumble midway through the first quarter at the UF 1-yard line. On the next play, FSU running back Devonta Freeman scored to put the Seminoles ahead 7-0.

Florida strong safety Matt Elam also dropped a potential interception from Manuel in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Florida's defense finally came through with a big play when linebacker Michael Taylor forced a fumble that was recovered by senior Jaye Howard at the FSU 27-yard line.

It led to Florida's lone touchdown on a 6-yard TD pass from Jacoby Brissett to Quinton Dunbar with 4:16 remaining.

But it wasn't enough to offset an FSU defense that generated 21 points off four Florida turnovers.

“Not creating turnovers and not getting good field position — we could have done a better job of that,” Florida defensive lineman Omar Hunter said. “We didn't create turnovers on defense. You can't win like that.”

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