Andreu's answers: Tough running
Published: Saturday, October 27, 2012 at 8:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 27, 2012 at 8:59 p.m.
JACKSONVILLE — Before every game, veteran college football beat writer Robbie Andreu comes up with five pertinent questions and answers them after the game. Here's Week 8:
1. Will Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel throw for less than 100 yards for the fourth game in a row?
Driskel threw for more than 100 yards in the first half, but that probably was the first sign that things weren’t right with the UF offense. It meant that the Gators were struggling on the ground with tailback Mike Gillislee, and when that happens, bad things usually happen. When UF has been forced into obvious situations, opposing defenses have cranked up the heat on Driskel and throttled the offense. With no running game to speak of, it was pretty much an overall miserable afternoon for Driskel, who threw two interceptions, lost two fumbles and was sacked five times. He ended up passing for a respectable 185 yards, but there were just too many negative plays in the passing game to overcome.
2. UF tailback Mike Gillislee was held to 37 yards rushing against South Carolina. Will he rebound with a productive performance?
Opposing defenses are smart enough to know that if they stop Gillislee, they’ll have a good handle on stopping the Florida offense. That’s what happened again in Saturday’s game. The Bulldogs loaded up the box with eight defenders and gave Gillislee zero room to run for most of the game. The only time he shook free came when UGA was in a prevent defense at the end of the first half. Gillislee was able to make significant gains in that situation on draw plays. For the most part, though, the Bulldogs clamped down on Gillislee, holding him to 77 yards on 22 carries, an average of 3.5 yards a carry. When the Gators needed to run the ball with Gillislee, they couldn’t. That put the onus on the passing game and that ultimately turned into a turnover fest.
3. Will the Florida defensive front be able to put pressure on Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray?
The defense did a good job against Murray, but the Gators mainly did it by covering his receivers for most of the game. He was pressured some, but never sacked and rarely hit by the Florida defensive front. Still, except for that 45-yard TD catch-and-run in the fourth quarter, the Gators did a great job preventing Murray from beating them in the downfield passing game. Murray completed only 12-of-24 passes for 150 yards and threw three interceptions. The Gators came up with a winning performance against Murray, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Florida from falling to Georgia.
4. Will the Florida special teams continue to be a major factor?
Caleb Sturgis kept the Gators in the game by making all three of his field goal attempts. But other than that, the special teams did not come close to making the kind of plays they did in the previous two games. Andre Debose was no factor in the return game and muffed one punt (that was fortunately recovered by wide receiver Frankie Hammond Jr.). Kyle Christy averaged 46.7 yards a punt, but he had a difficult time flipping field position because it was so bad for the Gators for so much of the game. It was a sound performance by the special teams, but nothing close to what the Gators have shown they are capable of in that important phase of the game.
5. Who wins the battle between the UF defensive backs and the UGA receivers?
Other than that 45-yard touchdown pass from Murray to Malcolm Mitchell in the fourth quarter, the Florida defensive backs had the UGA receivers covered up for most of the game. That’s the main reason why Murray completed only 50 percent of his passes and threw for 150 yards and was intercepted three times. Had the defensive backs gotten a little more help with the pass rush, the ’Dogs would have been in serious trouble on offense. But because the Gators did give up the big TD pass with the game in the balance in the fourth quarter, the battle tips in favor of the Georgia receivers.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.