Dooley: UF couldn't find way to win
Published: Saturday, October 27, 2012 at 9:30 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 27, 2012 at 9:30 p.m.
JACKSONVILLE — It was like a balloon being filled to well over capacity, this game between two teams who apparently don't like each other anymore. You could feel that at any minute it was going to explode. And then it did.
All over Florida's unbeaten season.
For more than 50 minutes of football time (which was like four hours of actual time thanks to officials, a bad play clock and CBS), Florida kept hanging in there and you found yourself wondering if it could do it again.
Could the Gators once again pull off a win despite an offense that was stuck in the mud? Could they just hang around and hang around and somehow find a way to win again?
The answer was no and no.
The balloon burst when Malcolm Mitchell took a short pass and made it a long one and again when Jordan Reed fumbled away any Florida hopes.
“We felt it was always a winnable game,” said UF coach Will Muschamp. And it was.
But it was also a losable game.
We kept asking ourselves whether Florida could keep this up, this improbable season based more on results than statistics or stars.
But the quarterback who doesn't make mistakes made enough for a season Saturday. When he wasn't ducking Jarvis Jones, he was giving the ball to the other team. You kind of wondered if a kid with so little experience might have a bad game eventually.
This was the answer.
“You can't put everything on Jeff Driskel,” Muschamp said.
Driskel had four turnovers and enough of Jones to last him a lifetime. We watched Jadeveon Clowney last week and thought he might be the best player in the league. Not so fast my friend.
Because while mistakes and a lack of offense contributed to Florida's loss, it lost to Georgia for the same reason the Gators lost to Georgia last year — they couldn't block Jarvis Jones.
“Good players are going to make good plays,” said Driskel. “And he made a lot of plays.”
In the end, Florida's warts suddenly grew hairs. The things that were tolerable in wins were intolerable in defeat. They had 12 men in the huddle twice. Georgia dared them to throw deep, then made it impossible to do so because of the pressure on Driskel.
“They made us make plays in the passing game,” Driskel said.
Georgia also came out with an energy that Florida struggled to handle. This game was Georgia's season. These Gators have had to deal with fired-up teams all year and maybe it finally wore them down.
But the key right now is not to let one loss become two. Florida needs to beat Missouri and hope for the improbable.
(Do you think Alabama players watched this game and started measuring for ring sizes?)
Florida is 7-1. It went 3-1 during an October that looked brutal. The Gators still have a chance for a really good season.
I'm not saying you shouldn't be disappointed with what happened Saturday. It was mind-numbing to see them time after time give the ball away. It was mind-boggling to see them get nothing out of the drive at the end of the first half, because Driskel threw a pass that he simply can't throw.
And when they got your hopes up that it wasn't over after all, Jones made one more play by stripping the ball away from Jordan Reed.
I get that Gator fans feel empty today. Gator newbies are struggling with the reality of back-to-back losses to Georgia. Brother, you have no idea what it's like to lose to Georgia a bunch of times in a row.
But I understand your pain. I also understand that you can't be shocked.
What I'm saying is that you had a feeling it was going to happen eventually.
A difficult September and a brutal October are in the rear-view. Let's see what November will bring.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley