UF special teams come through at end
Published: Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 5:42 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 5:42 p.m.
Before every game, veteran college football beat writer Robbie Andreu comes up with five pertinent questions and then answers them after the game. Here's Week 10:
1. Will Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel have a rare big day throwing the ball against a secondary that is giving up 294.6 passing yards a game?
It was pretty obvious from the start that it was not going to happen. Driskel was pressured early and often and was off target on some of his passes. He managed to put together a solid first half (completing 12-of-15 for 92 yards and a touchdown), but his chances of having a big passing day came to an abrupt end when he sprained his ankle late in the third quarter and did not return. So, Driskel never really had a chance to take full advantage of a UL-Lafayette secondary that came into the game ranked 114th in the nation in pass defense.
2. The Gators have intercepted seven passes in the past two games. Does that trend continue against a team that throws it all over the ballyard?
The trend ended. Terrance Broadway threw only 23 passes, completing 16 for 171 yards, but most of his throws were short, quick passes, while others came when he was rolling out and could be considered safe throws. The UF secondary played a combination of zone and tight man-to-man coverage and put together a solid but not spectacular performance. The Gators never really came close to a pick, and the Ragin' Cajuns wanted to make sure one didn't come on their last possession of the game in the final minute. Instead of trying to drive for a possible winning field goal, the Ragin' Cajuns ran the ball and took all but the final few seconds off the clock.
3. Will the slow-starting Florida offense get rolling early against a very suspect Ragin' Cajuns' defense?
Based on how poorly the Ragin' Cajuns have played on defense, the possibility seemed to be there for the Gators to get off to a quick start offensively. But, it didn't happen. Instead, the offense came out and struggled just like it has in every game this season. There were no holes for tailback Mike Gillislee, no time for Driskel, nothing even close to a big play for the Florida offense. As a result, the Gators were outgained in the first quarter for the 10th time in 10 games this season. UF managed only three first downs, 40 rushing yards and 27 passing yards. The Gators' only points in the quarter, a 38-yard field goal by Caleb Sturgis, were the product of a turnover on UL's opening possession.
4. Will the Florida offense create some explosive scoring plays that won't be called back by penalties?
The offense had several explosive offensive plays — the biggest being Jacoby Brissett's 39-yard pass to tight end Jordan Reed that set up the tying touchdown with 1:42 to play — but none went for touchdowns. UF's touchdowns came on a 2-yard reception by Trey Burton, a 3-yard reception by Quinton Dunbar and on a 36-yard blocked punt return by Jelani Jenkins with only two seconds left. The Gators had plenty of penalties on the day that helped UL sustain scoring drives, but they did not have any scoring plays called back in this one.
5. The Florida special teams weren't all that special in last week's win over Missouri. Do they get back on track?
Had the game not played out the way it did in the final 1:42, we'd be talking about how the usually reliable UF special teams had their biggest meltdown all season. That's because late in the third quarter, the Ragin' Cajuns blocked a Kyle Christy punt and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown to give UL a 17-13 lead and all kinds of momentum. But, just when it looked like Saturday's game was heading into overtime, the Florida special teams came up with the biggest play of the game, maybe the season — Loucheiz Purifoy blocking a punt that was caught and returned 36 yards for a touchdown by Jenkins to make the Gators winners with only two seconds to play. Take that play away, and the UF special teams didn't do much, although Christy averaged 45.6 yards a punt and played a pivotal role in UF winning the field-position battle in the fourth quarter.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or email@example.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.
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