Dooley: Blame aplenty for UF loss


Florida Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel (6) tries to throw a desperation pass during the second half of the Gators' 21-16 loss against the Miami Hurricanes on September 7, 2013 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Fla. (Rob C. Witzel/Staff photographer)

The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, September 7, 2013 at 6:05 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 7, 2013 at 8:36 p.m.

MIAMI GARDENS — Jeff Driskel stood against a wall in the bowels of Sun Life Stadium as Miami fans celebrated just yards away. He answered all the questions with conviction. He took all the blame anybody wanted to shovel on him.

“It was awful,” he said. “We were moving the ball all day long. But I made a couple of mistakes and they were costly.”

It will be easy to beat up Driskel after his performance. On the one hand, he was 22-of-33 for 291 yards. He ran for 39 yards (losing 20 in sack yardage to bring his total down to 19) and ran for a score.

But the problem was that Driskel was either really, really good or really, really bad. Florida only needs him to be an average quarterback and while really, really good and really, really bad may add up to average, they certainly didn't add up Saturday.

There was plenty of blame to go around for this loss.

The defense played great football after the first quarter, but that first quarter gave Miami just what it needed — the belief that it could play with the mighty Gators. There were a lot of bewildered looks in the press box when Florida went for two after its first score. I don't get it. Coach Will Muschamp said he would do it again, but I still don't get it.

There were a lot of bad decisions in this game. Like tight end Clay Burton's personal foul and Dominique Easley's roughing the passer and the fourth-and-1 that went nowhere.

But what will be remembered the most from this game was the decisions Driskel made.

The worst were his two interceptions.

They were the kind of plays that left you shaking your head because they're exactly the kind of plays he can't make. When you're going to play this style of football, the margin of error is small and these were errors that were bigger than the ocean a few miles away.

On the first, Driskel threw into triple coverage. That was one play after he sailed a pass over the head of a wide-open Quinton Dunbar in the end zone. Maybe he was pressing because points were so valuable.

“It was a dumb play,” Driskel said. “I tried to make a bigger play than I should have.”

You throw that away and you have a chip-shot field goal and it's 14-9 and your plan to wear Miami out is working and your defense is stuffing the 'Canes like a Thanksgiving turkey.

“You can't throw the ball into coverage in the red zone,” Muschamp said. “You just can't do that.”

Driskel bounced back to drive the Gators down the field again. Driving the ball was the least of their problems. But on fourth-and-1 at the Miami 17, Driskel ran into a wall of Hurricanes for no gain.

I don't have a problem with going for it at that point in the second quarter. I'm not a big fan of the quarterback sneak, especially when Miami shifts its entire defense to stop it.

At that point, Driskel has to be smart enough to call a timeout or check to another play. Instead, it was another bad decision.

The second interception, I can't explain who he was trying to throw to.

As a result, every time you thought the Gators might be ready to take this game over, they allowed Miami to seize the momentum.

Here's the bad news for Florida — I came into this game thinking Miami was the fifth best team UF will play this season. I leave this game thinking the exact same thing. I know Miami is celebrating this win like it just won the Super Bowl and it should. The Hurricanes beat the hated Gators in front of a rare sellout crowd.

But it doesn't mean Miami is back. You can't count on five turnovers in every game.

As for Florida, it's clear to me that this defense is good enough to keep the Gators in every game, and there were a lot of things I liked about this offense, even if it's hard to watch at times.

But Florida can't beat anybody with this many mistakes.

“We couldn't hold on to the ball,” Driskel said. “And it starts with me.”

On Saturday, it ended there, too.

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

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