Dooley At The Half: Gators struggling vs. ‘Canes

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Miami players prepare to recover a fumble during the first half of the Florida-Miami game in Orlando on Saturday. [Doug Engle/The Gainesville Sun]

Sun sports columnist Pat Dooley takes a look at the first half of the Florida-Miami game:

* Florida’s first half was exactly what Miami was hoping for on a steamy night in Orlando. The Gators had two huge turnovers and the Hurricanes were able to use their short passing game with a ton of screens effectively enough to take the lead late in the half. UF did not want to let Miami hang around and instead let Miami go in at halftime with all of the momentum.

* Miami’s Scott Patchan, whose brother always seemed to play his rear off at Florida, was a thorn in the Gators’ side in the first half. It almost felt like he was in on every tackle and recovered a fumble at the Miami 9-yard line. Sometimes, it takes guys playing at a level above their talent to make things happen.

* UF’s defense did a lot of good things, including three sacks in the half, but the 90-yard drive that allowed Miami to take the lead was a clinic in missed tackles. On the drive, Miami converted a third-and-15 and a second-and-19, not to mention the touchdown pass after Miami had been called for a holding penalty. That’s not an elite defensive effort.

* So where was this great offense we had been hearing about all summer? Florida struggled to get the ball to its wide receivers in part because Feleipe Franks had to deal with pressure on too many pass attempts. The Gators only ran 26 plays in the first half and only got that many because of three fourth-down conversions. You can blame some of it on the new offensive line, but certainly not all of it.