Florida eclipsed 250 passing yards for the eighth time this season, although ultimately the Georgia Bulldogs were the team making the throws when it mattered. A glass-half-full approach would imply potent passing is back in Gainesville, but the flip side is disconcerting for coach Dan Mullen and the Gators.
Florida tallied a paltry 21 rushing yards on 19 attempts, although UF’s running backs did have modest success when given an opportunity.
Gators running backs Lamical Perine and Dameon Pierce combined for 42 yards on 10 rushing attempts — although 19 of Perine’s 31 yards came on the final drive — while UF frequently struggled to sustain drives, and late sacks of Kyle Trask ultimately deducted 22 yards from that total.
One could simply credit Georgia’s front-seven and game-plan, yet Florida’s inability to establish the run at times this season has simply lowered the offense’s ceiling.
And the way things went Saturday, Mullen had to all but abandon the run in the second half as the Gators tried to claw back.
He acknowledged it was the latter rather than the former, saying Georgia didn’t do anything out of the ordinary to counter UF’s rushing attack; the Gators simply couldn’t get anything going.
“They didn’t do anything. You know, we fell behind, wanted to take a lead, we fell behind early. So we were throwing a little bit more. The goal is to try to take the lead,” Mullen said. “We just didn’t call many run plays.”
With just 1,160 rushing yards this season, the Gators sit at second-to-last in the SEC in team rushing yards with just 153 more rushing yards than Vanderbilt, albeit on 47 more rushing attempts.
Which might underscore why Trask’s two touchdowns in the fourth quarter were impressive: he’s making throws in tight windows against a defense dropping seven into coverage. There’s no shortage of reasons as to why UF has struggled at times when it comes to establishing the run; like the inefficiency on third down Saturday, there’s a fair share of blame to go around.
Mullen, taking the heat away from UF’s running backs and offensive line, acknowledged as much in the aftermath Saturday.
“It’s not that complicated. You’ve got to execute. You’ve got to throw, catch, run, block, tackle. Execute,” he said. “We’ve got to do a good job as coaches making sure we’re putting the best guys in position to make plays.”
Fortunately for Florida’s offense, a match-up with Vanderbilt’s defense awaits. The Commodores are allowing opponents 453.6 yards on average this season, good for dead last in the SEC. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt’s rushing defense comes in ranked 13th in the conference, having allowed 202.5 rushing yards per game.
If Florida’s rushing attack is going to get going this season, the next game is seemingly the team’s best opportunity.
“We got a lot of football left. We got two SEC games coming up, we just got to focus on them, hopefully we get a win,” said senior wide receiver Freddie Swain, who led the team in receiving with 91 receiving yards and a touchdown Saturday. “We’re still a good team. I’m not letting this loss define us. We’re still a good team and can still be elite, we just got to focus on the little things as a team, and once we do, we’ll be all right.”