Going over the tape after a loss is usually an excruciating experience. But it can also be a helpful one, an enlightening one that can be beneficial in the long run.
Such is the case with the Florida defense’s film review of last Saturday’s 24-17 loss to Georgia. It was hard to watch, but some good may come out of it.
At least that’s the hope of defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who directed the viewing Monday.
“The hardest thing as a player is when things don’t go well in a certain situation and area, you have to look at them and say, ‘What do you have to do to do better?’ ” Grantham said. “We watched those plays in a professional setting. It’s, ‘Understand we need better eye control, we need better leverage and we’ve got to play more physical in those situations. If we do that, here’s what can happen.’ ”
The Gators fell short in those three critical areas against the Bulldogs and what happened was an overall disappointing, and frustrating, performance by the defense.
The game changer was the epic fail on third down. The Bulldogs converted 12 of 18, controlling the ball and the clock and keeping the UF offense on the sideline for long stretches. Then there were the breakdowns in the secondary, one that led to a 52-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter moments after the Gators had cut the deficit to 16-10.
Also contributing heavily was the lack of a pass rush. The Gators produced zero sacks and only two quarterback hurries, allowing quarterback Jake Fromm to stay on his feet and comfortable in the pocket for most of the game.
“When you look at the game, it gets frustrating from the standpoint of you go back to everything you did,” Grantham said. “I think our preparation was really good. I thought we practiced the right way, we just didn’t make enough plays. That really goes to all downs.
“We didn’t have sacks, but even on the early downs we had him off the spot and didn’t get him on the ground. Not only third down. We just didn’t finish enough plays and we just didn’t play well on third down.”
The Gators failed to execute on third down. And it wasn’t just in one area. The line could not get a hand on Fromm, the linebackers were out of position at times and the secondary struggled with assignments and covering the Georgia receivers.
It was a total team effort, Grantham said.
“When you go to the third-down stuff, it really just gets down to execution,” he said. “Execution from the standpoint we need to have better eye control, we need to have better leverage and we probably need to play a little more physical, too. And I’m not just talking up front, I’m talking about across the board. If we do those things there are several plays there we could have won.”
Had the Gators executed better on a handful of plays, it might have been a different outcome, Grantham said.
“When you’re playing a team like that that’s predicted to go to the College Football Playoffs before the season started, you have a chance to take maybe one of those touchdowns off the board,” Grantham said. “We ended up giving up two touchdowns and a couple of field goals, but there were probably some points that could have been taken off if we had finished more plays. We’ve just got to continue to work.”
Going over the tape and correcting those mistakes is a start. Plus, there were some positives on the tape to build on, mainly the way the Gators performed on run defense.
The No. 1 priority heading into the game was to contain tailback D’Andre Swift and limit the Bulldogs’ potent rushing attack. The Gators executed that part of the game plan, holding Swift to a season-low 86 yards and the ‘Dogs to 119 yards rushing overall. UGA averaged just 3.2 yards a carry.
“From a run defense standpoint, I thought we played the run really well against a team that can run the ball,” Grantham said. “As a matter of fact, I think that’s the lowest total in a regular-season game since LSU that they’ve had. I thought we did a really good job there.”
Now that the tape has been viewed and filed away, the Gators are back at work trying to correct their mistakes. In the secondary, where so many plays were given up Saturday, it starts with one thing: executing assignments.
There was a lack of that in the loss to Georgia.
“Just not executing,” junior safety Donovan Stiner said. “Our coaches did a good job of putting us in position. We’ve got to go out and execute this week. We have to clean up those mistakes and make sure they don’t happen again.”
The defensive players and coaches are ready to move on to the the next game, Grantham said.
“I told the guys, from a competitive standpoint, you’ve got to really be wanting to play Vanderbilt today because you get an opportunity to go out and play,” Grantham said. “Guys work really hard, they like to be successful. So, we’ve got an opportunity Saturday to showcase our talents and get back to the way we play.”