As Florida looked to drive the field with just over four minutes remaining in regulation Saturday, the offense appeared prepared to use as much time as necessary.
But when the drive stalled out and Florida turned the ball over on downs, effectively ending the comeback attempt and sealing the 17-16 loss to LSU, the home crowd grew agitated at what they perceived to be another example of poor clock management.
After the game, coach Jim McElwain didn’t mince words, saying the team’s sense of urgency was noticeably absent, an inexcusable folly considering the gravity of the situation.
“A sense of urgency, it’s pretty obvious that we didn’t have it there,” McElwain said. “We just came up empty with two series on offense and the way they were snapping the ball late in the shot clock, we knew our possessions were not going to be that many. We had to make something happen on those, and we didn’t.”
In two of Florida’s previous three contests, the Gators have had no shortage of imperfect clock management, but until Saturday it hadn’t sealed their fate. First it was Feleipe Franks’ 63-yard bomb to Tyrie Cleveland to stun Tennessee that erased several moments of ineptitude on that game-winning drive. Next, the Gators rallied to beat Kentucky but used a timeout to leave 46 seconds on the clock, allowing the Wildcats a final opportunity to win the game on a field goal as time expired.
Needless to say, fans and UF’s players alike have noticed the lack of clock management, but it sounds like an issue without an immediate solution.
“I really don’t know,” Franks, when asked about the lack of urgency, said. “I think our guys did a great job coming out of halftime with momentum, and you know, just the tempo, maybe we slowed down there a little bit on the last drive. It’s just one of those things we gotta work on this upcoming week, get better at and just get it smoothed out.”
Considering the Gators have had to rally from a deficit in all four SEC games this season, the sense of urgency is apparent throughout the game, but Franks and the offense have yet to identify a factor in why the unit slowed down in the decisive period. The redshirt freshman signal caller made sure to heap praise on the improved play of the team’s offensive line, which has given UF an opportunity to build the rushing attack and wear down the opposing defense. Franks said the team must find a way to either put the game away earlier or regain that needed energy in the fourth quarter.
“Unfortunately we came up short tonight, but we definitely got back in the game,” Franks said. “We’ve got to definitely start fast, come out in the second half fast. There’s a lot of things that we can improve on and it’s only going to get better throughout the season. I don’t think you can just define us off one game. I mean, we’re going to definitely get better. We’re going to improve from here.”
Who: Texas A&M (4-2, 2-1) vs. Florida (3-2, 3-1)
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850