UF defense struggled in second half

Florida defensive lineman Taven Bryan reaches out to sack Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond during Saturday's game at Ben Hill Grifin Stadium. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

After Texas A&M won the coin toss and received the ball to begin the game, the Gators had an opportunity to score first in the second half and regain momentum. Instead, the UF offense went nowhere and the defense once again allowed the opposition to drive down and put six on the board in the 19-17 loss Saturday at Florida Field.

Any momentum the Gators had coming out of the break had evaporated with the one-score lead, bringing back memories of Florida’s 17-16 loss to LSU just the weekend prior, a loss that saw the Tigers push the lead to 14-3 after opening the second half with a well-designed drive that left Florida’s defense reeling.

Considering the Gators had made second-half urgency a point of emphasis throughout the week of practice, it was a frustrating sign of regression from a unit that had held the Aggies to just a field goal in the opening minutes. And as the Gators could only watch as the Aggies drove down the field and kicked a decisive field goal to pull off the second-half comeback, the Gators and coach Jim McElwain found themselves once again searching for answers after a second-half collapse.

“Unbelievable, we had a great plan. We missed two blocks, I know that for sure,” UF coach Jim McElwain said of conceding the early second-half touchdown. “And it wasn’t anything the other team did.”

It wasn’t the decisive moment in Florida’s loss – that would come on Feleipe Franks’ interception on the final drive – but the lack of a stand to begin the second half set the tone for the remainder of the contest. After holding Texas A&M freshman quarterback Kellen Mond to a lone rushing yard in the first half, the UF defense seemed to lose track of the dual-threat signal caller, who would continue to pick up critical first downs with his feet to finish with 52 rushing yards and a touchdown to go along with 180 passing yards on just eight completions.

After the game, UF’s defense seemed disappointed at the setback in a critical stretch, which helped seal UF’s worst start to a season in 14 years, but wasn’t ready to blame the loss on the second-half start.

“It’s not really that demoralizing because my coach in particular, he always preaches to us before the game that there’s a lot of good stuff that’s going to happen and there’s a lot of bad stuff that’s going to happen,” Gators defensive end CeCe Jefferson said. “You just have to keep your head up and continue to play, and bounce back from it. And I thought we did a pretty good job of (bouncing back), so it wasn’t that demoralizing.”

Asked to pinpoint the difference between the two offenses in the second half, McElwain once again cited Florida’s lack of explosive plays as a determining factor rather than the defense’s inability to get a stop in the opening minutes of the second half.

“There were a couple explosives in there that ultimately flipped the field on us,” McElwain said. “Give them credit, they took advantage of it. And their defense did a pretty darn good job in the red zone keeping us out of the end zone. They made the plays and we didn’t. Simple as that.”

For his part, Jefferson concurred that a defense that held the Aggies to just 83 rushing yards on the night did its part, but stopped short of putting blame on the offense.

“I feel like the defense always does enough,” Jefferson said. “I’m a defensive player, so that’s just how I feel.”



  1. Can’t look forward to an imaginative offense;
    Can’t look forward to a don’t break defense;
    Can’t look forward to extra points;
    Can’t look forward to getting in position for long field goals;
    Can’t look forward to Townsend’s long punts.

  2. It’s insane how routinely this team gives up 6 coming out of the half. For a team that lives, and has lately died, by one possession games, how can letting the other team drive right down the field for a TD continue to happen? Have they tuned coaches out? Are the coaches not delivering the right message? Have these players quit on their coaches?

    What gives? Football is a game of adjustments, none bigger than adjustments made at halftime . The lack of urgency shown from this team on both sides of the ball, but Def especially is alarming.

    Hope we have enough wins to make on of the early bowls.

      • It’s not so much that they give up points. They usually give up 6, which is a HUGE problem. Our D you would think could have held them to 3 on some of these 3rd qtr opening drives. Not even asking for a lot when I say that. Not use to a team getting throttled for 6 routinely like this team is. When all our games are one possession games, that opening drive on D for the second half is a contributing factor to the losses adding up

  3. “‘I feel like the defense always does enough,” Jefferson said. “I’m a defensive player, so that’s just how I feel.” ~Gatorsports.com
    Well, I feel like that FRESHMAN Q.B. for A&M made you all ”look like fools” when he dropped back to pass, saw you all were just ”doing enough”, and then allowed him to strut right into the end zone for an EASY TEXAS A&M score last night! So chew on that in the film room today!

  4. It’s not the defense, it’s the offense that’s not doing their part. We have lost 2 games by a total of 3 points. It’s the same every game. 3 and out. 3rd and 1, what do we do, well of course we going to run it up the middle.Everybody knows it and so does everybody we play. QB always locks on to one receiver and that’s all. Franks has no idea how to play the QB position. That is the one player we need and don’t have. If we all think about it you know what I’m saying is true. Too bad Del Rio got hurt. I hoping Matt Corell does’t change his mind. Also, the coaching is HORRIBLE. Still with all this said, I’m still going to watch the Gators play no matter what.
    Doggone it I’m been a fan since 1968, and I will always be. GO GATORS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • When Corral is Gator chomping in his games when he scores TDs while no longer taking any visits and plans on signing in a month and a half, I’m pretty sure he’s solid. No reason for him to watch Franks play and not believe he can come in here and start right away. He’ll have plenty of time to learn the plays as an early enrollee. He along with every other recruit can see this team is only a QB away from competing for titles, but are struggling big time with all the top players on offense and a few on defense out with injury or suspended. These recruits aren’t as clueless to what’s going on as a lot of the fire Mac Gator fans are.

  5. 19 points isnt a defense that struggled, ALL defenses are more tired in the 2nd half, thats why there usually more scoring in the 2nd half. There was alot of dumb statements in this article and none of these writers will put the blame squarely where it belongs….on Nussmeier! Townsend wasnt responsible for that loss, nor was Franks or the defense. Nussmeier was. When they had their next to last possession at 5 minutes he stupidly did 3 straight dive plays with malik davis which of course failed and we had to punt it back to A&M. We desperately needed to keep that drive alive, leading by one point and kill the clock which we couldnt do with such idiotic play calling. No, the blame for the loss sits squarely at Nussmeier’s feet! Our guys played their tails off, its NOT their fault!!!!! Come on Dooley and Andreu start telling the truth, the play calling stinks because it is so predictable and lacks creativity and retards this offense which could be pretty good if they had decent play calling.

  6. This defense held an offense averaging over 400 yds and 30pts per game coming in to 19 pts and 263yds. The same amount of points that #1 Alabama held them to but Bama gave up 308 yds. Anyone who puts this loss on the defense is an idiot.