Gators point to turnovers, lack of execution for defeat

Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks leaps over the goal line to score a touchdown in the second quarter Saturday against Georgia at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. [Doug Engle/Staff photographer]

Entering Saturday’s contest, it was Florida which had established a pattern of emerging victorious on the backs of a turnover-hungry defense.

Yet the 19-point loss to Georgia revealed the Gators have several ball-security issues to work out of their own.

Florida coughed up the ball three times on the afternoon, with redshirt sophomore quarterback Feleipe Franks being largely responsible for an early interception and a costly fumble at UF’s 1, while senior running back Jordan Scarlett put the ball on the ground in the team’s opening drive. Momentum was lost, and Georgia would swiftly capitalize.

The trio of mistakes resulted in 13 points for the Dawgs — an eventual difference-maker for a team that would eventually claw back and momentarily claim a one-point lead.

And those forced turnovers the Gators had seemingly turned into a habit? They were nowhere to be seen, as the Georgia offense maintained ball security en route to emerging victorious in a contest that essentially eliminated Florida from claiming the SEC East.

“If you look at what we did in the game — to turn the ball over, minus-3 turnover ratio. You’re not going to win many games doing that. Two of them inside, I think, our own 10-yard line,” Mullen said. “You can’t do that offensively. It just takes possessions from you and flips the field position all night long, giving them those opportunities.”

Hand those opportunities to the opposition, the Gators did. But it wasn’t simply the turnover margin where UF failed to turn the tide. All four of the Dawgs’ touchdowns on the night came on third down — a far cry for a defense that had shown a tendency to succeed on third-and-long scenarios.

“They score four touchdowns on third down. The situational parts of the game, we can’t do that. Two of them we had blown coverages on,” Mullen added. “Just poor execution, and as a team we’ve got to be much cleaner. We got to execute cleaner. You do that, you’re going to have the opportunity to become the team we want to become. We got a big challenge ahead of us. Our guys, we’ll see how they respond.”

In what was essentially a season-defining game, the Gators seemed to struggle with sound execution. For Cece Jefferson, a defensive end who pointed to Florida’s 42-7 loss to Georgia in 2017 as a catalyst for his return, the noticeable drop-off left him speechless.

“I honestly don’t have an answer for you. I have to start going through my mind, and I’m pretty sure other players have to start going through their minds,” Jefferson said. “You can never tell what somebody’s thinking. All you can really do is watch the film and hear what they got to say and just make corrections off it.”

As the Gators look to close the season strong — winning out would give UF a 10-win season, a massive turnaround for a program in disarray just a year ago to date — the focal point becomes polishing and altering the aspects of the game that led to Saturday’s outcome. However, Jefferson didn’t shy away from acknowledging the inevitable agony in the  defeat.

“Everybody was disappointed. We felt as if we were the better team. We just came out and didn’t execute the way we were supposed to,” Jefferson said. “We just did a lot of things that got us in the situation we were in. And we’ve got to bounce back, you know, the season’s not over. It’s just one game, things like this happen. We’ve just got to keep moving forward and keep continuing this season.”


  1. How they made great defense against running yet got no pressure on the QB is my first question. Sure we made too many mistakes, missed some great opportunities and thus lost. We also lost our best DB early in the game and that surely hurt. We need to evaluate what went wrong and move forward. This season is already better than many expected, let all Gators move forward together. Support this team.

  2. Games like this happen. The butt sniffers did the same thing against LSU we did against them. Bad team game against a good team.

    Nothing more, nothing less.

    6-2 after Cocktail party with winnable games the rest of the way – I’ll take it.

    That’s far more progress than I was expecting.

  3. i was pleased with our offensive line btw, usually that means a victory but no one gives them any credit. oh well. jones has shown that he can play against an above average SEC team. for him, its about, 1) can he take a beating that all sec quarterbacks get, and 2) can he not make mistakes and play consistently at a high level. im hopeful that the answer to those 2 things is yes, but time will tell.

  4. It was a defining game of the season. So was Kentucky. You won’t win this game on the high side of critical turnovers. Their defense didn’t have to do much.

    There was no lack of effort by our team. We were just outplayed by Georgia. An experienced SEC QB and receivers working on our rookie corners. Our defensive rush didn’t alleviate enough pressure from the youngsters in the secondary. Game and match.

    So far, we’ve still done better this season than most expected with a lot of football to be played. I’m disappointed to have this game be our worse outing of the year.

    I was also impressed with Coach Mullen’s post-game news conference considering the circumstances. From a mid to long term perspective, the Gators will be relevant under his leadership. They will bounce back this week.

  5. As a team, they need to finish the season strong.
    A 10 win season would make it worth it for ya CeCe, just paly to win in the bowl game. Gators will be stronger next year, especially in the secondary, which got toasted in this contest. Get ready for Missouri, they ain’t no joke…

  6. After the long ride home and a chance to mull over what i saw at the game I’m of the opinion we are better. Yes we made some huge mistakes that cost Big. I’ve been in the Franks camo as he’s been better than last year and have him the bright if the doubt a to whether it was coaching or talent. I’m rethinking that now. Too many missed open receivers and throwing into coverage that was % poor. Didn’t like the decision making and the pressures didn’t seem that great. I think Jones brings different dynamic. If i missed something you guys let me know but where was Trssk? We still has the talent to win that but failed in a few areas. The game got out of hand in the 4 TH. Regroup Gators.

  7. CDM is the man…and his plan for our QB is solid. The QB position is what it is…but perhaps we witnessed the future in Jones. Franks works hard, I’m sure…but Saturday wasn’t his day. We have grown accustomed to living with at least 1-2 boneheaded plays, but to combine that with being off point for whatever reason was too much to overcome against a quality team. The trajectory of this team is up as I was pleasantly surprised with the play in the trenches. The 3rd down execution hurt on defense and they seemed to pick up our blitz packages well. The front 7 wore down at the end but in a loss, UGA knows its a different ball game moving forward. Very happy with where we are overall…just look around the state and at the other Power 5 teams. We seem to be going in the right direction, while Coral Gables U seems to be running in place…and the SOW is running backwards.

  8. Mullen has clearly put us a year ahead of schedule. At the start of the third quarter, despite our turnovers, we were ahead on the score-incredible. Our goal line stand and holding off the Dawgs from the one yard line SEVEN times will live long in my memory-just inspirational. Franks has come a long way but must go a lot farther. Can he improve during the off season and over the Spring and Summer is questionable. We need a top QB for a top tier team. The loss of Henderson showed our DBU is thin and needs rebuilding. Let’s get our fair share of 4* and 5* recruits.

  9. I don’t know who is evaluating Georgia’s talent, but for most of the game Florida was winning both lines of scrimmage. Seven tries and the Bulldogs can’t score from inside the one yard line?

    Alabama is going to boat-race them. I wouldn’t be surprised if they lose to Kentucky.