JACKSONVILLE — In the week leading up to Florida’s 42-7 loss to Georgia on Saturday, the UF defensive players didn’t hesitate to reveal what they believed to be the key to pulling the upset: eliminate the rushing attack and make freshman quarterback Jake Fromm beat the defense.
But the results were anything but reflective of the game plan, as Florida allowed Georgia to rack up four rushing touchdowns and 292 yards, the most yards allowed on the ground in coach Jim McElwain’s tenure.
“Obviously it didn’t turn out the way we wanted,” McElwain said. “They jumped on us early. I thought our guys hung in.”
From the opening quarter, the Bulldogs looked unafraid of Florida’s rushing defense, as the two-headed monster in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel pounded the ball repeatedly down the throats of the defense. By the end of the opening period, the Bulldogs held a 21-0 lead thanks to a 74-yard scamper by Michel and a game-opening score by Chubb, and the ensuing 45 minutes of action was more of the same.
Following the game, McElwain admitted UF’s defensive plan failed, leaving the third-year UF coach searching for answers once again.
“Those are really good backs,” McElwain said of Chubb and Michel. “And that was disappointing, especially the way we have defended against the run. And yet, that was going to be the challenge, we talked about that coming into the game, was us trying to make them one-dimensional, and we didn’t.”
For a team that had given up just four rushing touchdowns all season prior to Saturday’s contest, the failure to take Chubb and Michel out of the game was deflating for UF’s defense.
“Honestly, I felt like today as a unit, they just ran the ball all over us. They got something started and we couldn’t obviously stop it, and I feel like that’s not what we do as a Gators football team,” defensive tackle Khairi Clark said. “It sucks, because we practice that all week and to not come out and execute what we practice and have them run all over us. It’s just embarrassing.”
In spite of the setback, McElwain stressed the team’s season was far from finished, despite the Gators being effectively eliminated from finishing the season as SEC Eastern division champions again. And with questions about McElwain’s job status continuing to envelop the program, the embattled UF coach emphasized his focus remains on the players rather than on any potential impending decisions.
“It was a blowout, and something I’m not proud of, and yet, you know how you rebound when something doesn’t go right,” McElwain said. “You certainly don’t run the other way, and you come back to work and get ready to go play this game next week.”