Dooley Grades The Gators: 7-1 deserves an A
First half: The offense couldn't get on the field, running only 21 plays in the half and gaining a mere 175 yards. The fumble by usually-reliable Justin Shorter was one of the biggest culprits as was Florida only rushing for 31 yards.
Second half: The first drive of the half was just what Florida needed, although it was helped by three big Kentucky penalties. Florida also had a pair of drives that went to the Kentucky 2, 26 and 20 that only resulted in six total points.
For the game: First of all, two lost fumbles deep in your own territory is two too many. It was kind of an uneven performance by the offense against a defense that liked to drop seven. Florida scored the fewest points it has all season, but that was a really good Kentucky defense and led the SEC in pass defense coming in.
First half: Despite only giving up 10 points, Florida's inability to stop the Wildcats was a big part of why Kentucky was able to keep the Florida offense off the field. Kentucky converted both fourth-down tries and rushed for 126 yards while having the ball for 23:23 of the first half.
Second half: This defense is crazy. After being dominated in the first half, Florida gave up only 18 yards in the third quarter and came up with a huge play on Mohamoud Diabate's pick that set up a score. Then the Gators started the fourth quarter with a fourth down and got a pick on the next possession.
For the game: Florida was not good for a half, then took over the game with turnovers and stops. The Gators gave up only 21 yards in the second half before putting the backups in the game. Florida had three interceptions in the second half.
SPECIAL TEAMS A-
First half: Hey, a half where the special teams totally made the difference. There was the fake punt that set up the first touchdown of the game and then the Jacob Finn punt to the 1-yard line. And finally, the Great Deception, the punt return with two returners back and Xzavier Henderson faking out most of the Kentucky coverage team.
Second half: Evan McPherson missed a field goal attempt off the right upright on a ball that sounded as if he was kicking a squash instead of a football. So that brings the grade down. Just a little bit.
For the game: With an offense that was not hitting on all cylinders, it was the special teams that made their biggest impact of the season. Being able to go in with a halftime lead thanks to Toney's return was a huge advantage for Florida.
This is the last time I'll grade the Gators for the Gainesville Sun. They won. By 24. It was not perfect, but this team deserves an A grade for getting to this point with a 7-1 record and all of its dreams still alive. Maybe I'm getting soft in my old age.