Dooley at the Half: UF at Mississippi State

Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill (8) fights his way past Florida linebacker Rayshad Jackson (44) and defensive lineman Jabari Zuniga (92) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Sun sports columnist Pat Dooley takes a look at the first half of Saturday night’s Florida-Mississippi State game:

  1. Florida’s offense had the bad combination of not being particularly effective and not getting many opportunities. Florida had only three possessions in the first half and ran only 25 plays. The big-play capability wasn’t there because Florida played things close to the vest. The running attack was again missing unless UF went wildcat. Of Florida’s 40 rushing yards, 24 came on three wildcat runs. It’s clear the Gators are going to need to be more creative in the second half to generate some offense.
  2. Of course, it doesn’t help when you get four false start penalties in the first half. This place is loud, some of it from the fans screaming and some from the cowbell clankers. The PA system is so loud it’s annoying. But there are no excuses for the way the offensive line played in the first half (throw in a holding penalty on Martez Ivey). The Mississippi State defense is tough, but the worst part is that it plays into Florida’s biggest weakness, which is an inability to create a push up front.
  3. You give up six points in a half on the road and it’s difficult to complain. Florida allowed Mississippi State to only go 1-for-5 on third downs and tightened up twice in the red zone. But those two drives were so long (11 and 12 plays) that they ate up the clock. Losing Trey Dean early didn’t help a depleted secondary, but the main problem was containing MSU quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. Take away his sack yardage and he rushed for 43 yards in the first half.