One word that could be used to describe Florida’s 34-17 loss to Vanderbilt Saturday afternoon would be bizarre. Florida had not lost to Vandy since 1988 and had not dropped four consecutive games since 2011. The Gators had more first downs (26-14) and almost double the total yards (344-183) than the Commodores.
Vanderbilt starting quarterback Patton Robinette threw the ball only 12 times and completed six of them for 57 yards while targeting two receivers. The rushing game for Vandy wasn’t anything spectacular either, rushing a total of 44 times for 126 yards. That’s only 2.9 yards a carry but sophomore running back Jerron Seymour made them count, finding the end zone three times.
Yet why was it such a lopsided loss? UF committed four turnovers, all by the hand of redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy who had one fumble and threw three interceptions. “I feel like I let my teammates down” Murphy said after the game.
Gator coach Will Muschamp didn’t peg it all on Murphy but stressed the way they’re playing is not acceptable.
“We didn’t play very smart and we need to do a better job of protecting the ball,” he said, and he added the turnovers were emotionally draining and that “right now we’re not strong enough mentally to handle that.”
Florida falls to 4-5 on the season and 3-4 in conference play. The Gators have three more games left on their schedule, two of them being at home. They head to Columbia next weekend to take on former head ball coach Steve Spurrier and his 12th ranked South Carolina Gamecocks who still have an outside shot at winning the SEC East division. They then welcome Georgia Southern Nov.23 and the following week take on instate rival Florida State on Nov. 30. The Seminoles are ranked second in the nation and are still in contention for a BCS National Championship spot if they can win out.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Gators have to win two of their last three games if they want to become bowl eligible.
“I’m a competitor, I don’t like losing,” Muschamp said. “I certainly don’t like the product we’re putting out on the field and that’s my responsibility… we’ll get it turned, I can assure you that.”