Pat Dooley grades the Gators after Florida’s 38-33 loss to Tennessee.
First half: Florida coach Billy Napier knew he would have to score some points so he went for it twice on fourth down in his own territory. Successfully, I might add. Anthony Richardson had a big half both running and passing and Florida dominated the time of possession, which is something they needed to do.
Second half: It was pretty incredible at the end of the game that Florida actually had a chance to win. Unfortunately, their coach had put them into a position where a field goal did them no good. Florida did not run the ball well (the running backs averaged 3.16 yards a game), but kept finding ways to convert fourth downs.
For the game: Maybe we get this Richardson the rest of the season, although the SEC East seems like it is not a possibility. “He showed up to work today,” Billy Napier said. He looked like a different quarterback and the receivers were able to eventually get open. Even the tight ends had an impact in the game.
First half: There were a lot of plays that made you think Florida’s defense with Ventrell Miller would make a difference. The trouble is, there aren’t enough Ventrell Millers. Florida allowed 337 yards in the half including a 99-yard drive at the end of the half.
Second half: It didn’t get any better. Hendon Hooker, a sixth-year senior, just kept making things happen and Florida could not cover anyone. No pass rush, secondary out of position. It almost got really ugly, especially after the final Tennessee touchdown that came after a holding penalty backed them up to the 16.
For the game: The Gators did get two turnovers, but this defense was downright terrible in the overall scheme of things. Can you force one punt? Florida’s defensive line was bad once again and it exposed an average secondary. Too many defenders were invisible in this game.
SPECIAL TEAMS D+
First half: You can never get too upset with a guy for missing a 50-yard field goal, but Adam Mihalek’s went wide left instead of giving Florida an early lead. Florida only punted once and it was a beauty with Jeremy Crawshaw pinning the Vols at their 1-yard line. It didn’t work out, but it was a nice play by Justin Shorter to track it down.
Second half: Hey, the second onsides kick was a real thing of beauty. Great play by Diwun Black. But Florida had another penalty on a kickoff return and that is getting ridiculous. Also, the coverage team gave up a big return on a kickoff as well after cutting the lead to three.
For the game: We were promised excellent special teams. As Ted Knight said in Caddyshack, “Well, we’re waiting.” Other than the onsides kick recovery, it was another one of those games where Florida’s special teams were a lot of nothing.
To go into that environment and have a chance at the end says a lot about the fight on this team. It didn’t help that Napier made some really bad decisions, including the first try for two that made no sense if you can add. “We need to coach better,” Napier said. “We didn’t do enough to win.” Nope, and now we get to see what a program that has lost 10 of its last 12 SEC games can do to pull out of this funk.