The Tailgates’ Pat Dooley Grades the Gators after their 39-36 OT loss to Arkansas in The Swamp on Saturday:
First half: Florida stayed pretty much with short passes and struggled again to get the running game going and protect Graham Mertz. The last drive to get a field goal was a big one.
Second half: The third quarter was again lethargic on offense as has been the case much of the season. Florida’s drive for what could have been the game-winner was certainly a drive where they rediscovered tight end Arlis Boardingham.
For the game: It wasn’t a great day for the offense and yet the Gators scored 36 points. That usually is enough to win a game, especially in The Swamp. But the offense did not get it done in overtime and that was the difference.
First half: Billy Napier said during the week that he didn’t know what “flavor” his defense would be getting with a new offensive coordinator for the Razorbacks. It was “used diaper” on the first drive (75 yards) and a lot better after that (75 yards allowed).
Second half: But then came that fourth quarter and OT and the thing everyone was worried about happened when quarterback KJ Jefferson started running over and by Florida defenders, giving his team the lead and then winning the game.
For the game: It was first-and-20 in overtime. Season on the line (kind of). And Florida’s defense put the capper on a bad day by giving up a 20-yard run. This defense has certainly regressed as the season has gone by and missed linebacker Shamar James.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C
First half: We have a special teams sighting. They affected the first half in a big way with the two punt returns from Ricky Pearsall that set up UF’s two scores. And Trey Smack nailed a 47-yarder on a windy day.
Second half: I really thought this would be the week I would give an excellent grade to the special teams. But in the end, Florida lost because of a missed extra point and a missed field goal.
For the game: I’ll still give them a “C” because the return game was the best we have seen all year.
You lose, you get a bad grade. The resiliency of this team was great, but everyone knew what was on the line here and it went South right away. Think about what this means – likely a third consecutive losing season for a once-proud program.