Coming off an extremly disappointing 24-20 loss in Jacksonville, there are glaring weaknesses which have prevented the Gators from winning in the last four contests.
Perhaps the biggest is the run game, though there are some mitigating factors.
"We have to find some ways to run the football," Coach Will Muschamp said after the game. "We cannot be so one dimensional and that’s something we have to work on."
The Gators rushed for -19 yards on 22 carries.
And while excuses are not the style of the head coach he admitted that John Brantley's ankle affected the overall offense and was in part the reason the Gators could not rush the ball. He also touched on a theme which many Gator fans have noticed even when Brantley was on the sideline in the last three games, running "downhill" versus "east-west".
"There’s no question it affects the run and we run the ball so much east and west - we need
to be able to run the ball downhill and when you’re in the gun it’s hard to run the ball consistently downhill," Muschamp said.
"It’s very difficult to run a power running game with who we have. I like the guys we’ve got, but it’s just the bottom line when you look at some situations of where we are. It doesn’t take anybody real educated to figure it out right now."
Mike Gillislee did not play in the game because of an ankle injury suffered in the loss to Auburn. Jeff Demps played but was not at 100-percent. Chris Rainey suffered a right ankle injury in the first quarter and was limited the rest of the way out.
"So again, [Brantley] was limited with his ankle but we felt like he gave us opportunity to be
successful in the game so that’s what we went with," Muschamp continued.
"I’d do it again, John played well and we just need to figure out how we can run the ball a little bit more effectively."
Brantley was 10-for-20 for 226 yards in the first half alone, averaging 22.6 yards per completion. But completed just two passes for 19 yards in the second half, finishing 12-of-34 for 245 yards and a TD.
The Bulldogs sacked Brantley six times for -43 yards. Brantley's limitations not withstanding, the offensive line struggled mightily on Saturday. Brantley's health is still in question against Vanderbilt. How he recovers obviously is yet to be seen. But it's not a given that he'll play or be able to take snaps under center next week.
Brantley told reporters in the locker room there would be "no pointing fingers" and that the team should stick together. Watch video below:
The Gators were penalized 14 times for 106 yards. And Saturday's penalties weren't just a matter of the Gators playing physical, (though personal fouls were called and is not necessarily a bad thing), but rather a host of false start and delay of game penalties.
Rainey and Frankie Hammond each fumbled the football giving the Bulldogs good field position.
Walk on kicker Brad Phillips found out 10 minutes before the game he would be kicking field goals for the Gators.
Phillips missed his first try of the game, a 38-yarder, but said afterwards, which TV cameras caught, Muschamp gave him words of encouragement.
“Muschamp came up to me and told me to relax, and pretty much the whole team boosted me up on that one and helped me get through the rest of the game. It calmed me down after that field goal and I was able to do what I needed to do for the rest of the game."
Phillips made a 43-yarder in the second quarter and a 40-yard field goal in the third quarter.
Defensively the Gators allowed 185 yards, which is a lot, but considered the Bulldogs ran the ball 49 times, the Bulldogs were limited to 3.8 yards per carry.
The Gators haven't lost four straight in a season since 1988, when they were led by Galen Hall. That year the Gators dropped four straight in a span from Oct. 8 to Nov. 5 losing to two ranked Auburn and Georgia teams.
The Gators drop to 4-4 overall and now have just four regular season games to make this 2011 season right. The Gators have what would be considered two winnable games and two challenges.
Sat, Nov. 5 Vanderbilt at home 12:21 p.m
Sat, Nov 12 at South Carolina TBA
Sat, Nov 19 Furman at home 1:00 p.m.
Sat, Nov. 26 Florida State at home TBA
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