What we learned: Florida brings out boo birds with loss to Texas A&M

By Adam Silverstein
October 15, 2017
What we learned: Florida brings out boo birds with loss to Texas A&M

Image Credit: @GatorsFB / Twitter

Fans headed for the exits in the fourth quarter before the game was even over. It was that obvious that the Florida Gators would lose their third home game in head coach Jim McElwain‘s tenure when the Texas A&M Aggies once again drove the ball deep for a go-ahead field goal that would lead to a 19-17 win at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.

OnlyGators.com breaks down UF’s loss below.

It was over when: Redshirt freshman quarterback Feleipe Franks had one last chance to drive Florida down the field for at least a game-winning field goal attempt but threw an interception on the first play of his series with under a minute to play. The game was actually over after Texas A&M star playmaker Christian Kirk returned a punt — booted right at him by redshirt senior Johnny Townsend — 43 yards to the UF 39 with 4:20 remaining. It was obvious TAMU would at least net a field goal and take a 19-17 lead, putting the onus back on the Gators to score in a one-minute drill.

Exceptional efforts: The running backs were once again the stars for Florida with freshman Malik Davis (18 carries, 97 yards) and sophomore Lamichal Perine (13 carries, 54 yards, touchdown) basically consisting of the entire offense. Florida rushed for 242 of its 371 total yards with Franks notching an incredible zig-zag 79-yard run — the longest for a UF player since the program started keeping track in 1996. Redshirt junior defensive tackle Taven Bryan was also a beast for the Gators with seven tackles (three solo) and 1.5 sacks, though he seemed involved on every quarterback pressure on Saturday night.

Important injuries: It would not be a Florida game without someone going down. Redshirt senior defensive end Jordan Sherit, arguably the defense’s best player, went down late with a hip injury and did not return. McElwain said after the game he will need surgery, presumably of the season-ending variety. Redshirt senior wide receiver Brandon Powell also hurt his shin in the game and was noticeably hobbled late in the contest.

Odds and ends: Saturday was the 4th time since 2010 that Florida lost back-to-back games in The Swamp; it had not previously happened since 1988 before that … UF went 1-2 on its homestand with its losses coming by a combined three points … the Gators outrushed the Aggies 242-83, dropping their first game when outrushing an opponent under McElwain (16-1) … UF is now 18-3 against unranked opponents with consecutive losses in such games … Florida ran 41 plays in the first half and just 27 in the second half … the Gators are now 5-11 under McElwain when an opponent scores more than 14 points in a game … Saturday was UF’s first night game in The Swamp against an SEC opponent since Oct. 3, 2015 … McElwain is now 13-3 in The Swamp with consecutive losses … the Gators wore a uniform color other than blue, orange or white for the first time in program history

What it means: Franks is not the answer — at least in 2017; he simply does not have the instinct necessary to start at quarterback in this level but maybe (or maybe not) in another year … Florida’s special teams is only getting worse, top to bottom, and the poor play is now affecting specialists who have been bright spots for the Gators; neither Townsend nor redshirt junior kicker Eddy Pineiro had stellar nights as usual with Townsend struggling outside a 67-yard boot … the injuries and suspensions are taking a massive toll on Florida, but it’s not an excuse for some mind-numbing play calling and clock management issues on offense … the coaching decisions are hurting the Gators, but they’re not an excuse for legitimate failed execution and mind-numbing penalties … Florida is an absolute mess right now with plenty of blame to go around — too much blame for a third-year coach to be absorbing midway through a season despite any obstacles he is facing


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