Florida Gators Football: Five Takeaways From Saturday

After a 30-27 loss on the tail end of an emotional week for the Florida Gators football program here are five takeaways from the game against LSU.

The Running Game’s Unlikely Leader

Your team’s leading rusher is injured? Use your quarterback, apparently.

With Florida Gators running back Matt Jones out with a leg injury against LSU, the Gators relied on Jeff Driskel to help move the chains. Using him mostly up the middle, the quarterback had 71 yards on 21 carries and one touchdown. Driskel’s longest run on the night went for 10 yards.

Throughout the season, fans have called for Driskel’s mobility to be showcased more and Saturday night it was on full display. The line got a good push and Driskel showed a good second effort on some plays, especially a fourth-and-one that looked as if the Tigers might stuff it.

The Defense Played Well, Again

Putting together a second straight week of improvement, the Gator defense made some plays Saturday night. Linebacker Antonio Morrison led the team with 14 tackles, followed by Dante Fowler with 11. The team forced five three-and-outs, had five quarterback hurries and four sacks.

The secondary continues to grow with 5 pass breakups, and while there were still some blown assignments, you can see the young defense communicating better and playing with resiliency, as the team was without sophomore corner Vernon Hargreaves III in the second half. As Florida moves further along during the season, expect for the defense to continue to build upon what they have going.

The Magic of the Mad Hatter

Of course that pass by Driskel with less than a minute left in the game was going to be tipped, then hang in the air seemingly for an eternity to then be intercepted by LSU and returned to field goal range. Of course the last-second field goal would be successful and the Tigers would win in a wacky way. Why? Because Les Miles, that’s why.

Remember 2010, when LSU’s lateral on a fake field goal was thrown perfectly parallel to the line of scrimmage, then bounced just as perfectly into the arms of kicker Josh Jasper? Yeah, there was nothing Florida could do then, too. You know why?

Yes, Les Miles.

The Gators had plenty of chances to win, but when you play against a team led by the Mad Hatter, you better make those opportunities count or the suffer the strange luck of Les.

The Streak Is Over

For 32 games, Quinton Dunbar had at least one catch. It was the third-longest streak in Florida history, behind Ike Hillard (35 games, 1994-97) and Chris Collinsworth (34 games, 1978-80). Saturday night, that streak came to an end, as Dunbar didn’t have a catch against LSU.

Like most streaks, they start off slow, unnoticeable in the initial stages. It’s only until they grow do we take notice and even then the historical aspect places relevancy on how people view it. There have been many great receivers to play for the Gators. Only three have been able to have streaks the caliber of the Hillard, Collinsworth and Dunbar. For Dunbar, it’s a testament to his ability to be a reliable set of hands for the Gators during his time at the university.

The Record Is Still Intact

So if you’re a Gator fan coming off this game, you’re frustrated, angry, disappointed, or maybe a combination of all three. That’s understandable, especially after a game Florida had opportunities to put away. However, take a step away from the social media sites, turn off the highlights and take a second to take in the current reality. Despite a loss tonight, Florida is still undefeated in the East at 2-0. While the loss Saturday was disappointing, the road ahead still provides a route to Atlanta.

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Ryan Randall
From Melbourne, Florida, Ryan has lived in Florida since he was three, becoming a sports fan around that age. His passion for journalism rivals his love of sports. Shortly out of high school he covered prep and community sports for his hometown paper in Brevard Country, before moving to Gainesville, where he covered the Gators in the pros as well as prep sports for a few publications. A Telecommunications major at UF, Ryan now interns at Gator Country and ecstatic to showcase his talents for the publication. When not working on stories, Ryan enjoys playing basketball, music, as well as art. Follow Ryan at @_RyanRandall_


  1. I love your positive attitude and perspective. However, we are Gator fans. I thought there would be some comments on the marginal utilization of Kelvin Taylor, Mack Brown and Adam Lane. While Brandon Powell had a great game, and deserves more playing time, I always thought that he was buried in the depth chart. Was Showers hurt? Where was he? Where was Burton? Why is Debose not used at all on offense perhaps in the wildcat or at tailback?

    Do we not have a fade pattern in the end zone when we are on the two yard line? And if we don’t is it because of the receivers not being able to make a play or the QB not being able to get them the ball.

    Why is Brantley not playing more and McAllister? They seemed to effectuate positive outcomes when they were int here. Why did Tabor come out after a big play only to have LSU take advantage of his replacement Wilson? How does a defensive coordinator allow a clearly dishelved team to convert on 3rd and 25 in his home stadium? Why were there not 3 or 4 DBs standing five yards before the 1st down marker at the snap to prevent that or to at least discourage the thought of that being a successful play?

    When you see all of the avoidable mistakes, the uncanny untimely injuries and substitutions and off the field allegations, you have to start feeling that there is contrivance afoot. I refuse to believe that a program that was at the top of the heap has not been reduced to what we are now seeing without an element of design involved.

  2. If Dunbar was really a “reliable set of hands”, why do passes keep bouncing off those hands, like in Knoxville and again on the opening drive last night? His recent stone hands are helping Driskel out the door. Hey Quinton, what have you done for me lately?
    And did you really trying to spin a positive by saying we’re 2-0 in the East? You are aware that the record against East opponents is irrelevant, and that it’s the overall SEC record compared to the overall SEC record against other East teams that gets you to Atlanta. Wake up – we’re 2-2 and don’t have a prayer of getting to Atlanta.

    • There exists a multitude of problems with this year’s team which certainly includes the frustration of the wr position. But Dunbar was not targeted again following that drop. Are we now unwilling to allow other skill positions to make their share of errors? So the receivers have stone hands, the answer then is to not throw to them anymore? So our running backs may not have mastered pass protection, is the answer then to give Driskel 3-4x the carries of evey other back on our roster? Brian Poole floundered helplessly all night long through penaltiesnand blown coverages, yet he has a Driskel-like imperviousness to being benched due to poor performance. These personnel decisions are killing our momentum and have degraded into just being plain inexplicable.

      I submit, that the lack of pass protection from the running backs, inconsistency from the wrs, and the continuing struggles of the secondary all be damned. This team entered the game with an established agenda to hitch all wagons to Jeff Driskel and the pursuit of gaining his confidence back. The play calling was specifically geared for several series of Driskel runs in order to get him into a rhythm at the expense of establishing confidence and momentum with the other offensive skill players that are supposed to litter this roster. We, again, leveraged our opportunities for success on the wagon of a mercurial qb who this coaching staff seems strangely indebted to. And instead of for,ukating a game plan in which the offensive workload is shared amongst our stable of running backs and bevy of young pass cacthers, we devolve our offense into an easy chew pill version for a quarterback who has struggled mightily against every school not from the state of Michigan.

      In a game, and position, when the team needed a signature TEAM win and a signature TEAM effort, we went full Driskel.

      And you never, ever go full Driskel.

  3. Thanks for checking out the story. On a night where there was a lot of frustration and negativity, I felt I’d take a different take. Yes, the Gators are 2-2 in the SEC as a whole, but you realize Florida is only one game out the top spot in the East despite that, right? While their work is cut out for them, especially after giving up big plays in the secondary again yesterday, there isn’t a clear cut team in that division. Georgia looks strong one week, then looks off the next. Same with South Carolina and Missouri as well. I’m not saying Florida is going to Atlanta, but not ruling it out. It’s all up in the air.

  4. The defense played well, you say? You lost all credibility with that statement. The defense was manhandled most of the night; and gave up a 3rd and 23 at a critical point. You have a very strange definition of “playing well”.

    Gator fans are piling on Driskel again. News for you, he threw several beautiful passes. A few were actually caught; like the one to DR that set up 1st and goal at the two. Of course that didn’t do a lot of good, thanks to runs getting stuffed and–wait for it–a dropped pass in the end zone.

    The first few weeks GC fans were blasting JD for overthrowing on long balls–why doesn’t he give his play makers (snicker) a chance to make a play? Well, he did on the other throw to DR, and LSU’s play maker made the play.

    Now he is being criticized for decision making on the last int which bounced off a receiver. Can any cognizant person not believe that the play was called to go right there? Look at the film if you have doubts.

    I agree with the detractors on one point. WM and JD must be snake bit. Although I don’t think it is their fault; I suspect it is time to turn the reins over to someone else. It will probably be a big relief to both. WM can take home his $$ to the tune of .5 to 1.0 mil/yr as a premier DC. JD will probably make some money playing baseball. Or maybe a pro coach will see the raw talent and set out to develop it. And Gator Cuntry can get the knives out for the next set.

  5. Never realized a defense, making key stops, giving opportunities for the offense to finish the game out and forcing three-and-outs in key moments made me lose credibility. Interesting, OleG8r. We must be watching two different games. But this is why we have comments, right? I appreciate the perspective.

    Did Fournette prove he was a beast? Absolutely. Did Florida slow the running game down when they needed to? Yes. Did Florida blow assignments? Yes, but did they also have key stops when they needed? I’d say so.

    Anyway, I do agree that Driskel made some good throws, and that WM and JD seem to be snakebit. Summed it up on that final pick.