For the third straight year, the Florida Gators welcomed a rookie head coach when Bret Bielema and the Arkansas Razorbacks came to Gainesville. The Gators played under the lights for the first time since the 2011 Florida State game, and coming into the game, they sported a 2-2 record in home night games at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
ARKANSAS 7, FLORIDA 0: The Razorbacks went on an eight-play, 64 yard drive on their third offensive series, marching downfield to draw first blood. A Brandon Allen pass to tight end Hunter Henry on a third and three was good for 31 yards to extend a drive that almost ended at Florida’s 35. The next play running back Jonathan Williams reversed his field after being bottled up behind the line of scrimmage to score from four yards out in with 2:09 remaining in the quarter.
FLORIDA 3, ARKANSAS 7: The Gators answered with a 12 play 55-yard drive, taking the ball all the way to the Arkansas six before settling for a 28-yard Brad Phillips field goal with 11:11 left in the half. Florida seemed to lose momentum by running a wildcat play with Trey Burton that lost two yards on first and goal from the six, then after Matt Jones lost another two yards and Tyler Murphy threw an incompletion, the Gators sent in Phillips, who was replacing Austin Hardin, whose first quarter field goal attempt was blocked.
FLORIDA 10, ARKANSAS 7: Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen dropped back to pass, looking for a receiver on an out route but he completed the pass to the wrong guy. Loucheiz Purifoy jumped the route, taking the interception back 42 yards for a pick six that put the Gators in the lead for good with 8:33 left in the half.
FLORIDA 17, ARKANSAS 7: In a situation where most expected Florida to simply run the clock out to take a three-point lead into the locker at halftime, the Gators got aggressive and drove the ball 75 yards for a touchdown against an Arkansas prevent defense. Key plays on the drive were a 15-yard scramble by Murphy and the touchdown play with 20 seconds remaining, a 51-yard pass and run from Murphy to Solomon Patton that covered 51 yards.
Tyler Murphy: 8-13, 112 yards, 1 TD.
Solomon Patton: 3 receptions, 59 yards, 1 TD
Matt Jones: 8 rushes, 19 yards.
THE GOOD: (1A) His name is Solomon Patton and he’s not just your jet sweep guy. What a first half for Patton, who put the offense on his back with a 51-yard touchdown catch and run in the second quarter. (1B) It took Purifoy three seasons to record his first interception but when he did, boy did he make it count. Purifoy picked off Brandon Allen on a third and 6 and took it 42-yards to the house. (1C) The Gators defense have had an interception in 8-straight games.
THE BAD: (1A) The first quarter defense. The Razorbacks ran the ball 11 times for 81 yards (7.36 per carry) and had 16 total plays for 120 yards in the opening quarter. (1B) Trey Flowers had his way with UF right tackle Tyler Moore. Moore continues to struggle with speed pas rushers. He may be the best option at right tackle but he’s not getting the job done.
THE UGLY: (1A) Trey Burton should have fair caught the punt at approximately 5:10 in the 2nd quarter. The Gators continue to struggle to find a reliable punt returner with Marcus Roberson on the sidelines. Burton got the nod and it will likely be his last time returning punts. (1B) The Razorbacks put together an eight-play, 64-yard touchdown drive in the first quarter. The Hogs didn’t do anything special on the drive. There were no trick plays, no slight of hand. They buckled their chinstraps and bullied the Gators defensive front all the way into the endzone. Muschamp will let the defense know about that one tomorrow when the team watches film.
FLORIDA 24, ARKANSAS 7: The Gators went 75 yards in seven plays for a touchdown after taking the opening kickoff of the second half, a drive highlighted by a 12-yard Murphy to tight end Tevin Westbrook catch, only the second reception and the longest career gain of his career. Four plays later Murphy hooked up with Patton once again on a mid-range hook route that was turned into a 38-yard score with 3:37 left in the quarter when Patton spun toward the sideline and turned on the jets.
ARKANSAS 10, FLORIDA 24: The Razorbacks drive stalled at the Florida 13-yard line, but they had some help from Loucheiz Purifoy who committed a pass interference. Then quarterback Brandon Allen connected with running back Alex Collins for a 30-yard gain down the left sideline that put them inside the redzone. They came away with only three, and kicker Zach Hocker’s 30-yard attempt split the uprights to cap off a 7 play, 43 yard drive with 4:12 left in the quarter.
FLORIDA 24, ARKANSAS 7: The Gators went received the opening kickoff of the second half and wasted little time going 75 yards in 7 plays. Tevin Westbrook longest career catch came three plays in and four plays later Tyler Murphy found Solomon Patton again and he did the dirty work on a 38 yard score with 3:37 left in the quarter.
ARKANSAS 10, FLORIDA 24: Arkansas retaliated with a seven-play, 43-yard drive that stalled at the Florida 13, a scoring drive that benefitted from a pass interference call on Purifoy. The big play was an to Alex Collins pass for a 30-yard gain down the left sideline that put the Razorbacks into the red zone. Florida’s defense tightened things up and forced the Razorbacks to settle for a Zach Hocker 30-yard field goal with 4:12 left in the quarter.
FLORIDA 30, ARKANSAS 10: The Gators put the final touches on their third SEC win in three tries with a five-play, 42-yard drive that ended with Murphy’s third touchdown pass of the game on a nine-yard shovel pass to Valdez Showers with 4:47 to go in the game. The drive’s highlights included a Murphy to Trey Burton pass good for 22 yards. Burton did a baseball slide out of bounds while while hauling in the pass. Florida’ placekicking concerns probably were heightened when Phillips then missed the extra point.
Murphy 16-22, 240 yards and three touchdowns passing
Patton 6-124 receiving for two touchdowns; 2-14 rushing
Purifoy 42-yard pick six and forced fumble on a corner blitz.
THE GOOD: Murphy was 6-9 for 128 yards and two touchdowns in the second half while Patton had three catches for 65 yards and a touchdown. Murphy showed complete command of the Florida offense and was so nimble in the pocket that he avoided at least four sacks. Patton, who had only nine career catches coming into the season, had his second 100-yard receiving game. Florida’s defense, which gave up 81 first quarter rushing yards, gave up only 30 in the final three quarters of play.
THE BAD: Austin Hardin had a field goal blocked and Brad Phillips missed an extra point. Those potential four points weren’t needed in this game but they raise concerns about what happens in a close game in the future.
THE UGLY: Center Jonnothan Harrison was ejected in the third quarter for sticking his finger in the chest of an official. The Gators were penalized eight times for 84 yards.