Each week Gator Country will break down the offense and defense, quarter-by-quarter. We’ll grade each drive and use screen shots and diagrams to break down why plays were successful or unsuccessful.
The Gators got back on track this week against Tennessee, rallying behind backup quarterback Tyler Murphy, who stepped in when Jeff Driskel was lost for the season with a broken fibula on Florida’s second offensive series of the game.
Here is the first quarter of Florida-Tennessee:
1st Drive: 4 plays – 0 yards – 2:00 – Punt
With Valdez Showers out for the game with a knee injury, the Florida staff used that as an opportunity to insert Loucheiz Purifoy into the backfield. Purifoy got his very first offensive start and wasted no time showing his explosiveness. Florida faked to the fullback and did a speed option toss to Purifoy, who showed his explosiveness to the tune of a 15-yard gain on first down.
Driskel found Quinton Dunbar on the next play for a 10-yard completion but Dunbar was called for illegal participation for stepping out of bounds prior to the catch. The call resulted in no play and a loss of down, putting the Gators into a second and 10 situation.
Florida came out in their “10-personnel” (1RB, 0TE, 4WR) for the second and long but ran the ball out of the passing formation. There was what appeared to be a miscommunication between Jonotthan Harrison and Jon Halapio which left Halapio with his back to the defense, looking at Matt Jones carrying the ball rather than blocking. Needless to say the play went for no gain.
On third-and-10 — not exactly where the Florida offense excels — Driskel was flushed out of the pocket, as Kyle Koehne got beat to the outside by the defensive end. Driskel rolled to his left, looking for Ahmad Fulwood but the pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage.
Disaster struck on the next play when Kyle Christy couldn’t handle the snap and Florida lost the 15-yards that had been gained on the drive to give Tennessee the ball inside the Florida 20.
Drive Grade: C
Analysis: The drive got off to a great start with Purifoy’s run. The pass to Dunbar on the sideline was a good throw and catch, just unfortunate that Dunbar stepped out of bounds before the catch. The offensive line messed up on second down and on third down, Driskel was forced out of the pocket and had to roll out due to the pressure. Overall, the penalty killed this drive but Florida didn’t look bad to open the game. Well, other than Kyle Christy’s fumble.
2nd Drive: 7 plays – 38 yards – 2:52 – Interception
Following the special teams gaff, Dante Fowler Jr. gave the offense the ball back with his best Jadeveon Clowney impersonation. Unfortunately, the Gators offense would prove to be Tennessee’s best defense on this drive.
Florida came out in “00 personnel” (0 RB, 0TE, 5 WR) and passed on first down, something they would do just twice (both times on this drive) in the entire first quarter. For the game, the Gators passed just five times on first down compared to 25 rushes.
D.J. Humphries was beaten badly on the first play of the drive but Driskel got off a throw — albeit high — to Trey Burton 21-yards down the field for a first down. Two consecutive drives that start with “explosive plays” can only be termed a good start.
Florida had a first down running play blown up by a cornerback blitz on the next play. The offensive line did a good job blocking, but Tennessee brought more man than Florida could block on the play. On second and 9 Driskel took a shot down the field to Quinton Dunbar who had his man beat, but the ball was badly underthrown. The ball probably should have been caught, but the pass should have led Dunbar rather than making him stop, turnaround and jump for the ball against the cornerback.
As the ball is in the air, Mick Hubert screams “a rainbow” describing how much air Driskel gave the throw. But seriously, if there were rain clouds around, Driskel would have caused a monsoon with the pass.
Driskel made up for it on third and long by hitting a wide-open Solomon Patton for a 9-yard pickup and a first down. Patton did a good job of finding a soft spot in the defense and cut off his route right at the first down mark. He was wide open and Driskel delivered a nice ball to Patton who fell forward for the first down, one of the the little things that Patton is doing much better this season.
After a screen pass to Dunbar on first down and a Solomon Patton jet sweep netted seven yards, the Gators had third and short on the Tennessee 41.
Here is the visual breakdown of the play.
The Gators are in their “11 personnel” (1RB, 1TE, 3WR). Tevin Westbrook runs a dig (blue) and Matt Jones (green) stays in to chip the defensive end before peeling out and running a short hitch. Trey Burton (orange) and Quinton Dunbar (red) run identical crossing routes that are designed to “pick” or “rub” the defenders and get one of the two receivers open. Solomon Patton is running a 9-route or “go” but he is not pictured here.
The crossing routes work and you can see the defenders collide at midfield. While this play looks to work perfectly, D.J. Humphries is getting beaten off the edge (outlined I purple) on Driskel’s blind side and Devaun Swafford (covering Burton) avoids a collision on the play (outlined in yellow). Based on his point of view, Driskel likely didn’t see Swafford at this point and most likely assumed that he was getting picked in that bunch near the middle of the field.
Driskel senses the pressure from his blindside and steps up. What he doesn’t do, however, is take his eyes off of Trey Burton. Driskel gets hit by Marlon Walls while he throws the ball but that isn’t the cause of the interception.
Here is what Driskel saw before the pass to Burton.
If Driskel leads Burton to the yellow circle the pass will either be incomplete or Burton will catch it. He throws the ball behind Burton (to the purple circle) and Swafford is able to read Driskel’s eyes and jump the pass.
It ended up in a pick-six for the Vols and was the end of Driskel’s season.
Drive Grade: F
Analysis: Tennessee scores points and your starting quarterback is lost for the season. Worst case scenario on this drive.
3rd Drive: 9 plays – 21 yards – 5:20 – punt
Welcome to the Tyler Murphy era.
Florida opened up in their “21 personnel” (2 RB, 1TE, 2 WR) and ran an option with Murphy and Mack Brown. Tennessee sniffed the play call out from the beginning and Patton couldn’t hold onto a block resulting in a two-yard loss. Matt Jones was able to pick up six yards on second down despite bad blocks from D.J. Humphries and Hunter Joyer setting up a third and six for Murphy.
This would be just Murphy’s second pass attempt (his first came on the ill-fated two-point conversion attempt against Miami) of his career. He overcame the adversity of an awful attempt at a block from Kyle Koehne and made a great pass to Quinton Dunbar. Murphy rolled to his right, threw the ball perfectly pushing off of his back leg and fit the ball into a small window to Dunbar for a first down, a fearless play for Murphy’s first real passing attempt. Florida ran the ball on the next four plays consecutively for one, four, eight and four yards respectively.
The Gators ran the ball on all three of their first down attempts and gained just three yards on those three plays.
The drive stalled after false starts from Jon Halapio on second and six and Kyle Koehne on third and 11. Florida was forced to punt because of the offensive line shooting themselves in the foot with mental mistakes. Maybe some of it was due to getting a new quarterback in the game and hearing a different cadence but these are two veteran offensive linemen who should be held to a higher standard.
Drive Grade: C
Analysis: It’s frustrating to watch the offensive line absolutely kill a drive, especially Murphy’s first drive of the game as he was beginning to show some promise by moving the offense slowly but surely.
Still, Florida was able to hold on to the ball for more than five minutes and get Murphy’s feet wet.
4th Drive: 4 plays –1 yard – 1:41 – Field Goal
Dante Fowler’s second forced fumble of the game gave the Gators the ball on the Tennessee six-yard line. Down 7-0, this is exactly what the offense needed to jump start things and get back into the game.
Disaster was avoided when Murphy fumbled the first snap but recovered albeit five yards in the wrong direction. On second down, Murphy was flushed out of the pocket to his left and threw the ball away and out of the endzone. On third and 11 Matt Jones got six yards back but could have had more if he would have cut the run outside rather than lowering his head and running into defenders up the middle.
Austin Hardin came out and connected on a 23-yard field goal on fourth down, trimming the Tennessee lead to four.
Drive Grade: C
Analysis: The drive ended in a kick, which is good. However, when you start at the six yard line against a bad football team you need that kick to be an extra point, not a field goal.