The Florida Gators lost to the Florida State Seminoles 27-2 on Saturday night in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The loss marked the third consecutive defeat at the hands of their archrival and officially eliminated the Gators from the College Football Playoff picture.
Here are five observations from the game:
Austin Hardin’s days are numbered
Different week, same story for the Florida Gators’ kicking game. Austin Hardin attempted two field goals against the Florida State Seminoles, missing left from 51-yards and having another blocked from 37.
The two misses brought Hardin’s conversion percentage down to 38.5% (5-13) on the season and almost caused Florida to suffer their first shutout since 1988.
Despite Hardin’s struggles the team and McElwain have always supported Hardin, professing their confidence in him. That all changed on Saturday night.
“We’ll get a kicker,” McElwain said. “That’s our responsibility and we’ll get one. And we’ll get a good one.”
The Gators are hosting kicker Eddy Pineiro on campus for a visit. Pineiro is the top-rated kicker in the country and currently an Alabama commit. If Florida can flip that commitment, as they have been trying to do for some time now, he could immediately challenge Hardin for the starting job next season.
The changing tone of support for Hardin in public should tell you everything you need to know about how the head ball coach feels about the guy in charge of kicking the ball through those yellow poles.
So are Demarcus Robinson’s days
Demarcus Robinson was suspended for the fourth time in three seasons on Saturday. The troubled receiver has had an impact when he’s been able to get on and stay on the field, but that task, a simple one, has proved hard for the Georgia native.
Officially, as McElwain always says about suspensions, Robinson made a “choice.” This time, however, when asked about Robinson’s future with the team, McElwain only offered up that his teammates would have to decide what Robinson’s future was, implying that there would be a vote or a discussion among the team whether or not they want to welcome a player who consistently puts himself over the team back into the locker room.
Senior tight end Jake McGee said the matter would be handled “in-house” but there is a very real possibility that we have seen the last of Demarcus Robinson in Orange and Blue.
Pour that Sugar out
Florida entered the game on Saturday night against FSU in a position to make the College Football Playoff or, at least, a New Year’s Six bowl game. The Sugar Bowl is contractually obligated to take a SEC team, and if Alabama were to win the SEC Championship they would assuredly be one of the four teams in the playoff. That means the Sugar Bowl would take the next highest ranked team in the SEC.
The Gators dropped to No. 18 in the AP poll on Sunday, two spots behind Ole Miss. The Rebels are done, playing this season and unless Florida wins the SEC Championship game (which would lock them into the Sugar Bowl), they won’t jump past Ole Miss in the standings.
That likely will slot Florida into a New Year’s Day bowl game like the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl (formerly the Capitol One Bowl) in Orlando, or a similar bowl game.
Hats off to Kelvin Taylor and Jon Bullard
Jon Bullard didn’t have to play on Saturday night. Bullard suffered a knee injury against FAU and returned to that game. He’s a few weeks away from completely turning his attention to preparing himself for the NFL Draft and fulfilling a dream of playing football professionally.
Last season Matt Jones, Andre Debose and Darious Cummings all chose not to play in the bowl game to focus on getting ready for the NFL. You can’t blame them. It’s a business decision. Jon Bullard chose the team and his university over himself. That’s commendable and he deserves applause for his team-first decision.
Florida is stuck with Treon Harris
Treon Harris, for better or worse, is the Florida Gators quarterback. If Josh Grady or Jacob Guy were close to Harris on the field Jim McElwain would have made a move by now. The Gators offense has taken giant steps backwards the last three weeks of the season and that all starts with the play at quarterback.
There are two more games the rest of this season and Harris, barring injury, will be the Florida quarterback for both of those games.