After a great win against Florida State, the Florida Gators came into the Sugar Bowl and simply got outplayed as they suffered a 33-23 defeat at the hands of Louisville.
On a night when the Gators came in a 14-point favorite from the get-go, it looked like the Cardinals were the team who were ranked No. 3 in the country and the favorite.
Despite a disappointing loss, Florida finished with a 11-2 record and will now have something to work on this spring and summer as it looks forward to next year.
QUARTERBACKS — D
Jeff Driskel started the game by throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown and his night didn’t get much better throughout the game.
Late in the first with Florida driving, he had a chance to throw a touchdown to a wide open Trey Burton in the flats but decided to throw to a covered Jordan Reed. While Florida ended up scoring on the next play on a fake field goal, the play should have been an easy six.
Early in the second half with the game still in reach, Driskel was hit and fumbled the ball away as he didn’t see the pressure from his backside.
Driskel on the night finished with 172 yards a touchdown but had two interceptions and the fumble.
RUNNING BACKS — C
Mike Gillislee didn’t have many chances to run the ball as the game got out of hand. When he was given the opportunity, he had a decent game with 48 yards on the ground.
Gillislee did have a big catch out of the backfield for 13 yards in the first half that set Florida up for its only touchdown of the first half.
Freshman Matt Jones had three carries for 18 yards including his special teams run for a touchdown in the first half.
RECEIVERS — B
The Gators’ receiving corps didn’t have many chances to make plays, but when it did, the group was able to move the chains.
Quinton Dunbar led Florida with five catches for 74 yards and Omarius Hines had three catches for 34 neither had a touchdown.
Freshman Kent Taylor had his first career touchdown in the second as he hauled in a 5-yard pass from Jeff Driskel in the fourth quarter.
OFFENSIVE LINE — E
Florida was not able to keep the Louisville defensive line out of the backfield all night long.
Even when the game was close in the first half and the Gators were trying to run the ball, the offensive line wasn’t able to block up front for the Florida running backs.
A running game that has been dominant all year was held to just 112 yards rushing, and 23 of those yards came from reverses or speed sweeps by receivers.
DEFENSIVE LINE — B
Florida’s defensive line stopped Louisville’s rushing game all night long and held them to just 68 yards rushing and limited running back Jeremy Wright to 26 carriers for 83 yards on the night while most of those came during mop-up duty.
While the run defense was solid, the Gators defensive linemen didn’t get much pressure at all on quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
The one highlight of the night was junior defensive lineman Dominique Easley who had a sack and also tipped a Bridgewater pass that was intercepted by senior safety Josh Evans.
LINEBACKERS — B
The Gators’ linebacker unit held Louisville to just 48 yards rushing on the night and most of that came on one 24 yard play in the second half.
DEFENSIVE BACKS — D
The story of the game was Florida’s inability to stop the passing game and when the Louisville receiver’s did catch the ball, the Gators cornerbacks had a tough time tackling them.
Some of the issue was Florida played more of a zone defense instead of its typical man-to-man coverage and that allowed Louisville to pass for 265 yards during the game.
Louisville also converted 9-of-14 third downs due in large part to the defensive’s inability to stop the short underneath route or in goal-line situations the fade route.
Loucheiz Purifoy was injured early in the second half while returning a kickoff.
SPECIAL TEAMS — A
Florida’s first half touchdown came on a fake field goal that Trey Burton took the snap and handed it off to freshman Matt Jones for the 2-yard touchdown.
Junior receiver Andre Debose returned a second half kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown that at the time cut the Louisville lead to 16 points.
Caleb Sturgis set the record for most field goals in a season with his 33-yard field goal in the first half.
Kyle Christy had four punts for an average 41.5 yards per punt and had a long of 47 yards.
COACHES — C
Will Muschamp and his staff had several questionable calls including the call to go to more zone defense instead of the usual man to man defense against Louisville.
Another questionable call was when — down by 14 to begin the second half — Muschamp and special teams coordinator D.J. Durkin decided to go with an onside kick that backfired and ended up setting up Louisville for a quick touchdown.
One of the biggest things in the second half was the lack of intensity the offense showed as they were slow getting to the line and burned most of the play clock even though the Gators were down by double digits.