The Florida Gators 31-10 loss to Arkansas was just painful to watch. It felt like the Will Muschamp era never ended and it was 2013 all over again. Jim McElwain said earlier in the week that the Arkansas game would tell a lot about this Florida team, and it did. It showed that this team is nowhere near ready to compete for an SEC title, much less a national championship.
Looking back at the game, there is almost nothing positive to take away. A few defensive players had their moments, but for the most part the defense was at the lowest point it has been all season. It felt eerily similar to the bowl game against Michigan last season. The offense was nonexistent and the defense couldn’t put up a fight anymore.
With that being said, this week’s Wins and Losses is just going to be “Losses”.
It’s kind of funny (and sad), last week it was difficult to come up with any big losses and this week is just losses on losses. It’s crazy how a week and playing decent competition will change things.
LOSS #1: Offense
The offense looks to be regressing. Luke Del Rio was never going to be the answer to all of Florida’s quarterback problems, but he has not been the same since he came back from his knee injury. He is no longer managing the offense. He is completely overlooking wide-open receivers, because he feels pressure when the pressure isn’t even there yet. By not establishing any sort of passing game, the Gators could not get a running game going either. Florida only attempted to run the ball 14 times for 44 yards, averaging 0.9 yards per run. Not to mention, the Gators were just 1-of-11 on third down conversions, which has been their strength all season.
There is no sense of confidence coming from this offense right now. Not that Florida had a prolific offense before, but it looked like things were finally starting to head in the right direction in all phases. Something has to change very soon for the Gators to have a chance to win moving forward.
LOSS #2: Defense
Florida’s defense was the second ranked defense in the country going into the game. It felt more like Arkansas was the team with an elite defense. There was no life to start the game, and then when things finally began to head in the right direction, it was like all life was lost again. This is a defense that has held four different teams under 200 yards of offense this season. Arkansas gained 466 yards on the day. Missed tackles and defending screen passes were obvious problems. There was no attempt by Florida to adapt to Arkansas’ style of play.
As it has so many times before, the offense gave the defense no chance in the game. The defense was exhausted, but it seemed like more than exhaustion. It looked more like a defense that was outplayed and mentally defeated. Some leaders need to emerge on both sides of the ball for the Gators.
LOSS #3: Coaching
It is a little overboard to fly off the handle and think Jim McElwain should be fired at this point, but something has to change. It was extremely questionable that Del Rio played the entire game at quarterback with close to zero production. Even throwing Austin Appleby in there would’ve given Florida a better chance. He has at least proven he has the ability to hit a deep pass every now and then. Just one big play to turn things around could’ve changed the whole game.
There is a lot to be learned about this coaching staff this week. Either Del Rio will be back out there, Appleby will get another shot to redeem himself, or one of the freshmen will burn their redshirt in an attempt to save this season and gain some experience for next season. Making some kind of change will at least prove McElwain is not too stubborn to try something different.
LOSS #4: Injuries
The lack of offensive production wasn’t the only thing that made it feel like 2013 all over again on Saturday. Nine different Gators went down with injuries in the game. Following the game, McElwain said it looked like Jarrad Davis, Alex Anzalone, Cameron Dillard, and Chris Thompson would all be out. He didn’t specify exactly what “out” meant, but it did not sound like those guys would be back any time soon. Anzalone, Davis, and Dillard were all starters and huge keys to Florida’s success. Thompson was finally coming along and giving the Gators some potential for kick returns on special teams.
Freshman receiver Tyrie Cleveland was also carted to the locker room with a foot injury. It was just an all-around bad day for Florida’s health as a team in a year that injuries hadn’t been a major problem. Anzalone has already been announced to be out for the season with a broken arm and we should know more about the others after McElwain’s Monday press conference.