The Gators stayed in the game against Georgia longer than many would’ve given them a shot to in the offseason. A field goal put them within six early in the fourth quarter despite them being down both starting corners and having a 3-0 turnover deficit.
But football is a four-quarter sport, and the Gators couldn’t hold the whole game. Here is what the advanced stats have to tell us about what went on in Jacksonville. This review is based on Bill Connelly’s Five Factors of winning, and sacks are counted as pass plays. It does not include UGA’s final drive of three plays that ran out the clock.
Everyone has a different definition for what counts as an “explosive play”, but I go with runs of at least ten yards and passes of at least 20 yards.
|Team||Runs 10+||Pct.||Passes 20+||Pct.||Explosive Pct.|
Of all the potential outcomes, I would not have pegged the Gators as having a higher explosive run rate than the Bulldogs did in the game. Nevertheless, here it is. The big difference, though, was in the passing game. Only the touchdown pass to Freddie Swain counted as an explosive gain by my criteria for Florida, while Jake Fromm had five passes of 20+ yards along with three more of at least 15.
We can only guess how things would’ve turned out had CJ Henderson not gone out with injury; Fromm threw all of one pass before, a bubble screen for five yards. I would be willing to bet that the explosive pass rate would’ve been lower, though. Possibly a lot lower.
The main measure here is success rate. Watch this short video if you need to brush up on it.
|Team||Run SR||Pass SR||Overall SR||Red Zone SR|
The teams came out to about the same overall efficiency rates despite arriving at them in very different ways. The Gators were much more efficient on the ground while the Bulldogs of course were through the air. Another notable difference is that UGA, while still well below average, was more efficient with its run than UF was with its pass. That’s a terribly low rate for the Florida air attack.
|Team||1Q SR||2Q SR||3Q SR||4Q SR|
The first quarter felt like another of the Gators’ slow starts because of the turnovers, but it was more like a replay of the Vandy game. They moved the ball quite well except for a couple of disastrous plays that killed drives. UF just couldn’t keep it going all game, in large part because after UGA went up 29-17 midway through the fourth the inefficient pass game had to come to the forefront.
I have one more bonus table for you here for the Florida offense. Stuff rate is the percentage of plays that go for no gain or a loss.
|Down||Rush SR||Pass SR||Run Stuff Rate|
The Gators were very good with the run on second and third down, but a high stuff rate kept them from hitting the same efficiency levels on first down. The pass game was around the same efficiency level as Georgia’s run game on second and third down, but it was downright dreadful on first down. It’s hard to win a game like this when the offense is throwing away this many first downs.
Efficiency by Player
|Player||Comp. Pct.||Pass Eff.||Yards/Att||Sacks||Pass SR|
Franks overthrew a wide open Van Jefferson on the first play of the game. Not too later on, he underthrew Josh Hammond for an interception and nearly threw another one on a different underthrown ball. Dan Mullen said that “the guys wanted to win so bad that they let that frustration get to them, and that can lead to other mistakes”. While it could apply to a number of people, it very much seems like it applies to Franks. Once he gets so far into his own head, it’s nearly impossible for him to get back out.
Franks’s bad day made the receiver table not terribly interesting, so I’m going straight to running backs.
Scarlett had the better day running, but his drives ended up more pass-heavy so he had fewer carries than Perine did. This is one of the areas in which one could second-guess Mullen in this game, considering that Scarlett was able to summon his “you’re not taking me down” extra gear that hasn’t always appeared this year.
Georgia also short-changed its better running back in the game. I would have guessed Swift would end up better since he has a combination of speed and strength that Florida’s defense can’t match. The Gators once had linebackers like Jarrad Davis, Alex Anzalone, Jelani Jenkins, and more going back a ways who could both catch him before he turns the corner and bring him down. Florida doesn’t have anyone at the non-buck linebacker spots who can do both of those reliably.
|Team||Avg. Starting Position||Plays in Opp. Territory||Pct. Of Total|
Florida being set up at its own one-yard-line and Franks fumbling it away there played a major part in the disparity here. Take out those two drives and UF’s average starting position would’ve been its own 27 and Georgia’s its own 33. The rest is attributable to UGA kicking off and getting touchbacks much more often than Florida did.
A trip inside the 40 is a drive where the team has a first down at the opponent’s 40 or closer or where it scores from further out than that. A red zone trip is a drive with a first down at the opponent’s 20 or closer.
|Team||Drives||Trips Inside 40||Points||Red Zone Trips||Points|
The Gators got more points per scoring opportunity (5.7) than the Bulldogs did (4.5). The teams came into to the game getting roughly five points per scoring opportunity, so these outcomes weren’t far off. It’s just that UGA had almost three times as many scoring opportunities as the UF did, and as I told you last week, the team with the most scoring opportunities would win.
I feel like I don’t need to belabor the point here since this one of the Five Factors was everyone’s story of the game. Florida isn’t good enough to lose the turnover battle 3-0 and beat a team as good as Georgia is.
It should be evident now that Florida is not a team that can play from far behind in crunch time. They came back against a bad Vanderbilt team early, but they didn’t play their best football when trailing Kentucky and Georgia late.
The biggest issue is that Franks is just not there yet as a quarterback. He’s not able to carry the team on a comeback, and indeed Perine had the single largest individual share of the load in the Vandy win. If a team can force Florida to pass, the Gators will have a hard time winning.
This game also laid bare the recruiting difference between these two teams in recent years. Kirby Smart has been recruiting at an elite level for more than one year, and he supplanted another good recruiter in Mark Richt. Mullen, on the other hand, has only had one small class of his own and replaced a guy in Jim McElwain who in three years couldn’t get back to UF’s normal level after recruiting plunged at the end of the Muschamp era.
From a personnel standpoint, Georgia is where Florida plans to be. Until there is more parity not just in talent but fit to system, the Gators will have to play their best to do more than hang with the Bulldogs for three quarters. Down three secondary starters — Brad Stewart was MIA on top of the cornerback injuries — Florida just didn’t have the depth to handle Georgia’s full complement of players.
The advanced stats show that, except for a couple of key areas like turnovers and explosive passing plays, Florida did play Georgia very close. With time and more recruiting, those gaps can be closed.