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How can the Florida Gators continue to make these type of mistakes? That’s the question many of us have been asking ever since Saturday, when they dropped their first game in Lexington since 1986. We’re not just talking about losing to Kentucky though. It’s become a trend for the Gators to drop games they should win. It comes down to being prepared and not falling on your face, especially with an opportunity to contend in the SEC East on the line.
Conservative play calling, especially with just over 1:20 left in the first half, did them no favors. The Gators had an opportunity to drive down the field and potentially get into field goal range, but Mullen decided to play it safe and not use his three timeouts. Florida was leading 10-7 at this point in the game, but Mullen just had to play conservative. When asked about it postgame, Mullen said he wanted to get into the locker room and reset.
“You’re on the road, you’re back to the wall, we we’re making some errors right there. You get out, you know, in order to kind of … you’re looking at the clock, you got about 30 seconds, I think it was. We got the ball on our 30-yard line. On the road, you’re like, you know, like I said, I thought we were playing, we’re doing some good things. Let’s just go kind of settle everybody down and not create a potential issue right there.”
Sorry, but that’s not going to win you many games. You have to use your offensive weapons to try and extend the lead. It felt as though the Gators were out of their element and didn’t want to risk anything to catch Kentucky off guard. They also didn’t seem well prepared. It felt as though the Gators thought they could just show up and Kentucky would just lay down.
We’ve seen these types of games from the Gators before. Remember the 2020 LSU game? You know, the one with the infamous shoe-throwing incident? I sure do, and though no one lost any footwear on Saturday night, it still looked like the same team.
Here’s the thing about Florida: you never truly know what you’re going to get out of them. And that is scary, for many reasons. This was the same football team that gave Alabama problems until the clock struck zero in Week Three, the same team that beat up on Tennessee in the 2nd half two weeks ago. But, the team that showed up on Saturday? Well that’s the one that is causing problems in Gainesville.
Why hasn’t Dan Mullen taken responsibility for eight false start penalties? I could see him playing off a few, but not eight. This Florida team was penalized 15 times for 115 yards on Saturday night, which is unacceptable. That’s on the coaching staff for not having the team prepared.
Dan Mullen tried to explain it:
“The penalties weren’t little, like, ticky-tack things. You’re talking taking third downs off the board, you know, third down and backing us up, taking conversions, taking first-down runs off the board with holding penalties. Those were the issues,” Mullen said. “I mean, you’re gonna sit there and say, you know, there’s a lot of things you’re gonna point out and say, ‘Guys played really well.’ Playing the game, it’s just the mental errors were, just, you can’t do that and expect to win a game, making that many mental errors.”
This was the second time in four years that Florida has lost to Kentucky. How do you expect to compete for SEC and National Championships when you’re losing games like this? The quick answer is, you don’t. As we’ve seen from this Gators team over the last few years, accountability isn’t Mullen’s strong suit.
They also need to figure out the running back rotation and stick with the guy with the hot hand. Last Saturday, that was Dameon Pierce. They can’t continue to shuffle out guys every few plays and leave Emory Jones out to try and stave off the defensive pressure.
The Gators won ten games in 2018 and followed it up with eleven wins in 2019. But since they won the Orange Bowl to cap off the 2019 season, the Gators are 11-6. So, what do the Gators do now, since they are pretty much eliminated from playing for an SEC title?
Maybe fans should start looking closely at the head coach and watch how this team responds over the next month. They’ve still got a lot of football to play, even if they won’t have trip to Atlanta to show for it.
They shouldn’t have any problems with Vanderbilt this weekend, but they then play LSU and Georgia over the next three weeks. Will Dan Mullen’s team start playing consistent football, or will we get the same Florida team we saw in Lexington?
Time will tell, but I lean towards another 8-4 season for the Gators. Unfortunately, Florida fans have already used to those.