JACKSONVILLE — This time, penalties came back to bite the Gators.
Coming into Saturday’s game against Georgia, Florida was ranked 101st nationally with 55 penalties for 462 yards, an average of 7.8 per game. Coach Will Muschamp previously has said that there is no evidence to support that teams that are heavily penalized can’t have success, and while Florida had proved him right through seven games this season, the 10 flags for 95 yards helped deal the final blow in Saturday’s loss.
With Georgia leading 10-9 but pinned in its own end midway through the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs faced a third-and-10 situation from their 25. The Gators seemingly came up with the stop when quarterback Aaron Murray’s screen pass to running back Todd Gurley fell to the turf incomplete. However, a holding penalty was called on Florida defensive end Dominique Easley, giving Georgia a first down and extending the drive. Four plays later, Murray hit wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell for a 45-yard touchdown.
Saturday’s referees called a total of 24 penalties on both teams, and Muschamp in his postgame news conference seemed displeased with some of the calls, especially the one on Easley.
“You know, I don’t have any comment on that. It is what it is,” Muschamp said. “I have zero comment on that one [the holding call on Easley].”
Jones a thorn
For two seasons in a row, Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones has made life miserable for Florida’s offense.
In last year’s 24-20 loss to the Gators, Jones recorded four sacks and a forced fumble. In this year’s 17-9 win, Jones racked up three sacks and 41/2 tackles for loss and forced and recovered two fumbles. He also led all players with 13 total tackles in the game.
“You become one-dimensional against really good rushers,” Muschamp said. “Jarvis is a really good rusher. We had a plan to chip him and do some things and there were times when we did. But you can’t limit yourself in the passing game every single snap in order to chip the guy.”
Right guard Jon Halapio said Saturday’s game could have gone differently had Florida capitalized on its opportunities in the red zone.
In three trips inside the Georgia 20 in the first half, Florida came away with just six points on two Caleb Sturgis field goals. Two of those scoring drives were set up by interceptions, with one starting at the Georgia 11 after safety Matt Elam returned a Murray interception 31 yards. The worst offense for Florida’s offense, however, came at the end of the half after quarterback Jeff Driskel moved the offense 55 yards to the Georgia 5. Seconds before halftime, Driskel scrambled to his right on second-and-goal and threw an ill-advised pass into triple coverage that was intercepted by Georgia safety Baccari Rambo.
Florida converted just twice in four red-zone trips Saturday with no touchdowns.
Wide receiver Solomon Patton sustained a broken arm in the first quarter Saturday. With Florida going for it on fourth-and-1 inside Georgia territory, Patton was called to run a jet sweep, where he was pulled down around the neck by Georgia safety Shawn Williams.
Linebacker Jelani Jenkins (hamstring) tweaked the injury and missed time in the second half.