I had a feeling this would be a wonky game. It was, and the wonkiness all worked against South Carolina. The box score tells a truly bizarre story: The Gamecocks had more total yards and first downs than Florida, yet we lost by almost five scores. The story of the game was the three fumbles that led to Florida's first three touchdowns. With those mistakes, we allowed Florida to take a 15-point lead into the half despite the fact that our defense thoroughly dominated the Gators every time UF got the ball under normal circumstances. I was optimistic that we might be able to get back into the game if we could come out strong on defense in the second half, but Florida made some nice adjustments and put a strong drive together, and after they scored, the game was more or less over.
Obviously, Florida is the better team, and I suspect they'll beat Georgia next week and then give Alabama a good game in Atlanta. However, I think it's important to recognize that we're not as bad as the today's score indicates. We were competitive against the Gators in the first half, but the mistakes--which in addition to the fumbles included a blocked FG and some ugly dropped passes--caused the game to get away from us. This isn't a bad team. It's the same team that clobbered Mizzou and Georgia. But it's a team that's playing tight in a variety of ways right now. It's also a team that has seen most of its goals fall by the wayside within the span of two brutal weeks. There's still a lot to play for, but I worry that these losses are affecting the team's confidence and drive. They're going to have to bounce back next week and get things back on track. Obviously, the goal was to win the SEC, but another 11-win season would have to be considered a good consolation prize. The team needs to make sure that it still keeps that goal in view.
A few more thoughts on the game:
--I know that he's frustrated with Connor Shaw, but to me, Spurrier's decision to put Dylan Thompson into this game was a very poor one. On the one hand, I feel that Spurrier was overreacting. Shaw wasn't terrible in the first half, and he wasn't the main reason we were behind. I don't see much evidence that Thompson is a better option than Shaw, and I think we saw that confirmed by Thompson's play today. On the other hand, even if Thompson is a good option, this was a bad situation to put him in. It was a hostile atmosphere, and we were in a catch-up situation, which allowed the Gators to sit back in heavy coverage. Thompson didn't have much of a chance, and the experience probably wasn't great for his confidence. In any event, I hope Spurrier watches the film this week and sees that Shaw needs to be given another chance against Tennessee.
--Obviously, there weren't many highlights to be happy about, but it should be said that the defense came to play today. Jadeveon Clowney, especially, was fantastic both against the pass and the run. He's working on a first-team All-American season, at the very least. The rest of the defense played well, too, particularly in the first half. I was impressed by our interior line play, considering that Kelcy Quarles was out and that some of the other guys were playing hurt.
--I know he came up with a nice catch against UGA, but I was yet again left shaking my head that D.L. Moore has a starting spot on this team. You just can't afford to have a wideout drop a TD pass like that in this kind of game, and he had a couple more drops later. Is there no one else? It appears that Shaq Roland isn't progressing as quickly as hoped, but what about DeAngelo Smith or K.J. Brent? We need a big receiver out there, and Moore shouldn't be the guy. If he's the best we have, we're going to continue to struggle at receiver.
That's a wrap on this one. Not much to say about the game, really. It sucked, and I hope we can bounce back.