Instant Analysis: A Statement Victory

Oct 5, 2019 | 0 comments

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The general consensus among the talking heads all week was that Saturday’s showdown in the Swamp between No. 7 Auburn and the No. 10 Gators was the Tigers’ to lose. Even Tim Tebow picked Auburn to win on SEC Nation.

The Tigers impressed in wins over Oregon and Texas A&M and shellacked Mississippi State by 33 points. Meanwhile, Florida needed fourth quarter comebacks to defeat struggling Miami and Kentucky teams.

Instead, with the eyes of the college football world upon them, Florida (6-0, 3-0 SEC) made a loud statement with a 24-13 defeat of Auburn (5-1, 2-1) on Saturday afternoon.

Here is our instant analysis.

It Was Over When: On third-and-8 from the UF 36-yard line early in the fourth quarter, the Gators applied a ton of pressure to AU freshman quarterback Bo Nix. He ran backward about 20 yards to avoid getting sacked but stumbled and fell at his own 42. Auburn punted. On the next play, Gators running back Lamical Perine broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage, made a guy miss and raced 88 yards down the right sideline for a game-clenching score.

They Stole the Show: In a deep and talented receiving corps, Freddie Swain had become something of a forgotten man. He’s not anymore. He caught six passes for 146 yards, including an electrifying 64-yard score on Florida’s opening possession.

Shawn Davis brought back memories of Reggie Nelson with his one-handed interception of Bo Nix and 41-yard return.

When Kyle Trask went down with an apparent leg injury and had to miss a possession, Emory Jones filled in admirably, leading the Gators 51 yards down the field for a field goal.

If the Tennessee game two weeks ago was the best game of Marco Wilson’s career, this one was a close second. He provided tight coverage throughout the game and made a pair of outstanding plays in the running game to prevent the Tigers from picking up first downs.

The Gators have struggled mightily to run the ball all season, but Perine made magic happen when they needed it. For those who wanted Perine’s role to be diminished in favor of Dameon Pierce, that’s why the Gators continue to lean on him.

Finally, it would be impossible to talk about this game without mentioning the crowd. Gator Nation packed the Swamp prior to kickoff and helped wreck Auburn’s offense throughout the game. In the first half, Auburn had to take a time out because they couldn’t hear the play call. Early in the game, Nix had to walk up to almost every offensive player to deliver the play call in-person.

The Stats Don’t Lie: Neither team seemed to know how to take care of the football at all, as both teams turned it over four times. UF’s defense limited Auburn to just six points off of those turnovers.

After struggling to get off the field defensively the past few weeks, UF limited AU to just two of 14 on third down conversions.

For all of the talk about Auburn’s advantage in the trenches, UF out-rushed them 132 to 124.

Oh What A Play: Florida had struggled to run the ball all season, but Perine and the offensive line made magic happen when they absolutely needed it. The crowd’s eruption rivaled that of Brad Stewart’s pick-six against LSU last season. More importantly, he iced a big-time win for his team.

These Matchups Proved Key: One of the most discussed matchups throughout the week was Auburn’s elite defensive line versus Florida’s suspect offensive line. The Tigers’ defensive front got the better of the Gators, recording four sacks and seven tackles-for-loss. But, UF broke off the 88-yarder when they absolutely needed it.

UF’s receiving corps is arguably one of the best in the SEC, and four of Auburn’s five starters in the secondary were 5-foot-11 or shorter. Florida’s receivers won this matchup right from the start, which allowed them to move the ball despite getting beaten up front.

Another pivotal matchup was the battle of the unproven quarterbacks. Trask, in his third career start, lost three fumbles but completed 19 of 31 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Nix, completed just 11 of 27 passes for 145 yards and killed his team’s chances with three interceptions and the 22-yard sack.

Florida’s defense swarmed the field and made things tough for Auburn’s running vaunted running game. AU ran the ball on 73 percent of plays entering the game, and the Gators’ defense took their bread and butter away from them.

Up Next: The gauntlet continues next week for the Gators. They’ll take on the No. 5 LSU Tigers (5-0, 1-0) in Death Valley at 8 p.m. It will be Florida’s first trip to Baton Rouge since 2016.


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