Instant Analysis: Shorthanded, disinterested Gators blown out by Sooners

Dec 31, 2020 | 0 comments

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After the 2020 season started out so promisingly, Gator fans will only be able to look back at this season and wonder “What if?”.

Florida lost two regular-season games on a pair of last-minute field goals due to porous defense and costly turnovers. They lost to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game due to defensive penalties and poor clock management.

And now, they’ve ended the season with a thud. No. 6 Oklahoma (9-2) bludgeoned the No. 7 Gators 55-20 on Wednesday night in the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas.

Here is our Instant Analysis.

It Was Over When: With the Gators trailing 24-13 with around four minutes to go before halftime, Malik Davis broke off a 26-yard run to the Oklahoma 40-yard line. After a pair of incompletions on the next two snaps, Kyle Trask threw a perfect pass into the hands of tight end Keon Zipperer that should’ve been a big first down. However, Zipperer dropped the ball, bringing up fourth down.

Rather than punting and playing the field position game, Mullen opted to trot out Evan McPherson for a 58-yard field goal attempt. McPherson’s kick had perfect accuracy but fell a few yards short.

The Sooners then went on a nine-play, 60-yard drive that ended with a Spencer Rattler 1-yard touchdown run with 16 seconds to go.

Zipperer’s drop and Mullen’s decision to try the long field goal turned a potential one-score deficit at halftime into a three-score game.

He Stole the Show: Sooners running back Rhamondre Stevenson took advantage of the Gators being without their two best run defenders in nose tackle Kyree Campbell and linebacker Ventrell Miller due to injury. He gained 186 yards on 18 carries as UF failed to fit their gaps, make tackles or even play with much effort at times.

Oh, What A Play: On second-and-2 from the Florida 15-yard line late in the third quarter, Stevenson took the handoff on a sweep play to the right. He was met at the line of scrimmage by linebacker Amari Burney but broke his tackle attempt. He then gained a head of steam and broke arm tackle attempts by Mordecai McDaniel and Jalen Lee to score a touchdown to extend the lead to 41-13.

It was that kind of night for the Gators.

This Stat Mattered Most: Oklahoma averaged 10.5 yards per play. That’s a first down every time they snapped the ball. Florida, meanwhile, averaged just 6.2 yards per play. That’s the recipe for a blowout.

This Matchup Proved Key: Trask entered the game with five interceptions this season. He threw interceptions on UF’s first three possessions of the game. Without their top-4 receivers due to opt-outs and COVID, the Gators’ receivers couldn’t generate much separation and dropped too many passes against Oklahoma’s secondary.

With Kyle Pitts and Trevon Grimes not playing, Florida couldn’t stretch the field vertically, which forced them to have to dink and dunk their way down the field. They weren’t able to do so consistently thanks to Trask’s lack of timing and chemistry with his new targets and the drops. Trask failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time in his career.

A struggling passing game combined with terrible defense turned this game into a blowout.

Up Next: First, UF (8-4) will look to add the final piece or two of its 2021 signing class in February. Then, it’s on to spring ball and likely having to figure out how to replace the majority of its offensive production while also fixing one of the worst defenses in school history.

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