November 23, 2013

Instant Analysis: Defastating defeat



If it hadn't already, Florida (4-7) hit bottom Saturday in a 26-20 loss to FCS Georgia Southern (7-4). It was the Gators' first ever loss to an FCS foe and Georgia Southern's first win against an FBS team. Instant Analysis takes a look.

IT WAS OVER WHEN: Skyler Mornhinweg rolled right before gunning a pass to the middle of the field just short of the goal line. In double-coverage, it fell incomplete. Mornhinweg hit his knees while the Eagles jubilantly rushed the field. Time had expired.

HE STOLE THE SHOW: Hybrid quarterback-running back Jerick McKinnon did not play under center for Georgia Southern but he did have some of the game's most important plays. McKinnon got the second half off to a bang with a 66-yard run that made the upset - if you want to call it that - start to look possible. He finished with nine carries for 125 yards and the game-winning touchdown with 2:57 remaining.

THE STAT DOESN'T LIE: Every nightmare you might have had about a patchwork Florida defense stopping the triple-option came true. The Gators were all over the place assignment-wise early and struggled with tackling as the game wore on. By the end of a beautiful afternoon turned dreary by incompetence, Florida had allowed 429 rushing yards. Quarterback Kevin Ellison orchestrated the Eagles offense as well as possible without completing a single pass. Georgia Southern averaged 7.5 yards per offensive play. Florida averaged 4.5. Ellison had 118 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns.

WHAT A PLAY: It was 3rd and 2 and it looked like Florida would get the ball back with the score tied. That's when running back William Banks reeled off a 55-yard run off the left guard that put Georgia Southern into scoring range and left the Gators shaking their heads late in the fourth quarter. The big conversion led to the crowning moment of the day for the Eagles, A 14-yard McKinnon touchdown run on a play where he beat every Gator to the edge.

Give Mornhinweg at least a little bit of credit. He may have had one of the ugliest two-touchdown, zero-interception performances in football history, but his 46-yard touchdown pass to Solomon Patton to tie the game with 5:41 remaining was an unexpected gutsy beauty. Patton found his way behind the defense, and Mornhinweg stood his ground before being smashed on an eventual roughing the passer call in order to complete the pass. It was his first pass attempt of 20 yards or more in two starts and represented 37.7 percent of his total passing yards in the game.

THIS MATCHUP PROVED KEY: Florida's already shaky and depleted front seven lost two more players - linebackers Michael Taylor and Alex Anzalone - to injury. By the fourth quarter, the Gators were tired and missing tackles and playing a lineup that looked more like a spring game than a November contest with bowl eligibility on the line. Redshirt senior walk-on David Campbell and redshirt freshman hybrid linebacker Alex McCalister saw extensive snaps. The Eagles took advantage.



 

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