GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida lost control of its own destiny in the SEC East Division by losing to Georgia 17-9 on Saturday. The Gators turned in the worst offensive performance of the Will Muschamp era against the Bulldogs, which says something because the Gators were not exactly dynamic on offense last season.
Here are the good and the bad from the loss at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla.:
Turnovers: Florida intercepted QB Aaron Murray three times and turned two of those into field goals. LB Neiron Ball, S Josh Evans and S Matt Elam ended consecutive Bulldogs drives with picks late in the first quarter and into the second. Ball and Evans got their interceptions off deflections while Elam picked off an overthrow. Those marked the fifth, sixth and seventh interceptions Murray has thrown in three games against Florida. Those turnovers allowed the Gators to stay in the game despite turning the ball over six times.
Sturgis provides all the points: K Caleb Sturgis went 3-for-3 on field goals and scored all of the Gators’ points. He made kicks of 38, 22 and 50 yards. The 50-yarder, which cut Georgia’s lead to 10-9 with 9:41 remaining, was his school-record eighth field goal of at least 50 yards.
Third-down defense: The Gators kept the Bulldogs from extending drives by allowing them to convert just 1 of 10 third down opportunities. The only third down Georgia converted came on WR Malcolm Mitchell’s 45-yard catch-and-run that went for a touchdown.
Turnovers: The Gators had turned the ball over just four times in their first seven games, but they gave it up six times on Saturday – including four by QB Jeff Driskel. He fumbled twice and threw two interceptions, including one in the end zone at the end of the first half that cost Florida a chance for an easy field goal. The last turnover was the most critical because it cost UF a chance to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. TE Jordan Reed fumbled the ball away at the 5-yard line and Georgia recovered in the end zone with 2:05 to play.
The Jarvis Jones Show: For the second consecutive season, Florida had no answer for Georgia LB Jarvis Jones. The senior had 13 tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries on Saturday. He abused both OTs and also caused problems in the running game. He was the one who knocked the ball away from Reed in the fourth quarter. Jones has seven sacks, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries in two games against the Gators. They’ll certainly be glad to see him graduate.
One-dimensional: Teams have figured out how to defend UF’s offense: Put eight players near the line of scrimmage and concentrate on stopping RB Mike Gillislee and the running game and make Driskel beat them with his arm. Driskel showed Saturday he can’t do it. Though Driskel held onto the ball too long, stared down his receivers, and made several poor decisions, it’s not all his fault. The offensive line played poorly, too, and the receivers continue to struggle to get open and consistently make plays. Too often the receivers are unable to get separation and can be locked down in man coverage.