|Gators fail in all phases in loss to Ole Miss|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 28 September 2008 11:57|
No turnovers. Few defensive lapses. Dynamic special teams.
The Gators would like to have been successful in just one of those areas Saturday against Mississippi. Florida had three turnovers, allowed four big plays and suffered several special teams breakdowns.
Throw in some questionable play-calling and two failed fourth-down conversions and the Gators ended up with a 31-30 loss against three-touchdown underdog Mississippi - the kind of meltdown the program used to have under former coach Ron Zook.
``It's not the adversity, it's not injuries that you have to worry about happening. Those are going to happen every year in the history of college football,'' Meyer said Sunday. ``It's how a team, how a player, how an athlete, how a program reacts to it.
``Tough loss, devastating loss. ... But there's a lot of great football out there left.''
1-1 Southeastern Conference), who fell from fourth to 12th in the latest Associated Press Top 25, took solace in the fact they still control their fate in the conference.
But all the mistakes were cause for concern.
Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, receiver Percy Harvin and tight end Aaron Hernandez each fumbled. Harvin actually put the ball on the ground three times, but recovered two of them. Tebow and Harvin fumbled on consecutive plays in the third quarter, leading to 10 points for Ole Miss.
``Three turnovers killed us,'' Meyer said. ``That's something we have to improve on.''
The defense allowed a 40-yard TD run, a 28-yard scamper and two long pass plays - a 36-yarder and an 86-yard TD strike that put the Rebels ahead 31-24 with 5:26 to play.
``When you give up big plays, you've got a problem,'' Meyer said.
Special teams were an even bigger issue.
Mississippi's Mike Wallace finished with 140 yards on five kickoff returns. The Rebels used a fake punt to keep a drive going that resulted in their first touchdown. And defensive lineman Kentrell Lockett blocked an extra point with 3:28 to play, which turned out to be one of the biggest plays of the game.
Meyer initially questioned whether the block was legal, saying Lockett leapt over a linemen. But he recanted his statement a bit Sunday.
``We did not protect it well enough,'' he said.
ow well enough, either. Part of the pressure had to do with injuries. Starting guard Jim Tartt left the game early with a nagging shoulder injury. He had two operations on his shoulder in the offseason, but is still having pain.
His backup, Marcus Gilbert, also sustained an ankle injury.
Tebow, meanwhile, was sacked three times, pressured way more often and finished with just 7 yards rushing.
He did run for two scores, but he also got stopped on fourth-and-1 on Florida's final play. The Gators trailed 31-30 with about 40 seconds to play and needed just a couple of feet from the Ole Miss 32-yard line. Tebow started right, got hit in the backfield and no amount of twisting and stretching could get him back to the line of scrimmage.
``Very, very rarely do we get stopped on fourth-and-1,'' Tebow said. ``It's been a little bit of our swagger, that we could convert always on fourth-and-1. We've done it for the last two years. They beat us to it.''
Tebow completed 24 of 38 passes for 319 yards, but his lone touchdown pass was nearly intercepted. He also overthrew four open receivers and skipped a pass to another in the end zone. He offered a heartfelt apology afterward, vowing that good things would come out of the loss.
Meyer wasn't so certain.
fun stuff. How many guys can rally back after an Auburn loss or after an Ole Miss loss?
``We'll find our what kind of toughness we have, what we're made of. Everybody says that, but that's the truth. We're going to find out what we are. You will. I will. We all will.''