GatorZone.com Senior Writer
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- As much talk as there will be this week about Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel's four crippling turnovers in Saturday's 17-9 loss to rival Georgia, the five times he was sacked and minimal amount of time he had to throw the ball deserve equal time.
Defensively, the Gators came into the game ranked fourth in the nation in scoring, seventh in yards allowed, 10th against the run and third in pass efficiency, but it was the Bulldogs who provided the jarring, tone-setting hits, flustered the quarterback in the pocket and shut down the ground game.
"A lot of times defenses tend to bow their necks in games like this,'' Georgia coach Mark Richt said.
Jarvis Jones not only bowed his neck, he bent UF's offense backward. A year after sacking John Brantley four times, the Georgia junior outside linebacker had 13 tackles, three more sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
Jones will be playing on Sundays, probably next year, but so will a few of his mates on defense, several of whom stacked the box and overwhelmed Florida at the point of attack.
"A lot of those you can't put on the offensive line," Gators coach Will Muschamp said. "We had to do something to do some things as far as routes and taking the ball to certain places and getting rid of the football."
They just had very little (to no) time to do it.
"We get things blamed on us, but it's a team effort," Gators offensive guard Jon Halapio said. "Not one position or one person lost this football game."
It's a convergence of several areas, no question.
But certainly, UF's inability to run the ball -- for a second straight week, actually -- allowed the Bulldogs to tee off their pass rush.
For what it's worth (nothing now), Georgia came into the game allowing 167.9 rushing yards per game, 10th in the SEC.
"We're not running the ball well enough," Muschamp said after his team totaled just 81 yards on 41 carries (less than two yards a pop). "When you become one-dimensional against really good rushers ... " Muschamp tailed off, then restarted.
"Jarvis is a really good rusher," he said. "We had planned to chip him and do some things, and there were times we did. But you can't limit yourself in the passing game every single snap in order to chip a guy. When you become one-dimensional it's hard. It puts a lot of pressure on [the quarterback]."
Driskel completed just 14 of 26 passes for 185 yards, the two interceptions and was thrown for minus-40 yards worth of sacks. Only three passes were completed to wide receivers (all to Quinton Dunbar), which says something about UF's inability to win match-ups down the field and stretch the defensive vertically from the outside.
Muschamp has said this team, especially this offense, is a work in progress.
Saturday proved what the Gators already knew; that there's more work to be done.
"They were definitely loading the box. They were going to stop Mike tonight," Driskel said of Gillislee, who finished with 77 yards on 22 carries. "They made us make plays in the passing game and we didn't make as many as we would have liked. Quicker decisions. Seeing the defense better. It just comes down to making more plays."