All this complaining about Brent Pease and the Florida offense has gotten old. So, why don’t we complain about D.J. Durkin and the defense for a change?
The defense is why the Gators lost to South Carolina last Saturday. The conservative offense did what it had to do to win the game, putting together two nice touchdown drives and scoring 14 points. That would have been enough if the defense had not given up the biggest play of the game with less than seven minutes remaining.
The Gators had the Gamecocks right where they wanted them, pinned on their own 5-yard line with UF leading 14-13. A defensive stop in this situation, and the game might have been over.
Instead, the Gators sent a blitz anticipating a first-down pass from Connor Shaw and it blew up in their faces with a 58-yard run right up the gut by No. 3 tailback Shon Carson. A few plays later, the lead was gone, the game lost.
The week before, the defense also faltered when the Gators had momentum and a chance to rally for a victory over Vanderbilt. Yes, I know, the three interceptions by Tyler Murphy that led to 21 easy points were devastating. But as bad as the offense played, the Gators put together an impressive 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive midway through the third quarter to cut the deficit to 24-10 and generate all kinds of momentum for the home team.
So, with all that momentum and the crowd suddenly back into the game, how did the defense respond? By giving up a 17-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that consumed 7:22. Game over.
This has been a recurring theme during the Gators’ five-game losing streak. When the defense has been in a position to make big, game-changing stops, they’ve given up big plays and big drives instead. UF’s overall defensive stats still look pretty impressive, but the reality is this defense has collapsed in critical situations time and time again.
If the defense gives up some 58-yard runs and can’t get off the field against Georgia Southern on Saturday, the Gators are going to be in danger of seeing their losing streak grow to six. And wouldn’t that be the low point to an incredibly down season.
But I just don’t see that happening.
What I can see is the defense struggling early against the triple option, but then getting a feel for it and shutting it down over the final three quarters. The offense won’t score much, but it will be enough to give the Gators the victory and end their streak.
Prediction: Florida 24, Georgia Southern 13.