Florida Football: Winners and Losers from the Week 11 Game vs. Louisiana
Florida had spent the past eight games grinding through their conference schedule. Saturday was supposed to be a relaxing week where Florida would be able to coast and get their second string players some reps in the second half. It turned out to be anything but relaxing.
For the second straight week, Florida survived in the Swamp.
Once again the Gators struggled on offense and it took great defensive play and a blocked punt late to come away with the victory.
The game saw Jeff Driskel leave with a sprained ankle. The severity of the injury is unknown and his status for this week should be questionable. Jacoby Brissett came on an attempted pass for the first time since the season opener against Bowling Green. Brissett played well in his limited role and he could get a full week of reps with the starters leading up to the game on Saturday.
With every game you have winners and losers let's take a look at who performed this week and who needs to re-bound going into next week.
Loser: Clay Burton
Clay Burton has been a team player ever since he enrolled at Florida. Burton was recruited as a 3-star defensive end but made the switch to tight end to help the Gators with depth at the position.
With Jordan Reed ahead of Burton on the depth chart, Burton's job normally consists of blocking in the running game and in pass protection. With only two catches on the season for 12 yards he really hasn't made an impact offensively.
Burton had a chance to do just that on Saturday, but couldn't haul in a would-be touchdown catch.
On the Gators first possession of the second half and on third down from the Cajun's 4-yard line Brent Pease dialed up a great play. Jordan Reed came around on a sweep but rather than continue running with the ball, the former quarterback, threw a beautiful pass to a wide open Burton in the endzone. Burton dropped the pass and Florida had to settle for a field goal. The Ragin' Cajuns scored 17 unanswered points after the drop.
Winner: Jordan Reed
At 6'3", 243, Jordan Reed is a big target for the Gators and has quickly become his quarterback's favorite target.
Reed is leading the team in receptions, yards, yards per catch and tied for the lead with three touchdowns.
Reed had another great game on Saturday when he caught five passes for 85 yards and as we mentioned in the previous slide, should have thrown a touchdown. Reed's biggest play came in the fourth quarter on a third down play where he got behind the defense and caught a 39-yard pass hat put the Gators on the Ragin' Cajuns 3-yard line.
The catch set up the game tying touchdown pass just one play later.
Loser: Mike Gillislee
It has been a tough stretch for Mike Gillislee.
The senior running back hasn't surpassed 100 rushing yards since October, 10 against LSU.
Gillislee struggled again on Saturday, rushing the ball 14 times for 45 yards and added two receptions for eight yards. His 53 total yards are the second lowest Gillislee has totaled this season.
Winner: Will Muschamp
Florida has overcome a lot of adversity this season. Credit that to Will Muschamp getting his team mentally tough in the short time he has been head coach.
At 9-1, the Gators have surpassed almost everyone's preseason expectations of the team and coach Boom is the reason.
Florida continues to be one of the most penalized teams in the country. Florida is ranked No. 112 in the country, averaging 7.9 penalties for 66.1 yards a game.
Florida is not just committing a ton of penalties but they are committing them at some awful times during the game. On the Ragin' Cajuns first offensive drive, the Gators committed two penalties, both on third down, that gave Louisiana new life. Florida committed another penalty on Louisiana's second scoring drive on a third down play that would have resulted in a punt.
Winner: Sharrif Floyd
Enjoy watching Sharrif Floyd while you can Gator fans, because with the kind of season Floyd is putting together he might be playing on Sunday sooner rather than later.
Since moving back inside this season, Floyd has been a disruptive force all season. Saturday was no different.
Much of what Floyd does doesn't show up in the box score. Floyd has been doubled teamed all season and being able to take on those double teams opens up blitzing lanes for his teammates. Despite dealing with a constant double team on Saturday, Floyd still finished with two tackles, a quarterback hurry and a forced fumble. Floyd's forced fumble set the Gators up on Louisiana's 28-yard line.
Loser: The Passing Game
It's getting harder and harder to even call this a "passing game." The combination of an offensive line who can't pass block, receivers who are struggling to get open and a quarterback who can be slow in his reads and inaccurate at times has led to the Gators having the worst passing attack in the SEC.
Coming into the game, Louisiana had the No. 118 pass defense in the country but Florida was unable to take advantage of that. The Gators finished with just 162 passing yards on Saturday and if they can't throw against Louisiana how will the passing game look against FSU in two weeks?
Winner: Jacoby Brissett
It has been a long season for Jacoby Brissett. As a competitor, there is no worse feeling than watching your team from the sideline. But the coaching staff has continued to tell Brissett all season long that he is a snap away from getting another chance to play. That snap came Saturday when Jeff Driskel went down with a sprained ankle.
Understandably it took a while for Brissett to warm up, but he did have an effective day completing 6-of-8 passes for 64 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown pass came on a play where Brissett had to roll to his right to avoid pressure from his blindside. Brissett rolled out right and Quinton Dunbar alertly changed his route to help out his quarterback. Brissett found a wide open Dunbar in the back of the endzone with a nice pass on the run.
Brissett showed great poise in the pocket and went through his reads like a veteran signal caller. With Jeff Driskel dealing with an ankle injury it would be wise for the coaching staff to give him a week off. Brissett could start this week, making it the first time he started a game since the season opener.
Loser: The Offensive Line
It's one thing to get beat on blitzes when you're facing the physical front sevens in the SEC. It's a completely different thing to get beat by a four man rush from a team that plays their football in the Sun Belt.
The offensive line was getting manhandled by a simple four man rush and were unable to provide much in pass protection or get a push when run blocking.
A very disappointing week for a unit that was supposed to be the strength of the offense coming into the season.
Winner: Loucheiz Purifoy and Jelani Jenkins
Jelani Jenkins and Loucheiz Purifoy combined for 12 tackles, a quarterback and a pass breakup. But it was a play with just thirteen seconds left on the clock that will be remembered.
With just 13 seconds left in the game, special teams coordinator DJ. Durkin dialed up a punt block formation to get after Brett Baer's punt attempt. Purifoy came off of the edge untouched and was able to get a hand on the kick. The ball went up in the air and seemingly directly into the waiting arms of Jenkins. Jenkins then took the ball 36-yards to the endzone to give the Gators a touchdown advantage with just two seconds on the clock.
It was hands down the play of the day and one that will be remembered as the play that prevented Florida from suffering one of their biggest upsets in school history.