Florida vs. Alabama: Grading the Gators Against the Crimson Tide
What started out with such promise ended with heartache for Florida, as Alabama proved it is one of the nation's best with a 38-10 victory against the Gators in The Swamp Saturday night.
Young UF led early and played hard, but showed it might be a year or so away from being able to compete with strong, fast and veteran teams like the Crimson Tide.
Compounding the pain of the loss for the Gators was seeing starting quarterback John Brantley go down with an apparent injury to his right knee late in the first half. He did not return.
That said, despite the score, it wasn't all bad for UF. Here are the grades for the game.
The running game that had served the Gators so well through four games was shut down Saturday night by a ruthless and stingy Alabama defense.
One week after rushing for 405 yards at Kentucky, UF had 29 carries for 15 yards against the Crimson Tide. Yes, that is right around 0.5 yards a carry. Florida had just one run of more than seven yards, and that was for 31 by backup (and possibly now starting) quarterback Jeff Driskel.
So dominant early in the season, Chris Rainey (11 carries for four yards) and Jeff Demps (three carries for four yards) were non-factors.
The passing game was a slight bright spot, however.
Before he was injured, Brantley completed 11-of-16 passes for 190 yards with one interception that Courtney Upshaw took 45 yards for a Crimson Tide touchdown. Brantley also had a pretty 65-yard touchdown pass to Andre Debose on the first offensive play of the contest.
Highly touted freshman Driskel, meanwhile, was 2-of-6 for eight yards in relief, while Trey Burton was 1-for-1 for three yards.
Debose (two catches for 90 yards and a touchdown) and tight end Jordan Reed (five receptions for 31 yards) were UF's primary pass-catchers.
With the running game earning a D- and the passing game a C+ (marked down primarily because of Upshaw's score), give the offense an overall C-/D+ (considering exactly who it was the Gators were playing).
The defense had its positive moments—the third quarter as a whole being one—but in the end, it couldn't do anything about Alabama tailback Trent Richardson.
The junior from Pensacola carried 29 times for 181 yards (6.2 ypc) and a pair of touchdowns, while also catching two passes for 27 yards. He and Tide linebacker Courtney Upshaw (three tackles for a loss and an 45-yard interception return for a touchdown) were the best players on the field Saturday night.
Playing without suspended starting safety Pop Saunders, the Gator pass defense accounted quite well for itself, allowing A.J. McCarron to complete just 12-of-25 passes for 140 yards and no scores. That noted, Richardson's success allowed McCarron to be no more than a caretaker.
Jelani Jenkins (nine tackles, including one TFL), Jaye Howard (eight tackles) and Dominique Easley (four tackles, including 1.5 for-loss) led the way for Florida.
Give the run defense a D-. Give the pass defense a B. Make the overall defensive grade a C-.
Florida punter David Lerner saw his most action of the season, punting seven times for an average of 43.3 yards and a long of 50.
Only one of his punts were downed inside the 20, but that wasn't entirely his fault, considering the bad field position Lerner constantly found himself in, while Alabama didn't have a single return yard off him all night. On the other side, Rainey averaged six yards on a pair of punt returns.
Caleb Sturgis missed a field goal attempt for the first time this season for the Gators, but it was from 52 yards out and almost went through. He also was successful on a 21-yard attempt and on his only PAT of the night.
The kick coverage team allowed Marquis Maze to average 41 yards a return, including one he took 70. Meanwhile, Solomon Patton and Jeff Demps averaged around 27 yards a return, not including a big one by Demps that was called back due to penalty.
Overall, the special teams fared pretty well. Based in great deal on the A- Lerner earned, give them a B.
Keeping in mind just how good this Alabama is allows the Gators to be graded on a slight curve here. Had this happened against Kentucky, or even Tennessee, the marks would be much lower.
No doubt Will Muschamp and his team were not just hoping for, but were expecting, a better performance. Still, UF wasn't as bad as the score might indicate.
Overall grade: C-